Belfast Royal Academy - founded 1785


Our School – From the Archives…

The Academy’s ‘Easter Rebellion’

On the 24th April 1916, a group of armed men left Liberty Hall in Dublin to seize the General Post Office in O’Connell Street, and demanded an end to British rule in Ireland. On the 12nd April 1792, a group of Academy students, who had laid in a store of food and weapons, occupied the Mathematics room, renamed it, ‘Liberty Hall,’ and demanded an end to the austerity , which, they alleged, made their circumstances intolerable. One of the rebels was the son of the first Principal of the Academy.

We the supposed rebellious students of the Belfast Academy, having repeatedly applied to Dr Bruce for holidays at Easter, which he has often refused….have now taken up arms to endeavour to gain by force what was denied to us by entreaty…the strictness of the rules of this Academy is intolerable. They then went on to outline the other reforms they wanted, as well as rather optimistically demanding that no one would be beaten or expelled after the surrender. However, since the boys refused afterwards to sign a document expressing penitence for their actions, they were indeed flogged, each ‘rebel’ receiving twelve blows in the presence of the Board.  They left the school soon afterwards. Embarrassed, by the affair Dr Bruce offered his resignation, but this was refused and he continued as Principal of the Academy for the next thirty years. As everyone knows, the Easter Rebellion in Dublin ended differently.

A section of the boys' demands as recorded in the Academy archive.

A section of the boys’ demands, as recorded in the Academy archive.