For more than 800 years, the relationship between England and Ireland was held in a tenuous balance. The English Parliament and Crown felt that Ireland could not and should not be independent of England:
Ireland is too great to be unconnected with us, and too near us to be dependent on a foreign state, and too little to be independent. ~C.T. Grenville, the Duke of Rutland, 3 December 1784.
However, many Irish citizens thought differently. Starting in 1534, the Irish began opposing English claims on their land and demanding sovereignty. Conflicts continued for more than 250 years.
Then, 14 years after the Duke of Rutland uttered his condescending words, the Irish Rebellion of 1798 erupted. Inspired by both the American Revolution and the French Revolution, the Society of United Irishmen, dedicated to the pursuit of a republican form of government in a separate and independent Ireland, took up arms against their English oppressors. The rebellion lasted from 24 May-12 October 1798. When all was said and done, approximately 30,000 Irish were dead.
Fast forward about 125 years to 1916. With England heavily engaged in World War I, members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Irish Citizen Army, and Irish Volunteers rose up against English rule in Ireland, demanding an independent Irish Republic. Dubbed the Easter Rising because it occurred during Easter week (24–29 April 1916), it was the most significant Irish uprising since the rebellion of 1798. About 2,600 people were wounded, including at least 2,200 civilians, and more than half of the 485 people killed in the Easter Rising were civilians.