NOT in the news: January 16 – 22, 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 16-22, 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 17, 1916:

  • Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) saw Seán McGarry, Charles Kickham, John Milroy and Michael O’Hanrahan, among others, visit the shop of Tom Clarke — Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) Military Council member -at 75 Parnell Street.
  • Éamon de Valera, Michael O’Hanrahan, Tomás MacDonagh, and JJ O’Connell met at Volunteer Office, according to the same police report.
  • A meeting in Dublin’s Mansion house chaired by Eoin MacNeill was attended by many leading members of the Irish Volunteers, Sinn Féin, and other nationalists. Under the auspices of the Gaelic League, it was held to protest against withdrawal of grants for education in Ireland.

Tuesday, January 18, 1916:

  • At Irish Volunteers head office in Daswon St, police report a meeting took place of founder Bulmer Hobson, Eimar O’Duffy, Michael O’Hanrahan (later executed after the Rising), Herbert Mellows from Galway and Tomás MacDonagh (a later member of the IRB Military Council that planned the Rising, and executed on May 3, 1916.)

A Cuman na mBan concert in the Mansion House was an opportunity to meet for Pádraig Pearse, Eamonn Ceannt, Con Colbert, MacDonagh, and Joseph Plunkett; all executed within four months.

  • Tom Clarke’s shop was visited by Con Colbert, Joseph McGuinness, Herbert Mellows, Thomas McCarthy, and Ben Parsons.

Wednesday, January 19, 1916:

  • Alfred Cotton was among those who attended Volunteers headquarters in Dublin. He was second-in-command to Austin Stack, commandant of the Irish Volunteers Brigade in Kerry. As senior IRB figures in Kerry, they knew from Pearse of plans for a rising at Easter. Central to plans was the proposed landing of German guns at Fenit in Tralee Bay, Easter weekend at the end of April.
  • James Connolly ‘disappeared’ for several days, being taken to a house in Dolphin’s Barn where Pearse, Seán MacDiarmada and Plunkett convinced him to hold off his plans to instigate a rising with his Irish Citzen Army. He was brought into the loop about their own IRB plot, and the style of rebellion was also discussed. Connolly favoured an urban rising, having weeks earlier described in a lecture in Cork how to tunnel between the walls of terraced city houses.

Thursday, January 20, 1916:

  • Those visiting Irish Volunteers headquarters at 2 Dawson St in Dublin included Herbert Mellows, Michael O’Hanrahan, Tomás MacDonagh, and JJ O’Connell.

Friday, January 21, 1916:

  • O’Hanrahan, MacDonagh, and MacDiarmada, Piaras Béaslaí, and Thomas Hunter all attended meetings in Volunteers head office. (While the first three would be executed in May, Béaslaí and Hunter would become members of the first Dáil in 1919. Béaslaí was TD for East Kerry and Hunter for North East Cork. Before their election in December 1918, another attendee at this meeting, Éamon de Valera had already won an East Clare by-election for Sinn Féin in July 1917.)
  • Visits to Thomas J Clarke at 75 Parnell Street by Pierce Beasley [Piaras Béaslaí], John McDermott [Seán MacDiarmada], John O’Mahony, [John] R Reynolds, John [Séan] McGarry, Michael O’Hanrahan and FJ [Frank] McCabe, Pádraig Pearse, Seán MacDiarmada and WT Cosgrave (future president of the executive council of the Irish Free State), all seen by police in 41 Parnell Square, an address commonly used by both the IRB and the Irish Volunteers.

Saturday, January 22, 1916:

Cork officers who attended Irish volunteers training camp at Volunteers Hall, Sheares St.
Cork officers who attended Irish volunteers training camp at Volunteers Hall, Sheares St.

An Officers’ training camp began at Volunteers’ Hall, Sheares St, Cork, instructed by JJ O’Connell.

  • The course was to cover ‘field work, elementary drill, physical drill, and lectures’, according to the notice placed in the Irish Volunteer newspaper.
  • Most of the companies in the county — mainly formed in the previous six months thanks to organisers like Terence MacSwiney, Seán Nolan and Daithí Barry — were represented.
  • Diarmuid Lynch from near Kinsale, Co Cork was among those who visited Tom Clarke’s Dublin shop, as were Con Colbert and Ned Daly, two of those who would be executed in May. (A key member of the IRB Supreme Council, Lynch had helped identify a suitable landing place in Kerry for German guns at Pearse’s behest the previous year.)

  Sources for this information include:

Irish Examiner digital newspaper archive

Dublin Metropolitan Police ‘Movement of Extremists’ files in the National Archives of Ireland (available online:

Bureau of Military History witness statements and Military Archives timeline (both online –


— Compiled by Niall Murray, Irish Examiner

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