“I fired at him. This was in all probability the first shot fired in the Rising”

He informed the Company that the Rising was to start at 7 p.m. on Easter Sunday, 23rd April 1916.  He told us that the duties assigned to our Company were the demolition in our area of the railway lines from Waterford to Dublin with the object of holding up and delaying the advance of enemy troops that might be sent to Dublin that way from Britain via Rosslare or Waterford.
On the following Friday night and Saturday afternoon, all the necessary tools for the operation were collected – cross-cuts, hatchets, wire-cutters, crowbars, cold sets, wrenches, spanners etc… My party assembled on Easter Sunday afternoon and proceeded to Colt Wood where, punctually at 7 p.m., we commenced operations. We cut down telegraph poles and the telegraph wires. We removed several lengths of rail, and some sleepers. We carried the rails into the wood and dumped them in a gripe….

Heavy rain had set in while the operations were being carried out, and continued afterwards. When the job was finished the party took shelter in Colt Wood close beside the railway. After some time a man came along the line carrying a lamp. We presumed at the time, and it was later confirmed, that he was a railway employee making an inspection of the line in consequence of the failure of the block signal system, between Portlaoise and Abbeyleix, to work owing to the cutting of the telegraph wires. When the man approached to within a reasonable distance I called: on him to halt. This he failed to do, so I fired at him. (This was in all probability the first shot fired in the Rising). He extinguished the lamp and escaped in the darkness.

Bureau of Military History testimony of Patrick J. Ramsbottom, Captain Portlaoise Company, Irish Volunteers

Telegraph to London: “Irish Volunteers… leaders should be arrested and interned”

birrellTelegraph to [Augustine] Birrell, 70 Elm Park Road, London

Man arrested at Tralee has made full statement. Belongs to Royal Irish Rifles and a German Irish Brigade and landed with Casement and Monteith. Implicates Stack and Collins and states that arms and ammunition were to be landed from ship last night or today and there was to be general rising with attack on Dublin Castle today.

In view of definite association of Irish Volunteers with enemy now established I agree with Lord Lieutenant that leaders should be arrested and interned in England.

Can this be proceeded with subject to concurrence of the law officers military authorities and Home Office.


“I have heard much disquieting rumours as to mischief brewing”: John Dillon


2, North Great George’s Street


23 April 1916

My dear Nathan,

Enclosed is present address of Edmund Murray. They brought him before a military court last Tuesday – fined him £2 and enrolled him in the Welsh Fusiliers. His was plainly a case on which a Military Court had no foundation. Has the Irish government taken any action in this case?

Since I arrived home on Thursday – I have heard much disquieting rumours as to mischief brewing – I trust they are without foundation. I wonder whether you have any trustworthy information.

Yours sincerely,

John Dillon


[MP, Irish Parliamentary Party]