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


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


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