Prelude to the Easter Rising of 1916

Prelude to the Easter Rising of 1916
The Signatories of the Proclamation

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Friday, April 30, 2010

30 April 1916

Sir General John Maxwell
General Maxwell's Report states:
"To give an idea of the opposition offered to his Majesty's troops in the execution of their duty, the following losses occurred:

Officers 17 killed, 46 wounded

Other ranks 89 killed, 288 wounded

I wish to draw attention to the fact that, when it became known that the leaders of the rebellion wished to surrender, the officers used every endeavour to prevent further bloodshed; emissaries were sent in to the various isolated bands, and time was given them to consider their position.
I cannot imagine a more difficult situation than that in which the troops were placed; most of those employed were draft-finding battalions, or young Territorials from England, who had no knowledge of Dublin.

The surrenders, which began on April 30th, were continued until late on May 1st, during which time there was a considerable amount of isolated sniping.

Under the circumstances related above I consider the troops as a whole behaved with the greatest restraint, and carried out their disagreeable and distasteful duties in a manner which reflects the greatest credit on their discipline.

Allegations on the behaviour of the troops brought to my notice are being most carefully inquired into. I am glad to say they are few in number, and these are not all borne out by direct evidence."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

29 April 1916

A Group of British Officers with the Captured 'Irish Republic' Flag from the GPO

On surrender, Pearse is taken to General Maxwell who demands that he write out surrender orders for the other rebel commands around Dublin. Connolly is instructed to do likewise for the men under his command in the Irish Citizen Army. These orders are then taken to the different rebel positions in the city by Elizabeth O Farrell. By 3:45 pm on Saturday afternoon, the rising which began at noon on Monday has effectively come to an end. All rebels are now instructed to lay down their weapons and line up in O Connell Street.

The Easter Rising brought large scale death and destruction to the streets of Dublin. In all, 142 British soldiers and police were killed while 64 rebels were killed. A total of 254 civilians were killed during the week, many of them caught in crossfire. An estimated 2,000 people were injured during the fighting. In addition to the loss of life, large sections of the centre of Dublin had been destroyed especially in and around O Connell Street.

General Maxwell decided to pursue a tough policy against the leaders of the rising. Following court martial, Pearse, McDonagh and Clarke were executed by firing squad in Kilmainham Gaol on the morning of May 3rd. This was followed in later days by the execution of the remaining signatories of the Easter Proclamation and any others thought to have been involved in its planning. In addition, General Maxwell ordered the arrest and imprisonment of a further 3,500 people thought to be sympathetic to the rising. This meant that about three times the number who took part in the rising had now been arrested.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

28 April 1916

The GPO & Henry Street - Today

Thursday night saw continuous shelling of O Connell Street while at the same time the cordon around the Four Courts and the GPO gradually tightened. By Friday morning much of the GPO is on fire and sections of the roof are collapsing. It is obvious to the rebels inside that they will have to evacuate the building. One plan being considered is to tunnel through adjoining buildings and join up with the Four Courts garrison. However, this is not possible because of the worsening military situation.

Eventually it is decided to try to escape via Henry Street and establish a new headquarters somewhere near here. The narrow streets around Henry Street and Moore Street are filled with smoke from the burning buildings. There is a great deal of confusion. In addition, nobody is quite sure exactly where the British military cordon is. Several groups of rebels try to make their way down Henry Street but come under heavy fire. One of the casualties is The O Rahilly who had come to Liberty Hall on Easter Monday.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

27 April 1916

O'Connell Street

By Thursday morning the cordon around the Four Courts and the GPO continues to tighten further. There is now continuous shelling and much of O Connell Street has either been destroyed or is on fire. The military now outnumber the rebels by an estimated 20 to 1. The GPO in particular is under sustained attack. While supervising the erection of a barricade in a nearby street, James Connolly is wounded in the ankle and has to be helped back to the GPO. At about 10 pm on Thursday evening, an oil depot opposite the GPO explodes sending flames high into the night sky.

The situation in Dublin is now critical. With most shops closed since Monday there is a widespread shortage of basic food items such as bread and milk.With large numbers of British soldiers in the city, the military has commandeered much of the available food. Even relatively wealthy families are forced to go out in search of food supplies.

In County Wexford, about 600 Volunteers took over Enniscorthy on Thursday 27 April. They were led by six men and made Athenaeum Theatre their headquarters. The Volunteers blocked all roads and the railway line, and cut the telephone and telegraph wires. They then besieged the RIC barracks, which was defended by a number of armed constables. Shots were fired and one constable was wounded, although no real attempt was made to seize the barracks. The Volunteers also stopped a train travelling from Wexford to Arklow carrying workers to Kynoch's munitions factory.

Monday, April 26, 2010

26 April 1916

On Wednesday, 26 April, the guns at Trinity College and Helga shelled Liberty Hall, and the Trinity College guns then began firing at rebel positions in O'Connell Street.

