NOT in the news: March 28 – April 3, 1916

Continuing our  look behind the scenes at how the Rising was being planned and what we know about those involved, 100 years ago this week: March 14-20, 1916. 

Many of the main players featured regularly in newspapers of the time, but most of these activities did not feature in the news and are only now known from information held in archives.

 

A member of the Irish Volunteers was charged in Tullamore with attempted murder of Royal Irish Constabulary, but was later discharged on technical grounds. Sergeant Ahern who was injured in the affray at the Volunteers Hall, Tullamore the previous week was reported to be progressing satisfactorily.

Headquarters of Irish Volunteers in Dublin were the venue for meetings of JJ O’Connell (HQ staff), Terence MacSwiney (vice-commandant Cork Brigade), Herbert Mellows, Patrick Hughes and Patrick Ryan. As well as MacSwiney, Dublin police monitored the movements of Seán MacDiarmada (IRB Military Council member, involved in impending rebellion), and Michael Joseph O’Rahilly (Irish Volunteers figure, opposed to a Rising).

Following the recent seizure of seditious publications in Dublin the week before, police seizures of ‘Sinn Féin’ publications from several newsagents in Tipperary were reported. The Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) had tried to shut down some of the ‘mosquito press’ by seizing their printing plant the previous week.

Reports emerged of weekend arrests of regional Irish Volunteers organisers Liam Mellows (in Athenry, Co Galway) and Ernest Blythe (in Athea, Co Limerick). They were ordered to leave Ireland. Mellows was helped get back from Birmingham by Cumann na mBan member Bridget Foley – later a courier for MacDiarmada to Cork during Easter Week — in time to lead Volunteers in Galway during the Rising.

 

Some time at the end of March, IRB Military Council member Joseph Plunkett’s home — Larkfield in Kimmage — was surrounded by military and police. The house, a regular meeting place for those planning the Rising, was barricaded by those inside but the Crown Forces left a few hours later.

 

  • Patrick Pearse (IRB Military Council member) was at Irish Volunteers’ HQ, as were co-conspirators Thomas MacDonagh — also on the Military Council — and Supreme Council member Diarmuid Lynch who was aware of the plans to land German guns in Kerry at Easter.
  • MacDonagh and Lynch visited the shop of Tom Clarke, the veteran Fenian on the Military Council. Clarke was there on the day, but also met at 12 D’Olier Street with William O’Leary Curtis, according to DMP

 

Although not there himself, Tom Clarke’s shop was visited by his brother-in-law Ned Daly (later also executed as commandant of the Irish Volunteers in the Rising), Con Colbert (also executed after the Rising, Piaras Béaslaí, and Seán McGarry.

  • MacDiarmada, Pearse, MacDonagh and Éamonn Ceannt (Military Council member) attended meetings at Irish Volunteers head office in DAwson Street, Dublin. Also there, who would not survive the Rising or execution were O’Rahilly and Michael O’Hanrahan.
  • John O’Hanrahan and Charles D Somers had command of more than 50 Volunteers who marched from Parnell Square.

 

A public meeting at the Mansion House protested against Irish men being deported.

Three rifles were reported stolen from the assembly rooms in Blackrock Town Hall in Dublin, which were used at the time by the local company of the National Volunteers.

An Irish Volunteers route march in Dublin, scheduled for the coming Sunday, was postponed.

MacDiarmada, Seán T O’Kelly and TJ Sheehan visited Clarke’s shop in Parnell St.

Irish Volunteers chief-of-staff Eoin MacNeill issued orders cancelling all orders not endorsed by himself or Bulmer Hobson (who opposed a Rising being staged). He also appointed Hobson in command of the Volunteers in Dublin, and gave command of the southern area to JJ O’Connell.

A car carrying arms and ammunition was seized by the DMP in College Green.

 

Sources:

Digitised copies of the Dublin Metropolitan Police ‘Movement of Extremists’ files for the corresponding dates in 1916 are uploaded regularly to the National Archives of Ireland website – www.nationalarchives.ie (@narireland).

Read some events from the period at the Military Archives timeline, and witness statements made by participants in the Rising www.militaryarchives.ie (Twitter @dfarchives).

Among the other sources used in this diary are monthly reports of the Royal Irish Constabulary inspector general and county inspectors, viewed in UCC’s Boole Library’s Special Collections department (@theriversideUCC).

— Compiled by Niall Murray

 


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