Easter Rising – Day 4: City in flames.

As Trinity College became a barracks, fire wiped out the east side of O’Connell Street
     

At Trinity College Dublin the morning brought the sight of the university doubling as a British army barracks.
“The quadrangles presented an extraordinary appearance,” according to an account written soon afterwards by an anonymous student, who was also a member of the officers’ training corps.
“Some 4,000 troops were stationed in the college. Horses tied to the chains which enclosed the grass plots gave the place the appearance of a vast open-air stable or horse fair.
“Men stood in ranks or sprawled on pavements or on the doorsteps – anywhere – sometimes closely packed and fast asleep in every conceivable attitude. Many of them had put in a hard night’s work.”
These included men from the Sherwood Foresters, fresh from the fight at Mount Street.
“Not a few who had been through these nocturnal and diurnal operations told me that they would prefer being at the Front. At the Front, they said, you knew which direction from which you may expect a bullet.
“Here, the enemy is all around you. He lurks in the dark passages and chimney stacks, and when at last you think you have hunted him down, you find yourself in possession of a peaceful citizen who gives some plausible reason for his presence.”
Along with dead soldiers brought into the college grounds, wounded and dying civilians were also arriving by horse-drawn ambulance.
“Then a little boy was brought in on a stretcher. He had been shot through the hand on Monday, and there was fear that the wound had become septic.
“The father accompanied him, but even in these circumstances was not admitted to the quadrangles.
“He told me that none of the family had tasted food since Monday night. The child looked very ill – too ill to cry or complain . . . Hot tea was given to the little patient.
“There was a rapid revival. He thanked us in a voice which never rose above a whisper.”
Under siege
There was fighting across the city. The surrender of the Mendicity Institute had left the Four Courts rebel garrison, led by Ned Daly, under siege by troops.

