Sharing a passion to promote Irish national identity, Patrick Pearse and Eoin MacNeill played significant roles in the Gaelic Revival. They were also prominent in the progression from cultural to political activism, but their diverging calculations at critical points were to have serious implications for the Rising. By 1916 these two former associates seemed foils of each other.
A comparison between their perspectives on Irish language, literature, scholarship and revolt underlines the difficulties in reading the signs of the times and illuminates the tension between romantic and rationalist approaches in the run-up to the Rising. Pearse achieved his long-standing objective of dying for Ireland and MacNeill lived to deal with the consequences. The aftermath of the Rising raises interesting questions about which of the two was the realist.