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Chapters

The 1916 Easter Rising

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his escort had left the house, Winifred Carney rushed into the room where Connolly lay and threw herself on her knees at his bedside. ' Is there no other way? ' she pleaded. Connolly answered slowly. ' I cannot bear to see all these brave boys burn to death, ' he said. ' There is no other way. ' Patrick Pearse stepped into Moore Street, looking as presentable as possible in his soiled uniform. His boots, though unshined were wiped. His long green overcoat and his military felt hat were carefully brushed. He walked erectly, proudly, and so quickly that Elizabeth O'Farrell had to hasten her steps to keep up with him. Even in defeat he was such an impressive figure that as he approached Kelly's market at the corner of sackville Lane, Mrs Kelly, looking out the window, said to her daughter Brigid, ' That's a damn fine figure of a man. ' Just past Kelly's at the Sackville Lane intersection, Pearse saw for the first time the body of The O'Rahilly. He hesitated. Many times, publicly and privately, he had pronounced his willingness ro die in battle if his death would help free Ireland. His fellow revolutionary leaders had all made the same pronouncement. Yet the only one of them who had actually died in battle was this man whom the others had considered afraid to fight. When one had survived the battle and was en route to surrender, it was unbearable to look upon the body of a man who had died so bravely. The deaths were not finished, however. Pearse was secure in his certainty of that. What he knew of the British military system convinced him that he and others would soon be joining O'Rahilly in the dust.

A firing squad would correct the oversights of the battle. And by the time the last man fell before it, the people of Ireland would finally be aroused. The fight for Irish freedom was not ending here today. It was merely beginning. He hastened his step toward the British barricade. It was 2.30pm when pearse, having been helped across the barricade wiith Elizabeth O'Farrell, was brought face to face with General Lowe and two of is aides on the pavement at the corner of Moore and Parnell Streets. Pearse came smartly too attention and identified himself. The general after surveying him, said to an aide, ' Bring that officer who was held at the Post Office. ' A few minutes later, Lieutenant King of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, one of the British prisoners released from the Post Office the day before, stepped forward. After staring at Pearse long enough to try the patience of his superiors, the lieutenant said to him ' Were you in the Post Office? ' Pearse said ' I was. ' King said ' I didn't see you there. ' Pearse had quickly grown tired of all this. Did they think he was about to deny his identity, deny the most glorious chapter of his life? Disregarding the lieutenant, he detached his sword, and holding it ceremoniously, in both hands, palms upward, he offered it to General Lowe. The general took it, looked at it, and handed it to an aide. ' My only concession ' he said to Pearse, ' is that i will allow the other commandants to surrender. I understand you have Countess Markiewicz down there. ' Countess Markiewicz was actually with the insurgent forces in St. Stephen's Green. Pearse said, ' No she isn't with me. ' General Lowe said

' Oh, i know she's down there. ' Pearse exploded in anger. ' Don't accuse me of speaking an untruth. ' General Lowe paused before answering. ' I beg your pardon, Mr Pearse, but i know she is in the area. ' Pearse, slightly mollified said, ' Well, she is not with me, sir. ' The General glanced toward Elizabeth O'Farrell, who was standing on the side, then again looked at pearse. ' Am i to understand that your surrender will include all insurgent forces? ' ' That is correct ' replied Pearse. ' Then i suggest we detain this young lady long eough for her to take your surrender order around to the other rebel commandants. ' Pearse turned to Elizabeth O'Farrell ' Will you agree to this? ' She nodded. ' Yes if you wish it. ' ' I do wish it ' Pearse replied. He stepped toward her and shook her hand. Two officers came up beside him, took him by the arm, and placed him in the second of two cars at the curb. General Lowe entered the first car, and the twoo cars sped away toward the Parnell Monument. An armed gurad on the running boards of the car containing Pearse. Elizabeth O'Farrell lowered her head as the two cars disappeared from sight. An officer standing near her reflected the common British belief that the entire rebellion had been nothing but a German plot ' It would be interesting to know ' he said ' how many marks that fellow has in his pocket. ' Another officer, a lieutenant, escorted her back to Tom Clarke's tobacco shop and gave her a cup of tea.

At 16 Moore Street, James Connly called for Jim Ryan, who was doing his best without medicine, to comfort the wounded men under his care. Connolly said to him ' I want you to get me ready for a journey to the Castle. ' Since the Castle was the seat of British government in Ireland, Ryan knew what that meant. While Julia Grenan and Winifred Carney took care of Connolly's personal needs, redressing his wound, washing him, combing his hair, making his uniform as presentable as possible, Ryan procured a stretcher and appointed four men to carry it. After helping place Connolly on the stretcher ( exercising every care to favor his painfully shattered ankle ) Ryan leaned to ward him and said in a low voice ' Have you any idea, sir, what terms we can expect? ' Connolly put out a hand toward him. ' Don't worry, ' he said. ' Those of us who signed the Republican proclamation will be shot. But the rest of you will be set free. ' The four bearers picked up his stretcher and, under a white flag, carried him out into Moore Street. To minimise his discomfort, they carried him at a slow, almost funeral pace, toward the top of the street, while his men watched sadly from the windows of the houses they passed. When they reached the barricade, a section of it was set aside and they carried him through it. The barricade section was quickly put back in place, and James Connolly disappeared frim sight. An hour later, shortly after four o'clock, General Lowe himself returned to Clarke's tobacco shop, where Elizabeth O'Farrell was under

