15 November 1881|
Dublin City, Ireland
|Died||4 May 1916
Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, Ireland
|Years of service||1913–1916|
William J. "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 inherited his father's artistic abilities and became a sculptor. He was educated at the Christian Brothers School, Westland Row. 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 in London 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.
Willie followed his brother into the Irish Volunteers and the Republican movement. He took part in the Easter Rising in 1916, always staying by his brother's side at the General Post Office. Following the surrender he was court-martialled and sentenced to be killed. 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, William was granted permission to visit his brother in Kilmainham Gaol, to see him for the final time. However, while Willie was en route, Patrick was executed first. Willie was executed on 4 May. Him and his brother were the only two brothers to be executed after the Easter Rising.
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, 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
- Wicklow: Pearses' Park, Arklow
- London: Brother Pearse's GAC, London
- Yorkshire: Brothers Pearse GAC, Huddersfield
Crumlin Sinn Féin hold an annual commemoration for Willie Pearse at Willie Pearse Park Crumlin and local councillor Cllr Ray McHugh arranged for 2 granite stone plaques to be placed at the entrance to the park in memory of Willie Pearse.
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- Piaras F. Mac Lochlainn, Last Words, The Stationery Office (Dublin), ISBN 0-7076-0101-0, pg.76
- Seán Farrell Moran, Patrick Pearse and the Politics of Redemption, 1994
- McEvoy, Dermot (April 24, 2016). "Easter Rising leader executed in 1916: William Pearse". IrishCentral. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
- Easter Rising - 1916, RootsWeb
- Ní Ghairbhí, Róisín, Willie Pearse, Dublin: O'Brien Press, 2015.