As the date of the Rising rapidly approached, this is what was happening behind the scenes 100 years ago this week
- Irish Volunteers organisers Ernest Blythe and Liam Mellows arrived in England after being deported from Ireland. Mellows would be secretly returned to Ireland in time to play a key part in the Rising in Co Galway.
- Regional Volunteers organisers Terence MacSwiney (Cork), Alfred Cotton (Kerry, but restricted to living in Belfast) and John Neeson (Drogheda) visited Dublin. MacSwiney arrived at 11pm by train to Kingsbridge (now named Heuston Station after executed rebel Seán Heuston.) Cotton was seen by police detectives visiting IRB Military Council member Tom Clarke’s Dublin shop for half an hour at 2pm, as were Patrick Ryan, Seán McGarry, Ned Daly and Joseph McGuinness later, after Clarke went home. The address was one of many in Dublin used for delivery and despatch of Irish Volunteers secret messages.
- At Volunteers headquarters on Dawson Street, Dublin, Éamon de Valera, Michael and John O’Hanrahan, Eimar O’Duffy, Bulmer Hobson, Con Colbert, Ned Daly, Thomas MacDonagh and Jennie Wyse Power were seen.
- Newspapers reported court proceedings of the previous day in which Joseph Kenny and Patrick Doyle, both of Ferns, Co Wexford, were remanded in custody by a Dublin court. They were arrested in the city centre the previous evening in a car with weapons which police said they were bringing to Wexford. Evidence was heard that eight single-barrel shotguns, stamped ‘USA’ and packed in cases, were found when the car was stopped on Sunday evening, as was a copy of the Irish Volunteer. Doyle was carrying three revolvers, two of them loaded. He was driving the car, borrowed by Catholic curate in Ferns, Fr Murphy, which they had taken to Clonliffe Road where they collected the weapons and ammunition.
- Sir Roger Casement left for Ireland aboard a German submarine, accompanied by Robert Monteith. The latter was an ex British Army soldier who had joined the Irish Volunteers and was later sent to Germany to help Casement establish an Irish Brigade among prisoners of war. Also on board was Daniel Bailey, a soldier of the Royal Irish Rifles who had been recruited into the Irish Brigade.
- Terence MacSwiney and Michael O’Hanrahan were at Volunteers HQ for an hour until noon, MacSwiney returning to Cork by 3pm train. Between 8pm and 9pm, Hobson, Patrick Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh, Éamonn Ceannt, Seán MacDiarmada, and others met at the same location. Four of the 10 men present were on the IRB Military Council whose existence was unknown to the others — as were its plans for Easter Sunday, 11 days later, to land German guns in Kerry and orchestrate a rebellion with the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army.
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- Tom Clarke, his brother-in-law Ned Daly, and Sinn Féin founder Arthur Griffith met at 12 D’Olier Street, where Daly later met with Diarmuid Lynch (IRB Supreme Council) and Seán MacDiarmada.
- Daly was also in Irish Volunteers headquarters for almost two hours that night, along with De Valera, Frank Fahy, Piaras Béaslaí, Con Colbert and others. Irish Volunteers staff officer JJ O’Connell was at the offices earlier that afternoon, but left Dublin for Cork on a 6.15pm train.
- The ‘Castle document’ was distributed to newspapers as part of the Military Council plan to gain Irish Volunteers sanction for participation in the imminent Rising, now just a week away. Printed in Military Council member Joseph Plunkett’s home, it purported to be a memo secreted from inside Dublin Castle. It revealed apparent plans to arrest prominent Irish Volunteers and Sinn Féin figures, and to isolate and prevent communication in or out of key addresses in Dublin.
- After the raising of the Irish flag (gold harp — uncrowned — on a green background) by Irish Women Workers’ Union Molly O’Reilly at Liberty Hall, James Connolly told members of the Irish Citizen Army: “You are going into a fight with everything against you. It is a thousand to one. If you lose you will be the worst characters that ever a country gave birth to. If you win you will be the greatest that the country ever produced.”
Sources for this information include:
‘Movement of Extremists’ reports of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, held in the National Archives of Ireland. See the original documents at nationalarchives.ie
Bureau of Military History witness statements made by participants in the Rising in the 1940s and 1950s: www.militaryarchives.ie
Monthly reports of Royal Irish Constabulary inspector general and county inspectors, viewed on microfilm at UCC’s Boole Library
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