“Memorial to Three Patriots Unveiled”
In 1967, the 50th anniversary of the death of Thomas Ashe, a memorial was unveiled at Glasnevin Cemetery in honour of Thomas Ashe, Peadar Kearney and Piaras Beaslai by former Fianna Eireann Chief of Staff Mr Eamon Martin.
The headstone was erected from a fund raised by a memorial committee appointed by the Association of the Old Dublin Brigade of the IRA, of which Beaslai was a one-time president.
The following are extracts from a report that featured in the Irish Independent the day after the unveiling:
“A memorial of Kilkenny limestone sculptured in the shape of a scroll was unveiled in the republican plot, Glasnevin Cemetry, to commemorate the three patriots and poets, Thomas Ashe, Peader Kearney and Piaras Beaslai, who are buried in the same grave.
At the front of the stone is a couplet from one of the poems of Beaslai:
“The freedom, fair name and happiness of the Gael were my only desires from my earliest days”.
The unveiling ceremony was performed by Mr Eamon Martin, former Chief of Staff of Fianna Eireann, who, since the death of Piaras Beaslai in 1965, is the last surviving member of the Provisional Committee of the Irish Volunteers.
The Memorial in 2017. Credit: Niall Oman, Glasnevin.
More than 400 people attended the ceremony held in brilliant sunshine, including 200 Old IRA comrades from many parts of the country.
General Richard Mulcahy, who was second in command to Comdt. Thomas Ashe at the Battle of Ashbourne, in an oration, said they were making a grave of significance where the memory of three mingled lives would, as the days passed, enlighten their memories, enoble their emotions and inspire their doings.
Present at yesterday’s ceremony were surviving relatives of the patriots. These included Miss Nora Ashe and Mr Gregory Ashe, sister and brother of Thomas Ashe; John Kearney, Mrs Margaret Burke and Mrs Maura Slater, brother and sisters of Peadar Kearney, and Messr. B Green and R. Sheehan, cousin of Piaras Beaslai.
Others present included: Mr. Vincent Byrne, Chairman of the Dublin Brigade, Old IRA and Chairman of the Piaras beaslai Memorial Committee, Colonel J B Lawless, who served under Thomas Ashe at the Battle of Ashbourne, and Mr Martin Walton, Vice-Chairman of the Memorial Committee.”
Constance Georgine Markievicz flanked by some of her Fianna boys
Towards the end of June 1927, Markievicz became seriously ill with appendicitis and, under advice from Dr. Kathleen Lynn, was admitted to Sir Patrick Dun’s hospital. She specifically requested a bed in the public ward. She was operated on almost immediately but complications arose and a second operation had to be performed on 8th July. Following this, she developed peritonitis and never recovered. She passed away on 15th July 1927. She was only 59 years of age.
Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital
The following is a tribute to Markievicz by founding member of Na Fianna Eireann and Chief of Staff Eamon Martin. It was written in 1966, during the 50th Anniversary of the Easter Rising:
“I had not met Madame until the founding of the Fianna. After that I was in constant association with her and came to know her very well. With her ingenuous nature, getting to know her came easy, and the wondering how and why she had come over to the Irish cause was no longer a puzzling question. That she was impetuous goes without saying, but not unwisely so; she did not make rash decisions, but, having made up her mind to a particular course she went ahead with no backward look. Whatever cause she embraced was wholehearted – no half measures and no compromise.
It was characteristic of her that when she turned her back on her own class and espoused the nationalist cause it was not to the parliamentarians she turned but dead straight into the separatist movement. And it was here that she displayed that impetuous trait to which I have referred. It was impatience that drove her to launch the Fianna. In starting the Fianna Madame was fortunate in having the benefit of Bulmer Hobson’s experience and counsel. Fortunate too in securing the adherence of two young men – Padraig O’Riain, with his organising ability, and Con Colbert, with his diving force. To these young men, afterwards joined by Liam Mellows, Garry Holohan and Sean Heuston, to name but a few, is due to the rapid success of the organisation. Madame was proud of them and made her gratitude manifest. She had a vision, dreaming of a young army on the march in the cause of Ireland, and here was her dream coming true.
What followed is now glorious history, which she helped to shape in large measure, and so long and wherever freedom is cherished shall the name and deeds of our beloved Madame be remembered. While this is my personal tribute, you can believe that it expresses the feelings of every member of the Fianna who had the privilege of knowing her.”
A plaque that was erected at Sir Patrick Dun’s hospital in Dublin in memory of Countess Markievicz. Former Fianna comrade Eamon Martin donated this plaque in honour of his close friend on behalf of all Fianna veterans. It was unveiled in 1967. Courtesy of Eamon Murphy Fianna Archives.
*The above tribute by Eamon Martin appeared in the book “Constance Markievicz: The People’s Countess” by Joe McGowan.
Source for the image of Markievicz: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmqU_e_XicA
Credit: Galway City Tribune
“In the plan of campaign [for the Easter Rising] the Fianna officers were given certain assignments. The Magazine Fort, as it turned out, owing to the chaos arising out of MacNeill’s countermanding order for Sunday’s “manoeuvres” was not an all-Fianna job. We had to borrow men from the Volunteers but the larger percentage were Fiannaidhe and after the attack they all returned and took positions in the fighting areas.
