Born in Dublin in 1879 on Great Brunswick Street (now Pearse Street), he was educated by the Christian Brothers at Westland Row, before taking a scholarship to the Royal University (University College Dublin) to study law. He graduated from the Royal University in 1901 with a degree in Arts and Law and he lectured in Irish at UCD.
In 1898 Pearse became a member of the Executive Committee of the Gaelic League. To advance his ideal of a free and Gaelic Ireland Pearse set up a bilingual school for boys, St Enda’s in 1908.
Initially, Pearse was a supporter of Home Rule but his outlook on Irish freedom was to become more radical and when the Irish Volunteers formed in November 1913, he was elected a member of the provisional committee and later the Director of Organisation.
As his views became more militant, Pearse’s graveside oration at the funeral of Fenian leader O’Donovan Rossa in 1915 ended with the much quoted words “Ireland unfree shall never be at peace”.
One of the founder members of the Irish Volunteers, and the author of the Proclamation of Independence, Pearse was present in the GPO during the Rising, and was Commander in Chief of the Irish forces.
At 3.30pm on April 29, 1916 he surrendered unconditionally on behalf of the Volunteers to Brigadier-General W. H. M. Lowe in Parnell Street, to prevent further loss of civilian life.
Following a court martial at Richmond Barracks for his part in the Easter Rising, Pearse exclaimed: “You cannot conquer Ireland. You cannot extinguish the Irish passion of freedom. If our deed has not been sufficient to win freedom, then our children will win it by a better deed.”
He was executed holding a crucifix on May 3, 1916 at Kilmainham