My own grandfather, Sean Scanlan, was captain in 1916 of the Irish Volunteers’ Cork Brigade ‘A’ Company, and featured prominently at the front of the march, in the picture from the Grand Parade, on the front cover of Rising in the Regions.
He also gets honourable mention in the Manchester Martyrs Commemoration parade photo, at the Volunteer Hall, in Sheares Street.
The Easter Rebellion of 1916 might have been a more successful story, if the messages to the leadership of the Cork Brigade had not been so conflicting.
The commanding officer, Tomás MacCurtin, and second-in-command, Terence MacSwiney, would, no doubt, have rallied the Cork volunteers, with their German weapons, to execute the military manoeuvres with great effect. As it was, PH Pearse and his IRB soldiers chose to go solo, and were defeated by the might of the British Army within a matter of days.
My grandfather survived and took part in many covert operations after the Rising, on through the Civil War, until his death from TB in 1938 (three years after my father, Eamon, was born.)
The tales of derring–do include one of the earliest and most successful prison rescues, that of Donnchadh Mac Niallghuis, from Cork Jail, in 1918. MacNiallghuis, who escaped by bicycle to a safe house in Berrings, continued in the service of the Cork No.1 Brigade and took part in many activities, including the Dripsey Ambush. He died in Rosses Point in 1954.
My grandfather’s greatest claim to fame was being the first person in Cork to sing the ‘Soldier’s Song’, at the top of St Patrick’s Street, in 1915.
The song was later translated, in 1923, to ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ and is celebrated ever since.