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Chapters

The 1916 Easter Rising

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Dublin standards warm,promising a day that would be ideal for walking the strand at Sandymount or stolling through St. Stephen's Green or cycling around the bay to the Hill of Howth. The insurgent roops aroused each other, stood up, stretched, peeked carefully out the windows, wondered about breakfast, and resumed their work of burrowing from house to house up the east side of Moore Street. When they broke through to the last building, which was Kelly's market on the corner of Sackville Lane, they encountered the entire Kelly family of twelve ( with the exception of one son who had joined the British forces because his father, catching him smoking, had given him a crack on the jaw ) plus about twenty neighborhood children who had been playing in the Kelly yard the previous evening at the time the Moore Street fighting began. To those thirty or so people already in the house, the insurgents added as many as they could find space for, because the corner was too important strategicaly to leave undefended. When the men posted at the windows looked out into the street they sae The O'Rahilly sprawled on the pavement obviously dead now, his green officer's uniform spattered with blood, his flt hat and his revolver a few feet from his body. Near him were the bodies of two of his men. In Cogan's shop, adjoining the McKane cottage, Elizabeth O'Farrell, Julia Grenan and Winifred Carney, none of whom had rest at all that night, went to work scraping together a breakfast for the approximately 250 men and uncounted civilians on whom the insurgents were now imposing. Fortunately, Mrs McKane was helpful. The McKane's were known in the neighborhood as prodigipus potato eaters. On an ordinary day, Mrs McKane would put three stone - forty-two pounds in the pot. Today she kept the pot boiling until her potato supply was exhausted. Augmenting the potatoes was a ramdon variety of foods the men had carried with them from the Post office the previous day - hams, bacon, cakes, canned goods, Bovril and sweets. Patrick Pearse found in one of the houses a sack of wheat meal, which he brought to the four women in the hope that they may be able to make some bread or cake with it. They accepted the sack politely without bothering to tell him they had none of the other provisions necessary to make use of it. They continued cooking until everyone was fed.

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Nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell

Then they sat down to rest a few minuted and to wonder where they would find enough food for the noon meal. After breakfast Pearse and MacDermott decided that the most secure place for their headquarters was in the middle rather than one end of the block they occupied, so the entire party began a move through the holes in the wall, up to Hanlon's fish market at 16 Moore Street. Because some of the holes were through downstairs walls and others ( where the ground-floor walls were too thick ) through upstairs walls, the move was tedious; for the more seriously wounded, who were jostled against the narrow apertures as they were lifted through, it was agonising. For Connolly it was especially painful, because his shattered ankle had now turned gangrenous and in order to get him through the narrow holes, his bearers had to transfer him from his mattress to a sling blankets, which offered his leg no protective padding. Hanlon's fish market was chosen as the new headquarters partly because it would be inhumane to take him any father than necessary. Connolly was placed in a back room at Hanlon's, which, however, he had to share with four other wounded

men, including the injured British soldier whom Joseph Plunkett's brother George had rescued from the street the previous night. Pearse ( followed by his brother Willie ), Plunkett, MacDermott, and Clarke filed into the room and gathered around Connolly's bed to begin a council of war, disregarding the fact that an enemy soldier was within earshot. The British soldier himself reminded them of his presence when he looked up at Elizabeth O'Farrell, Julia Grenan and Winifred Carney, who were trying to make him comfortable in a bed against the wall, and said to them ' Do you think Mr Pearse would speak to me? A puzzling request, but Pearse, when it was relayed to him, said ' Certainly ' and walked over to the man's bed. The soldier said ' Would you please lift me a little higher? ' As Pearse bent to lift him, the man put his arms around his neck. When he had moved the soldier a few inches toward the top of the bed, Pearse stood up and the two looked into each other's eyes for a moment. Was the man Irish and in sympathy with the rebellion, or had he asked Pearse's help simply because he didn't think the women were strong enough to lift him? Pearse could see that he was badly wounded. His eyes were slightly gazed. he looked feverish and his breath came hard. He said nothing. Pearse said nothing. Turning away, Pearse went back to Connolly's bedside and the council of war resumed as if the British soldier were not there. The conversation between the five leaders had scarcely begun, however, when it faltered. No one could offer even a poor answer to the question that filled all minds; how were they to escape the trap in which they found themselves? Joseph Plunkett, whose military imagination was so unrestrained he had once told a German general how the war in Europe should be conducted, had no clever solutions to the present dilema. And Connolly, the only other member of the provisional government with military pretentions, was in such pain he couldn't give the problem his full attention. Pearse decided to call in a few subordinate officers for consultation.

One of them, John McLoughlin, pointed out that as soon as the weakness of their position became apparent to the British the whole of Moore Street would be set afire and they would all provide sport for the British guns as they ran from the flames. ' We've got to get out of here, ' he said, ' and wherever we go, we've got to go quickly ' One of the officers said ' What about storing the barricade at the top of the street? ' McLoughlin siad, ' Impossible. ' He had been in Parnell Street above the barricade on

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No 16 Moore Street

on several runs as a courier during the early part of the week, and even as long ago as Wednesday he had seen enough British troops there to handle all the insurgents in Moore Street. ' The only hope, ' he said ' is to go west along Henry Street and link up with the boys in the Four Courts. ' But who's going to cover us ' someone asked, ' long enough to get us into Henry Street? ' ' It'll take a diversionary charge against the barricades ' McLoughlin said. ' About twenty men with bombs, guns, bayonets, everything they can carry. ' Pearse who had been listening quietly, turned to McLoughlin and asked ' How many lives would we lose? ' McLoughlin said ' Well, we'd lose those twenty. And we'd lose more on the way to the Four Courts because the British are strong in Denmark Street. But we're all doomed if we stay here. ' Pearse with a deep frown covering his face listened carefully. They would almsot certainly lose those twenty. It was inescapable. Whe he sent O'Rahilly out with thirty men the day before, there was a good chance they might break through. Perhaps some of them had broken through. He had no way of knowing. But twenty men committed to storming a barricade at the top of Moore Street today could not hope to survive. he would be assigning them to certain death. The responsibilities of sending men into battle were infinately more oppressive than a person could ever imagine before he found himself doing it. McLoughlin's plan would

Across narrow Prince's Street, machine gun bullets spattered against the Metropole Hotel, which had withstood the bombardment of the day before but with incendiary bombs had now ignited. The vigor with which the British were attacking it, still from afar, indicated they did not yet know it was empty. They were apparently not yet convinced that the insurgents had evacuated all their O'Connell Street positions. The Metropole burned slowly, lazily; there were only gentle breezes to fan the flames, which were also eating their leisurely way into the Manfield building at the corner and Eason's book store west of it on Middle Abbey Street. On the opposite side of Sackville Street, from Eden Quay to North Earl Street, nothing remained standing except the burned-out shell of the Dublin Bread Company building, the Imperial Hotel, and a few more structures whose brick walls had survived the flames. Only fragments remained of the other buildings along the street. Near the quay, the statue of Daniel O'Connell, one ear punctured by a stray bullet, stood facing the undamaged south bank of the Liffey, as if the ' Liberator ' of the nineteenth century couldn't bear to turn his head and survey the destruction wrought all around him the cause he had always cherished but for which he had never aken up arms. At the upper end of Sackville Street, beneath the monument to Charles Stewart Parnell, another nineteenth-century champion of Irish independence, stood a herd of about thirty insurgent prisoners most of them ragged and dirty, a few of them bandaged, who had been rounded up during the night, in the