They had sent improvised armoured vehicles – Guinness lorries covered with old boilers and iron plates – into the fray, but fighting along King Street was house to house.
At the South Dublin Union Eamonn Ceannt’s small garrison was under fierce attack. His vice-commandant, Cathal Brugha, would suffer 25 wounds in all before finally being evacuated on the Friday.
For Robert Holland and the garrison at Marrowbone Lane, dawn on Thursday had brought the sight of British soldiers surrounding the distillery.
“Trenches had been dug on both sides of the Canal, also the Fair-Brothers Field, and we settled down for a ‘battle royal’.
“All rifles are brought into play and Jack Saul, my brother Dan, Mick White and myself took up positions facing four different directions.
“At the usual time the girls brought along our breakfast, tea and bread.
“The girls kept loading the rifles and we were allocated three rifles each. I occasionally used one of the Howth guns and was driven about 12ft across the floor every time I fired it.”
At about 2pm, with soldiers reaching the outer boundaries of the distillery, Holland and four other Volunteers were brought to the yard and given hand grenades.
In the main hall Con Colbert was giving lessons on how to use them and on how to use the crude pikes that were being made on the premises. Holland describes crude weapons.
“They were being made out of scrap iron picked up around the Brewery Yard and put on what looked like broken broom handles.
“They only consisted of a piece of steel with a sharp point and I began wishing that I had taken the soldiers’ bayonets as well as the ammunition.
“Frank Saul then heard some talking outside the Canal gate where he was at the time and he and someone else threw one of the grenades over the wall. We heard some screeching and shouting outside and a lot of moaning.
“As a result, the soldiers at the outside of the wall ran away from it and they were fired on by a volley from the Distillery.
“I saw Con Colbert smile as he sent us back into the building again saying, ‘that stops the attack for the present.’
“When I got up on top again, the soldiers had become scarce but I could see a lot of bodies all around outside the wall and up as far as Dolphin’s Barn Bridge.
“I could just see a pit and Red Cross men working at it, putting bodies into it, at the bridge.”
James Stephens would recall another day of wild rumour, but there was no doubting the ferocity of some of the violence.
“At 11.30am there came the sound of heavy guns firing in the direction of Sackville Street. I went on the roof, and remained there for some time. From this height the sounds could be heard plainly.
“There was sustained firing along the whole central line of the City, from the Green down to Trinity College, and from thence to Sackville Street, and the report of the various types of arm could be easily distinguished.
“There were rifles, machine guns and very heavy cannon. There was another sound which I could not put a name to, something that coughed out over all the other sounds, a short, sharp bark, or rather a short noise something like the popping of a tremendous cork.”
For Mary Louisa Hamilton Norway – husband of the secretary of the GPO in Ireland – who wrote several letters from the Royal Hibernian Hotel on Dawson Street during the week, the situation was causing particular problems.
“Yesterday, to our great indignation, the public-houses were allowed to be open from 2pm till 5pm, though every shop, bank, and public building was closed – just to inflame the mob, it could not have been on any other grounds; and yet at 8pm, after being on duty from 5am, H” – her husband, Arthur – “could not get a whiskey and soda, or even a glass of cider with his dinner, as it was out of hours. I was furious!”
Until the afternoon there had been a gun battle around Grafton Street; when it was over the looters descended on the area, targeting a nearby fruit shop.
“From the windows we watched the proceedings, and I never saw anything so brazen! The mob were chiefly women and children with a sprinkling of men.
“They swarmed in and out of the side door bearing huge consignments of bananas, the great bunches on the stalk, to which children attached a cord and ran away dragging it along.
“It was an amazing sight and nothing daunted these people. Higher up at another shop we were told a woman was hanging out of a window and dropping down loot to a friend, when she was shot through the head by a sniper . . . The body dropped into the street and the mob cleared.
“In a few minutes, a handcart appeared and gathered up the body, and instantly all the mob swarmed back to continue the joyful proceedings!”
At the GPO Pearse spoke to the men, telling them, among other things, that the country had risen, that a large band of insurgents was making its way from Dundalk to Dublin and that large numbers of police had been captured after a battle in the north Co Dublin village of Lusk.
His words were greeted with cheers.
In the afternoon, however, James Connolly, who had been a calm and ubiquitous figure at the GPO and around O’Connell Street all week,– was wounded when a ricochet caught him, causing a compound fracture of his left shinbone.
He was crippled and confined to a stretcher on the floor.
Flames engulf the street
Meanwhile, flames began to engulf the street, watched by Oscar Traynor from the Metropole Hotel.

“Some time on Thursday a barricade which stretched from the Royal Hibernian Academy to a cycle shop – I think the name of it was Keating’s – on the opposite side of the street, took fire as a result of a direct shell hit.
“It was the firing of this barricade that caused the fire that wiped out the east side of O’Connell Street. I saw that happen myself.
“I saw the barricade being hit; I saw the fire consuming it and I saw Keating’s going up. Then Hoyt’s caught fire, and when Hoyt’s caught fire the whole block up to Earl Street became involved.
“Hoyt’s had a lot of turpentine and other inflammable stuff, and I saw the fire spread from there to Clerys. Clerys and the Imperial Hotel were one and the same building . . .
“Before that happened, those of us in the Metropole made tremendous efforts to warn the garrison in the Imperial Hotel of the grave danger which menaced them.
“If our messages, which were sent by semaphore, were understood they do not appear to have been acted on, as the eventual evacuation of the Imperial Hotel appears to have been a rather hurried one.
“I had the extraordinary experience of seeing the huge plate-glass windows of Clerys stores run molten into the channel from the terrific heat.”
Oil from sardine cans
As government troops approached from the direction of the Abbey Theatre the firing was so continuous that the rebels’ weapons overheated.

