Monthly Archives: April, 2015

Elizabeth O’Farrell (1884-1957)

O'Farrell Clipping

Elizabeth O’Farrell (1884-1957) acted as a dispatcher before and during the Rising, delivering bulletins and instructions to the rebel outposts around Dublin. Along with her lifelong friend and fellow nurse, Julia Grenan, she cared for the wounded including James Connolly. At 12.45pm on Saturday 29th April O’Farrell was asked to deliver the surrender to the British military.

O’Farrell was taken to Brigadier General W. H. M. Lowe who sent her back to Pearse at number 16 Moore Street with a demand for unconditional surrender. Pearse agreed and, accompanied by O’Farrell, surrendered in person to General Lowe.

Despite Lowe’s assurance that she would not be taken prisoner, O’Farrell, was held overnight at Ship Street Barracks after the surrender. When he learned of her arrest, Lowe had her released and apologised to her.

She died in Fatima House in Bray, Co. Wicklow on 25 June 1957. She remained active in Republican politics until her death and she is buried in the Republican Plot in Glasnevin Cemetery alongside Julia Grenan.

*Newspaper clipping courtesy of the ‘Eamon Martin Fianna Eireann Collection’

Text from wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_O%27Farrell

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Sir Thomas Myles – Surgeon and Irish Volunteers Gun Runner (1857-1937)

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In August 1914, Thomas Myles was involved in the Kilcoole gunrunning with his yacht ‘The Chotah’. Myles was also head surgeon in Richmond Hospital, Dublin and it was here that he attended to several wounded Volunteers during Easter Week 1916. Among them were Michael ‘Miko’ O’Dea, Liam Archer, Joe Beggs, Liam Clarke, future Fianna Chief of Staff Eamon Martin and Nicholas Laffan.

Fianna Eireann ‘Ard Fheis’ 1919

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Fianna Eireann ‘Ard Fheis’ (Annual Convention/Congress), 1919 Mansion House.

Sitting behind the flag at the front, (L-R) Garry Holohan, QMQ (with arms folded), Eamon Martin, Chief of Staff, Barney Mellows, Adjutant General and Paddy Holohan. Others of note in the photograph are Liam Langley, Joe Reynolds, Seamus Pounch, Frank McMahon, Joe McKelvey, Sean Saunders, Paddy Dunne, Kevin McNamee, Liam Murphy, Eamon Nicholson, Jimmy O’Connor and Bob Conlon.

Fianna Eireann Certificate of Service for Constance de Markievicz

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Fianna Eireann ‘Certificate of Service’ for Constance de Markievicz, awarded posthumously in 1950, presented and signed by Eamon Martin, former Chief-of-Staff of Fianna Eireann, to Sean McBride who received it on behalf of the Irish Government and was then given to the National Museum in Kildare Street.

The mission to occupy Broadstone Railway Station, Dublin, Easter Tuesday, 25th April, 1916

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On Tuesday 25th April 1916, a small group of about twelve men, under the command of Captain Dinny O’Callaghan of ‘A’ Company, 1st Battalion, were ordered by Commandant Edward ‘Ned’ Daly to occupy Broadstone Railway Station, which was situated at the top of Constitution Hill. Included in this group were two senior Fianna officers, Dublin Brigade Commandant Eamon Martin and Captain Garry Holohan, fresh from their exploits at the Magazine Fort the previous day. The Irish Volunteers in the party included amongst others Peader Breslin, Sean Cody and Nicholas Laffan.

The original plan was to take this strategic position at the beginning of hostilities but it was postponed until Tuesday, by which time, unknown to the Volunteers, a small detachment of British Forces had occupied the station. Before the men set out on their mission, they were blessed by Father Albert in front of St. Johns Convent and the Sisters of the St. Vincent de Paul prayed for their safe return.

Leading the mission from about 100 yards ahead of the main group were Eamon Martin and Garry Holohan. They advanced up the road with fixed bayonets. As they approached the station, Garry Holohan noticed a dark figure running behind the entrance of the building. It was getting dark and it was hard to make out if it was an enemy soldier or a fellow Volunteer. Garry shouted back to the others that there was somebody ahead. Eamon Martin moved to Garry’s right hand side and tried to look inside the building. As Eamon moved further along for a closer look, a sniper fired upon their position. Eamon was hit by a rifle shot which went through his chest and almost instantly he began bleeding heavily however he managed to run back a short distance to a relatively safer position where he collapsed on the ground. His comrades lifted him up and retreated back down the hill, however they were subjected to enemy fire as they made their way back but thanks to two brave young Volunteers, Nicholas Laffan and George Butler, who covered their retreat, they managed to get back safely without further casualties.

