seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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Executions of Edward Daly, Michael O’Hanrahan, Joseph Mary Plunkett, & William Pearse

plunkett-daly-ohanrahan-pearseThe executions of leaders and participants of the 1916 Easter Rising by the British continue as Edward Daly, Michael O’Hanrahan, Joseph Mary Plunkett, and William Pearse are executed by firing squad in the Stonebreakers Yard at Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin on May 4, 1916.

Edward Daly is born in Limerick in 1891 to a family that has a history of republican activity. His uncle, John Daly, had taken part in the rebellion of 1867. Edward Daly leads the First Battalion during the 1916 Easter Rising, which raids the Bridewell and Linenhall Barracks, eventually seizing control of the Four Courts. A close friend of Tom Clarke, their ties are made even stronger by the marriage of Clarke to Daly’s sister.

Michael O’Hanrahan is born in Wexford in 1877. As a young man, O’Hanrahan shows great promise as a writer, becoming heavily involved in the promotion of the Irish language. He founds the first Carlow branch of the Gaelic League, and publishes two novels, A Swordsman of the Brigade and When the Norman Came. Like many of the other executed leaders, he joins the Irish Volunteers from their inception, and is second in command to Thomas MacDonagh at Jacob’s Biscuit Factory during the Rising, although this position is largely usurped by the arrival of John MacBride.

Joseph Mary Plunkett is born in Dublin in 1887, the son of a papal count. Plunkett is initially educated in England, though he returns to Ireland and graduates from University College Dublin in 1909. After his graduation, Plunkett spends two years traveling due to ill health, returning to Dublin in 1911. Plunkett shares Thomas MacDonagh’s enthusiasm for literature and is an editor of the Irish Review. Along with MacDonagh and Edward Martyn, he helps to establish an Irish national theatre. He joins the Irish Volunteers in 1913, subsequently gaining membership of the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1914. Plunkett travels to Germany to meet Roger Casement in 1915. During the planning of the Rising, Plunkett is appointed Director of Military Operations, with overall responsibility for military strategy. Plunkett is stationed in the General Post Office during the Rising. Seven hours prior to his execution, Plunkett marries his sweetheart, Grace Gifford, in the prison chapel.

William “Willie” Pearse, the younger brother of Patrick, is born in Dublin in 1881. Willie shares his brother’s passion for an independent Ireland. He assists Patrick in running St. Enda’s School. The two brothers are extremely close and fight alongside each other in the General Post Office. He is not one of the planners of the revolt, nor is he one of it’s commanders. Willie is merely one of the soldiers involved with the Dublin actions. No other participant in Dublin whose actions or responsibilities are similar to Willie’s is executed in the days following the Rising, save perhaps John MacBride, whose earlier service with the Boers probably marks him for death. It seems likely that the sole reason Willie is executed by the British government is for the crime of being Patrick’s brother. It is repugnant British excesses such as this that soon reverse the Irish people’s initially negative opinion of the 1916 Easter Rising.

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The Beginning of the 1916 Easter Rising

proclamation-of-independenceThe Easter Rising, also known as the Easter Rebellion, begins in Dublin 100 years ago today and lasts for six days. The Rising, organised by seven members of the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, is launched to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish Republic while the United Kingdom is heavily engaged in World War I. It is the most significant uprising in Ireland since the Irish Rebellion of 1798, and the first armed action of the Irish revolutionary period.

Shortly before midday, members of the Irish Volunteers, led by schoolmaster and Irish language activist Patrick Pearse and joined by the smaller Irish Citizen Army of James Connolly and 200 women of Cumann na mBan, seize key locations in Dublin and proclaim an Irish Republic. The rebels’ plan is to hold Dublin city centre, a large, oval-shaped area bounded by the Grand Canal to the south and the Royal Canal to the north, with the River Liffey running through the middle.

The rebels march to the General Post Office (GPO) on O’Connell Street, Dublin’s main thoroughfare, and occupy the building and hoist two republican flags. Pearse stands outside and reads the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

Elsewhere in Dublin, some of the headquarters battalion under Michael Mallin occupy St. Stephen’s Green, where they dig trenches and barricade the surrounding roads. The 1st battalion, under Edward “Ned” Daly, occupy the Four Courts and surrounding buildings, while a company under Seán Heuston occupies the Mendicity Institution across the River Liffey from the Four Courts. The 2nd battalion, under Thomas MacDonagh, occupies Jacob’s Biscuit Factory. The 3rd battalion, under Éamon de Valera, occupy Boland’s Mill and surrounding buildings. The 4th battalion, under Éamonn Ceannt, occupy the South Dublin Union and the distillery on Marrowbone Lane. From each of these garrisons, small units of rebels establish outposts in the surrounding area.

