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The 1916 Easter Rising

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for what he said: ' All right, now, all you other people get out of here. Go back to where you came from. ' They looked at each other, then again at the officer, thinking they had heard him wrong. Was he actually letting them go? One of them turned to walk away, as if testing his words. The others followed, uncertainly, and it began to dawn on them that they were free. But their elation did not last long, for they found themselves walking back into no man's land, where the gunfire was resuming. They would have to seek shelter until the fighting stopped, then try to reach their homes through side streets and back alleys. Fitzgerald picked up a cap he saw in the gutter, put it on his head and tried to look like someone who might live in the neighborhood. Then, like the other men, he ducked into a building and waited for the right moment to break for home. In Sampson Lane, The O'Rahilly, clutching his wounds, gathered his strength for another advance against the British barricade at the top of Moore Street. A few of his men had now caught up to him. Only by rushing the barricade could they hope to take the pressure off their comrades pinned down in the Moore Street doorways. Bringing himself to his feet, O'Rahilly grasped his Mauser and, ordering a new assault, stepped out into Moore Street, firing at the barricade as he ran toward it. Supported by a handful of followers, he pressed his charge, answering the machine gun fire with pistol shot. To take attention from the men behind him, he zizagged his way across the street as he advanced, but while he moved

moore street from the barricade

Looking up Moore Street from the position of the British barricade. The GPO in the distance.
O'Rahilly and his men would have been running towards this position. Sackville Lane is on the left close to where the lampost is located.

along untouched, as if he were picking his way between bullets, his men began to fall, one after another. He had almost reached the corner of Sackville Lane, a short half-block from the barricade, when his luck expired. A bullet pierced the note he had just written his family and entered his chest. Once again he pitched forward on the pavement, but once again he gathered his strength and, with an ultimate effort, flung himself into Sackville Lane, where the corner building kept any more bulets from hitting him. The attempt by his assault squadron to reach Williams and Wood factory was at an end. Of the thirty men who left the Post office with him, most were now lying on the pavement and road, either dead or badly wounded. The others made their way into alleys, houses or barns where they could only wait for whatever might happen next. It is hard to imagine

what the O'Rahiily was thinking as he lay mortally wounded in Sackville Lane, his life flowing from his body onto the pavement. As he lay there he removed a letter he had received from his son Egan the previous day from the breast pocket of his tunic and wrote his final communique to his wife and family in Herbert Park on the reverse side of the page:

O'Rahilly and his family

Michael Joseph O'Rahilly with the family he adored

realised he had lost the basket of medical supplies he had brought for emergencies. He could do nothing for them here in the dark, on the cold ground. He would have to get them into a house. The yard belonged to a small cottage that adjoined Cogan's shop. One of the able-bodied men went to the cottage door, tried it, and found it locked. He dicided to open it by shooting the lock. Inside the cottage were Mr and Mrs Thomas McKane, their ten children, and Mrs McKane's brother, Joe Gorman. For two days they had all been confined to the cowded house by the intermittent gunfire. McKane, with a pair of his children in his arms, heard someone try the lock at the back door and went to investigate, threading his way between several of his other children, including his sixteen-year-old daughter Bridget, in the back room. Just as McKane reached the door, the insurgent soldier fired his gun into it to break the lock. The bullet passed through the door, through McKane's shoulder and into Bridget's head. Mrs McKane hear the shot, rushed into the room crying, ' Oh God, where's Daddy? ' Her husband was on the floor, blood puring from his shoulder as he still clutched the two uninjured children. Bridget had swooned onto a bed-chair with a huge hole in the right side of her head. The insurgent soldiers, now that the lock was broken, swarmed into the room, carrying their wounded. Jim Ryan entered the scene to find a houseful of crying, terrified children with an anguished mother distractedly tring to aid her wounded husband and daughter. A quick examination told Ryan that Bridget was dead. He consoled her mother, then turned to McKane himself, whose injury was serios but not necessarily fatal. ' Your husband will be all right ' Ryan assured her. Brushing four or five children and a few of his own men out of the way, he got McKane up onto the bed and began dressing his wound. He had no antiseptics, so the job was simple: all he could do was bandage. ' My husband is dying! ' Mrs McKane repeated. ' I'm going out for a priest. ' She picked up her black shawl and started for the door. One of the Volunteers stood in her way. ' Woman you must be daft. You can go out there. I'ts pourin' bullets. ' The door opened as more insurgents arrived including Sean MacDermott and Joseph Plunkett. MacDermott's eye eye fell immediately on the shattered head of the dead girl. ' Who did that? ' he demanded. The room fell silent, confirming his suspicion that one of the men had shot the girl. He stepped up to Mrs McKane, his face gathering wrath. Through clenched teeth he said, ' I want you to point out to me