Without any suitable oil to cool them down, they improvised and used oil from sardine cans.
Things became so confused that when some horses bolted from a burning building the rebels began shooting and throwing home-made bombs at them, believing it to be a British cavalry charge.
“One of our men was swinging a home-made bomb, which was, in fact, a billy-can packed with bolts, nuts and, I believe, gelignite as the explosive,” recounted Traynor.
“He was swinging this bomb around his head in order to gain impetus for his throw, when to our horror the handle parted company with the can and the can flew into the room instead of being thrown at the horses.
“Luckily for us it did not explode. I think three bombs, none of which exploded, were thrown.”
Things were far quieter out of the city. Ernest Jordison, head of British Petroleum in Ireland, had spent the day taking his children to the safety of Drogheda, Co Louth, where he left three of his children with a cousin of his wife.
They had cycled from Clontarf, on Dublin’s northside.
“I returned home from Drogheda after leaving my children there, and took my children’s bicycle along with me, pushing it along while riding my own.
“I had a few minutes’ stay in Balbriggan for refreshment, and continued my journey to Clontarf without incident.
“After leaving the main road at Santry, along the lanes, cycling through Coolock and Killester, everything was still and quiet except for the corncrakes craking, the weather was very beautiful and fine, and the country was lighted up from the reflection in the skies of the fires in Dublin city.
“I hardly met a soul the whole way home from Balbriggan. I could hear the guns being fired in the city, and the flames and reflections were very vivid over the city.”
As night fell the planet Venus shone brilliantly, but the sky glowed red. Dubliners could see their city burning.
“This night also was calm and beautiful, but this night was the most sinister and woeful of those that have passed,” wrote James Stephens.
“The sound of artillery, of rifles, machine guns, grenades, did not cease even for a moment.
“From my window I saw a red flare that crept to the sky, and stole over it and remained there glaring; the smoke reached from the ground to the clouds, and I could see great red sparks go soaring to enormous heights; while always, in the calm air, hour after hour there was the buzzing and rattling and thudding of guns, and, but for the guns, silence.”
Mary Louisa Hamilton Norway watched the fires from her window on Dawson Street.
“It was the most awe-inspiring sight I have ever seen. It seemed as if the whole city was on fire, the glow extending right above the heavens and the red glare hundreds of feet high, while above the roar of the fires the whole air seemed to be vibrating with the noise of the great guns and machine-guns.
“It was an inferno!”

With many thanks to: Easter Rising War of Independence and Irish Civil war History.

Remembering with pride Michael O’Rahilly who was born in Ballylongford, Co Kerry, on April 22nd 1875.

Born on this day 

Michael O’Rahilly who was born on this day Ballylongford, Co Kerry, on April 22nd 1875.

Michael ORahilly Michael ORahilly was born in Ballylongford, Co. Kerry on 22nd April 1875 the unique distinction of being an Irish Volunteer leader who opposed the idea of a Rising in 1916 and initially tried to stop it but who then played his part once the fight began and, at the end of Easter Week, gave his life for Irish freedom
Known as ‘The O’Rahilly’ after he adopted this name to emphasise his ancestry in the Ó Raithile clann of Kerry, he played a central role in the establishment of the Irish Volunteers. He was untypical of most Volunteer leaders in that he was a wealthy man and there was no nationalist or republican background in his family. However, O’Rahilly brought an energy and enthusiasm to the many Irish nationalist activities in which he became involved. 

Michael Joseph Rahilly (he restored the ‘O’ later) was born to a prosperous merchant family in Ballylongford, Co. Kerry in 1875. He attended the local national school, where he was taught Irish after school hours by the principal, who was a native speaker from An Daingean. He was then sent to the Jesuit-run Clongowes Wood College, the private boarding school for wealthy Catholics. 

In 1899 he married Nancy Browne of Philadelphia and they settled near Dublin. They moved to Philadelphia in 1905. By this time O’Rahilly had developed strong nationalist politics and was a contributor to Arthur Griffith’s newspaper the United Irishman. In 1909 he returned to Ireland with his wife and children and became more deeply involved in politics. He worked on Griffith’s Sinn Féin newspaper when it became a daily in 1909, a short-lived venture which failed commercially and ceased in 1910. In the Sinn Féin organisation O’Rahilly did much to promote Irish industries. 

