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The 1916 Easter Rising

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How could he have ever doubted that this man would have the courage to fight. Tears came to MacDermott's eyes and he stepped away, following McLoughlin to the corner. They peered out carefully at the British barricade scarcely twenty yards up the street. From its ugly network of interwoven furniture and rubbish, many British rifles pointed toward them. It was not surprising that O'Rahilly's body was so thouroughly riddled with bullets. The twenty men planning to storm that barricade today could expect no other fate. Patrick pearse, in 16 Moore Street, his ' headquarters ' heard a commotion and looked out the window to see what was causing it. Three civilians waving white flags and shouting something incomprehensible, were trying to run across the street from a building that had caught fire on the other side. Pearse shouted ' Don't shoot! ' to any of his own riflemen who could hear him. Then he held his breath hoping the British would give the same order. But the three civilians had burst into view so quickly, and they were running so fast the men behind the British barricade reacted to their movement rather than their flags. A volley of bullets came down the street and all three fell to the pavement. Another volley riddled the three bodies as they lay there. Two of the men raised themselves a few inches, then, with agony on their faces, slumped down, obviously dead. The British guns fell silent, perhaps because the men behind the barricade had become aware, though too late, of the white flags now lying beside the three still-bleeding bodies. Pearse gazed out at the bodies, saw one of them quiver as the blood spurted from it. He winced and looked away, toward a wall, at which he stared for almost a minute. When he turned from the wall, his face, though no less pained bore a decisive expression, as if he had suddenly made up his mind about something important. Raising his hand for silence, he said, ' Listen! I want everyone to hear this. There is to be no more firing until further notice. That's an order. Now pas it along. ' As the word was repeated through the wall holes from house to house, Pearse sat down, head in hands, shaken deeply by what he had seen. Eventually he looked up and said to a man who was watching him: ' Go find John McLoughlin and bring him to me. ' When McLoughlin arrived, MacDermott was with him. Pearse looked at the two men in silence, then turned to McLoughlin. ' This plan of yours, ' he said, ' it will mean the deaths of the twenty men who storm the barricade. Will it also mean the deaths of a great many civilians? The houses around here are crowded with people. ' McLoughlin nodded.


The O'Rahilly - The only commander to be killed in action

' I'm afraid it will. ' Pearse paced the floor, filled with anguish. He glanced at macDermott, who was now just as tormented having seen the guns the diversionary squad would have to face at the barricade. Pearse walked up to McLoughlin and said ' I've issued a ceasefire order. I want you to see that it remains in force for the next hour. ' Taking MacDermott by the arm, he turned and walked with him into Connolly's room. In the stable west of Moore Street, where the remnants of O'Rahilly's squadron had taken refuge, Sean MacEntee welcomed back the two scouts he had sent out in search of water and information. Though they had found water, in a nearby yard, they had encountered neither enemies nor friends. And to add to their bewilderment the air had become suddenly quiet with a stillness even more frightening than gunfire. MacEntee gave water to the five wounded men and exhorted the others to hurry the job of fortifying the building. A silence like this could mean only one thing - an attack must be imminent. At the top of Sackville Street, the thirty insurgent prisoners who had been rounded up near the Parnell Monument were marched away toward the north. Though the insurgent guns in the Post Office block had been silent since the night before, British soldiers remained safely concealed behind their barricades. After the prisoners departed, there were no more people in sight. Next to the Post office, the Metropole Hotel continued to smoke though it was almost completely burned out and most of its walls had collapsed. The dead street waited silently.

Pearse and MacDermott stood over James Connolly's bed, bending toward him, their faces white and unsmiling. The three men spoke in whispers for fifteen minutes, after which MacDermott, complying with a word from Pearse, walked over to nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell, who was attending one of the wounded men laid out on the floor. MacDermott said to her in a tired voice ' Do you think you could find a white flag? ' Looking into his large sorrowful eyes, she knew immediately what his request meant. Before any tears had time to form in her own eyes, she turned and went into the next room to look for a piece of sheeting. MacDermott, becoming impaient, climbed through a wall hole into the next house where one of the officers, Captain Michael O'Reilly was shaving. MacDermott said ' Doesn't anyone around here have some thing we can use as a white flag? ' O'Reilly reached into his breast pocket and produced a large white handkerchief that hadn't been laundered for a week. Without examining it too closely, MacDermott took it and tied it to a stick. He returned through the wall to number 16, where he found Pearse giving hurried instructions to Miss O'Farrell. She listened carefully and nodded, after which MacDermott took her by the hand and led her back into the adjoing house, number 15. O'Reilly who was standing by, went and opened the front door, stuck out the flag and waved it. A volley of bullets made him putll the flag back inside. He looked around at MacDermott, then at Miss O'Farrell who gulped nervously. MacDermott's face was passive. O'Reilly turned to the door once more and stuck out the flag a second time. he waved it gently back and forth without drawing any fire. macDermott, still holding Miss O'Farrell's arm, ked her forward. ' God be with you, ' he said, and taking the flag from O'Reilly, handed it to her. It was forty-five minutes past noon when the young