Eamon Martin was brought to Richmond Hospital where he was treated for his wounds. No further attempts were made to occupy Broadstone Station.

By Eamon Murphy

*Photograph of Broadstone Station courtesy of Finbar Dwyer

Eoin MacNeill’s Countermanding Order Easter 1916

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MacNeill’s Countermanding order to stop the mobilisation of Volunteers on Easter Sunday, which appeared in the Sunday Independent on April 23rd, 1916.

On Easter Saturday, MacNeill discovered that a group within the organisation had secret plans to launch an armed rebellion against British Rule.When he discovered the deception, and after receiving news of Roger Casement’s failed attempt to import arms from Germany, MacNeill tried to prevent the mobilisation.He hand-wrote several copies of his countermanding order, on headed notepaper at his home – Woodbrook, in Rathfarnham, Co Dublin – and dispatched men to deliver copies to local commanders nationwide.The countermand was only partly successful and caused confusion, especially outside Dublin.The rebels delayed their plans by 24 hours and launched the Rising on Easter Monday, April 24th, 1916.

Incidentally Eoin MacNeill’s son Niall (often referred to as Neil) was elected on to the Fianna Executive at the Ard Fheis in 1915. He was also Captain of E Company (Ranelagh) of the recently re-organised Dublin Brigade and a member of the IRB. It is also worth noting that at the 1915 Ard Fheis, MacNeill Jr called for a resolution to arm and train all Fianna scouts to bring them into line with Volunteer training. It seems Niall was leaning towards a more militaristic approach for the movement while his father was preferring a different, perhaps defensive approach for the Volunteers, certainly throughout 1915, and then as can be seen with his countermanding order, opposition to an insurrection in 1916.

Despite Niall’s differing views from his father, he was the only member of the Fianna Executive who was not informed of the impending Rising due to his family connections, and he therefore did not mobilise at Easter 1916. Following 1916 however he was court martialled by Constance Markievicz and Barney Mellows for not taking part,  once he had discovered that the rebellion was underway. MacNeill was eventually “exonerated on the grounds that I was under the influence of my father.” MacNeill later recalled the whole exercise as being a “face-saving” ploy by Fianna HQ and that they had never any intention to remove him from the organisation. Niall went on to re-organise the Rathfarnham company of the Fianna in 1917.

Fianna Eireann in Dolphin’s Barn, Dublin.

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One of the earliest Fianna Eireann branches or Sluagh (Slua) was based in Dolphins Barn. “Slua Patrick Sarsfield” was founded by Liam Mellows in 1912 and was based in the Dolphin’s Barn area. Recruits were accepted into this branch from the locality and even beyond. Liam was the head of the Sluagh and his 2nd in command was Alfie White. They were one of the best run branches in the Dublin and were often commended by headquarters. They held regular drill classes and Irish language classes from the end of 1912 (they even had their own teacher, Mr. N. MacNamee). They were also one of the most well equipped branches with all members having full uniforms by spring 1913. Bear in mind this was well before the Volunteers were formed later in the year so this is a tremendous achievement and most of it was put down to Mellows brilliant organisational and leadership qualities.

Shortly afterwards in 1913 another branch was formed in the area “Slua Brian Boru”, perhaps to replace “Slua Patrick Sarsfield” or as an extra branch as a result of the growing popularity of the nationalist boy scouts in the Dolphins Barn area.

Liam Mellows was also busy with organizing the national Fianna movement around the same time so this could explain the name change as he spent less and less time in Dolphin’s Barn. In any case Liam had left official Fianna duties later in the year as he devoted more of his time to the Irish Volunteers. The departure of Liam did not end the Mellows family involvement in the Dolphin’s Barn area and in 1915 the Dublin branches of Fianna Eireann were organised into a Battalion of nine Companies and Liam’s brother Barney became commander of no.2 Coy. Dolphin’s Barn.

