I charged into the RIC in the doorway with the hayfork… “You will take no arms out of here”

I had been out in the fields early and away from the house and when I looked back I saw seven or eight R.I.C. men coming in from the high ground at the back and entering the house. I rushed back and picked up a two-pronged hayfork on the way in. I was very much alarmed as to what their business was… I thought it was a raid for arms and we had already received orders that we were not to allow arms to be taken and that such was to be resisted to the death….There were some shotguns, probably a revolver, a good deal of shotgun ammunition and other stuff.

This was stuff I had picked up in my work for O’Rahilly. I charged into the R.I.C. in the doorway with the hayfork and a moment later Sergeant Horgan from Clonoulty Narracks and some other R.I.C. men were trying to grapple with me and had a grip on this fork. District Inspector Henderson (who, I think, is now or has been a Unionist M.P. or Independent N.P. in Belfast) was shouting at the top of his voice something or other. In my father’s bedroom was a spike, one of those we had made to see if they were any use in warfare. My father, who was an old man (he died later in that year at the age of 77) intervened with the pike principally to save my life. He was an Irish Party follower, but he ceased to be so after that morning’s struggle. Mibhael Kearney, who happened to be in the house, was trying to work a tongs on another R.I.C. man.

I heard Henderson shouting at the top of his voice: “Do you want bloodshed?” and I said: “No”, and he said: “Go easy until we discuss the matter. I shouted in reply: “You will take no arms out of here”. “Well, I have no orders to take arms and when I have not I am not going to look for arms” he said. “What is your business?” I replied. “A paper in which you were interested was suppressed yesterday and I have orders to seize all copies that you have in this house. Will you fight on that issue?” “Oh, no” I said, certainly not”. So they took the papers and departed.

Bureau of Military History testimony of Eamon O’Duibhir, Tipperary County Centre of Irish Republican Brotherhood

Castlebar: “Mellows and O’Rahilly hinted pointedly that a rising with arms was in the offing”

 A big muster of Volunteers was held in Castlebar on St. Patrick‘s Day, 1916, and was addressed by Mellows and The O’Rahilly. After the public meeting was held in the street, a
meeting of selected persona was held in premises in the town. This meeting was not attended by Volunteer officers only. I suspect that the I.R.B. had some of their men at that meeting. As far as I could see there was a good sprinkling of Volunteers who had no officer
rank at the meeting. Both Mellows and O’Rahilly hinted pointedly that a rising with arms was in the offing. They said that a testing time was coming and that it was up to each person to do a man’s part.
Bureau of Military History testimony of Richard Walsh, Irish Volunteer Organiser, 1916-1919

“Patrick Pearse, The O’Rahilly… appeared… as if receiving a special blessing from God”

Now for the turning point in my life. I was not yet 21 years of age and was never out of London (except on a holiday) in my life. My mother was born in Kerry and had never seen Ireland since she was 4 years of age. My father (who died before I was 14 years old) was born in London of Irish parents, and I was born in Dockhead, a rough and ready quarter of London. I knew nothing of Ireland except in a hazy kind of a way until I joined the Gaelic League. So, in a sense, I adopted Ireland as my own country until it adopted me at Easter 1916….

Around about this time, things with regard to the activities of the Irish Volunteers were being viewed by the British authorities as becoming serious, and on St. Patrick’s Day 1916, I witnessed and took part in the most impressive event, I think, in modern Irish affairs, namely the church parade and march past in College Green…

We received orders drawing us to attention, were filed into SS. Michael and John’s to attend the special Mass held for the benefit of the Irish Volunteers. The Rev. Father Nevin, I believe, officiated and the scene had a profound effect on me which will never leave my mind. A guard of honour in full uniform had been drawn up around the altar and the chapel packed to utmost capacity with Volunteers. At the elevation the guard of honour drew their swords to the Salute while the bugles rang out with a clarity that was astounding owing to the backed condition of the chapel; in the immediate silence that took place the priest on the altar, with the guard in the attitude of salute, looked, like a vision from another world and in the faces of those near me was the appearance that they also were looking into something wonderful. Patrick Pearse, The O’Rahilly, Sean McDermott and the executive who were in close attendance near the altar, appeared to look in their uniforms as if receiving a special blessing from God, and undoubtedly every man attending that Mass received such a blessing. Suddenly a rich baritone voice burst
into the hymn to our Patron Saint “Hail Glorious St. Patrick” and it was taken up by the whole congregation in such a fervent manner that a lump rose in my throat and I wanted to burst out crying or to do something to prove that I was worthy of being in their company.

Bureau of Miliary History testimony of William Daly, Member of Irish Volunteers London. 1913-1916.

“No traffic was allowed to break the ranks of the Volunteers, Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan”

On St. Patrick’s Day 1916 the Dublin Brigade practically fully armed, uniformed and equipped paraded through the City of Dublin and held that portion of Dame St. from the City Hall to the Bank of Ireland for over an hour, during which time no traffic was allowed to break the ranks of the Volunteers, Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan. I remember seeing on that day British soldiers with horse drawn vehicles; conveying war material from North Wall under heavy armed guards being stopped and ordered to proceed on alternative routes and having no choice but to obey the directions of our men. A large force of armed police were simply powerless to intervene and I cannot recollect a single incident to marr the fine demonstration amid the high standard of discipline and training displayed by the combined republican forces.
At this time a great feeling of comradeship had developed between individual Volunteers and they could be seen in small groups chatting or walking, and it was felt by all that soon something big would take place.

