Of all the legends and stories the Easter Rising produced, I’ve always taken an interest in that of The O’Rahilly. Born to a prosperous merchant family in Co. Kerry in 1875, he had a privileged upbringing and received his secondary education in Clongowes Wood College. He began studying medicine in 1893, but was forced to take a hiatus after a year after contracting tuberculosis and quit altogether after his fathers death in 1896, when he moved home to look after the family business. Not long afterwards, he sold the business and moved to the US, where he married in Philadelphia.
His next ten years were spent back and forward between the States and Ireland, and O’Rahilly and his bride, Nancy Brown, traveled Europe and Ireland extensively. They settled in Dublin in 1909 where he took up a job managing the journal An Claidheamh Soluis, later publishing the article by Eoin MacNeill that lead to the foundation of the Irish Volunteers. Despite being a founder member of the Irish Volunteers, he was not privy to the plans for the Rising, but took part in it regardless, arriving at the mobilisation at Liberty Hall and uttering the infamous line, “Well, I’ve helped to wind up the clock — I might as well hear it strike!”
While most of the above is an ode to The O’Rahilly, and I hope to do another piece on him shortly, the subject of this piece is the plaque in the bar of Wynn’s Hotel on Abbey Street commemorating the founding of the Irish Volunteers there by The O’Rahilly and Bulmer Hobson in 1913. Hobson’s legend is that he never partook in The Rising, and was in fact kidnapped by the IRB before it in case he tried to pull the plug on it. Apologies for the quality of the picture below, Wynn’s obviously take great pride in it, and the sheen off it made it close to impossible to photograph. Inscription below.
The plaque reads:
Cinneadh Óglaigh na hÉireann a bhunú ag cruinnií a tionóladh sa teach ósta seo ar 11 Samhain 1913, Eoin MacNéill i gceannas.
The decision to establish the Irish Volunteers was taken at a meeting arranged by The O’Rahilly and Bulmer Hobson and held here in Wynn’s Hotel on the 11th November, 1913. Amongst those present on this historic occasion were: Eoin MacNéill, Padraig Pearse, The O’Rahilly, Seán MacDiarmada, Éamonn Ceannt (and) Piaras Béaslaí.
Wynn’s Hotel, Established 1845, Destroyed 1916, rebuilt 1926.
Given the weekend that’s in it, I’ll finish the piece by quoting another O’Rahilly line… When he realised the rising could not be stopped, he reportedly turned to Markievicz and said “It is madness, but it is glorious madness.” Hopeless romantics the lot of them.