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The 1916 Easter Rising

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actually Sir Roger Casement. To all but the leaders of the insurrection, the second story was as puzzling as the Casement story. It was dated
' Tralee, Saturday Evening ' and headed:


Members of the Cumann na mBan on parade


A tragic accident is reported from Killorglin. Three men, whose names are unknown, motoring from Limerick, were drowned in ballykissane Quay, near Killorglin last night, the motor having jumped over the bridge into the river.

The bodies of two unknown men were recovered from the River Laune near Killorglin last evening. They are described as of the labouring class. Each had a revolver and some rounds of ammunition and the Sinn Fein badge. The body of the third victim had not yet been recovered.

The story of the three men drowned at ballykissane was the story of another missed opportunity in the preparation for the rebellion. By monday the insurgent leaders had heard from their contacts in County

Kerry all the frustrating details of the tragedy. Good Friday moning, Joesph Plunkett and Sean MacDermot had sent five men on a mission to Cahirciveen, Waterville, where there was a government wireless station They were to take the station, dismantle the equipment, then set up the transmitter in Tralee, in the hope of contacting the ' Aud ' the German munitions ship expected Saturday or Sunday. The fact that the Aud had arrived Thursdays and on Friday morning was already settling into the depths outside Queenstown harbor doomed this primary aspect of the mission to failure from the start, but it need not have foreclosed a secondary benefit, the possession of all the radio equipment Plunkett so badly needed now in Dublin to set up a dependable communications system. The five men Plunkett and MacDermott had sent on the mission separated into two cars when they reached Killarney. In one car was a local driver who did not know the route to Cahirciveen, plus three of the five men, only one of whom claimed to know the route. As they passed through Killorglin Friday night, they took a wrong turn and headed unknowingly toward Ballykissane, where the road ended abruptly, at the end of a pier on the River Laune. Apparently without ever suspecting they were on the wrong road, they drove off the end of the pier into deep water. Only the driver survived. When he emerged from the water, he fell into the right hands, fortunately for the insurgents and had so far managed to escape questioning by the police. But the opportunity to capture the government wireless equipment ar Cahirciveen had gone down with the three men who drowned. Therefore it was with only a forlorn hope that Plunkett sent Fergus O'Kelly across Sackville Street to work on the crippled equipment at the wireless school. O'Kelly took with him six men, including John O'Connor, who was a qualified electrician, and Arthur Shields, a prominent Abbey Theatre who later became internationally famous, as did his brother Barry Fitzgerald, both on the stage and screen.

Breaking into the building, O'Kelly and his men found that the school's apparatus, a one and a half kilowatt ship's transmitter and receiver, had been disconnected by apparently not altogether dismantled. The antennae on the roof had been pulled down and all parts removed except the poles and the clamps to support them. But when O'Connor began, with commandeered equipment, to rebuild and restore the antennae, he soon found out where the British were. Sniper's bullets from south of the Liffey, at or near Trinity College, began skipping and whistling past him on the roof. The restoration of the antennae had to be postponed until the dead of night. Meanwhile, O'Kelly, noticing that the building housing the wireless school was dominated by the pagoda dome of the Dublin Bread Company building two doors away, sent a message to Connolly suggesting that the DBC building also be occupied to protect the wireless. Connolly went even further. He sent men to occupy the entire block of building directly across Sackville Street from the GPO. Late in afternoon, one of the snipers on the Post Office roof got hold of a copy of the just-released proclamation issued by Lord Wimborne, the viceroy, which was now circulating through the building. The sniper, began declaiming it, in the stentorian tones he thought appropriate for a viceroy, to a pair of fellow snipers on the roof of the Tower bar across the street: ' Whereas an attempt, instigated and designed by the foreign enemies of our King and country to incite rebellion in Ireland, and thus endanger the safety of the United Kingdom, has been made by a reckless, though small body of men, who have been guilty of insurrectionary acts in the city of Dublin: Now we, Ivor Churchill, Baron Wimborne, Lord-Lieutenant-General and Governor-General of Ireland, do hereby warn all His Majesty's subjects that the sternest measures are being, and will be taken for the propt supression of the existing disturbances and the

arthur shields

Arthur Sheilds

The famous actor Arthur Shields

and the restoration of order: And we do hereby enjoin all loyal and law-abiding citizens to abstain from any acts or conduct which might interfere with the action of the Executive Government, and, in particular, we warn all citizens of the danger of unnecessarily frequenting the streets or public places or of assembling in crowds. Given under our seal, on the 24th day of April 1916 - signed Wimborne. ' Ah he's an ould cod, ' one of the listeners shouted. ' Send us more grenades. ' Early in the evening, most of the leaders, O'Rahilly not included, had tea together in the GPO commissary. Clarke and MacDermott questioned men who had been out during the afternoon about reactions to the uprising in other parts of the city. At the mention of looting, the leaders did not conceal their anger, frustration and even personal sorrow. But they laughed as Sean T. O'Kelly told them stories of his adventures commandeering supplies. Pearse did not participate in the laughter. He would stay awhile, then leave, then return. Sometimes he had short whispered talks with MacDermott, Clarke or Plunkett. With him at almost all times now was his younger brother Willie. After everyone had eaten, the doctor who had performed throat surgery on Plunkett two weeks earlier arrived to examine his patient. The others sensitive to the serious, even termianl nature of Plunkett's tubercular affliction, politely left the room. The doctor stayed on alone with Plunkett for almost an hour, talking in a surprisingly casual way about the uprising. Pearse in the meantime, was increasingly worried about any men in the Post Office who might not be ready spiritually for the very strong possibility of their deaths. They had no chaplain; the Republican movement at the time was no more popular with the clergy than it was with the majority of Irishmen. Most members of the Volunteers had been instructed by their immediate commanders in the days before the uprising to get to confession and communion before Easter . Indeed, British Intelligence agents, had they been sufficiently alert, could have predicted a military showdown of some sort simply by counting male heads in Dublin chapels Easter Saturday evening. The confessionals had been full of men and boys that night, all anxious to get themselves into a state of grace by morning, becaue they had heard convincing rumours about the ' maneuver ' scheduled for the next day but has not yet heard about MacNeill's order countermanding it.