The area was seen as very important to the independence movement and many future senior Fianna Eireann officers and indeed Volunteer officers came from the area or had been based there. On one occasion, a few days before the 1916 Rising took place Barney Mellows organized a meeting with other Fianna members at St. Enda’s at Rathfarnham and ordered them to transport several cases of rifles to a safe house location in Dolphin’s Barn. Following the 1916 Rising, senior Fianna officer Seamus Pounch became O/C of no.2 Coy. Dolphin’s Barn.

Eamon Ceannt also lived in the Dolphin’s Barn area and Barney Mellows was in his house in Dolphin’s Terrace in Dolphin’s Barn the morning of the first day of the Rising. Barney was due to fight alongside Ceannt at the South Dublin Union but at the last minute he was drafted into the “Magazine Fort” team due to the depletion of their numbers, as a result of the earlier countermanding order.

By Eamon Murphy

Photo by H Warren http://www.panoramio.com/photo/72473150

The Raid on the Magazine Fort, Phoenix Park, Easter Monday 1916

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At 12 o’clock on Easter Monday, April 24th 1916, a group of mostly Fianna members took part in a raid on the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park. They were successful in their attempt to blow up the explosives and ammunition store. Included in this mission were Paddy Daly, Eamon and Christopher Martin, Garry and Paddy Holahan, Tim Roche, Sean Ford, Barney Mellows and Paddy Boland.

The following is an account of the raid by Fianna Commandant Eamon Martin:

“This operation was to have been under taken by an all-Fianna unit, but owing to McNeill’s countermanding of the manoeuvres for Easter Sunday and the chaos which followed, it was impossible to get definite instructions to the unit until later in the evening, after the final decision to proceed with the Rising had been made. Connolly told myself, and his daughter Nora, around three o’clock, that the Rising would take place the next day and that the Magazine job was to be timed for twelve noon.

I issued mobilisation orders to be delivered to the homes of the lads. By this time, however, as we only learned later, many of them, presuming everything was cancelled, had gone hiking or to camps. As a result, we were short of our full complement by zero mobilisation hour on Monday morning. The mobilisation centre was the home of Garry Holohan off Summerhill.

I immediately went to Connolly and Pearse at Liberty Hall taking Garry Holohan and his brother Paddy with me. There I got signed orders from Pearse directed to the various Battalion Commanders, who were already mustering their men in their respective areas, to let me have some men if they could spare them. These orders were delivered by Garry Holohan to Eamon Ceannt at the South Dublin Union and by Paddy Holohan to another Battalion, and by myself to Blackhall Place, where I saw Frank Fahy, and we each brought back with us two or three men. Having mustered the unit, we proceeded to the Phoenix Park, calling in at Whelans on Ormond Quay on the way to purchase a football. Owing to the delay caused in collecting the extra men, time was now running against us.

Eamon Martin and Garry Holohan

Eamon Martin (1892-1971) and Garry Holahan (1894-1967)

While I was the senior Fianna Officer and in command of the men, I was not in charge of the operations for the attack on the Fort. There were good reasons for this. Firstly, the procedure which had become customary, that when operating in conjunction with the Volunteers, a Fianna unit, irrespective of the rank of its officer, became subordinate to the Volunteer officer, and Paddy Daly, who had been assigned to this operation, was at this time, a Volunteer Officer. He was, at this period, working as a tradesman in the Magazine Fort, and had made a study of it, and I believe the idea of attacking the Fort originated with him. He had made a sketch of the lay-out of the buildings and had drawn up the plan of attack. That he should be placed in charge of the operations was, therefore, both logical and wise, and there was never a thought on the Fianna’s part of questioning that decision. Paddy Daly will, I am sure, testify that he received wholehearted co-operation and submission from Fiannaidhe of all ranks who took part in this operation.

We arrived at the outside of the Fort, pretending to be a Football Team, and by passing the ball from one to the other got near enough to the outside sentry to rush and disarm him, while the remainder of the unit doubled into the Fort with pistols and revolvers drawn. The Guard Room was rushed, the soldiers there were covered and their rifles, which were stacked, were collected. The wife and children of the Officer Commanding were brought to the Guard Room, as was also the balustrade sentry, who had been wounded during a scuffle to disarm him. During this time the storekeeper and keys had been located, the store-rooms and vaults opened, and the men assigned to the job set about laying the mines. When everything was set for firing, Mrs. Playfair and her children were allowed to leave and the soldiers were informed that they could leave immediately after the last of our men and to be sure and take care of their wounded comrade. I learned later that this man died of his wound, which had not been attended to in time.