Reinforcements were sent to Dublin from England, and disembarked at Kingstown on the morning of 26 April. Heavy fighting occurred at the rebel-held positions around the Grand Canal as these troops advanced towards Dublin. The Sherwood Foresters were repeatedly caught in a cross-fire trying to cross the canal at Mount Street. Seventeen Volunteers were able to severely disrupt the British advance, killing or wounding 240 men. The rebel position at the South Dublin Union (site of the present day St. James's Hospital), further west along the canal, also inflicted heavy losses on British troops trying to advance towards Dublin Castle. Cathal Brugha, a rebel officer, distinguished himself in this action and was badly wounded.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

25 April 1916

On hearing about the rising, General Lowe takes charge. He has 4,678 men under his command at the Curragh. Within hours these are mobilised and on their way to Dublin. Another 1,000 soldiers are on their way from Belfast. Arrangements are also being made for additional troops to be sent from England. By dawn on Tuesday these forces are in Dublin and the rebels are already outnumbered by 4 to 1. However, General Lowe is still unsure of the number of rebels he is facing and decides to hold off making a direct attack on their positions. Instead he begins to cordon off these positions in the hope of isolating the rebels from each other. Martial Law is declared at about 11.30 am and this restricts the movement of people on the streets to daylight hours. Anyone found moving about outside of these times is liable to be shot.

Amongst the first to feel the presence of the British reinforcements are those holding St. Stephen's Green. Unknown to them, a party of over 100 soldiers take up positions in the Shelbourne Hotel, overlooking St. Stephen's Green, before dawn. At first light they open fire on the rebels in the park below them forcing them to flee into the nearby College of Surgeons. Several rebels are killed and taking St. Stephen's Green proves to be a major mistake.

Boland's Mills

Key positions guarding the main routes into the capital were occupied including The South Dublin Union to the west and Boland’s Bakery/ Mount Street Bridge to the south. The initial British response was to send a group of lancers down Sackville Street to root out the rebels. The occupants of the GPO responded with gunfire and the lancers retreated with heavy casualties. Similarly a small garrison of volunteers at Mount Street Bridge repulsed a totally inept frontal attack on their positions with many lives lost on the British side.

The uprising is scheduled to start at 12.00 noon. In the absence of a nationwide armed uprising, the rebels have decided to seize a number of key locations in Dublin. These include the GPO; Dublin Castle; The Four Courts; Boland's Mill as well as important approaches to the city such as Mount Street Bridge.There are mixed spirits amongst the rebels with many believing that, without adequate numbers and weapons, they are facing certain defeat. Nevertheless, they are determined to press ahead with the uprising. Spirits lift somewhat when The O Rahilly, one of those who drove around the country on the previous Saturday announcing the cancellation of Sunday's operation, arrives. He has a change of mind about supporting the Uprising saying 'I've helped to wind up the clock - I might as well hear it strike'.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

24 April 1916

On 24 April 1916, Patrick Pearse stood outside the General Post Office in Dublin and read a proclamation announcing the establishment of an Irish republic under a provisional government. Among the seven signatories of the proclamation was James Connolly, head of the para-military Irish Citizen Army, who had earlier led a successful occupation of the building. Elsewhere in Dublin, armed men had taken over key points such as the Four Courts, the College of Surgeons overlooking St Stephen's Green, and Boland's Mills. It was Easter Monday, and there were few people in the centre of Dublin to witness the rising. Many army officers had gone to the Fairyhouse races.

Almost all the revolutionary leaders were members of the secret Irish Republican Brotherhood. The outbreak of war had persuaded them that in England's difficulties lay Ireland's opportunity. As earlier rebels had looked to France for help, they now turned to Germany, which promised to send arms. In addition to the small Irish Citizen Army, formed in 1913 to defend workers against police harassment, there were thousands of Irish Volunteers, a body formed in response to the Ulster Volunteer Force. Like the UVF, the Volunteers carried out a successful gun-running exploit, landing arms at Howth, near Dublin, a few days before war was declared.

23 April 1916

The military plans for the rising remain vague but it was beset by misfortune from the start. A gunboat carrying the German-supplied weapons necessary for success was scuttled after its interception by the British navy. John (Eoin) MacNeill, the leader of the Irish Volunteers whom the military council relied on to provide the soldiers for the rising, countermanded Pearse's orders for mobilization on Easter Sunday, 23 April.

The military council pressed ahead, nonetheless, and around 1,600 rebels turned out to fight for the ‘provisional government’ of the ‘Irish Republic’ on Easter Monday. The rebels occupied a number of prominent buildings forming a ring around central Dublin and awaited the British army's assault. Little attempt had been made to mobilize separatists outside Dublin or take the offensive, suggesting that the rebellion was a bloody protest aimed at reviving sympathy for separatist objectives rather than a genuine attempt to overthrow British rule.

Chief among the Volunteers who opposed the rising was its chief of staff, Eoin MacNeil. In the end, Pearse and the others in the Irish Republican Brotherhood, along with James Connolly and his Citizen Army, planned a rising for April 23, Easter Sunday, using the Volunteers' scheduled maneuvers in Dublin as a cover. These plans were made without MacNeil's knowledge. MacNeil found out on Thursday and at first, after being told of the shipment of German arms that Roger Casement was bringing to the southwest, he agreed to support it.

However, when MacNeil found out that Casement had been captured and the weapons lost, he canceled the maneuvers and got word to the countryside that the rising was off. In military terms, there was nothing for Pearse and his cohorts to do but call off the rising, but Pearse was not a military man, he was a visionary. He saw a destiny for himself and his country.

