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Saturday May 6 1916 - Part 2

Black Week. Our columns elsewhere give an idea of the devastation which has been worked, and it is stated that the two millions which have been estimated do not fully represent the extent of the damage done. It will take many years to reconstitute our fine Capital. Throughout this dreadful period it has been a melancholy satisfaction to know that our own county, like the sister counties of Limerick and Kerry, had preserved its normal condition, and has not been strained by any act of lawlessness beyond a raid for arms, of the old moonlighting type, in the Corofin district.



Liberty Hall was blown up by the artillery. On Saturday night there was a semi-official statement issued to the effect that the Sinn Feiners had offered to surrender conditionally, but that the emissary and been sent back by the officer in command of the troops, and that only an unconditional surrender would be accepted. The General Post Office in a mere shell, part of the building having been burnt. The Metropole Hotel has been destroyed. Clery’s, in Sackville street, was very badly damaged, together with the Imperial Hotel, and almost every other building in Lower Sackville street, without exception, from Catherine lane to Hopkins, at the corner of Eden quay, are destroyed as far back as Brooks Thomas Walls, right across Earl street.
The looting was considerable in Capel st., Earl street, Talbot street and along some of the quays. Fruiters, grocers, and butchers at various points in the suburbs were completely looted by people in search of food. On Friday it was reported that the inhabitants of Sutton and Howth were in a starving condition, being absolutely cut off from communication with Dublin, either by tram or rail. Provisions were sent across in steam pinnaces from the transports in Kingstown harbour. The O’Rahilly, of No. 54 Northumberland Road, who was killed, was one of the principal organisers of the Sinn Fein movement. His house was raided by the military. Mr Sheehy-Skeffington, who was dressed in a most picturesque uniform of bright green, with long top boots, and tassels, was reported to be killed while in command of the General Post Office. Professor McNeill, of the National University, another leader, was reported to have surrendered on Monday, and to be in the hands of the authorities, but nothing definite is known about them. Mr Charles H Hyland, a well known dentist, of Percy Place, Ballsbridge, was shot dead whilst standing at his doorstep. His father was the well known manager of the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin.
The headquarters of the rebels was the General Post Office, in Sackville street, a solidly built pile of dignified appearance, which for long years has been one of the chief ornaments of Dublin’s leading thoroughfares. Here the revolters had established themselves firmly, and any direct assault upon the building must undoubtedly have been attended with great loss to the troops. But the military chiefs found a way of reducing the stronghold without exposing the troops to the fire of the defenders. On Saturday morning a few shells were dropped on to the building, and in the space of an hour or so what had been regarded by the Sinn Feiners as an almost impregnable fortress – it is probable that they thought they had nothing to fear from artillery in this quarter – was rendered untenable.


Caught like rats in a trap they could not leave what shelter was left to them without coming under fire from the troops, who by this time were in possession of both ends of Sackville street. The building, however, was soon in flames, and they had no choice left, but to evacuate it. Escape by any of the side streets was impossible, as the quarter in which the Post Office stood was ringed around by soldiers, and every avenue of retreat was firmly barricaded. Accepting at length the inevitable, the rebels marched out of what remained of the building, displaying a flag of truce, and were promptly taken prisoners. The surrender of this body, numbering it is said, about 200, had a most important bearing on the general situation. Among the Sinn Fein leaders at “headquarters” was P H Pearse who, it was known, had been badly wounded in the course of the fighting, and it has since transpired was literally helpless in consequence of a fractured thigh. Pearse and some of his companions, after falling into the hands of the troops, were anxious for an armistice in order that surrender terms for the entire body of their followers might be discussed.


