Willie Pearse

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Willie Pearse
Born(1881-11-15)15 November 1881
Dublin, Ireland
Died4 May 1916(1916-05-04) (aged 34)
Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, Ireland
Cause of deathExecution by firing squad
AllegianceIrish Volunteers
Years of service1913–1916
Battles/warsEaster Rising

William James Pearse (Irish: Uilliam Seamus Mac Piarais; 15 November 1881 – 4 May 1916)[1] 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.[2]

Pearse 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[3] 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.[4] He was trained to take over his father's stonemason business, but gave it up to help run St. Enda's School which Patrick had founded in 1908. He was involved in the arts and theatre at St. Enda's, and aided the overall running of the school.

Easter Rising[edit]

Pearse 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 death. It has been said[by whom?] that as he was only a minor player in the struggle it was his surname that condemned him. However, at his court martial he emphasised his involvement.[citation needed]

On 3 May, 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 was executed first. Willie was executed on 4 May. He 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 both Willie and Patrick. 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.

Willie Pearse Park in Crumlin, opened in 1949, is named after him.[5]

A number of Gaelic Athletic Association clubs and playing fields are named after both Pearses, and at least one after Willie:


  1. ^ Piaras F. Mac Lochlainn, Last Words, The Stationery Office (Dublin), ISBN 0-7076-0101-0, pg.76
  2. ^ Seán Farrell Moran, Patrick Pearse and the Politics of Redemption, 1994
  3. ^ McEvoy, Dermot (24 April 2016). "Easter Rising leader executed in 1916: William Pearse". IrishCentral. Archived from the original on 9 May 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  4. ^ Easter Rising – 1916 Archived 19 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, RootsWeb
  5. ^ "Willie Pearse Park". 22 May 2018.
  • Ní Ghairbhí, Róisín, Willie Pearse, Dublin: O'Brien Press, 2015.