Six years earlier he had written in a poem:  
"I have turned my face to the road before me, to the deed that I see and the death I shall die."
With that deed, that near-certain death, now staring him in the face, he didn't waver.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Clanwilliam House

From Clanwilliam House and the School a well directed and deadly fire was poured into them, taking them completely by surprise. No. 25’s garrison simultaneously engaged the centre of the column. The enemy sought cover and replied with heavy fire on the occupied posts.

The fight now settled down to a pitched battle. A covering machine gun fire was turned on Clanwilliam House while a bombing party stormed No. 25. Lieutenant Malone and Seamus Grace, the Volunteers in No. 25, fired as fast as they could load while the house shuddered with explosions as the grenades found their mark. Then a bomb got Lieutenant Malone, and Seamus Grace was left to fight alone over his comrade’s body. Finally he could maintain his position no longer, and he escaped through the smoke. When the Foresters’ finally took the house they found one dead man in what was later described in despatches as “a strongly held post.”

But Clanwilliam House remained and the fight from there was only beginning. After three hours fighting its defenders sustained their first casualties, two Volunteers, one of them the section Commander, being killed. The other post having been now over-run, the concentrated fire of the enemy was brought to bear on the one remaining defensive position; this fire had cut the water-piping and had carried away the stairs in rear of one of the windows.

Capture of the House was attempted by massed assaults under covering fire from rifles and grenades. The assault parties were repulsed, and repeated attacks only added to their already heavy losses. After a time attempts to storm the House were discontinued.

Only five men were left after the successive waves of attacks broke against Clanwilliam House. At about five p.m. they were reduced to four, when Volunteer Murphy was killed.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Looting during the Rising

Lower Abbey Street

In the "Rebels: The Irish Rising of 1916" by Peter De Rosa on page 282, Peter tells the story of the looting that took place. Women were putting on undergarments on over their outergarments.

Peter writes: "One, less puritanical, climbed into a tram near the Pillar that advertised "Brooks Sanitary Appliances" and "Emu Laundry" on its sides. She stripped to the skin so as to provideherself with an entirely new outfit.

"Jasus" one woman croaked, laden down with stolen goods, "look at that whoor, naked as a broomstick, nothin' on her but her mortal sins." Murder was bad enough but nudity was the sin against the Holy Ghost. She shook a balled fist. "Isn't she a panic? God strike the hussy dead this instant. I'd call the fecking polis after her if they was about, so I would."

The irony of it. Only the Irish could call a thief a theif while they were stealing from somone else. The book is strewn with tidbits of humor amongst the seriousness of the Rising.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

James Kearney: Feeder of the Ducks

There is a pargraph in the "Rebels: The Irish Rising of 1916" on page 324. It is under Tuesday (of the Rising). It tells of Countess Markiewicz, who is on the roof of the Shelbourne Hotel, when she sees a man holding a brown bag above his head and she stops the shooting. It is James Kearney, the parks keeper, who feeds the ducks. They did this twice each day of the Rising. It is a little levity during a time of war.

The surname intrigues me, as I have Kearneys in my ancestry. Long live the ducks!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Aud

Reserve-Lieutenant Karl Spindler of the German Navy was due to take the Aud (Libau) and Casement to Ireland but the German officer stated that as "Casement had expressed a very strong objection against accompanying us in the Libau, it was finally decided to place a submarine at his disposal. He had with him two companions, Lieutenant Monteith and the Irish sergeant, Bailey. The latter turned out in the sequel to be a thorough-paced scoundrel. The submarine was to put Casement, with his companions, on board the Libau at a rendezvous in Tralee Bay, and I was then to proceed in under his instructions. "

The Aud in fact arrived in Tralee Bay at the agreed time, but her signals went unanswered. Spindler decided to spent the night hiding behind one of the Magharee Islands. At dawn a ship carrying a pilot flag approached the Aud and much to the German commander's surprise the pilot boat hoisted hoisting the British flag of war. Spindler underwent a formal inspection soon turned into a amicable drinking spree during which Spindler learned that the British were on the look-out for a German cruiser carrying arms for Irish rebels. By then Spindler knew that the mission not only had failed, but that it was betrayed. Later on the same day, Good Friday the Aud was arrested . While being escorted to Cork the crew of the Aud sank the ship, identified themselves as sailors of the German navy and surrendered. In fact he voyage of the Aud was compromised from the very beginning, with German codes having been broken, and agents were reporting the movements of submarines and shipping from both the Baltic and occupied ports. The British Naval Intelligence Division (NID) knew that there was an arms ship on the way, but did not know precisely when. Therefore from mid-March 1916, extra patrols were in place all around the West and South Coasts of Ireland to intercept any suspicious vessels for searching

Casement boarded first the U-20, but it had to turn back with rudder problems and instead was taken on the U-19, commanded by Raimund Weisbach, who had previously served as torpedo officer on U-20 and had launched the torpedo that sank Lusitania. During his brief command of U-19, Weisbach delivered Roger Casement along with Bailey and Monteith to Ballyheige Bay in Ireland in hopes that they would foment an uprising that would divert British Troops to Ireland.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Clan na Gael

Roger Casement & John Devoy

Already on 24th August 1914 its leader, John Devoy, had met the German ambassador in New York, stressed to him the opportunities for an Irish rising and requested arms and military personnel for this purpose.