Pearse could feel satisfied, therefore, that the majority of the men who came out for the uprising, despite the countermand, had received the sacraments within the previous two or three days and were therefore ready to meet their maker if that eventually should arise. Yet there were some who had missed their opportunities, and this was a matter of extreme concern to Pearse, who himself had gone to Dominick Street church Easter Saturday monrning, at one of the few free moments during that hectic wekend and talked a priest there into giving him Holy Communion even on the one morning of the year when Catholics do not ordinarily receive it. When he learned there were men in the Post Office who had not even gone to confession recently, he sent a messenger to the Pro-Cathedral, just two blocks away, to ask for a priest. Father John Flanagan, a curate attached to the archdiocese, answered the call at nine o'clock and was given a room at the ground-floor rear of the Post office, where he was kept busy hearing confessions until 11:30.

In the streets the looting continued through the evening hours, for there were many shops still unplundered. Even those establishments near the Post Office that had been fairly well emptied kept drawing gleaners and children who made the rounds in search of worthwile items that might have been overlooked. Some of the children had found a batch of fireworks in one of the shops and were setting off as dangerous a display as they could contrive near the Cable boot shop, next door to the Imperial Hotel and across the street from the Post office. At 9:30 the shop was in flames and a crowd had gathered to watch it burn. The fire was gaining momentum on the lowere floors when one man in the crowd, William Redmond-Howard ( who happened to be the nephew of John Redmond, leader of the Irish party in the British Parliamnet ) noticed a light behind a curtained window on the top floor. It occurred to him, as it had apparently not occurred by anyone else, that people might be living up there unaware of the disaster developing beneath them. He ran to the stairway door of the building, found it locked, and, when he got no response by pounding on it, called for help from the crowd. The shoulders of three men against the door brought no immediate result. However, their noise did. An angrey man put his head out of a top-floor window. ' What the hell's goping on down there? ' he demanded. ' The place is on fire!' Redmond-Howard shouted, quite unnecessarily now. ' My God!' The man cried. ' There are women and children here!' Finally the stairway door opened and Redmond-Howard led the charge to the top floor, through the smoke and perilously close to the flames. Within a short time, all the able-bodied people were out of the building. Then, however, the rescuers found themselves confronted by a more difficult case - a woman in labor who was so distraught she refused to leave her bed. They made the almost fatal mistake of arguing with her. They were still arguing with her, and losing, when the fire brigade arrived. The captain wasted no time in discussion. He simply told his men to remove her. Though part of the staircase had caught fire by now and the screaming woman fought them all the way, the firemen managed to carry her downstairs to safety. This dramtic scene concluded, the crowd settled down to watch the firemen fight the flames, which they did

to such advantage that some of the onlookers must have decided they had better take measures lest they run out of entertainment. By the time the had the Cable boot shop fire under control, a few of the boyos on the sidelines had managed to start a second one, in another shoe store nearby. In the Post office, the concern about communications continued to nag Plunkett and Pearse. the wireless Fergus O'Kelly and his men were trying to repair in the school across the street would not be ready until morning at best. Meanwhile, there were only the most wishful of rumors about reactions to the uprising in country districts. Did anyone outside Dublin even know it had actually begun? Had any Volunteers outside Dublin risen in support? It might make a difference. About this time, a group of older Volunteers who had awaited the call at a meeting place in Parnell Street and a company of 30 Hibernian Rifles ( an independent nationalist group affiliated with the Ancient Order of Hibernians ) who had waited in a house on Frederick Street arrived at the Post Office eager to serve the cause. Among the Hibernian Rifles was a man named J.J Walsh, who knew Morse code. He sat down at the telegraph desk on the second floor and posing as a government superintendent, began sending out queries about the uprising in the hope of receiving some news in return. But the few bits of information he was able to pass on to Pearse and Plunkett were sketchy that they both realised the only hope of continued contact with the outside world was through that wireless across the street.

Amiens street

Amiens Street railway station - now Connolly station

Pearse also talked to Connolly about the imminent danger of attack from the Amiens Street railway station, three blocks east of the Post office. Troop trains were rumored to be arriving at Amiens Street now in a steady stream from British garrisons all over Ireland. Connolly expected the attack to come via North Earl Street, which led directly from Nelson's Pillar toward the station, especially since a barricade had already been erected across Abbey Street, the one other likely route along which British troops might advance toward the Post office. Connolly said Earl Street had to be blocked immediately. Pearse, accepting his judgement, sent him Brennan Whitmore to direct the job. When Whitmore reported to Connolly, ten men assigned to work under his command had already been drawn up in a single rank opposite the front door of the Post Office. In addition to their arms, they carried crowbars, hatchets, saws, hammers, and whatever other tools they had been able to find. Connolly's orders to Whitmore were brief: ' Take these men over to Tyler's boot shop and prepare to defend the place. But first i want you to build a strong barricade across Earl Street. ' Connolly paused to look hard at Whitmore and the men behind him ' You will defend the position ' he said ' to the last. '