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Sean MacDermott

the man who did that. ' Mrs McKane looked around the room at the sad anxious faces of the dishevelled troops, then shook her head. ' Ah, it was only an accident. ' she said. Glancing toward her daughter's body, she began to cry, then turned away. ' My husband is dying! I must get a priest. ' This time when she rushed toward the door, no one had the presence of mind to stop her. Disregarding the bullets, her shawl wrapped tightly around her, she stepped bodly into Moore Lane, which was still illuminated by the Post Office fire. The British behind the barricade at the top of the lane silenced their guns when they saw her, and as she walked toward them a British voice called out: ' get back to hell out of here, you silly fool! ' Mrs McKane shouted back ' I'll do nothin' of the kind, my husband is next to death. I'm lookin' for the clairgy! ' They waited impatiently until she passed.

In an alley to the west of Moore Street, twelve men, the remnant of O'Rahilly's assault squadron, tried to figure out another route to their assigned destination, the Williams and Wood factory. ' I know a lane ' one of them said, ' that opens onto a street that leads to the rear of the place. ' This remark might have sounded vague to anyone unaccustomed to irish directions, but it sounded promising enough to these twelve men. Sean MacEntee, who was among them, lined them up single file and, without hesitation, they set out insearch of the desired street. When they

found it, they marched into it cautiously. Though they could still hear gunfire tow or three blocks away, it was silent here. They began to think they had a safe passage ahead. Then a sudden gun burst taught them otherwise. Five men cried out and fell wounded as the street filled with bullets. MacEntee called quickly for a retreat and the seven uninjured men dragged the five causalties into a lane. There was no more talk about the other routes to Williams and Wood. They found a brick stable, picked a lock to get inside, and made straw beds for the wounded. One man, actually just a boy, had a foot mangled by a bullet. Two others had arms broken; another, wounds in his arms and chest. One of the twelve was carrying a first-aid kit, so he was able, at least, to bandage all the wounds while his able-bodied comrades fortified the windows against a possible British assault. MacEntee took stock of their provisions, which consisted of a few biscuits and some chocolate, plus a handful of jelly squares that someone found

in the stable. The wounded men needed water but the was none to be found. MacEntee mounted a watc at the windows and the twelve settled down to wait for the morning. Connolly arrived at the McKane cottage, carried on a stretcher accompanied by Winifred Carney and Elizabeth
O'Farrell and Julia Grenan. When he saw the room full of wounded men and the dead body of the McKane girl, he reacted in a surprising way for a man who had never been devoted to the outward signs of religion and had often differed with the Church. ' We need a priest, ' he said ' If only there were some way to get one. ' When he was told the woman of the house had gone out after one, he sighed with satisfaction. ' Now if only i could haave a cup of tea, ' he said. ' I would dearly love a cup of tea. ' There was no tea, but one of the men had some Bovril, the British beef tea, which Winifred Carney hastened to prepare for him. The back door opened and Mrs McKane came bursting into the room showing no damage from her hazardous trip. To everyone's amazement, she had with her a priest, a Father McInerney, whom she had found on the street near the Rotunda Hospital. The priest stood for a moment in the centre of the little room, gaping in disbelief at the bleeding men crowded together on the floor all round him. Overcome by the sight, he suddenly burst into tears. But when he noticed that the room had gone silent and everyone was watching him, he quickly wiped his eyes, went down on his knee, and said a prayer for all of them, then began going from

