Walking Through History -A perspective on the Rising’s Aftermath and Executions

In the immediate aftermath of the 1916 Rising Brigadier-General W.H.M. Lowe, commander of the British troops in Dublin during the Rising, handed control over to General John Maxwell.

A total of 3,500 people were arrested, over twice the number that took part in the rising. By the beginning of May 1,600 had been interned in Frongoch, North Wales.

In a series of courts martial beginning on the 2 May, 90 people were sentenced to death on the charge of waging war against the King of England, with intent and for purpose of assisting the enemy. Between the 3 May and the 12 May fifteen of those sentenced to death, including the seven signatories of the Proclamation would be executed by firing squad in the Stone Breakers yard of Kilmainham Gaol.

KIlmainham Gaol, Kilmainham,Dublin City, Ireland
KIlmainham Gaol, Kilmainham,Dublin City, Ireland

May 3

On the 3 May Patrick Pearse (Pádraig Mac Piarais) the Dublin born lawyer then founder/ teacher at ‘Scoile Éanna’ St. Enda’s School in Ranelagh, Thomas MacDonagh who led the garrison at Jacob’s biscuit factory and Thomas J. Clarke the man who had spent more than fifteen years in English prisons for his involvement in the Fenian movement were executed.

Patrick Pearse
Patrick Pearse

May 4

Joseph Mary Plunkett who would marry Grace Gifford hours before he would go before the firing squad, William (Willie) Pearse the brother of Patrick Pearse, Edward (Ned) Daly who was commandant of the battalion stationed in the Four Courts during the Rising and Michael O’Hanrahan second in command to Thomas MacDonagh’s battalion at Jacob’s biscuit factory were all executed.

Joseph Mary Plunkett
Joseph Mary Plunkett

May 5

Major John MacBride who had fought against the British in the Boer War and only joined the Rising as it began. He was executed for taking part in the Rising.

Major John MacBride
Major John MacBride

May 8

Eamonn Ceannt led the garrison at the South Dublin Union; St. James’s Hospital today and was one of the seven signatories of the proclamation, Michael Mallin alongside Countess Markievicz commanded a small contingent of Irish Citizen Army in St. Stephen’s Green and The Royal College of Surgeons, Sean Heuston who was a member of Fianna Éireann and along with twenty rebels held the Mendicity Institute on the River Liffey for two days and Cornelius (Con) Colbert was executed for participating in the Rising.

Eamonn Ceannt
Eamonn Ceannt

May 9

Thomas Kent was arrested at his home in County Cork on the 22 April 1916. It was intention to travel to Dublin for the Rising. He was executed in Cork Detention Barracks following a Court Martial.

May 12

Sean Mc Diarmada or Sean MacDermott alongside James Connolly served in the G.P.O. during the Rising. James Connolly was stationed at the General Post Office (G.P.O) and during the Rising he was shot in the Ankle and subsequently was executed strapped to a chair. He was the last of the leaders to be executed.

James Connolly
James Connolly

Sir Roger Casement was tried in London for high treason and hanged at Pentonville Prison on 3 August 1916.

Sir Roger Casement
Sir Roger Casement


Walking Through History – A perspective on the 1916 rising

The 1916 Rising or the Easter Rising was an armed insurrection that took place in Dublin, Galway, Wexford, and Meath but it happened mainly in Dublin. The Rising was an attempt made by Irish Republicans to end British rule in Ireland. It was the most significant uprising since the United Irishmen’s rebellion in 1798.

On the 24 April 1916, Easter Monday, 1,500 Irish Volunteers, together with around 200 members of the Irish Citizens Army seized the General Post Office (G.P.O.) on O’Connell Street and other buildings in Dublin.

The GPO in Dublin
The GPO in Dublin

From the front of the G.P.O. Patrick Pearse, Commander in Chief of the Irish Volunteers and the president of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic read out the Proclamation that declared Ireland a republic free from Britain. ‘We hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a sovereign Independent State’

Initially the British response to the rebel’s actions was uncoordinated as they were caught by surprise and unprepared. In the days to follow, Martial Law was declared giving civil power over to Brigadier- General Lowe who brought in reinforcements from England, Belfast and the Curragh. At the end of the week British military presence had increased from around a thousand soldiers to over 16,000. The British military had access to a light gun boat called the Helga which sailed up the river Liffey and shelled Liberty Hall and the G.P.O.