Roger Casement was the central figure in developing the rebels` relations with Germany. He had been born in Sandycove, near Dublin, in 1864, the son of a British army officer, and for 20 years had served in the British consular service. He had then gained an international reputation for exposing European colonial exploitation of native peoples in Africa and South America. He had meanwhile become increasingly absorbed in militant Irish nationalist politics and attracted by the potential of an Irish-German alliance as a means of securing full Irish independence. He was in the US when the war began and at once submitted a plan to German officials there, outlining how Britain’s power could be broken by exploiting unrest in its vulnerable possessions, especially Ireland. The Berlin government suggested that he travel to Germany for negotiations.

The objective of Clan na Gael was to secure an independent Ireland and to assist the Irish Republican Brotherhood in achieving this aim. To this end, the Clan was prepared to enter into alliances with any nation allied against the British; with the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the Clan found its greatest ally in Imperial Germany. Members of the Clan led by Devoy met with the German Ambassador in the US Count Von Bernstorff and his aide Von Papen in 1914. This was followed by an emissary sent to Berlin to discuss how the German war effort and Irish Nationalism could operate. Devoy, along with Roger Casement and Joseph McGarrity, was able to bring together both the American and German support in the years prior to the Easter Rising. However the German munitions never reached Ireland as the ship The Aud carrying them was scuttled in Cork Harbour after being intercepted by the Royal Navy.

Clan na Gael became the largest single financier of both the Easter Rising and the Irish War of Independence. Imperial Germany aided Clan na Gael by selling those guns and munitions to be used in the uprising of 1916. Germany had hoped that by distracting Britain with an Irish uprising they would be able to garner the upper hand in the war and affect a German victory on the Western Front. However, they failed to follow through with more support. Clan na Gael was also involved via McGarrity and Casement in the abortive attempt to raise an "Irish Brigade" to fight against the British.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Soldier's Song
(Peadar Kearney)

We'll sing a song, a soldier's song
With cheering rousing chorus
As round our blazing fires we throng
The starry heavens o'er us
Impatient for the coming fight
And as we wait the morning's light
Here in the silence of the night
We'll chant a soldier's song

Soldiers are we whose lives are pledged to Ireland
Some have come from a land beyond the wave
Sworn to be free
No more our ancient sire land
Shall shelter the despot or the slave
Tonight we man the gap of danger
In Erin's cause, come woe or weal'
Mid cannons' roar and rifles peal
We'll chant a soldier's song

In valley green, on towering crag
Our fathers fought before us
And conquered 'neath the same old flag
That's proudly floating o'er us
We're children of a fighting race
That never yet has known disgrace
And as we march, the foe to face
We'll chant a soldier's song

Soldiers are we whose lives are pledged to Ireland
Some have come from a land beyond the wave
Sworn to be free
No more our ancient sire land
Shall shelter the despot or the slave
Tonight we man the gap of danger
In Erin's cause, come woe or weal
'Mid cannons' roar and rifles peal
We'll chant a soldier's song

Sons of the Gael! Men of the Pale!
The long watched day is breaking
The serried ranks of Inisfail
Shall set the Tyrant quaking
Our camp fires now are burning low
See in the east a silv'ry glow
Out yonder waits the Saxon foe
So chant a soldier's song

Soldiers are we whose lives are pledged to Ireland
Some have come from a land beyond the wave
Sworn to be free
No more our ancient sire land
Shall shelter the despot or the slave
Tonight we man the gap of danger
In Erin's cause, come woe or weal
'Mid cannons' roar and rifles peal
We'll chant a soldier's song

The Soldier's Song was written in 1907 by Peadar Kearney, an uncle of Brendan Behan, but was not widely known until it was sung both at the GPO during the Easter Rising of 1916 and later at various camps where republicans were interned. Soon after, it was adopted as the national anthem, replacing God Save Ireland. The first edition of the song was published only in 1916.

Jacob's Biscuit Factory

The 2nd Battalion under Commandant Thomas MacDonagh occupied Jacob’s biscuit factory on Bishop Street, almost a mile to the south of the GPO. Major John MacBride was second in command with Michael O’Hanrahan next in line. The garrison also included Gerald Boland, Michael Hayes and Peadar Kearney, who wrote the words of the national anthem, ‘The Soldiers Song’.

The building was a massive triangular structure filling most of the area between Peter Street and Bishop Street. It was difficult to assault because it was surrounded by a labyrinth of streets and small houses which would hinder the use of artillery. It had two tall towers which provided a view over much of the city. MacDonagh had approximately 130-150 men, supplemented by some Fianna Éireann and Cumann na mBan. He posted men in buildings in Camden Street, Wexford Street, Aungier Street and other streets in the area, making Jacob’s all the more difficult a target for the military.

Within hours of the garrison taking over, a company of military travelling from Portobello Barracks to strengthen the garrison at Dublin Castle was put to flight by MacDonagh’s men on Wexford Street and Camden Street. Thereafter, the main action for the Jacob’s garrison was sniping at Portobello Barracks and other military positions which were overlooked by the two towers. Jacob’s was by-passed by the main action as General Lowe decided to concentrate on the GPO and the Four Courts which he considered the more strategically important of the positions held by the insurgents.

