“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

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