This group, in Commandant Daly’s area, was in the line of defence along the Quays and in the Four Courts they participated in the attack on the Broadstone Station and Captain Garry Holohan’s part in the capture and burning of Linen Hall Barracks has already been recorded and is too well known for me to dwell upon here. His brother Paddy was by his side all during the week and his cousins Paddy and Hugh were with Tom Ashe at Ashbourne. Towards the end of the week Sean McLoughlin was given the command in the Post Office and led the retreat from that area after the burning of the buildings.
Commandant Seán Heuston’s defence of the Mendicity with both Volunteers and Fianna under his command and Commandant Con Colbert’s part in Watkins Brewery and afterwards at Marrowbone Lane Distillery have also been recorded elsewhere. Madame Markievicz, although fighting as an officer of the Citizen Army was still a member of the Fianna, and fought as second in command at the College of Surgeons. An order of the day signed by Commandant Connolly and dated 28th April states: “Captain Liam Mellows in Galway fresh from his escape is in the field with his men”. Captain Séamus Kavanagh, who had been second to my own command in An Cead Sluagh fought in the Stephen’s Green area. How many of the Fianna who were by this time in the Volunteers it would be impossible to name.
I could go on reciting name after name, it is sufficient, however, for me to say that there was not a single fighting post in the city or country, which had not its quota of the Fianna. Let me say in conclusion, partly paraphrasing Pearse’s statement of 1914, that no history of the resurgent movement, which preceded and culminated in the Rising and no history of the Rising itself can claim to be complete if it ignores or fails to adequately acknowledge the enormous contribution made by Fianna Éireann to the struggle for our country’s freedom.”
Gearoid Ua h-Uallachain (Garry Holohan), Na Fianna Eireann National Deputy Director of Equipment, and also O/C of No.5 Coy Dublin Brigade Fianna (Merchant’s Quay) in 1916.
When Eoin MacNeill discovered that a group within the Irish Volunteers organisation had secret plans to launch an armed rebellion against British Rule, and after receiving news of Roger Casement’s failed attempt to import arms from Germany, he tried to prevent the planned mobilization for Easter Sunday. He hand-wrote several copies of a countermanding order, on headed notepaper at his home – Woodbrook, in Rathfarnham, Co Dublin – and dispatched men to deliver copies to local commanders nationwide. The countermanding order also appeared in the Sunday Independent on April 23rd, the day of the planned Rising. The countermand was only partly successful and caused confusion, especially outside Dublin.
In the following account, Senior Fianna officer Garry Holohan recalls the confusion caused by Eoin MacNeill’s countermanding order:
“The following morning, Easter Sunday [April 24th], I got up and went to nine o’clock Mass at Haddington Road and received Holy Communion. I then heard the news about MacNeill [and the countermanding order] and hurried back to Eamon to discuss the situation. He decided I should go at once to Hardwicke Street and find out how things stood. When I knocked at the door one of the Tobins opened it; he was in a state of hysteria and started to talk about all the trouble that had been brought on us. I asked him where were the leaders, and he told me they were at Liberty Hall.
I rode down O’Connell Street and along Eden Quay where I met Nora and Ina Connolly. I asked them was everything over and they said the leaders were inside. I went up the main staircase in Liberty Hall, and as I reached the top of the stairs I saw Pádraig Pearse and Sean McDermott coming along the passage on my right-hand side from the large front room. I immediately asked Sean what was the position and he told me that everything was postponed for twenty-four hours and gave me a dispatch for the officer in charge of Father Mathew Park.
I was to come back and take a message to Wexford, but I told him I would have to go to Phoenix Park first to tell Molly Byrne to go home, as she was watching the Magazine Fort in order to obtain immediate information if there was any unusual activity or precautions being taken by the guard.
I went to Father Mathew Park, and on my way met a carpenter named Jim Hunter at the junction of Seville Place and Amiens Street. Jim worked with me on the Dublin Port and Docks Board and was an old I.R.B. man who left the time of the split. He had promised to take part in the attack on the Magazine Fort, so I told him everything was off for the present.
I then went back to Liberty Hall and on my way I met my aunt and uncle at O’Connell Bridge. When I got to Liberty Hail I found the leaders gone and the Citizen Army were just going out for a march round the city; that was about six o’clock. I met Eamon Martin and some of the men who were to take part in the Magazine Fort attack, and we decided to meet again at No. 8 Rutland Cottages at 8 p.m. to renew our arrangements. We held a meeting and it was decided to meet next morning at my house at 12 o’clock. Eamon Martin, my brother Pat and I slept at No. 8 Rutland Cottages, Lower Rutland Street.”
Photograph courtesy of Eamon Murphy and the Eamon Martin Collection.