News of the surrender did not reach Jacob’s until Sunday. MacDonagh and the garrison surrendered reluctantly. The three most senior officers, MacDonagh, MacBride and O’Hanrahan, were executed.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Royal College of Surgeons

Royal College of Surgeons

At midday a small team of Volunteers and Fianna members attacked the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park and disarmed the guards, with the intent to seize weapons and blow up the building as a signal that the rising had begun. They set explosives but failed to obtain any arms. The explosion was not loud enough to be heard in the city. At the same time, the Volunteer and Citizen Army forces throughout the city moved to occupy and secure their positions.

Seán Connolly's unit made an assault on Dublin Castle, shooting dead a police sentry and overpowering the soldiers in the guardroom, but did not press home the attack. The Under-secretary, Sir Matthew Nathan, who was in his office with Colonel Ivor Price, the Military Intelligence Officer, and A. H. Norway, head of the Post Office, was alerted by the shots and helped close the castle gates.

The rebels occupied the Dublin City Hall and adjacent buildings. Mallin's detachment, which was joined by Constance Markiewicz (Countess Markiewicz), occupied St. Stephen's Green, digging trenches and commandeering vehicles to build barricades.

They took several buildings, including the Royal College of Surgeons, but did not make an attempt on the Shelbourne Hotel, a tall building overlooking the park. Daly's men, erecting barricades at the Four Courts, were the first to see action. A troop of the 5th and 12th Lancers, part of the 6th Cavalry Reserve Regiment, was escorting an ammunition convoy along the north Quays when it came under fire from the rebels. Unable to break through, they took refuge in nearby buildings.

The headquarters battalion, led by Connolly, marched the short distance to O'Connell Street. They charged the GPO, expelled customers and staff, and took a number of British soldiers prisoner. Two flags were hoisted on the flag poles on either end of the GPO roof: the tricolour at the right corner at Henry Street and a green flag with the inscription 'Irish Republic' at the left corner at Princess Street. A short time later, Pearse read the Proclamation of the Republic outside the GPO.

The Capuchins Part III

When the Easter Rising occurred on April 24, 1916, Connolly was Commandant of the Dublin Brigade, and as the Dublin Brigade had the most substantial role in the rising, he was de facto Commander in Chief. Following the surrender, he said to other prisoners: 'Don't worry. Those of us that signed the proclamation will be shot. But the rest of you will be set free.' Connolly was not actually held in jail, but at Dublin Castle - the British centre of Administration in Ireland at the time. He was taken to Royal Hospital Kilmainham, across the road from the jail and then taken to the jail to be executed by the British. Visited by his wife, and asking about public opinion, he commented 'They all forget that I am an Irishman'. He confessed his sins, said to be his first religious act since marriage.

He was so badly injured from the fighting (a doctor had already said he had no more than a day or two to live, but the execution order was still given) that he was unable to stand before the firing squad. His absolution and last rites were administered by a Capuchin, Father Aloysius. Asked to pray for the soldiers about to shoot him, he said: 'I will say a prayer for all men who do their duty according to their lights'.

Instead of being marched to the same spot where the others had been executed, at the far end of the execution yard, he was tied to a chair and then shot. The executions were not well received, even throughout Britain, and were drawing unwanted attention from the United States, which the British Government were trying to lure into the war in Europe. There was uproar on both sides of the Atlantic when it became known that a dying man had been tied to a chair and killed. Asquith, the British PM, then ordered that no more executions were to take place; an exception being that of Roger Casement as he had not yet been tried.

James Connolly was survived by his wife and several children, one of whom - Nora Connolly O'Brien - became an influential writer and campaigner within the Republican movement as an adult.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Capuchins Part II

(A manuscript found in the Capuchin Archives in Church Street in Dublin offers a new perspective on events during the Easter Rising of April 1916, writes Benedict Cullen.)

Between April 30th and May 4th, 1916, Father Columbus Murphy, a Capuchin priest, was called on to help and administer to the prisoners in Kilmainham Gaol prior to their execution. The following is based on a portion of Father Columbus's manuscript between these dates.

The day after the surrender of the Four Courts on April 29th, there was still confusion in North King Street about whether this was a truce or a surrender. To clarify, Father Columbus went to the Four Courts in an effort to retrieve Pádraic Pearse's note, which had led to the surrender there of Comdt Ned Daly. Failing in this effort, Father Columbus crossed the river to Dublin Castle to see if someone there had the note.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Capuchins

Reverend Leonard Coughlin and Pearse's crucifix.

This is the same crucifix which is seen held by Father Leonard on the top right of this page. This was the crucifix which Father Aloysius had brought with him to the jail and which he had left with Patrick Pearse earlier. Pearse scratched his initials; ‘P.M.P.’ for the Irish form of his name, on the back of the crucifix as a memento for Father Aloysius.

The crucifix has since been preserved in the Church Street Friary and Father Leonard says that it was used by Father Aloysius at missions.

The cross is of wood and the figures of Our Lord, Our Lady and the skull and crossbones of brass. Father Aloysius and Father Augustine were not permitted on May 3, 1916 to stay with the condemned men, Pearse, Clarke and MacDonagh until their execution but had to leave Kilmainham jail between 2 and 3 am

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday 30 April 1916

The Richmond Barracks where the leaders of the Rising were court-martialled.