The military authorities are understood to have agreed to a three hour truce, and, save for occasional sniping in various parts, this seems to have been faithfully observed by those of the rebels to whom the arrangements could be communicated. The armistice expired at half past six last evening, and by that time Pearse had affixed his signature to the following document:- “In order to prevent further slaughter of unarmed people, and in the hope of saving the lives of our followers, now surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered, the members of the Provisional Government present at headquarters have agreed to an unconditional surrender, and the commanders of all units of the Republican forces will order their followers to lay down their arms. – Signed P H Pearse. Dated April 29th, 1916.”
Immediate steps were taken by the authorities to circulate the news of the surrender in all parts of Ireland through the agency of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and during the evening a large number of Republicans gave themselves up. Necessarily it was some time before the Sinn Feiners scattered in various positions through the city obtained knowledge of the leaders’ decision, but many more of them capitulated next morning, and when I got away from Dublin at 3 o’clock this afternoon the troops were vigorously searching out those who remained lurking in secret hiding places.


Great satisfaction was felt by well-disposed citizens that James Connolly, who, it will be remembered, was Larkin’s right-hand man in the strike riots nearly three years ago, and had now become a member of “the Provisional Government,” had surrendered to the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief in Ireland. He was regarded by the Sinn Feiners as one of their principal leaders, and the fact that he had unconditionally thrown up the sponge was a further proof to those who were still inclined to fight on that their cause was hopelessly defeated. There had been much talk about Connolly during the week. One of the first things I heard when I reached Dublin was that he had been shot dead by the troops, and I was told later that his body was seen lying near a barricade in Sackville street. Of this kind of rumour there have been mountains, and to sift the true from the false is no easy matter.
One thing which can be stated with absolute certainty is that if the revolt had lasted another couple of days, thousands of families in Dublin, the vast majority of them innocent of any kind of complicity in the ill-starred plot to overthrow the lawful Government, would have been faced practically with starvation. The food supplies of the city had almost run out, and as it was almost impossible to get anything from outside owing to the absence of the ordinary means of communication, the position threatened to become extremely serious. The outbreak started on Bank Holiday, and it is plain from statements made to me by people belonging to all classes that, despite ominous mutterings of the coming storm, the great mass of the residents had not the slightest idea that they were about to undergo the unpleasant experience – to use the mildest phrase - of living for a number of days in a besieged city. They had therefore taken no steps to provide themselves with a store of provisions, and very quickly the difficulty of obtaining food became acute. On the day the Republicans set up the banner of revolt the shops were closed for the holiday, and when Tuesday arrived tradesmen, generally speaking, decided that it would be unwise to open their establishments in view of the grave looting and excesses which had already occurred in Sackville street, Grafton street, and elsewhere. Many of them accordingly boarded up their windows and doled out supplies by private doors to regular customers who came urgently requesting food.
This state of things continued throughout the week, and provision dealers soon disposed of practically all the eatables in their establishments. After the military had drawn their cordon round the city no fresh supplies could enter, and by Friday the bakers would appear to have exhausted their store of flour. At all events, that was the last day on which they baked bread and on the following morning I saw women returning to their homes after a fruitless search for food in bitter distress at the fact that their children would have to go hungry. Men who drove bakers’ carts around the city during the week did so at no small risk; for the bullets of the snipers, though intended for the troops, sometimes found a billet in the bodies of civilians.


Indeed, it is not going too far to say that in all probability when the casualty lists are available it will be found that the civilian population have suffered in killed and wounded even more than the actual combatants. This may be attributed to the great indifference which the people displayed to the dangers they ran through being abroad in the streets, and their intense curiosity to discover what was happening. Soldiers were constantly firing at snipers, and during the street fighting, which went on hour after hour, bullets were ricocheting in all directions.


To present a connected narrative of the events of the week is almost impossible, but on Monday Volunteers marching along Sackville street, halted outside the Post Office, and a number of them entered. Rifles and revolvers were levelled at the heads of the staff on duty in the public office. They could not resist, because they were not [sic] without the means of resistance, and when they were ordered to leave the building they had no option but to obey. The insurgents, calling up reinforcements from outside, proceeded in similar fashion to occupy the other parts of the building, driving out with threats of death the Post Office employees. It is said that they kept as prisoners a few members of the staff whom they wished to utilise to work the telephones, but of this there is no definite proofs.