Bureau of Miliary History testimony of Sean Cody, Member of ‘G’ Coy, 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade

Margaret Kennedy: “We were trained.. in drill, stretcher-drill, signalling and rifle practice”

On Camden Street we were trained and exercised in drill, figure marching, stretcher-drill, signalling and rifle practice with a little rook rifle. We also went on route marches regularly on our own initiative in order to train the girls in marching and in taking control…
On the big March Past on St. Patrick’s Day, 1916, we were under orders to be ready as this might be the “real thing”, meaning, of course, the Rising. We all wore full equipment and
carried rations for twelve hours.
Bureau of Military History testimony of Margaret Kennedy, Member of Cumann na mBan 1916 – Captain 1920

I wish to place on record an instance of which I was an eyewitness.It was St Patricks Day 1916

Cruagh, Rathfarnham, March 1949

I wish to place on record (what I believe has never been recorded) an instance of which I was an eye-witness as I think it is due in honour to the memory of the man concerned.

It was St. Patrick’s Day 1916 in College Green where Eoin McNeill was reviewing the volunteers of the Dublin Brigade. I was in charge of the cyclists of the 4th Batt. on the right of College Green as you face Cork Hill, on my left were the cyclists of the 3rd Batt, in charge of Lieut. Malone, our duty was to close the road against traffic.

Just as Cmdt De Valera was giving the order for his battalion (immediately behind us) to present arms a large motor car came to a halt in front of Lieut Malones cyclists, in that car was Major Genl Friend, G.O.C of the British forces in Ireland with some members of his staff.

The obvious intention of the driver of the car was to cut the corner into Trinity Street otherwise the car would have driven to my side.

michaelmaloneLieut Malone went forward and objected to the car getting through, he was determined that it should not get through and his determination succeeded as the car was backed and went away in the direction of George’s Street.

Now this Lieut Malone was the same Lieut Malone who gave his life for freedom at Carisbrooke House a few weeks later (Easter 1916).

His guiding motto on both occasions would appear to be: They shall not pass.

All honour to his name and memory, and to his soul eternal rest.

Bureau of Military history testimony of John J Keegan, Member of Fourth Battalion, Irish Volunteers


“Gone were all awkwardness and self-consciousness, and the men looked like soldiers”: 17.3.16

Ever since the Volunteers were formed in 1913 detectives or police accompanied all marching  parties of Volunteers, and when the split came the same system of observation was maintained in both sections, viz. Irish Volunteers and National Volunteers. In the beginning and for some time the Volunteers looked self-conscious in their uniforms, most of which were not too well tailored. As the men were of all shapes, sizes and ages, some with beards and others with spectacles, they often presented a rather “gawky” appearance as compared with the police or British military.

There was, however, a gradual improvement in appearance and police who accompanied the St. Patrick’s Day, 1916, parade of the Irish Volunteers commented on the remarkable turn out of  the men on that day. Gone were all awkwardness and self-consciousness, and the men looked  like soldiers, no longer dominated by their uniforms, and, with rifles and bayonets, had acquired  a workmanlike and purposeful air comparable to the best British infantry battalions of the time.

Full reports were made by the police on that day’s marches, and again nobody seemed to give the matter much thought in British Government circles.

All this time, however, police raids were continuously being made on newsagent’s shops, and mosquito printing plants, and what they styled “seditious literature” was constantly being seized, accompanied frequently by arrests for disloyal activities.

The Castle authorities never appeared to anticipate a rising by the Volunteers. They did expect resistance to arrest or disarmament and believed they held the initiative as to whether there would be a clash or not. The British at this time purported to be fighting for democracy and small nationalities on the continent and appeared to be unwilling to admit to themselves or anybody else that they were really holding down Ireland against the wishes of the Irish people…

Bureau of Military History testimony of Eamon Broy, I.R.A. Intelligence Agent, Dublin Castle, later Garda Siochana Commissioner

Galway: “The vast majority had shotguns and a few had rifles; others had long-handled pikes”

On St. Patrick’s Day 1916, a parade of all companies of the Irish Volunteers in Co. Galway was held in Galway City. The Clarenbridge Company, under Captain Eamon Corbett,  marched from Clarenbridge to Oranmore railway station and went by rail to Galway. All the members of the company carried shotguns. On arrival at Galway we marched to the rere of the County Buildings which was the assembly point. Practically every man on the parade was armed with some kind of weapon. The vast majority had shotguns and a few had rifles; others had long-handled pikes. The parade moved off through Shop Street, circled to the right and through Newcastle hack to the assembly point. En route, we were subjected to cat-calls and jeers from the ‘separation women’, i.e., the wives of British soldiers who were serving in France, etc. R.I.C. men from every barrack in the county were present and placed themselves at different points along, the route, and in their notebooks wrote the names of men they knew who carried arms. It was from the lists so compiled that the Volunteers were arrested after the Rising. later, when the Galway prisoners were being questioned by the Sankey Commission, the chairman of the Commission told them the type of weapon they carried on the parade.

Bureau of Military History testimony of Martin Newell, Volunteer, Galway

McDonagh approached and said to me… “I’ll stay at your house on Easter Saturday next”

For the parade on St. Patrick‘s Day 1916, I got orders from McDonagh to parade in uniform at Father Mathew Park. When I reported there in uniform there: was a group of officers of the 2nd Battalion present, which I joined. I was there a few minutes when McDonagh approached and said to me: “I didn’t recognise you at first in uniform” and he asked me where I lived. I told him I lived at 45 Lower Gardiner Street and he said; “I’ll stay at your house on Easter Saturday next”…
Subsequent to the parade on 17th March definite preparations were made for the parade of the Volunteers on Easter Sunday. Every man got instructions to fully equip himself as much as possible and McDonagh went round all the Companies and addressed the men. Whilst he did not specifically say so, most of us inferred from all this that the hour was at
Bureau of Military History testimony of Thomas J Meldon, Brigade Musketry Officer, Dublin Brigade, 1915-1921