At 3.45 p.m. Pearse signed an order for general unconditional surrender. On Sunday, 30th April, the Rising ended in military defeat for the Republican forces. On Sunday all organized resistance ended. At 5 p.m. April 30, the tricolor was pulled from the top of the remains of the GPO, the dream of the republic seemingly pulled down with it.

In a letter to his family, Thomas McDonagh recalls "On April 30th. I was astonished to receive by a messenger from P.H. Pearse, Commandant General of the Army of the Irish Republic, an order to surrender unconditionality to the Brittish General. I did not obey the order as it came from a prisoner. I as then in supreme command of the Irish Army, consulted with my second in command and decided to confirm the order. I knew that it would involve my death and the deaths of other leaders. I hoped that it would save many true men among our followers, good lives for Ireland. God grant it has done so and God approve our deed. For my self I have no regret. The one bitterness that death has for me is the separation it brings from my beloved wife Muriel, and my beloved children, Donagh and Barbara. My country will then treat them as wards, I hope. I have devoted myself too much to National work and too little to the making of money to leave them a competence. God help them and supprot them, and give them a happy and prosperous life. Never was there a better, truer, purer woman then my wife Muriel, or more adoreable children than Don and Barbara. It breaks my heart that I shall never se my children again, but I have not wept or murmured. I counted the cost of this and am ready to pay it. Muriel has been sent for here. I do not know if she can come. She may have no one to take the children while she is coming. If she does -".

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Easter Saturday

Reinforcements were sent to Dublin from England, and disembarked at Kingstown on the morning of 26 April. Heavy fighting occurred at the rebel-held positions around the Grand Canal as these troops advanced towards Dublin. The Sherwood Foresters were repeatedly caught in a cross-fire trying to cross the canal at Mount Street. Seventeen Volunteers were able to severely disrupt the British advance, killing or wounding 240 men. The rebel position at the South Dublin Union (site of the present day St. James's Hospital), further west along the canal, also inflicted heavy losses on British troops trying to advance towards Dublin Castle. Cathal Brugha, a rebel officer, distinguished himself in this action and was badly wounded.

The headquarters garrison, after days of shelling, were forced to abandon their headquarters when fire caused by the shells spread to the GPO. They tunnelled through the walls of the neighbouring buildings in order to evacuate the Post Office without coming under fire and took up a new position in 16 Moore Street. On Saturday 29 April, from this new headquarters, after realizing that they could not break out of this position without further loss of civilian life, Pearse issued an order for all companies to surrender. Pearce surrendered unconditionally to Brigadier-General Lowe. The surrender document read:

"In order to prevent the further slaughter of Dublin citizens, and in the hope of saving the lives of our followers now surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered, the members of the Provisional Government present at headquarters have agreed to an unconditional surrender, and the commandants of the various districts in the City and County will order their commands to lay down arms."

Friday, April 9, 2010

Easter Friday

"As the week progressed, the fighting in some areas did become intense, characterized by prolonged, fiercely contested hand to hand street battles. Military casualties were highest at Mount Street Bridge. There, newly arrived troops made successive, tactically inept, frontal attacks on determined and disciplined volunteers occupying several strongly fortified outposts. They lost 234 men, dead or wounded while just 5 rebels died. In some instances, lapses in military discipline occurred. Soldiers were alleged to have killed 15 unarmed men in North King Street near the Four Courts during intense gun battles there on 28th and 29th April. The pacifist Francis Sheehy-Skeffington was the best- known civilian victim of the insurrection. He was arrested in Dublin on 25th April, taken to Portobello Barracks and shot by firing squad next morning without trial.

Overall the British authorities responded competently to the Rising. Reinforcements were speedily drafted into the capital and by Friday 28th April, the 1,600 rebels (more had joined during the week) were facing 18-20,000 soldiers. From Thursday the GPO was entirely cut off from other rebel garrisons. Next day it came under a ferocious artillery attack which also devastated much of central Dublin. Having learnt the lessons of Mount Street Bridge, the troops did not attempt a mass infantry attack. Their strategy was effective. It compelled the insurgent leaders, based at the Post Office, first to evacuate the building and later to accept the only terms on offer – unconditional surrender. Their decision was then made known to and accepted sometimes reluctantly, by all the rebel garrisons still fighting both in the capital and in the provinces."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Easter Thursday

In November 1913 Eamonn Ceannt joined the Irish Volunteers, he quickly rose in their ranks. He led his men of the 4th Dublin Battalion to Howth for the famous gund Running manoeuvre. He was also present a week later when the Volunteers landed a 2nd consignment of guns at Kilcoole, County Wicklow.

During Easter Week he was in charge of the garrison in the South Dublin Union. His second in command was Cathal Brugha. On Thursday of Easter Week, there was some confusion and after many hours of heavy bombardment a mistaken order to retreat was circulated among the troops. Brugha was badly wounded and lay unable to leave. Ceannt was mistakenly told that Brugha was dead. Brugha weak from loss of blood continue to fire upon the enemy and then suddenly the Volunteers heard the voice of Brugha singing "God Save Ireland".

