NOT in the news: January 30 – February 5, 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: January 30 – February 5, 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 January 31, 1916:

  • JJ O’Connell was seen by Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) arriving back to the capital by train. He was probably returning from the training camp he had been running in Cork city for Irish Volunteers officers at the Volunteer Hall in Sheares Street.
  • The Irish Volunteers offices in Dawson Street were visited by Éamon de Valera, MJ O’Rahilly (the O’Rahilly), Herbert Mellows and Volunteers’ founder Bulmer Hobson. (Hobson, like Eoin MacNeill opposed the Volunteers being duped by the IRB into participating in a Rising, and would be held prisoner ahead of its commencement to prevent him interfering with the plans.
  • Ned Daly, later to be executed as a Volunteers commander after the Rising, assembled and marched 50 men at Parnell Square, observed by DMP detectives.

Tuesday February 1, 1916:

  • Tom Clarke’s Parnell Street shop was visited by Diarmuid Lynch — also on the IRB Supreme Council — as well as William Sheehan, Ned Daly (brother of Clarke’s wife Kathleen), Charles S Power, John R Reynolds and Seán McGarry.
  • McGarry also met with IRB Military Council member Seán MacDiarmada (and later to be Clarke’s fellow signatory of the Proclamation of the Republic) in Westmoreland Street.

Wednesday February 2, 1916:

  • Movements in and out of Dublin by James Connolly and Liam Mellows were reported by police. Mellows had been organising the Irish Volunteers in Galway, and was previously jailed for disobeying an order to leave the country. Before the Rising he was deported, but he would return to Ireland disguised as a priest and lead one of the few acts of insurrection outside Dublin during Easter week, in Co Galway. He was seen at Volunteers’ headquarters as was his brother Herbert, along with Joseph Plunkett, Michael O’Hanrahan, and MacDiarmada.

60 Irish Volunteers were drilled in the hall at 41 Parnell Square, a frequent meeting place of IRB members .

Thursday February 3, 1916:

  • Seán MacDiarmada, Ned Daly, Diarmuid Lynch and Herbert Mellows visited the shop of Tom Clarke. But police detectives were able to report Clarke was confined to home at 10 Richmond Avenue, due to a cold, having noted his absence from the Parnell Street shop since Wednesday.
  • MacDiarmada, Daly, Éamonn Ceannt and Francis Sheehy-Skeffington attended the trial in Dublin of Alexander McCabe, later TD for Sligo in the first Dáil. McCabe was acquitted on the charge of explosives possession, despite 42 gelignite cartridges, 20 detonators and six coils of fuse being found in a bag he carried as he boarded a train for Ballymote in November 1915. Prosecutions for less-serious offences under Defence of the Realm provisions introduced during the war period were similarly proving difficult to secure convictions on, as increasingly-nationalist magistrates and juries heard the cases.
  • Another ‘suspect’ seen in the court by Dublin Metropolitan Police was William Partridge, a major figure in James Connolly’s Irish Citizen Army, a leading trade unionist and city councillor in Dublin, who would go on to fight in the Royal College of Surgeons during the Rising. He would play a role, in the interim, in communicating between those plotting the import of German guns (intended by the IRB Military Council for use in the Rising) and the Irish Volunteers in Kerry, where the arms were due to be landed at Easter.

Saturday February 5, 1916: 

  • Newly co-opted into the IRB Military Council, James Connolly began taking a role in the secret planning of the Easter Rising.
  • A coded message from IRB Supreme Council in Dublin reached veteran Fenian John Devoy in New York, via a ship’s steward on a transatlantic service. Devoy was the Clan na Gael go-between through whom the IRB was arranging the shipment of guns from Germany. The message revealed Easter Sunday as the start date of planned action and told Devoy: “We must have your arms and munitions in Limerick between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.”

Sunday February 6, 1916:

  • Irish Volunteers armed with rifles and shotguns marched through an army recruiting meeting at Kilbrittain in west Cork, which was being presided over by the Earl of Bandon. Members of the Ballinadee company of the Volunteers, probably the strongest in west Cork in numbers of men and of arms, were cautioned by police as they made a return pass through the crowd.



Files from the Dublin Metropolitan Police ‘Movement of Extremists’ files, on which some of these details based, are uploaded daily to the National Archives of Ireland website: (@NARIreland on Twitter).

Original documents from the period, including some used in this diary, can be seen in the Military Archives timeline: See @dfarchives on Twitter. Other information came from RIC Inspector General and County Inspector reports held on microfilm in University College Cork’s Boole Libary Special Collections — @theriversideUCC


— Compiled by Niall Murray, Irish Examiner

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