There are isolated actions in other parts of Ireland, with attacks on the Royal Irish Constabulary barracks at Ashbourne, County Meath and in County Galway, and the seizure of the town of Enniscorthy, County Wexford. Due to a last-minute countermand issued on Saturday, April 22, by Volunteer leader Eoin MacNeill, the number of rebels who mobilise is much lower than expected.

The British Army brings in thousands of reinforcements as well as artillery and a gunboat. There is fierce street fighting on the routes into the city centre, where the rebels put up stiff resistance, slowing the British advance and inflicting heavy casualties. Elsewhere in Dublin, the fighting mainly consists of sniping and long-range gun battles. The main rebel positions are gradually surrounded and bombarded with artillery.

With much greater numbers and heavier weapons, the British Army suppresses the Rising, and Pearse agrees to an unconditional surrender on Saturday, April 29. Almost 500 people are killed during Easter Week. About 54% are civilians, 30% are British military and police, and 16% are Irish rebels. More than 2,600 are wounded. Many of the civilians are killed as a result of the British using artillery and heavy machine guns, or mistaking civilians for rebels. Others are caught in the crossfire in a crowded city. The shelling and the fires leave parts of inner city Dublin in ruins.

After the surrender the country remains under martial law. About 3,500 people are taken prisoner by the British, many of whom have played no part in the Rising, with 1,800 of them being sent to internment camps or prisons in Britain. Most of the leaders of the Rising are executed following courts-martial. The Rising brings physical force republicanism back to the forefront of Irish politics, which for nearly 50 years has been dominated by constitutional nationalism. It, and the British reaction to it, leads to increased popular support for Irish independence. In December 1918, republicans, represented by the reconstituted Sinn Féin party, win a landslide victory in the general election to the British Parliament. They do not take their seats, but instead convene the First Dáil and declare the independence of the Irish Republic, which ultimately leads to the Irish War of Independence.


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Birth of Edward “Ned” Daly in Limerick

edward-ned-dalyEdward “Ned” Daly, commandant of Dublin’s 1st battalion during the Easter Rising of 1916, is born on February 25, 1891 at 26 Frederick Street in Limerick.

Daly is the only son among the ten children born to Edward and Catherine Daly (née O’Mara). He is the younger brother of Kathleen Clarke whose husband, Tom Clarke, an active member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Daly’s father, Edward, a Fenian, dies five months before his son’s birth at the age of forty-one. His uncle, John Daly, is a prominent republican who had taken part in the Fenian Rising. It is through John Daly that Clarke meets his future wife.

Daly is educated by the Presentation Sisters at Sexton Street, the Congregation of Christian Brothers at Roxboro Road, and at Leamy’s commercial college. He spends a short time as an apprentice baker in Glasgow before returning to Limerick to work in Spaight’s timber yard. He later moves to Dublin where he eventually takes up a position with a wholesale chemist. He lives in Fairview with Kathleen and Tom Clarke.

Daly joins the membership of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, although the exact date is not known. In November 1913, Daly joins the newly founded Irish Volunteers and soon reaches the rank of captain. He is assiduous in his study of military manuals and the professionalism of his company gains the admiration of senior officers in actions such as the Howth gun-running of 1914. In March 1915, he is promoted to the rank of commandant of the 1st Battalion.

During the Easter Rising of 1916, Daly’s battalion is stationed in the Four Courts and areas to the west and north of the centre of Dublin. His battalion sees the most intense fighting of the rising. He surrenders his battalion on Saturday, April 29 after Patrick Pearse orders the surrender. He is held at Kilmainham Gaol.

Daly is given the same quick sham court-martial at Richmond Barracks as the other leaders of the Rising. In his trial, he claims that he was just following orders. Daly is convicted and is executed by firing squad on May 4, 1916, at the age of 25.

Bray railway station was renamed Bray Daly railway station in his honour in 1966.