Surrender didn’t come until Saturday the 29 April. After days of shelling had caused fire to spread to the walls of the G.P.O. and surrounding buildings the rebels were forced to evacuate their headquarters there and retreat to Moore Street. From this new position Pearse through Elizabeth O’Farrell, a nurse, would begin a process of surrender.

Pearse surrendered unconditionally to Brigadier- General Lowe.

Pearse surrendering
Pearse and O’Farrell surrendering

In the aftermath of the Rising 64 rebels and 132 Crown forces had been killed. On top of this about 320 civilians had been killed with extensive damage done to the city.

The Irish Flags


This year marks one hundred years since the 1916 Easter Rising. To commemorate this historic event almost every building in Dublin is flying the Irish tricolour. The tricolour was created in 1848 for Thomas Francis Meagher. The flag is green and orange with a strip of white between them, Meagher said that…

“The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between the ‘Orange’ and the ‘Green’ and I trust that beneath its folds the hands of the Irish Protestant and the Irish Catholic may be clasped in heroic brotherhood.”
While the tricolour is perhaps the most popular flag on show in our nations capital, it isn’t the only one.

Golden Harp Flag

One of the oldest flags associated with Ireland is the golden harp on a green background.

This flag was a symbol for Ireland back in the 18th century, it was used by the Society of United Irishmen during the rebellions of 1798 and 1804. The flag was used during Daniel O Connell’s repeal of the Union act, during which the Irish fought for the creation of a fully independent Kingdom of Ireland, of which Victoria, Queen of Great Britain would rule over equally. .

The flag fell out of favour around WW I when Irish people associated it more closely with the war propaganda, in which it featured heavily. The final nail in the coffin for the Golden Harp flag came after the 1918 election where Sinn Fein defeated the Irish Paramilitary Party and supplanted the Golden Harp with the Irish tricolour which became the Irish flag. Following their win Sinn Fein had the tricolour written into the Irish constitution as the Irish flag, cementing it as the only flag of Ireland.

‘The national flag is the tricolour of green, white and orange’ – Article 7

Another flag which has significance in this centenary is the ‘Irish Republic’ flag.

Irish Republic Flag

The Irish Republic flag was flown over the GPO Easter week and has special significance to the republican movement and the Rising unlike other flags at the time. The Irish Republic flag is the only flag that was made especially for the Easter Rising, all other flags had existed prior to that.

The Irish Republic flag was painted by hand in the home of Countess Markievicz by Theobald Wolfetone Fitzgerald. It is said to have been made out of some green bed sheet that was lying around. It was painted in the colours of the Irish Tricolour.

After the Easter Rising the Irish Republic flag was removed from the GPO by a British Soldier and eventually ended up in the Imperial War museum.

In the year 1966 the flag was gifted back to the Irish to mark half a century since the Rising.

The flag is currently on display in the Proclaiming a Republic- The 1916 Rising, in the Irish National Museum in Collins Barracks.

Irish Republic Flag Original


Where the ladies at? The removal of woman from Irish History and Arts

The centenary celebrations of the 1916 Rising dealt with a number of themes and issues, one of the key themes of the years celebrations was the role that women played in 1916. The women of 1916 have gone without recognition for generations, and finally they are being celebrated for their part in the Rising.

Irish women have been side-lined from Irish political history especially in regards to their part in the fighting during Easter week 1916. A good example of removal of women from political history is the cropping out of Elizabeth O’ Farrell and her feet from the famous photo of Pearse’s surrender.original[1]
Elizabeth O’Farrell was a member of Cumman na mBan who were the women’s branch of the Irish Military Paramilitary. She worked as a nurse in the GPO and joined the fighters when they moved on to Moore Street during Easter week. Once the fighting was over, O’Farrell carried a white flag and the official surrender from Pearse to the British Guard but she was then edited out of the official surrender photo. Being edited out of moments of historical importance, such as o’Farrell was, began a common trend of side-lining and moving women from the polis (political) and returning them to the oikos (home).

Éamon de Valera played a key role in reducing the roles of women outside the home especially when he rose to power as Taoiseach of Ireland in 1937. As a leader in the 1916 rising deValera held the Bolands Mills on Grand Canal Dock with a troop of 100 poorly armed soldiers. When joined by women of Cumann na mBan, deValera absolutely refused to have any women involved in the fighting and demanded that they return home. Many of the female insurgents believed that this is why the Bolands Mills didn’t last as long during siege.