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Patrick Pearse with General Lowe and his aides in Parnell Street. Only the feet of Elizabeth O'Farrell can be seen in Pearse's right hand side. British soldiers sit in the road as term as discussed.

and presented to her Pearse's written surrender order, which Connolly had also endorsed and which she was to carry to each of the insurgent garrisons around the city. The General had with him a sheaf of typewritten copies. The document read as follows:

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When she read the note, General Lowe said ' The first thing i want you to do, young lady is take that to your friends down there in Moore Street. And here, i want you also to take these surrender instructions. Make sure they read them carefully. ' He handed her another note, which deepened her depression as she read it: ' Carrying a white flag, proceed down Moore Street, turn into Moore Lane and Henry Place, out into Henry Street, and around the pillar to the right hand side of Sackville Street, march up to within a hundred yards of the military drawn up at the Parnell statue, halt, advance five paces and lay down arms. ' As she prepared to go, he handed her a second set of orders, which she was to take to Edward daly, the commandant of the insurgents at the Four Courts. Then an officer escorted her to the barricade, and once again she walked down Moore Street under her soiled handkerchief banner. As the official word of surrender circulated from house to house in Moore Street, it created mutinous turmoil among many of the insurgent troops. The English-Irish, of whom there were between fifty and a hundred, faced immediately now the prospect of being returned to London, to be either shot as traitors or conscripted to fight for England in France, which was only slightly, if at all. preferable. If they were to die anyway, why shouldn't they die here, fighting for Ireland. In growing clusters they gathered to decide what to do. Tom Clarke, hearing their voices rise, went among them and tried to calm them and said:

I'm fifty-nine years old and haven't i spent ny whole life in the struggle for Irish freedom? For fifteen years i rotted in British prisons. But there'll be no more prisons for me this time. They'll be quick to eliminate the need. I'm well aware of that. So if i'm satisfied that the surrender is the only course open to us, why shouldn't you be just as satisfied? Don't worry about them killing you. They'll only kill those of us who signed the Republican Proclamation. And you needn't fight to the death to feel you've accomplished something here this week. You've already done more than anyone could have hoped. Because of men like you, Ireland's future is secure. When the people of Ireland hear the full story of Easter Week, they'll rise up en masse, and this poor bedevilled country will soon be free.

Though Clarke's arguments were impressive, the men were not ready for them. They listened politely because they respected him, but as soon as he was out of sight, they began making plans. Joesph Plinkett, hearing the talk, arose from his sick bed to reason with the men. Depsite increasing weakness, he was still able to erupt occasionally into short, excessive bursts of energy. He argued with passion, but to no avail. They had made up their minds. Michael Collins, a man whose persuasive powers no one could doubt, stepped in and took up the argument. He pleaded, he entreated, he pointed out to them that ' if you fight on, you'll do nothing but seal the death warrants for all our leaders. ' ' 'Sure they'll all be shot anyway, ' saod one of the men. In desperation, Collins went off to find MacDermott, who was busy planning the details of the surrender. Walking laboriously with the aid of his cane, MacDermott approached the largest, most billigerent group, stopped in front of them, and smiled. ' Now what is it you fellows intend to do? ' he asked. He listened patiently as all their fears, their bitterness, their defiance spilled. After a pause he spoke with the persuasive charm for which he had become famous within the Republican movement throughout Ireland. He had little to say that they hadn't already heard. If he was to influence them it would have to be not through his argument but through the power of his personality. He said: ' I suppose a few of you saw those three civilians die in the middle of the street this morning. If you missed it, you can go look out the window at them now. They're still there. Do you know how many more of the poor people around here will die if you fight on? Do you know what will happen to the rest of this beautiful city?

You've seen what happened to Sackville Street. We are hopelessly beaten. Completely surrounded. We haven't a prayer of fighting our way out of here. You've already fought a gallant fight, every one of you. You gain nothing, you lose everything if you try to continue. You think you'll be killed, do you, if you surrender. Not at all. Some of the rest of us will be killed, but none of you. Why should they kill you? And why should they put you in the British Army? You'd be no good to them. They'll send you to prison for a year, that's the worst. But what does it matter, if you survive? The thing you must do, all of you, is survive, come back, carry on the work so nobly begun this week. Those of us who are shot can die happy if we know you'll be living on to finish what we started. ' When MacDermott stopped speaking, no one had any more to say.