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The 1916 Easter Rising

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by British soldiers they were jeered by Dublin citizens outraged by the attack on their city in what was seen as a cowardly betrayal of irish men fighting on the Western Front. On Grafton Street an angry mob attacked Mallin's garrison and a British officer threatened to shoot the protesters before they finally withdrew. Michael Mallin was tried by Field Court Martial. His conduct during his trial is the second reason the Dubliner has been largely written out of Irish history. During his defence, Mallin claimed that he had no prior knowledge of the Rising; that, when he arrived at the Green, Countess Markievicz ordered him to take charge of the garrison. This was a blatant fabrication. Markievicz was, in fact, Michael Mallin's deputy in the Green ( she actually wore an old Citizen Army tunic of Mallin's ) in a desperate attempt to avoid the death sentence Mallin probably reasoned that the British would not, because of her gender, shoot Markievicz, but it was a very risky gamble and some would say dishonourable.

In a memorandum sent by general Maxwell to the British Prime Minister the following description was provided for Michael mallin. ' This man was second-in-command of the Larkinite or Citizen Army, with which organisation he had been connected since its inception. He was in command of the rebels who occupied Stephen's Green and the College of Surgeons. At these places serios encounters took place and there were many casualties bothe amongst the military and civilians. He surrendered on the 30th April 1916 and was accompanied by a body of 109 rebels all of whom were armed. ' Michael Mallin was tried by Court Martial on the 3rd May 1916. The British officers present at his trial were Colonel E.W.S.K Maconchy ( president ) Lieutenant-Colonel Bent and Major F.W Woodward. At his trial Michael faced two charges to which he pleaded not guilty. The first charge being: ' Did take part in an armed rebellion and in the waging of war against His Majesty the King, such act being of such a nature as to be calculated to be prejudicial to the Defence of the Realm and being done with the intention and for the purpose of assisting the enemy. ' The second charge was: ' Did attempt to cause disaffection among the civilian population of His Majesty. ' The 1st witness was C212 Police Constable John O'Connell ( Dublin Metroploitan Police ) who stated: ' I know the prisoner Michael Mallin. There is a paper called ' The Workers Republic ' in which it has been stated that the prisoner is Chief of Staff of the Citizen Army. I have known the prisoner about 9 or 10 months


Michael Mallin under guard with the Countess
After the surrender of his men

and have seen him marching with the Citizen Army. He marched with James Connolly and the Countess Marlievicz, and has also led them in company with james Connolly. ' When cross-examined by Michael Mallin, the witness said that he did not know whether the prisoner was in command with James Connolly when marching with the Citizen Army, stating ' I never saw him as a drill instructor or a band instructor. I never jeard him make any speech at all. I have only seen it in the paper that the prisoner was Chief of the Citizen Army. ' When asked by rge court's President to explain the relationship between the Citizen Army and the Irish Volunteers the witness said that the Citizen Army and the Irish Volunteers are two distinct bodies. The Citizen Army is under the control of James Connolly. There is a slight difference in the uniform of the two armies. The 2nd witness was No 128 Police Constable C. Butler ( Dublin Metropolitan Police ) who stated: ' I know the prisoner now before the court and have known him for 6 or

8 months. I have seen him marching with the Citizen Army wearing the uniform in which he is now dressed. On one or two occasions he wore a revolver on his waistbelt. He marched with James Connolly at the head of the Army and also with the Countess Markievicz. I saw him on Easter Monday about 11.50 am he was in front of the Liberty Hall dressed as he is now. He seemed to be busy generally organising the Citizen Army and there was a larhe crowd present. ' When asked by the accused what he was doing, the witness stated that he led a section across the footbridge in the direction of St. Stephen's Green and the College of Surgeons. The witness also stated that the accused appeared to be on friendly terms with the police present at the scene. The 3rd witness was Captain H.E. Wheeler who stated the following: ' I was on duty on the 30th April outside the College of Surgeons. A body of prisoners surrendered to me between 12.30pm and 1pm. The prisoners and the Countess Markievicz came out of a side door of the College. The prisoner was carrying a white flag and was unarmed but the Countess was armed. The prisoner came forward and saluted and said he wished to surrender and this is the Countess Markievicz. He surrendered and stated he was the commandant of the garrison. I took over the garrison which consisted of prisoner, Countess Markievicz, 109 men and 10 women. I found them in the College and they laid down their arms under my directions. In his defence, Nichael malin stated: I am a silk weaver by trade and have been employed by the Transport Union as band instructor. During my instruction of these bands they became part of the Citizen Army and from this i was asked to become a drill instructor. I had no commission whatever in the Citizen Army. I was never taken into the confidence of James Connolly. I was under the impression we were going out for manoeuvres on Sunday but something altered the arrangements and the manoeuvres were postponed till Monday. I had verbal instructions from James Connolly to take 36 men to St. Stephen's Green and to report to the Volunteer Officer there. Shortly after my arrival at St. Stephen's


