15 November 1881|
Dublin City, Ireland
|Died||4 May 1916
Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, Ireland
|Years of service||1913–1916|
William "Willie" Pearse Irish: Liam Mac Piarais (15 November 1881 – 4 May 1916) was an Irish republican executed for his part in the Easter Rising. He was a younger brother of Patrick Pearse, a leader of the rising.
Willie Pearse was born in Dublin and throughout his life lived in the shadow of his brother to whom he was devoted and with whom he formed a particularly close relationship.
Willie inherited his father's artistic abilities and became a sculptor. He was educated at the Christian Brothers School. He studied at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin under Oliver Sheppard. He also studied art in Paris. While attending the Kensington School of Art he gained notice for several of his artworks. Some of his sculptures are to be found in Limerick Cathedral, the Cathedral of St. Eunan and St Columba, Letterkenny and several Dublin churches. He was trained to take over his father's stonemason business, but gave it up to help Patrick run St. Enda's School which he founded in 1908. He was involved in the arts and theatre at St. Enda's and aided the overall running of the school.
He followed his brother into the Irish Volunteers and the Republican movement. He took part in the Easter Rising in 1916, constantly staying by his brother's side at the General Post Office. Following the surrender he was court-martialled and sentenced to be shot. It has been said that as he was only a minor player in the struggle it was his surname that condemned him. However, at his court martial he rather trumpeted his involvement, exaggerating it even, and perhaps condemned himself.
On 3 May, Willie Pearse was granted permission to visit his brother in Kilmainham Gaol, to see him for the final time. However, while Willie was en route, Patrick Pearse was executed. Willie was executed the following day.
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There are many more public commemorations of Patrick Pearse than of Willie. In 1966, Dublin's Westland Row railway station was renamed Pearse Station to honour Willie and his brother. Pearse Square and Pearse Street, in Dublin, were renamed in honour of both,[dubious ] Pearse Street (then Great Brunswick Street) having been their birthplace. Many streets and roads in Ireland bear the name Pearse; few name Willie, but there is a Pearse Brothers Park in Rathfarnham. The bridge over the Dodder river on the Rathfarnham Road, between Terenure and Rathfarnham is named after them and carries a plaque depicting the brothers in profile.
Brothers Pearse Athletic Club, originally founded in Rathfarnham, is named after the two brothers.
A number of Gaelic Athletic Association clubs and playing fields are named after both Pearses, and at least one after Willie:
- Armagh: Annaghmore Pearses GAC; Pearse Óg GAC and its grounds, Pearse Óg Park, Armagh
- Cork: CLG Na Piarsaigh, Cork
- Dublin: Willie Pearse Park, the grounds of Crumlin GAA
- Kerry: Dromid Pearses GAC; Kilflynn Pearses HC (defunct)
- Limerick: CLG Na Piarsaigh, Limerick
- Louth: CPG Na Piarsaigh, Dundalk
- Monaghan: Pearse Brothers GAC, Ballybay, and its grounds, Pearse Park
- Tyrone: Pearse Óg GAC, Dregish; Fintona Pearses GAC; and Galbally Pearses GAC
- London: Brother Pearse's GAC, London
- Yorkshire: Brothers Pearse GAC, Huddersfield