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Chapters

The 1916 Easter Rising

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obvious the Noblett's had too little to satisfy the entire mob. Candy was, after all, a childish objective. Adults wanted more substantial items. Fortunately, there were enough shops to satisfy every taste, and there were no longer any fears or inhibitions about breaking and browsing in them. Dunn's hat shop was the next to go, and Frewen and Ryan hosiery shop and the Cable boot company, and the Lemon company, another confectionary. Men threw away their ragged caps and strutted out of Dunn's in silk toppers, boaters, or bowlers. An urchin came out wearing a variety of hats ( all too large for him ) one on top of the other. The first person he approached knocked every one of them off his head. Women standing in the street raised their skirts to daring heights so they could pull up their unwashed legs, the first silk stockings, they had ever worn. After admiring the feel of the stockings,

licentious carnival. he said nothing. When others turned to him, apparently expecting of him some miracle that would erase the scene before them, he looked away as if to hide the anguish on his face. The rapine horrified him not because he lacked sympathy for these ragged, greedy slum dwellers of because he was unaware of the poverty that might be blamed for their excess but precisely because he knew their condition. In the pages of an IRB publication called Irish Freedom, he had written a short time before: ' My instinct is with the landless man against the lord of lords and with the breadless man against the master of millions. I calculate that one third of people in Dublin are underfed, that half the children attending Irish primary scholls are ill-nourished. Inspectors of the National Board will tell you that there is no use in visiting primary schools in Ireland after one or two in the afternoon; the children are too weak and drowsy with hunger to be capable of answering intelligently. I suppose there are twent thousand families in Dublin in whose domestic economy milk and butter are all but unknown; black tea and dry bread are their staple articles of diet. There are many thousand fireless hearth places in Dublin on the bitterest days of winter. Twenty thousand families live in one-room tenements. It is common to find two or three families occupying the same room; and sometimes one of the families will have a lodger! ' He had been convinced these people would see ultimately, in the struggle for independence, an opportunity to enrich their meager lives. the rebellion was an occasion to which he had expected they would arise. Even the most abject poverty could not explain to him their failure to comprehend the transcendent imporatance and glory of this day in Irish history. Whereas the outbreak of looting stunned Pearse, it offended Sean MacDermott. Though he was so badly crippled that every step gave him severe pain, he nevertheless came rushing down from the second floor of the Post office in a rage, and, supported by his cane, limped across the street into the thickest crowd of looters, demanding, then reasoning, then pleading with them to stop disgracing the fight for Irelan's freedom. They were to busy, even to pause and laugh at him. O'Rahilly's men on the roof poured buckets of water onto another mob, which was directing its attention to the Henry Street shops. Riflemen on the first floor fired two volleys over the heads of these people, all to no avail. As James Connolly looked out at them, he had more reason for bitterness and frustration than anyone else in the Post office; these were his people, the depressed working class to whom he had devoted his life as a labor organiser. When he