NOT in the news: January 9-15, 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 9-15, 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 10, 1916:

  • Among those seen by Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) visiting Tom Clarke’s shop at 75 Parnell St were Seán MacDiarmada. Both were members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood’s Military Council, by now heavily advanced in planning the Rising. (Both would also be executed in its aftermath). MacDiarmada was also seen attending an Irish Volunteers drill parade in Parnell Square, Dublin. Michael O’Rahilly (the O’Rahilly, who would be killed during the Rising) and Éamon de Valera were seen visiting the Irish Volunteers head office in Dawson St.

Wednesday, January 12, 1916:

An anti-conscription meeting organised by the Irish Volunteers at Cork City Hall attracted 1,500 people, and 30 of the 150 Volunteers among them were armed.

  • Fr Michael O’Flanagan, who presided at Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa’s funeral the previous August, was the main speaker. Although his language was “strongly pro-German”, local police surmised it would have little effect. It nevertheless prompted the Daily Express to describe Sinn Féin (of which Fr O’Flanagan would later be president) and the Irish Volunteers as “a rising force”.
  • Dublin Metropolitan Police saw Countess Constance Markievicz going into the office of John R Reynolds in College St. (Countess Markievicz was a key figure in James Connolly’s Irish Citizen Army, who would take up arms in St Stephen’s Green on Easter Monday, 1916. Reynolds, a local head of he IRB, was in the GPO during the Rising.)

Among those who met at the Volunteers’ offices were subsequent signatories of the Proclamation of the Republic on Easter Monday: Tomás MacDonagh, Seán MacDiarmada, and Pádraig Pearse, as well as Éamon de Valera, the O’Rahilly, and Volunteers founder Bulmer Hobson, who opposed a rebellion when he learned of the plans.

Thursday, January 13, 1916:

  • Terence MacSwiney, full-time organiser for the Irish Volunteers in Cork organiser, and Thomas Kent, from Castlelyons, near Fermoy, were arrested for “seditious” speeches at Ballynoe in East Cork where they disrupted an army recruitment rally. Kent threatened hunger strike while awaiting charges. (Kent was executed in Cork on May 10, 1916, after being court-martialed in relation to the shooting dead of Head Constable William Rowe a week earlier. MacSwiney would die on hunger strike in October 1920, when he was Lord Mayor of Cork, a TD in the first Dáil, and in command of the IRA’s Cork No 1 Brigade.)
  • Tom Clarke’s shop was visited by MacDiarmada, Con Colbert (who would be executed along with Clarke and MacDiarmada after the Rising), and future President of Ireland Seán T O’Kelly.
  • Hobson, Michael O’Hanrahan (another man executed for his role in the Rising), the O’Rahilly, Éamon de Valera, and others, were seen by police attending meetings at Irish Volunteers headquarters.

Friday, January 14, 1916:

  • Among those who the DMP observed at the Irish Volunteers’ Dawson St offices were MacDonagh, Hobson, MacDiarmada, Joseph Plunkett (IRB Military Council member, Proclamation signatory, and executed on May 4, 1916), Colbert and de Valera. The movements were also noted of JJ Walsh, one of the founders of the Irish Volunteers in Cork, who would fight in the Rising with the Hibernian Rifles, associated with the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

JJ Walsh later became TD for Cork City, 1919-21.

Saturday January 15, 1916:

  • In Glasgow, two men were arrested in connection with raids for explosives at a rural coal mine. The offences were the work of local Irish Volunteers, who had been dispatching the gelignite to Dublin, which was now known to police and government officials in Ireland.
  • A week of officer training courses for Irish Volunteers battalion officers began in their Dublin HQ. Over the weekend, DMP observed about 240 Irish Volunteers assemble and march under command of Ned Daly, Frank Fahy, Joseph McGuinness and Gerald Griffin. (Daly, commandant of the Volunteers Dublin 1st Battalion, would be executed on May 4, 1916).

Sunday January 16, 1916:

  • An Irish Volunteers general council meeting in Dublin was attended by members from around the country. Under the chair of Eoin MacNeill, training and equipping Volunteers was discussed, and a resolution passed deploring British policy of detaining Irish Volunteers without trial, sometimes without charge.

Police reported those at the meeting included Pearse, O’Rahilly, Hobson, Plunkett, MacDiarmada, MacDonagh, and others.

  • The IRB’s supreme council decided in Clontarf Town Hall to rise at the earliest possible date. They did not know the smaller IRB military council had already fixed Easter Sunday, April 23, for the Rising to begin.

Sources include:

Dublin Metropolitan Police ‘Movement of Extremists’ files in the National Archives of Ireland (available online: www.nationalarchives.ie)

Bureau of Military History witness statements and Military Archives timeline (both online – www.militaryarchives.ie)

RIC Inspector General and County Inspector reports (University College Cork special collections)

 

— Compiled by Niall Murray, Irish Examiner


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