Michael Mallin

Green the firing started and the Countess Markievicz ordered me to take command of the men as i had been long associated with them. I felt i could not leave them and from that time, i joined the rebellion. I made it my business to save all officers, and civillians who were brought in to St. Stephen's Green. I gave explicit orders to the men to make no offensive movements and i prevented them attacking the Shelbourne Hotel. I also indignantly repudiate any idea of assisting Germany. ' The 1st witness produced in Michael mallin's defence was Mr L.J Kettle who stated: ' The prisoner prevented my death by shooting. I was treated with every possible consideration and also saw he did the same for any other prisoners who were brought in. ' When cross-examined by the prosecution, the witness said that he had been taken prisoner on Monday afternoon 24th April and was taken first to St. Stephen's Green and Mallin appeared to be in command. ' I heard a good deal of firing but actually did not see the firing myself. ' The witness then added that although he could have been released at anytime, but was finally released adter the surrender. Michael Mallin was found guilty and was sentenced to death by shooting. The sentence was confirmed by General Maxwell. Michael Mallin was the father of four children, his

Between 3.45 and 4.05 am on the 8th May 1916, Michael Mallin was taken in the old Stonebreakers yard at Kilmainham prison and executed by firing squad. His remains were later taken to Arbour Lane cemetery where he was placed in a mass grave. In September 1916, under the headline ' Destitution Killing Irish ' the New York American newspaper published a letter written by Michael, on the evening before his execution, to Alderman Thomas Kelly. His article aimed to raise funds in the U.S for the dependants of those killed during the Rising also stating that ' I have left my wife and children absolutely distitute '. In his last letter to his wife Michael profoundly shaped the lives of his son and young daughter. Michael asked his wife to dedicate Joseph and una to the church and they subsequently joined the Jesuit and Loreto order respectively. Michael Mallin, like those before him went to his death with great courage and must never be forgotten as one who gave all in the name of Irish freedom.

Sean Heuston

Sean Heuston was born on the 21st February 1891, and was born Jack Heuston, sometimes referred to as J.J Heuston. He was an Irish rebel and member of the Fianna Eireann which took part in the Easter Rising of 1916. With about 20 Volunteers, he held the Mendicity Institution on the River Liffey for over two days, though it was originally only intended to be held for 3-4 hours. Sean Heuston was born in Dublin and educated by the Christian Brothers. He worked as a railway clerk in Limerick and while there took an active part in Fianna Eireann, of which he was an officer. Sean Heuston arranged for members who could not afford to buy their uniforms to do so by paying small weekely sums. Under his guidance the Fianna in Limerick had a course which encompass not only drilling, which was made up of signalling, scout training and weapons training but also lectures on Irish and Gaelic classes. In 1913 Heuston was transferred to the Dublin Fianna and was appointed to the Emmet Slaugh. He went on to join the ranks of the Volunteers and played a prominent part in the Easter Rising. Sean Heuston was the Officer commanding the Volunteers at the Mendicity Institution on the south side of Dublin city. Acting under orders from James Connolly, Sean was to hold this position for three or four hours, in order to delay the advance of British troops. This delay was necessary to give the headquarters staff time to prepare their defences. Having successfully held the position for the specified period, he was to go on to hold it for over two days, with 26 Volunteers. With his position becoming untenable against considerable numbers, and the building almost completely surrounded, he sent a dispatch to Connolly informing him of their position. The Dispatch was carried by two Volunteers, P.J Stephenson and Sean McLaughlin, who had to avoid both sniper fire and British troops across the city. It was soon after sending thsi dispatch that Sean decided to suurender.


Seamus Brennan, a member of the Mendicity Institution garrison under Heuston, gave the following account of the decision to surrender:

' Our tiny garrison twenty six - had battled all morning against three or four hundred British troops. Machine gun and rifle fire kept up a constant battering of our position. Sean visited each post in turn, encouraging us. But now we were faced with a new form of attack. The enmy closing in, began to hurl grenades into the building. Our only answer was to try and catch these and thro them back before they exploded. Tow of our men Liam Staines and Dick Balfe, both close friends of Sean's were badly wounded doing this. We had almsot run out of ammunition. Dog-tired, without food, trapped, hopelessly outnumbered we had reached the limit of our endurance. After consultation with the rest of us, Sean decided that the only hope for the wounded and indeed for the safety of all of us, was to surrennder. Not everyone approved but the order was obeyed and we destroyed as much eqquipment as we could before giving ourselves up. '