Mag Fort

Various accounts have been written referring to the “partial success” of this operation. I wish to place on record that there was no failure on the part of the attacking unit. That the Fort was not “blown up” was due to the fact that it did not contain any high explosives as was anticipated obviously these had been removed by the British Army Authorities who presumably required all their supplies for the European War. All that the Fort contained was a small supply of rifles and ammunition in boxes.

When we were satisfied that everything had been taken care of the fuses were fired and when well under way the last of our party left the Fort. A horse-drawn hackney car had been engaged by one of our party, and held in readiness. The four or five men – the last to leave the Fort, mounted this car and drove out from Island Bridge gate. We were out on the main road before we heard the first of the dull explosions which destroyed the firearms and ammunition. Coming out on to the road we noticed Mrs. Playfair’s son running towards a house on, the curve of Island Bridge and Conyngham Road, which we knew to be the home of the Officer Commanding Island Bridge Barracks, and which we also knew had a telephone – Frank Fahy lived next door. As we had yet to make our way back to the city, and realising, as already mentioned that we were behind time, that the insurrection would have already begun, we could not afford to take any chances with this boy. Accordingly, one of our party, who was cycling alongside our hackney car, speeded up and shot to wound the boy, just as he was entering the door of this house. The boy died of this wound.

We continued our journey back to the city via Kingsbridge, where the British soldiers were already taking up their positions. They fired at us from the Esplanade, but fortunately, we escaped injury though having to run the gauntlet passing the Barrack Gate and through Benburb Street.

We encountered our own men at the junction of Church Street as we proceeded to the headquarters for this area. Having reported to Commandant Eamon Daly, the members of the unit took their places at the posts assigned to them. Commandant Daly asked me if I could make my way to the General Post Office to report on the Magazine Fort operation direct to Commandants Connolly and Pearse. I did this, without much difficulty. On the way I met Joe Cullen who had been wandering around looking for a Fianna unit to join up with and I took him along with me to the G.P.O. and then back to North King Street where he fought for the remainder of the week.”  –  Commandant Eamon Martin

Approximately 17 Fianna boys and Irish Volunteers took part. Only 11 signed the Magazine Fort Garrison ‘Roll of Honour’ but there were several reasons for this; some had died, some signed the “Four Courts” list and some refused to sign it.

Those who signed the Roll of Honour are as follows:
Patrick Boland
Bob Gilligan
Patrick Hugh Holohan
Louis Marie
Christopher Martin
Commandant Eamon Martin
John Murphy
Sean Ó Briain,
Gearoid O hUallachain
Bernard Parker
Timothy Roche

* The ‘boy’ who was shot was in fact Mrs. Playfair’s twenty three year old son George Playfair. The name of the sentry who was shot and later died of his wounds is unknown.

The Irish Times on Tuesday 25th April, the day after the raid on the Magazine Fort, reported the following:
‘In the midst of the activities of the ambulance men, the Fire Brigade turned out at 3.58pm in response to a call from the Army Ordnance Department, Island Bridge, to the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park, which was reported to be on fire. On reaching Church Street, on the Northern Quays, the Fire Brigade found the roadway barricaded in front of them, the barricade being held by armed men in Volunteer uniform. The Brigade returned to headquarters, and the official entry of the incident states: “Officer in charge of Volunteers refused to let Brigade pass”. Meantime, however on receipt of the alarm it was transmitted from the central station to the Thomas Street section, and the latter succeeded in getting through to the Magazine Fort without opposition. At six minutes past 12 o’clock (midnight) this morning the members of the Fire Brigade who were engaged in fighting the fire at the Magazine Fort, Phoenix Park, returned to their station having succeeded in extinguishing the flames.’

Another newspaper report reported that:

‘…the Thomas Street section of the Brigade was still busily engaged on the fire at the Magazine Fort. The firemen had a difficult task through having to deal with a quantity of explosives, boxes of which were occasionally exploding, and they were unable to gain access to the fort, having to play upon the outbreak from the boundary wall.’