officer. The Colonel was so sure of himself on the point she didn't bother to tell him he was thinking of the wrong man, that it was Connolly who would need a stretcher. She wondered how they knew that one of the leaders had been wounded. They must already have captured some of the men who had fled the Post Office. The colonel, having satisfied himself that she was peddling false information, declined to continue the conversation with her. To another officer he said ' Take that Red Cross patch off her uniform. Bring her over there and search her. She's a spy. ' The officer having cut the Red Cross badges both from her arm and from her apron, took her to the hall of the National Bank at the corner of Parnell Street and cavendish Row, where he began to search her as ordered. He did the job with polite consideration, dispelling her fears of rude hands upon her. he found two pairs of scissors, some sweets, bread, and cakes. Having decided she was not very dangerous, he took her outside and marched her to a building on Parnell Street that the British had commandeered for the emergency. The building was Tom Clarke's tobacco shop. At 15 Moore Street, Elizabeth O'Farrell's friend Julia Grenan, having watched her walk out waving the white flag, turned to Sean MacDermott and said ' Do you think they'll shoot her? ' A broad smile replaced the serious frown on MacDermott's face and he reassured her with his usual charm, ' Ah, not at all. She'll be back here before you know it. ' Patting her arm he turned and went through the wall to number 16. But she was not comforted. She, too, had seen the three civilians shot out from under their white flags. She couldn't hold back her tears as she paced the floor.

A few minutes later she was called into number 16 Moore Street. Connolly wanted to see her. As she approached his bed, wiping her eyes, he looked up and smiled. ' Don't be crying for your friend, ' he said. ' They won't shoot her. They may blindfold her and take her to the commandant, so she may be away some time, but they won't shoot her. ' Julia Grenan noticed that as he spoke, his smile faded and his face filled up with sadness. However much he might wish to reassure her, he could not overcome his own grief long enoug to do so. Surrender rumors were now spreading among the men in the Moore Street houses. Though some of them had been anticipating it. They had realised since dawn that they were hopelessly surrounded - many of them were still unwilling to accept it. There was talk in every house, especially among the English-Irish, or refusing to surrender, of going out en masse to storm the barricade and fight to the end. Tom Clarke went among the men neither confirming nor denying the rumor, but thanking all of them for the courage they had shown. Returning to no 16, he spotted John McLoughlin, who had just finished disbanding

his volunteer assault force. Clarke beckoned McLoughlin to him and the two men sat down at a table as Winifred Carney poured tea for them. ' You may as well know ' Clarke said to the young man. we've decided to ask for terms. A messenger is out now, treating with the military. ' When he saw the look of astonishment on McLoughlin's face, he added unhappily ' Maybe your right. Maybe we should on, fight it out to the end. We may all be killed anyway , but . .' When Clarke stopped talking there was no other sound to be heard except the continuing groan of one of the wounded men. Patrick Pearse sat in a room with his brother Willie, awaiting Elizabeth O'Farrell's return. The two men said little to each other. The closeness of their relationship had never depended on conversation. Willie was constantly on hand to offer Patrich support and reassurance in all his dreams, his ambitions, his projects. And Patrick had always been to Willie what every boy wants his older brother to be - a genuine hero. Today he would be called upon to be more a hero than ever before. But he was ready. In Tom Clarke's tobacco shop, Elizabeth O'Farrell, a prisoner now, raised her eyes as a tall, slender handsome brigadier general appeared in the doorway. He was followed by a major, also tall, slender, and impeccably dressed, and by the colonel who had called her a spy. The general introduced himself politely, he was Brigadier-General W.H.M. Lowe,

Pic of Elizabeth O'Farrell_

Elizabeth O'Farrell

Commander of the Dublin forces, and asked her what she wanted. After she repeated to him her message from pearse, he took a few moments to consider it. When he turned to her he said. ' I have a motor car outside. I shall take you to the barricade at the top of Moore Street. You will return to Mr Pearse and tell him that General Lowe will not treat at all until he surrenders unconditionally. Tou will tell him also that you must be back here in half-hour, and that in the meantime, hostilities must go on. ' He then turned to the colonel and instructed him to put all this on paper. When it was done, he read it and signed it:

From Commander of Dublin Forces To P.H. Pearse 29th April/16 1:40 pm

 A woman has come in and tells me you wish to negotiate with me. I am prepared to meet you in BRITAIN ST. ( Parnell Street ) at the north end of Moore ST, provided that you surrender unconditionally. You will proceed up MOORE ST. accompanied only by the woman who brings you this note - Under a white flag.

  W.H.M Lowe - B. Genl