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.
Monday, April 3, 1916:
- Patrick Pearse, as director of organisation of the Irish Volunteers, issued the order for what was secretly intended to be the mobilisation for the Rising.
- “The object of the manoeuvres is to test mobilisation with equipment,” he wrote in the order that was published in the following Saturday’s issue of The Irish Volunteer. The Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) Military Council, of which Pearse was one of seven members, planned for Volunteers in Dublin to seize key positions in the capital on Easter Sunday evening when guns were also to land in Kerry, to be distributed to Volunteers in the south and west.
- Meetings of national and regional Irish Volunteers leaders were held at head office in Dublin. Kerry Brigade commandant Austin Stack and Paddy Hughes of Dundalk met Thomas MacDonagh and Michael Joseph O’Rahilly (another Kerryman) after the other two met earlier with Cork Brigade vice-commandant Terence MacSwiney, along with Eimar O’Duffy, JJ O’Connell, Michael O’Hanrahan, Éamon de Valera, and Constance Markievicz.
- Sharing a 3pm train from Dublin as far as Mallow, Stack and MacSwiney realised something more serious was about to happen than the gun-running operation both knew about for some months. Stack later wrote: “The hope of getting material help from Germany… loomed largely before us, as this was bound to have a very great effect on the prospects of the Insurrection.”
Years later, Austin Stack recalls the journey:
‘Early in 1916, probably about March, I was summoned to Dublin to discuss some of the arrangements with regard to the contemplated Rising, which was to come off about the end of the following month. After discussing my business, I met Terence MacSwiney and we travelled from Dublin to Mallow together. The same railway route took us for about 150 miles before I had to change at Mallow into the Kerry train. In the course of the journey it transpired that we had been in Dublin, both of us, on the same errand – he to make arrangements for the Cork Brigade, whilst I was acting similarly, with regard to Kerry. We discussed the situation, of course, at great length – the hope of getting material help from Germany being a matter which loomed largely before us, as this was bound to have a very great effect on the prospects of the Insurrection.’
Austin Stack ‘Landing of Casement, The Authentic Narrative’ in The Kerry Champion newspaper Saturday, August 31, 1929 – the article was published posthmously based on an article he had written, possibly for one of MacSwiney’s intended biographers.
Tuesday, April 4, 1916:
- Irish Volunteers recruiting meetings were held in Dublin, where speakers included MacDonagh, O’Rahilly, and another Kerryman, Piaras Béaslaí. Also attending were Edward Daly and Éamonn Ceannt, a member of the IRB Military Council, along with Daly’s brother-in-law Tom Clarke.
- Béaslaí was one of the day’s visitors, as observed by Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) detectives, to Clarke’s shop on Parnell Street in Dublin.
- An Irish Volunteers officer in Clare, Michael Brennan, was sentenced to imprisonment for using “language likely to cause disaffection”.
Wednesday, April 5, 1916:
- Tom Clarke was seen with Béaslaí, and with Seán MacDiarmada who would be executed (as was his Military Council colleague Clarke) within five weeks. MacDiarmada later met Clarke’s aide Seán McGarry and Sinn Féin founder Arthur Griffith.
- Meetings to oppose the continuing deportations of Irish Volunteers organisers were held in Dublin, with armed contingents of the organisation listening to speeches by O’Rahilly, MacDonagh, Bulmer Hobson and John Fitzgibbon.
Thursday, April 6, 1916:
- A message from Clan na Gael leader John Devoy in New York — intermediary between the IRB and Germany — told Berlin to change the date of the guns landing to Easter Sunday, not earlier in the weekend as the Germans had mistakenly understood. The cables in both directions were being intercepted and decoded by British military as part of the wider war intelligence effort.
- On the same day, a letter from Military Council member Joseph Plunkett reached Roger Casement in Germany with the same message — that the guns should arrive no earlier than Easter Sunday.
Friday, April 7, 1916:
- Devoy was questioned at a grand jury hearing in Manhattan about two of the German diplomats with whom he was organising the arms landing.
Saturday, April 8, 1916:
- Pearse issued a supplementary order regarding the Volunteers’ Easter exercises: “While the point of mobilisation may or may not be announced to the Companies beforehand, in accordance with local conditions, an effort will be made to send the mobilisation order to every individual Volunteer, so as to test each Company’s ability to get into immediate touch with all its members.”
Sunday, April 9, 1916:
- The steamer Libau left the German port of Lubeck on the Baltic. It was renamed the Aud-Norge, adopting the name of a Norwegian timber-carrying vessel. Her cargo of 20,000 rifles would never quite reach its landing destination in Tralee Bay.
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