According to the statement given by Seamus Brennan to Piaras F. MacLoughlin, author of Last Words, the British troops were ' infuriated when they saw the pygmy force that had given them such a stiff battle and caused them so many casualties stating: ' They screamed at us, crushed us, manhandled us. An officer asked who was in charge and Sean stepped out in front without a word. We were forced to march to the Royal ( now Collins ) Barracks with our hands up, held behind our heads. In the Barracks we were lined up on the parade ground. He we were attacked by British soldiers, kicked, beaten and spat upon. ' Seamus Brennan never saw Sean Heuston again after being transferred to Arbour Hill Detention Barracks.
Sean Heuton was transferred to Richmond Barracks and on the 4th May 1916 he was tried by Field Court Martial. On the Sunday, 7th May 1916, the verdict of the Court Martial was communicated to him that he had been sentenced to death and was to be shot at dan the following morning.The following accounts are from Father Albert O.F.M Capucin who was with Sean in his celle before his execution and with him at his death. Shortly after Easter 1916, Father Albert wrote a letter for publication in the Catholic Bulletin about Sean Heuston's last hours, because of censorship it could not be printed.

' I went to Sean Heuston's cell about 3.20am. he was kneeling beside a small table with his Rosary beads in his hand and on the table with a little piece of candle some letters which he had just written to some relatives and friends. He wore his overcoat as the morning was extremely cold and none of these men received those little comforts that are provided for even the greatest criminals while awaiting sentence of death. During the last quarter of an hour we knelt in that cell in complete darkness, as the little piece of candle had burned out, but no word of complaint escaped his lips. His one thought was to prepare with all the fervour and earnestness of his soul to meet our Divine Saviour and His Sweet Virgin Mother to whome he was about to offer up his young life for the freedom and ndependence of his beloved country. He had been to Confession and had received Holy Communion early that morning and was not afraid to die. He awaited the end not only with the calmness and fortitude which peace of mind brings to noble souls, but during the last quarter of an hour he spoke of soon meeting again Padraig MacPhiarais and the other leaders who had already gone before him. We said together short acts of faith, hope, contrition and love; we prayed together to St. Patrick, St. Brigid, St. Columcille and all the aints of Ireland; we said many times that very beautiful little ejaculatory prayer: Jesus, Mary and Joseph, i give you my heart and my soul. This appealed very much to him. But tough he prayed with such fervour for courage and strength in the ordeal that was at hand, Ireland and his friends were close to his soul.

In his last letter to his sister - a Dominican nun, Sean Heuston wrote:

' Let there be no talk of ' foolish enterprise ' I have no vain regrets. If you really love me, teach the children the history of their own land and teach them that the cause of Caitlin ni h - Uallachain never dies. Ireland shall be free from the centre to the sea as soon as the people of Ireland believe in the nesessity for Irelan's freedom and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to obtain it.

During the early hours of 8th May 1916 Sean heuston was led out to the Old Stonebreakers yard at Kilmianham prison. Father Albert wrote an account of Sean's final moments leading up to his execution: ' We were now told to be ready. I had a small cross in my hand, and though blindfolded, Sean bent his head and kissed the crucifix. This was the last thing his lips touched in life. he then whispered to me ' Father, sure you won't forget to anoint me? ' I had told him in his cell that i would anoint him when he was shot. We now proceeded towards the yard where the execution was to take place; my left arm was linked in his right, while the British soldier who had handcuffed and blindfolded him walked on his left. As he walked slowly along we repeated most of the prayers that we had been saying in the cell. On our way we passed a group of soldiers; these i afterwards learned were awaiting Commandant Mallin, who was following us. Having reached a second yard i saw another group of military armed with rifles. Some of these were standing, and some sitting or kneeling. A soldier directed Sean and myself to a corner of the yard, a short distance from the outer wall of the prison. Here there was a box ( seemingly a soap box ) and Sean was told to sit down upon it. He was perfectly calm and said with me for the last time: ' My Jesus, mercy. ' I scarcely had moved away a few yards when a volley went off, and this noble soldier of Irish Freedom fell dead. I rushed over to anoint him; his whole face seemed transformed and lit up with a grandeur and brightness that i had never before noticed. ' Father Albert concluded: Never did i realise that men could fight so bravely, and die so beautifully, and so fearlessly as did the Heroes of easter Week. On the morning of Sean Heuston's death i would have given the world to have been in his place. he died in such a noble and Sacred cause, and went forward to his Divine Saviour with grand Christian Sentiments of trust, confidence and love.

Sean Heuston's body was removed from the yard of Kilmainham prison and conveyed to Arbour Lane cemetary where he placed in the already prepared mass grave. He was 25 years of age.