Once deValera became a key political power in the 1930’s he was involved in the further side-lining of women by reducing their position within the Irish constitution to that of household caretaker, and writing that into law.
Article 41
2. 1 In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without with the common good cannot be

The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.”
Women became more symbolic in Irish culture, this can be seen as having root in the theatrical writings of Irish Literary Revival, a literary attempt to revive Irish writing. A play which came out of this movement, Cathleen Ní Houlihan by Lady Gregory and W.B. Yeats, features the title character Cathleen as a symbolic representation of Ireland. Irish theatre has always given a symbolic role to women, especially when it comes to representations of 1916.


The symbolic nature of women is epitomised in the lack of statues in the city centre to commemorate women. With 70% of the statues of women being as a representation, rather than to commemorate an actual woman.

Statues that are of actual women include two of the Countess Markievicz, one full body statue on Tara Street and a bust in St. Stephens Green, and a statue of Margret Ball on Cathedral Street. Ball was a devote Catholic who was punished by her son and publicly tortured to deny her faith, which she did not do.ie027[1]
Women are represented as being symbolic, such as Anna Livia known locally as ‘The Floozie in the Jacuzzi’ who is supposed to represent the river Goddess for whom the Liffey is named. She is doubly symbolic as she appears in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake as a character who also embodies the river.


There is also, probably the most famous statue in Dublin, Molly Malone. Known locally as ‘The Tart with the Cart’ on Sulfolk Street. Molly Malone is a romantic idea as to what life in Dublin was like in the 17th Century. The female statues are the only statues in Dublin that are subjected to offensive nicknames and continuous sexual groping so much so that the bronze had worn away on the chest of Molly Malone. The sexualisation of these female statues further diminishes their significance and their position within the cityscape of Dublin.


Women are also represented as symbolic in the statues of the Famine People, Children of Lir, Famine Monument, Three Fates, Eire Sculpture and the two women with the bags.


It is only in recent years that the first bridge was named after a woman, the Rosie Hackett Bridge. After months of deliberations Rosie Hackett was chosen as the name for the bridge.



At the unveiling of the bridge there were, reportedly, no women present. Still in 2015 women are being side-lined from the important moments in Irish history. In the Abbey Theatres preparations for the 2016 centenary, female playwrights were excluded from theatrical line up with only one in ten plays being performed having been written by a woman.

Donabate during the Rising 1916

As 2016 is the year of commemoration for the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, which has been marked as the first strive towards Ireland’s freedom, my interest was sparked to look into my own town’s local history in relation to the events of the rising. I was unaware of any contribution from the small village of Donabate, what I discovered was that not only were there men from the village that joined the leaders in the city centre but also a “battle”, if you can call it that, right in the centre of Donabate itself.

View of Donabate Village from the Parish Hall.


On the Wednesday of Easter week 1916 the Irish Volunteers were involved in fierce combat with the British Army, in various outposts across Dublin City, in locations such as, the GPO and Boland’s Mill. At the same time the Fingal Brigade of the Irish Volunteers engaged in some armed activity between Donabate and Swords.

The local armed republicans had been active in Fingal since Easter Monday when they originally assembled at Knocksedan Bridge at the back of River Vally. By the Wednesday the Republicans, led by Kerryman Thomas Ashe, had planned to seize the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) police barracks in both Swords and Donabate, as they were acting under British command.

In Swords the surrender of the police was quick and uneventful. However, things were quite different in Donabate and the attack on the original RIC barracks, which was located behind what is now Keeling’s pub, would be the first instance of the Fingal unit coming under British fire.

The following is an account from Irish Volunteer Charlie Weston (who’s grandson still lives in Donabate);

‘We were ordered to take a pickaxe, sledge and crowbar and burst in the door. Six of us rushed up to the door and shouted at the police to surrender or we would break in the door. The answer was a revolver shot fired out of the top window. Immediately the window was riddled with bullets from our men. We proceeded to break in the door. After a few seconds the door frame gave way and the door went in. There was an inner iron door with a chain on it. When the door went in they immediately shouted they would surrender. They could not get the iron door open, but one of them threw a rifle through the top window as a token of surrender.’


Captain Charles Weston

The RIC Constable Thorpe had been shot in the hand when the RIC police surrendered. After the brief shootout and prompt surrender, the republicans seized all the available arms in the police station. While in the RIC station Thomas Ashe discovered the intelligence files which had notes with information on local republican volunteer’s names and activities.

After this encounter the volunteers returned once again to their billets at Kileek (near Saint Margaret’s) for camp. Until joining with the republican forces to capture Ashbourne, the only town “freed” during the 1916 Rising.