Immediately they were in full control of the office the rebels hoisted on the main flagstaff a green flag with an Irish harp in the centre, and on another part of the building displayed a white, yellow and green flag, bearing the words “The Irish Republic.” About 1 o’clock a van was driven up to the post office and its contents were transferred to the building. An eye-witness says that they consisted of rifles and ammunition boxes, the latter being many in number. A small crowd witnessed these proceedings, but made no demonstration of any kind, which, in the circumstances, no doubt, was wise. The next thing that happened was the arrival of a motor car occupied by several men who are believed to have been leaders of the Sinn Feiners. The large entrance gate was opened for them, and they took the car inside.
A little later a detachment of lancers, some 50 in number, made its appearance in Sackville street, and advanced at a sharp trot right up to the post office. Popular report says that they were not confronted by any visible enemy, this is not at all probable. Anyhow when the Lancers had arrived within a few yards of the rebel headquarters they were met by a sharp fusillade, and the officer at their head was shot dead. A number of men were wounded, and two horses killed. Thereupon the detachment withdrew, taking their wounded with them, and for some time afterwards the Sinn Feiners were left in undisturbed possession of their stronghold. The dead horses were left lying on the street near Nelson’s Pillar, and they were still there yesterday, neither of the opposing parties being able to remove them without coming under fire.


Mr Redmond has received the following telegram from General Botha: “Capetown, April 29. – Accept my heartfelt sympathy and regret that a small section in Ireland is jeopardising the great cause, I hope the Irish people will follow your line of action, and that your policy will be successful. – Louis Botha.”
In a statement made to representatives of the Press Mr T J Ryan, Premier of Queensland, said he was quite certain that the revolt would receive no sympathy from any Irish or their descendants in Australia or Queensland. Their strongest organization in Queensland – the Irish Association - had made him the bearer of a message to Mr Redmond, reiterating their admiration of the stand he had taken as a determined enemy of German aggression. The United Irish League of Great Britain has convened a meeting of London Irish Nationalists, to be held at Caxton Hall, Westminster, at eight o’clock, “to express strong condemnation of the wicked and insane rising of Sinn Feiners in Ireland and of continued confidence in Mr John Redmond and the Irish Party.”


Sean McDermott, Eamon Ceannt, and Joseph Plunkett, three of the signatories to the proclamation of the Irish Republic have been courtmartialled and sentenced to three years penal servitude. The seventh signatory, James Connolly, the Liberty Hall chief, and moving spirit in the revolt, is a wounded prisoner.


The following report from Viscount French, Commander-in-Chief of the Home Forces, was issued on Thursday night:-
Dublin, Wednesday, 7.20 p.m.
The situation in Ireland is reported as quiet. The collection of arms and the arrests of fugitive rebels progressed satisfactorily. A strict cordon is still maintained.
Galway – The police barracks at Oranmore, about seven miles from Galway, were attacked by parties of rebels, but held out until relieved. In the West Riding of Galway the police report that the situation is well in hand, and that the rebels have been dispersed. The South of Ireland is quiet. Steady progress is being made towards the restoration of normal conditions. The situation in Ulster is normal.


For some weeks past, the appearance of our watchful defenders of the sea has been a frequent one along the Clare and Galway coasts, and the fact of these coasts being patrolled day and night recently by a considerable contingent of these floating engines of offence has probably not had a parallel in recent years. It is salutary to be made aware of the fact that our coasts are thus so carefully guarded that neither Teuton nor Turk nor domestic enemy must take away from us our lives, or our hard-won means of livelihood.