O’Rahilly was centrally involved in the opposition to the visit of King George V to Dublin in 1911. In the following year he was elected to the Coiste Gnó (Executive) of Conradh na Gaeilge. He became editor of its journal An Claidheamh Soluis and in November 1913 it was O’Rahilly who asked Eoin Mac Néill to write for that paper his article ‘The North Began’. This was the spark which led to the founding of the Irish Volunteers. O’Rahilly wrote and issued the invitation to nationalists in Dublin to the meeting in Wynn’s Hotel which founded the Volunteers. 

For the next two and half years O’Rahilly threw himself into the work of the Volunteers, of which he was Treasurer and Director of Munitions. He was one of the small group that organised the purchase of guns for the Volunteers and their landing at Howth and Kilcoole in July 1914. John Redmond’s machinations in trying to take over and suppress the Volunteers were exposed in O’Rahilly’s pamphlet The Secret History of the Irish Volunteers. 

In the days prior to the Easter Rising O’Rahilly worked with Mac Néill in attempting to prevent the insurrection. When he realised on Easter Monday that the mobilisation in Dublin was going ahead he reported for duty and fought in the GPO during Easter Week.  On Easter Friday evening he led a small detachment of Volunteers up Moore Street in an effort to clear the British barricade at the Parnell Street end. Four Volunteers – Henry Coyle, Francis Macken, Michael Mulvihill and Patrick Shortis – were killed in their charge up Moore Street and O’Rahilly was fatally wounded.

O’Rahilly managed to drag himself into Sackville Lane (now O’Rahilly Parade) where he lay dying for many hours. Volunteers and civilians were unable to come to his aid because of the British firing. He died on Easter Saturday and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery as the prison executions of his comrades were beginning.

With  many thanks to: Easter Rising War of Independence and Irish Civil war History.

REF President Des Dalton speaking outside the G.P.O 2017 (General Post Office) Heaquarters 1916 Easter Rising

Rsf President des Dalton speaking outside the G.P.O today

With many thanks to: Che Guevara

Annual Easter Rising Commemoration – 12pm – Waverley Cemetery Bronte.

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Ireland’s first hunger strike martyr Thomas Ashe.

Ashe from Lios Póil in the County Kerry Gaeltacht was a member of the Gaelic League, Irish Republican Brotherhood and GAA. He commanded the Fingal battalion of the Irish Volunteers during the Easter Rising.

On the 8th May 1916, Ashe and Eamon de Valera were court-martialed and sentenced to death. Both sentences were commuted to life, and Ashe was sent to a variety of English prisons. While in prison he wrote the poem “Let Me Carry Your Cross for Ireland, Lord”.

Thomas Ashe was released from jail in June 1917 under the general amnesty which was given to republican prisoners. Upon his release he returned to Ireland and began a series of speaking engagements. In August 1917, after a speech in Ballinalee, Longford, where Michael Collins had also been speaking, he was arrested and charged with “speeches calculated to cause disaffection”. He was sentenced to one year’s hard labour in Mountjoy Jail.

Ashe, along with Austin Stack, who was also in Mountjoy demanded to be treated as prisoners-of-war. Having been deprived of a bed, bedding and boots Ashe went on hunger strike on 20th September 1917. On 25th September 1917 he died from pneumonia, which was caused by force-feeding by the prison authorities. He was 32 years old.

From the smouldering embers of Easter Week 1916 the death on hunger strike of Ashe produced a flame. A flame which an empire failed to extinguish, which treachery could not subdue, which today burns its way through hypocrisy and coercion – a living flame.

With many thanks to: James Connolly.

 

Relative of 1916 Rising Hero contests unjust conviction for highlighting the case of the Craigavon Two

Friday 24th March will see IRPWA member Brian Murphy challenge his public order conviction and his 2 months suspended sentence when he appears at the Circuit Court at the Central Criminal Courts, Parkgate Street, Dublin.1

Brian was arrested following his lone protest at a 26 County State ceremony in Grangegorman cemetery, Dublin on May 25th, 2016 to ‘commemorate’ British soldiers killed suppressing the 1916 Easter Rising.