In one of the most dramatic scenes of Easter Week, Eamonn Ceannt"crept on bended knees to the side of this comrade. He found him lying in a pool of his own blood. The two men embraced and Cathal said "Let us sing 'God Save Ireland', Eamonn. Then he collapsed. But he had held up the enemy's advance for 4 hours."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter Wednesday

Sean Heuston commanded the Volunteers at the Mendicity Institution. On Easter Wednesday morning, April 20, 1916 two Volunteer dispatchers slipped through some very dangerous areas to bring an urgent message to James Connolly from Hueston. He needed immediate backup, because he and 20 men were still holding out against several hundred British troops, who had Hueston's men just about completely surrounded. A major assault was expected at any time and supplies and food were just about gone.

Connolly was quite excited and Pearse said aid would be sent immediately to Heuston and his company. But almost immediately they found that it was impossible and that Hueston had been captured. Connolly had given orders to Heuston to hold up the British that were heading toward the Four Courts for 3-4 hours which would allow allow the garrison there as well as Headquarters to prepare their defenses. Connolly found out later that Heuston not only held his position for the few hours specified, but was still there after nearly 50 hours until he could hold out no longer.

Sean Heuston was shot on May 8.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Tuesday

British forces initially put their efforts into securing the approaches to Dublin Castle and isolating the rebel headquarters, which they believed was in Liberty Hall. The British commander, Brigadier-General W. H. M. Lowe, worked slowly, unsure of the size of the force he was up against, and with only 1,269 troops in the city when he arrived from the Curragh Camp in the early hours of Tuesday 25 April. City Hall was taken on Tuesday morning. The rebel position at St Stephen's Green, held by the Citizen Army under Michael Mallin, was made untenable after the British placed snipers and machine guns in the Shelbourne Hotel and surrounding buildings. As a result, Mallin's men retreated to the Royal College of Surgeons building. British firepower was provided by field artillery summoned from their garrison at Athlone which they positioned on the northside of the city at Phibsborough and at Trinity College, and by the patrol vessel Helga, which sailed upriver from Kingstown. Lord Wimborne, the Lord Lieutenant, declared martial law on Tuesday evening.

At Ashbourne, County Meath, the North County Dublin Volunteers (also known as the Fingal Volunteers), led by Thomas Ashe and his second in command Richard Mulcahy, attacked the RIC barracks. Reinforcements came from Slane and after a five-hour battle, the Volunteers captured over 90 prisoners. There were 8–10 RIC deaths and two Volunteer fatalities, John Crennigan and Thomas Rafferty. The action pre-figured the guerrilla tactics of the Irish Republican Army in the Irish War of Independence from 1919 to 1921. Elsewhere in the east, Seán MacEntee and County Louth Volunteers killed a policeman and a prison guard. In County Wexford, the Volunteers took over Enniscorthy from Tuesday until Friday, before symbolically surrendering to the British Army at Vinegar Hill – site of a famous battle during the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Monday

At four minutes past noon on Easter Monday, April 24th, 1916, a sudden hush fell over the O’Connell Street. From the steps of the General Post Office Patrick Pearse read the Proclamation of the Republic.

When Pearse finished, the beaming Connolly took his hand and shook it vigorously. A few ragged cheers hung in the air, but the poet, Stephen McKenna, who listened to Pearse read these words, recorded later that he felt sad for him, for the response from the crowd was chilling. There were no wild hurrahs, no scenes reminiscent of the excitement which had gripped the French mob before they stormed the Bastille. The Irish simply listened and shrugged their shoulders, or sniggered a little, and then glanced round to see if the police were coming.

Nearby young insurgents were posting copies of the Proclamation, or handing them round among the crowd. One copy, weighted down with stones, was placed on the ground at the foot of Nelson Pillar so that everybody could read it.

Slowly the crowd broke up. Some strolled across to the Pillar, where they idly read the Proclamation; others just stood and stared up at the unfamiliar flags (the green flag on the left at the corner of Princes Street and the Tricolor on the right at the corner of Henry Street) from the roof of the G.P.O. Quite a few, bored with the whole affair, simply turned and wandered away.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday - The Lord is Risen. The Lord is Risen, indeed!

The loss of the arms was a huge blow to the Council as was the news that Sir Roger Casement, an Englishman who had been instrumental in securing the arms, had been captured at Banna Strand. MacNeill ordered the Volunteers not to 'move' on Sunday and the Council's plans were thrown into disarray. A conference between Pearse, Plunkett, and Dermot Lynch was called, but Connolly, Clarke and Ceannt, couldn't be reached so the meeting was adjourned, and they all met at Liberty Hall at 8 a.m. They met on the morning of Easter Sunday, at Liberty Hall in Dublin, to discuss their next step. The mood of that meeting was somber - with the loss of the arms all chance of victory seemed to have vanished.

All members of the Military Council were at the 2nd meeting, it lasted till 1 am Easter Sunday. Despite the huge setback the Council leaders decided to carry on. The Rising was now given the 'go-ahead' for the next day - Easter Monday, but could only feasibly (due to the lack of weapons) take place in Dublin. Smaller Risings were still scheduled for Galway and Wexford, however. Pearse ordered the troops for action at noon.