man to man, administering the last sacraments. Connolly called Mrs McKane over to him and reached out to take her hand. ' You're a brave woman, ' he said. Outside, at the Corner of henry Place and Moore Street, Volunteers Sean Nunan and Frank Kelly, who belonged to a squad tring to build a barricade, suddenly heard a man's agonised voice from across the street. ' Water! water! The cry came from Samson Lane, into which some of O'Rahilly's men had retreated. Nunan, turning to his commanding officer, Lieutenant George Plunkett, said ' That must be one of our boys. ' Plunkeet, stepping forward, said to Kelly, ' Give me your water bottle and keep me covered, but dont fire unless you must. ' Sirting the pitiful fragment of barricade they had so far managed to build, Plunkett dashed across the street and though he attracted a volley of British bullets, reached the shelter in the narrow alley, which was lit only by the reflection from the Post Office flames. Continuing cries for help led him to a man, obviously wounded lying on the pavement. It was not until Plunkett bent over the man that he noticed the khaki uniform and realised he had come upon a British soldier. But instead of wondering how a British soldier had managed to get so deeply into no man's land, Plunkett became furious at himself for having risked his life to save an enemy. The man did need saving, though. No doubt about that. So Plunkett after pouring a volley of oaths upon him, hoisted him onto his shoulder and carried him, on the run, out into the street, wondering which of them the British bullets would find first. The guns from the top of

henry place b

Moore Street: Looking from Henry Street. It was from here that O'Rahilly and his squad advanced towards the British barricade in the distance. He took cover when wounded the first time in Sampson Lane on the left just before the parked car on the left. Henry Place can be seen on the right with No16, the final HQ approximately where the car is parked on the right hand side of the road. This whole area was swept by British rifle and machine gun fire making it a killing ground. Plunkett when hearing the wounded soldier crying for water, dashed from across the street from right to left.

out empty beds, chairs, or corners where they could sleep without disturbing, any more than they had already done, the terrified residents of the houses they were occupying. Sean MacDermott foind in one of the houses a feather bed, which he invited Jim Ryan to share with him. But by the time they had removed their boots and coats, MacDermott was called to inspect the emergency defences and Ryan was called to attend Connolly, whose pain increased when he no longer had the excitment of the Post Office evacuation to occupy his mind. Even Pearse tried to get some sleep. He and his brother Willie stretched out on a table in a second-floor corner room above Cogan's shop. He lay there for more than an hour, listening to the sounds of gunfire and artillery throughout the city. Then he got up, went downstairs, and began crawling through the holes from house to house, making sure the men were reasonably comfortable. There was little talk among them now. A few were whispering to each other. Some were snoring. And from darkened corners came the repeated chant of ' Hail Mary ' as many of them said the rosary. Pearse turned and made his way back toward Cogan's shop. O'Rahilly, lying against the wall of a house at the corner of Sackville Lane, unaware that his comrades in arms were so close to him, felt a terrible thirst

moore street dublin

Moore Street today from the same location

as his many wounds continued to sap his strength. About midnight he began crying out for water. Though none of his own men heard him, a woman in a nearby cottage did. Clutching a cup, she tried several times to go into the street and reach him, but each time she was driven back by the gunfire that erupted when she emerged from the doorway. Clutching the cup in her trembling hands, she made one final effort, stepping bodly into the street and hurrying toward his prostrate form. But before she was close to him, she stumbled in the dark and the water spilled from her cup. In anger and frsutration she shouted at the soldiers behind the British barricade from which the gunfire came. ' May God forgice you that you wouldn't let me give a drink to a dying man. '