Garry Holohan’s account from his Bureau of Military Witness Statement No. 328 http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS0328.pdf#page=1
Mr. Eamon Martin, former Chief of Staff Fianna Eireann, carrying the wreath at the annual Easter Rising commemoration at Arbour Hill in 1959. Also in the photograph are: Frank Robbins, Vincent Byrne, Nora Connolly-O’Brien, Seamus Brennan, Peter Nolan and Jimmy O’Connor.
Photo courtesy of Eamon Murphy and the Eamon Martin Collection.
Fianna Chief and 1916 veteran Eamon Martin said that “I believe that [Patrick] Pearse’s doctrine, no matter how impractical from the military aspect, had a greater appeal [than an alternative], for those who had become tired or waiting for favourable opportunities. I think it was generally felt that the European War which had been going on for eighteen months, might end without any attempt being made to take advantage of England’s difficulty, that this would be shameful and disastrous, and that even a glorious failure would be better than no attempt at all.”
Image: Film still from RTE’s “Insurrection”.
Tóibín Pádraic (Patrick Tobin), Enniscorthy Sluagh, Wexford Brigade, Fianna Éireann.
Born in 1904 aged about 12 years old at the time of the Rising. He joined Na Fianna in 1915. He was not arrested or detained after the Rising. He re-joined Na Fianna on reorganisation in 1917 and served throughout the War of Independence. During the Rising he was involved in delivering dispatches and came under fire when delivering a dispatch to an outpost at Kilagawley. On the Sunday of the surrender he helped to dump arms. From 1917 on he served as a Battalion Quartermaster and Brigade Vice Officer Commanding Fianna Eireann. He took part in raids for arms and mails, the destruction of Belfast Boycott goods, a raid for petrol on the Enniscorthy Railway Station and a raid on the Income Tax office in Enniscorthy.
In 1920 and 1921 he travelled to Dublin on a number of occasions carrying despatches and reports and British codes captured by the I.R.A. in County Wexford which he passed on to Gearoid O’ Sullivan, Adjutant General of the I.R.A. In October 1920 he was arrested and detained in Cork and Waterford until released in March 1921. During the Truce Period 12th of July 1921 to the 30th of June 1922 he continued his Fianna Eireann activities. At the outbreak of the Civil War in June 1922 he served with the Anti-Treaty I.R.A. forces in the fighting against National Army troops in Enniscorthy. After a period on the run he returned to Enniscorthy in November 1922. As a reporter for the “Enniscorthy Echo” newspaper he was able to gather information from a National Army officer named Commandant McCrea stationed in Gorey, County Wexford regarding the movement of Government forces. In March 1923 he was arrested and interned until December 1923, taking part in a 14 day hunger strike during his period of detention.
Nicholas Hendrick, Fianna Eireann attached to A Company, Wexford Brigade, Irish Volunteers.
Born on the 18th of July 1900 he was 15 years old at the time of the Rising. He fought at Keegan’s Irish Street, the Athenaeum, Edermine Bridge, Borrmount Cross and the Court House in Enniscorthy. He joined Fianna Eireann in March 1916. He was not arrested or detained after the Rising. He joined the Volunteers on reorganisation in 1917 and served throughout the War of Independence. Although he had no official part in the Anti-Treaty side in the Civil War he did help Anti-Treaty forces whenever he could.
Research and biographies courtesy of Brendan Lee at http://www.irishmedals.org
Photograph by ‘Knights and Rebels’, a blog for Enniscorthy’s historic sites: Enniscorthy Castle, National 1798 Rebellion Centre and the Vinegar Hill Battlefield.
Colbert, born in Limerick in 1888, was a founding member of Na Fianna Eireann. He attended the inaugural Fianna meeting on August 16th 1909 in 34 Lower Camden Street and was subsequently elected to the first official Fianna committee shortly after its foundation.
Colbert was one of the first drill instructors of the Fianna, along with Eamon Martin and Michael Lonergan. He was also a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and became ‘centre’ of the exclusive Fianna-IRB circle. Colbert was responsible for inducting many future prominent Irish revolutionaries into the IRB; some of those included Liam Mellows and Garry Holahan. He also introduced many of the pupils from Pearse’s St. Enda’s school to the Fianna and the IRB.
He was the first Captain of the original Fianna ‘An Cead Sluagh’ in Camden Street and later became Captain of the Rathmines branch. Upon the formation of the Irish Volunteers in 1913, Colbert was appointed to its ‘Provisional Committee’ and later to the Volunteer Executive. He was also one of the first drill instructors for the Volunteers in its early days. Colbert became Captain of ‘F’ Company in the 4th Battalion of the Irish Volunteers.
Despite being heavily involved with the Irish Volunteers from 1913 onwards, Colbert remained a central figure within the Fianna organization until 1915, when he resigned to dedicate himself fully to the Volunteers. However, he retained his links to the Fianna through the Fianna-IRB circle, where he remained ‘centre’.
During Easter Week, Colbert was in charge of a unit of men tasked with occupying Watkin’s Brewery, he later moved his men to Marrowbone Lane where they remained until the end of the week.
Following the surrender he was tried by court-martial and sentenced to death. He was executed on May 8th 1916. He was twenty seven years old.
*Photo courtesy of the National Library of Ireland