During his peaceful protest, Brian was assaulted by the Canadian Ambassador to the 26 counties, Kevin Vickers. Brian’s protest which included highlighting the continued persecution and plight of imprisoned republicans including the case of the Craigavon Two (www.JFTC2.com), became headline news all over the world, both online and in mainstream media particularly in Canada. The actions of the Canadian Ambassador amplified Brian’s protest beyond anything he had expected and the 26 county state sought draconian retribution as a result of being embarrassed, with their reformist agenda around the centenary commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising exposed.

The embarrassment caused to the state highlighted their contempt for the republican heroes of 1916 and their continued attempts to criminalise the republican struggle whilst cosying up to British imperialism which continues to occupy the north of Ireland dividing the Irish nation by force.

In challenging his conviction Brian will maintain his right to protest this event to which he had received a formal invitation and that his actions on the day were not ‘criminal’ unlike those of the Canadian Ambassador who has never been brought to task for his unwarranted aggression.

It is the view of both Saoradh and the IRPWA that Brian’s conviction and the harshness of his sentence were politically motivated, the right to peacefully protest has been set aside by the state as witnessed in cases such as Brian’s and in the case of the Jobstown water protest. Saoradh and the IRPWA stand in solidarity with Brian and wish him the best of luck in overturning this contrived conviction.

With many thanks to: 

Today in Irish History Thomas Whelan was Executed 14 March 1921

Thomas Whelan, originally from Connemara, was 22 when he was hanged. He left home at 18 to work at Broadstone train depot in Dublin and while there joined A Company, 3rd Battalion, Dublin Brigade.

He was hanged with Patrick Moran for his alleged part in the Bloody Sunday morning operations on 21 November 1920. In a single morning, the IRA executed 14 British Intelligence officers – all members of the infamous Cairo Gang. In retaliation, the Black and Tans later that day opened fire on spectators at a GAA match in Croke Park, killing 12 spectators and wounding over 100.

Thomas was charged that along with James McNamara and Michael J Tobin, he had killed Captain T Bagally at Baggot Street. The high-profile nationalist and later final Governor General of the Free State, Tim Healy, refused to defend them.

There was alibi evidence that Thomas was attending mass in Ring at the time but that information was not relayed to the court. His counsel told the court: “The boy was a weekly communicant and not the class of man that murderers are made of.” Thomas was sentenced to death, although James Boyce was acquitted.

An application to the Lord Lieutenant for a reprieve was turned down on 2 March while another Volunteer, Edward Potter, was granted a reprieve.

Thomas told a nun who visited him: “I have just told my mother that just as a priest starts a new life at ordination, so on Monday I will start a new life that will last forever.”

In a message to his friends he said: “Give the boys my love. Tell them to follow on and never surrender. Tell them to pray for me, especially ‘Dev’s Own’, and I will pray for them. Tell them I am proud to die for Ireland.”

With many thanks to: Easter Rising War of Independence and Irish Civil War History.

Remembering today Oglach Kevin Barry, born 20th January 1902. Executed on this day 1st November, 1920 in Mountjoy Jail, Dublin.

KEVIN BARRY

Kevin Barry was 18-years-old when he was hanged in Mountjoy Jail on November 1st 1920.

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Kevin Barry, 1902-1920 - Executed by British armed forces 1920.

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Watch the video below and have a listen to the song:
http:// https://m.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DjG6D7-PAIKI&h=UAQFOwcNc&enc=AZMSRnVz291sRcLzm6oohnpNIbRfrervDyw5r2nYxpSJ1hpJjPv66MgjWgLTdadGZGu83JvvHMPXfiOtGRsMj-hmtPIAj4km-ePKyHS-8NgX1RD5sfuqtBZRxKi-6ec4WNw77VvYLtm4koav2m2IXx1A1tZ_hVPTnTjAUF92t05waSwMi1U-Bi975exm5_8oo88&s=1

With many thanks to: Ireland Long Held in Chains Stair agus Cultûr na hÉireann:

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