At the meeting of the Ennis Urban Council held on Thursday Mr P E Kenneally, J P, Chairman, presiding, Mr Kerin proposed the following resolution:-
“That we, the members of the Ennis Urban Council, while sympathising with the families of those who have fallen on both sides in the combat in the Metropolis of Ireland, deeply deplore this awful bloodshed and on behalf of the people whom we have the honour to represent, disassociate ourselves with and detest the action of those on whose shoulders lay the responsibility for so many innocent victims cut down in the prime of manhood. That we sympathise with the leader of the Irish race now battling for the freedom of our native land for the stumbling block placed before him and repose our implicit confidence in him now more than ever, and trust that God will help him to carry on the good cause to which he had unhesitatingly devoted his lifetime. That we also congratulate the people of Clare for the wise attitude they have adopted, following step by step the dictates of their wise and noble leader, Mr. John E. Redmond, whose work was handed down to him from our late lamented Chief Charles Stewart Parnell, and who has been for some twenty years an unparalleled success but now more than ever it is our belief that the Irish People should follow his good advice and wise counsel, and if they do so, Ireland’s aspirations will be realised – a ‘Nation once again.’ That we are awed at the action of those professors in an Irish University who, instead of teaching students subjects for which their parents sent them forward, literature which railed their young blood to such a state of overflow that many of them today have given up their young lives in a cause detrimental to the future prosperity of the land that gave them birth.”

Mr Kerin said with regard to the unfortunate outbreak there was a horrible amount of trouble and turmoil in this unfortunate country caused by the awful amount of carnage in Dublin. They thought that their country was peaceable and prosperous and with the prospect before them in a few years hence that instead of having to send their representatives to an alien Parliament, they would have their noble leader, Mr John Redmond, installed in a Home Rule Parliament in College Green. He referred to the Professors in Dublin Colleges starting the Irish Volunteer movement of which he and other young men became members, since its initiation. There was formed a provincial committee. When they joined that movement their one motto was to counter act the action of Carson and the Ulster Volunteers. They wanted to have complete freedom in Ireland, and they wanted no such thing as the partition of Ireland. This crowd in Dublin, got up to beat Carson's ideas, soon changed their politics when they saw they were beaten. After twenty of Mr Redmond's colleagues going on the Council these others shifted Mr Redmond and his 20 colleagues, who were to-day held in the same confidence by the people as ever they were. John McNeill and others were the head of the movement in Dublin, and McNeill's policy was Socialism, and not National Autonomy for Ireland, and McNeill and his followers, too, wanted to kick out Parliamentary representation for Ireland. At the time when the Parnell Monument was started in Dublin, John MacNeill and his crowd said they could not do what Mr Redmond wanted. What they should have done was to dissolve the body, and call an All-Ireland Convention, at which every county in Ireland could be represented in Dublin, to decide all matters. Instead of MacNeill performing the duty he was paid for, teaching young men of whom he was in charge in College, his leadership of the Irish Volunteers led to some of those fine young men being murdered in the streets of Dublin. He would have done a more manly act, and would have acted more in the interests of Ireland, had he taught the young men of Ireland their real duty. He and his followers had boasted that they had stopped conscription for Ireland, but he might ask what did those very people do in the streets of Dublin? Every young man who walked out of a hotel was handed a rifle, which he should take or face the alternative. He regarded that as nothing short of conscription. He referred to the successive years of agitation and plan of campaign, which obtained for the tenant farmers their land and everything else they wanted, but in that agitation there was no such blackguardism as was carried on in Dublin, and were it not for that conduct, this, that day, would be a peaceful and happy country. But let them hope that this unfortunate affair in Dublin would be an object lesson to the young men of Clare, and to the young blood of Ireland, and that they would not be embroiled by a lot of spouters, especially by school teachers of this type. They would now hear it said by these people that Mr John Redmond was selling their country; but that was not a fact, for when he was offered a seat in the Cabinet he would not take it. Redmond had stood faithfully to the Irish cause. He hoped the people of Ireland generally would take a lesson from the present crisis, and would remember the slaughter of so many innocent lives by those mad men in Dublin.
Mr Brennan seconded the resolution, which was adopted unanimously.

The 1916 Rising in the Clare Newspapers