“Fully armed, with shotguns and about 5 or 6 rifles, we marched into first Mass in Galbally”

On St. Patrick’s Day, 1916, church parades of Irish Volunteers took place in many areas. The Dublin Brigade attended Mass in the city churches and marched to College Green, where they were addressed by Padraig Pearse. Cork and Limerick city also had their parades. My most vivid recollection, however, is of our little Company’s parade, with arms, at the local Catholic church. We lined up outside the Volunteer hall, which was next door to the local R.I.C.barracks. We were headed by our Company Captain, William Quirke, and fully armed, with shotguns and about five or six rifles, we marched into first Mass in Galbally. Immediately after Mass we formed up outside the church. Our strength I would say was between fifty and sixty, roughly about fifty-five. We went for a route march and then came back to the hail, after which each man took his rifle or shotgun, as the case may be, with him to put it in safe keeping.

Edmond O’Brien, Member of Galbally Company, Galtee Battalion Irish Volunteers, 1916;

“On St. Patrick’s Day, 17th March 1916, an event of great importance took place in Dublin.”

On St. Patrick’s Day, 17th March 1916, an event of great importance took place in Dublin. It was the parade and review of the Dublin Brigade Irish Volunteers in College Green. A scene that was reminiscent of another memorable occasion when another set of Irish Volunteers paraded in the same place. It was a far cry between the days of Grattan and that March day 1916. The contrast was also more striking, more pronounced. Then, Ireland had the semblance of a parliament of its own; even allowing for its many severe disabilities, and that it was prescribed in various ways, but in 1916 the Parliament House did not exist – it was the Bank of Ireland and Ireland was governed from London where the Home Rule Bill, the charter of self-government resided nice and smug on the Statute Book.

Bureau of Military History testimony of Seán Prendergast, Officer Commanding ‘C’ Company 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade Irish Volunteers and Irish Republican Army

“The first clash with the British authorities took place on March 15th 1916”

BMHThe first clash with the British authorities took place on March 15th 1916, when we prevented the holding of a British recruiting meeting at Stuake. The members of the neighbouring Courtbrack Company were with us in this venture. When the car in which the speakers for the meeting arrived at the meeting place, the crowd gathered round. We were now ordered to “fall in” in the vicinity and, having formed up, we were marched between the car and the audience – surrounding the car. The Courtbrack Company arrived at this stage and took up positions with us. The crowd now scattered and the speakers only audience was our combined units of Volunteers and a few members of the R.I.C. There was no prospect of getting any recruits for the British army from this gathering, so the speakers for the British drove off without attempting to address us.
Bureau of Military History Testimony of Maurice Brew, 2nd Lieutenant, Donoughmore Company

“Early March, 1916, the Citizen Army held manoeuvres… the ominous word “rehearsal” was used”


About early March, 1916, the Citizen Army held manoeuvres and practised street fighting all one night in the Patrick St., Coombe, Francis St. area. A large force of detectives; and uniformed police were present all that night but took no action.

Next morning the detectives made their several individual reports and many of them described the night’s actions as “rehearsal of street fighting”. A central report was compiled and several copies were submitted in the usual manner to the various authorities in the Castle, viz, civil, military and police. Nobody appeared to attach any special importance to the night’s activities, although the ominous word “rehearsal” was used several times in the reports. It was just treated as another march of Volunteers and left at that.

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

A week that changed history

This project tells the story of the 1916 Easter Rising through original telephone messages, telegraphs, letters and secret communications. Each was published exactly 100 years since it was logged, allowing the world to watch history unfold in real time.

1916 Live received press coverage from Yahoo, The Journal, the Irish Independent, Silicon Republic, and the Morning Star. A blog about it was published by the Bodleian Library.

This website was selected to be archived by the British Library in a joined project with Trinity College, Dublin and the Bodleian Library, Oxford. This helps ensure that the documents will remain a public resource for the future.

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