From the silent streets of London to a brave death at the last barricades

The only Corkman to die during the Easter Rising in Dublin once worked as a clerk in Harrods in London.

By Ray Ryan


Seán Hurley, who was from Maulagow, Drinagh, was educated at the local national school and later in Clonakilty.

He was a friend of Michael Collins, fought with the Four Courts Garrison during the Rising, and was fatally wounded at a barricade in Church St.

“Tell my mother I died for Ireland,” were among the last words of the 29- year-old Hurley, who was anointed at a first-aid post by the patriotic priest Fr Augustine Hayden, shortly before he was taken to the Richmond Hospital, where he died.

Fr Augustine, who attended to many of the leaders, including Pádraig Pearse, later wrote to Hurley’s parents to tell them of “the brave and Catholic death of your dear boy, whom I had the happiness and privilege of attending at the last”.

From the silent streets of London to a brave death at the last barricades
The letter sent to Seán Hurley’s mother informing them of his death in 1916. Picture: Eddie O’Hare


Seán Hurley and Michael Collins were brothers-in-law.

But the men were also close friends since their days at school in Clonakilty and as comrades in London, where they worked in the civil service.

Collins recalled those times when they joined the Irish Volunteers and were members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

“We have walked London’s streets on many a night, silently, because our thinking was elsewhere. I appreciate him because his mind seems compact, whereas mine fritters away hours in idle thought.”

The Drinagh man, who stood over 6ft tall, an athlete, and Gaelic League member, went to work in Harrods as a clerk in 1914 in pursuit of a career in business.

But, along with Collins and others, he was called back to Dublin by Seán MacDiarmada as plans for the Rising went ahead.

From the silent streets of London to a brave death at the last barricades
David Hurley, Ballinhassig, with his granduncle Seán Hurley’s 1916 medal. Picture: Eddie O’Hare

During heavy fighting on Saturday, April 29, 1916, Hurley, who was attached to F Company of the 1st Dublin Battalion, rushed to a barricade in Church St and was fatally wounded.

His battalion commander was Edward (Ned) Daly, a brother-in-law of Tom Clarke, the Fenian who was first to sign the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. Both men were executed.

Standing next to Seán Hurley at the barricade was his company captain, Fionán Lynch, a native of Cahersiveen, Co Kerry, and a future TD, government minister, barrister, and Circuit Court judge.

Lynch later described Hurley, with whom he had many conversations during the fighting, as cool and determined. “He proved himself every inch a man while fighting as a member of F Company all during Easter Week,” he said.


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