Something nearly everybody has done at some point in their life is to look what happened on their birthday throughout history. Now, aside from sharing a birthday with ex-England defender Stuart “Psycho” Pearce, very little of interest happened on my birthday in recent history - Dan Archer of The Archers was killed off in 1985, confectionary rationing was ended in 1949 - in fact, I have to go back to 1916 for the only really interesting (to a military historian, at any rate) “On this Day” moment associated with my birthday (but what an anniversary it is!) - the Easter Rising in Ireland.

With Britain involved in a war on the Continent against the Kaiser\'s Germany, various Irish Republican organizations saw their opportunity to rise up and overthrow the forces of the Crown that they saw to be occupying Ireland. Seizing control of several key positions in Dublin, the Republicans proclaimed an independent Ireland. 6 days later, all rebel forces had surrendered unconditionally, and their leaders were executed. While the rising failed in all its aims, it did succeed in bringing the Republican cause back to the forefront of Irish politics, especially in encouraging the following conflict that came to be known as the War of Independence (1919-21). By 1921, the warfare initiated by the Rising of April 24th 1916 had forced the Crown to relinquish its previously firm grasp on the country, with the Anglo-Irish treaty recognizing the end of British rule in 26 of Ireland\'s 32 counties.

It\'s an incredible topic, and one I never tire of coming back to in one form or another. I have the Osprey titles on the topic: Essential Histories: The Anglo-Irish War, Warrior: Irish Volunteer Soldier 1913-23, Campaign: Easter Rising 1916, and I'm really looking forward to the accompanying Essential Histories title on the Irish Civil War (the editor for this series was kind enough to silence my enthusiastic nagging by letting me help out with the picture research for this title - it's going to look absolutely fantastic...). I also plan on arguing loud and long for the vaguely-mooted title on Crown forces in Ireland to be commissioned! Further distressing my bank manager, I have also invested in Musketeer Miniatures' brand new range of Black and Tans and IRA flying columns, and subjected my housemates to numerous viewings of The Wind That Shakes The Barley and Michael Collins. Yes, I'm a big ol' geek. And proud of it.

I'm not Irish, in fact the closest I come to that is enjoying the occasional Guinness and supporting them at the rugby (for which I am soundly mocked by all and sundry - and quite rightly, most would say), but for some reason, this period and topic has a lasting appeal for me. I can only assume that this is because a bored kid browsed his dad's copy of Chronicle of the Twentieth Century for his birthday and was inspired by a topic that seemed tailor-made for him.