On Easter Sunday, Mrs. Pearse asked her son Padraig to write a poem for her as if she was speaking. Padraig Pearse wrote the poem just hours before his death and it is about the "Brothers Pearse".

I do not grudge them;
Lord, I do not grudge
My two strong sons that I have seen go out
To break their strength and die, they and a few,
In bloody protest for a glorious thing,
They shall be spoken of amoung their people,
The generation shall remember them,
And call them Blessed:
But I will speak their names to my own heart
In the long nights;
The little names that were familiar once
Round my dead hearth.
Lord, thou art hard on mothers;
We suffer in their coming and their going;
And tho' I grudge them not, I weary, weary
Of the long sorrow - And yet I have my joy;
My sons were faithful, and they fought.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Holy Saturday

In Dublin during Holy Week, when Eoin MacNeill got word of the Rising, MacDiarmada with other leaders did their best to persuade MacNeill to agree it it. Late on Holy Saturday night MacDiarmada got word of MacNeill's Countermanding Order appearing in the "Sunday Independent" (Note*** MacNeill did not agree with the Rising and knew that the practice maneuvers of the Irish Volunteers planned for Easter Sunday was a cover for an uprising. He sent messengers all over Ireland to tell the Volunteers to do nothing on Easter Sunday, and he published a cancellation notice in the Sunday Independent, with this action he effectively doomed the uprising to failure***)

In Holy Week 1916, Murt O'Leary was approached by three men from Tralee - Sheehy, Stack and Cahill - at Spillane's pub in Castlegregory (now Fitzgerald's). They told Murt that they were expecting just a handful of guns to come into Fenit on the Aud and asked him to pilot the boat into Fenit.

On Holy Thursday evening Murt saw the Aud coming up from the west. She seemed to be weighted down but wasn't flying a flag for a pilot to pilot her into Fenit, so he didn't take much notice of her.

On Good Friday morning he saw a British patrol boat boarding her. The Captain of the Aud had false papers showing she was a Norwegian commercial ship, so the British went off feeling all was in order. A British destroyer came up from the west on Saturday morning and fired a shot across the bow of the ship and gave orders to follow her down to Queenstown harbour. All that happened before anyone in Tralee became aware of events. They read about it in the newspapers two days later.

The boat would come in to the north of Inishtooskert on Holy Saturday night. Security was so tight on that day that they said they would bring a lamp and a green jersey later though these items never arrived. If the Aud appeared during the day he would wear a green jersey and if by night he would flash the lamp.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

Good Friday is the holiest of holidays on the Christian calendar. This day over 2 millenia ago, Jesus called the Christ, came down to earth and at the apporximate age of thirty-three paid the ultimate price for our sins by dying on the cross for the sins of all mankind. While He died for all the sins of mankind, He paid a higher price than the death on the cross. The ultimate price was not the death on the cross, but when God the Father turned His back on His Son because He saw my sins and yours on His Son and He, God the Father, cannot look on sin. This came to light for me many years after I became a Christian and turned my life over to Him as I pondered the Scripture "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?" God the Father forsook God the Son; that above all else must have torn at the heart of Jesus.

Let us take a look at the Easter Rising of 1916 on Good Friday:

In the early hours of 21 April 1916, Good Friday - three days before the rising began, a German U-boat landed on Banna Strand dropping off Roger Casement, Daniel Julian Bailey, and Robert Monteith. Roger Caement was discovered and arrested on charges of treason, sabotage, and espionage against the Crown. He was taken straight to the Tower of London where he was imprisoned, but not before he was able to send word to Dublin about the inadequate German assistance.

Michael Collins had sent a car to pick up the "Casement Brigade". However, on the way they drove off the road into the River Laune, where they drowned.

Austin Stack will not go into a Police station and ask. (Probably due to the fact that the police were an arm of the British Administration.)

Arthur Hamilton Norway

Arthur Hamilton Norway, head of the Irish Post Office, being a diligent public servant, had letters to write, even though it was a bank holiday. While his wife sat sewing in the Royal Hibernian Hotel on Dawson Street, where the family lived, and their son Nevil went for a ride on his motorbike, he dropped in to his office at the GPO to collect some papers. He was just sitting down at his desk when the phone rang and Sir Matthew Nathan, Under-Secretary of the Irish administration, asked him to go immediately to Dublin Castle.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

John Dillon

1851 - August 4, 1927

With the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914 Dillon accepted Redmond’s decision to follow Britain’s support of the Allied war effort, but he abstained from recruiting for the Irish divisions. The 1916 Rising took the Irish Party by surprise. He intervened with David Lloyd George to halt the 90 sentences of execution pronounced by "field court-martial" (in camera without defence or jury) under martial law by General Maxwell after he declared the rebellion “treason in time of war”.

Dillon insisted that if they went ahead they would "fill the whole country" with the same type of radicals, as opposed to imprisonment. This, he said would leave the radicals with as many supporters as could "fit in a single gaol cell". He attacked the Government in the House of Commons and declared that the rebels were "wrong", but had fought "a clean fight". His intervention resulted in a halt to the executions after the fifteenth, though it was apparent how unbridgeable the chasm in Anglo-Irish relations had become following the Rising. The secret manner of the trials and executions had changed public opinion into sympathy for the rebels.