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The Proclamation first read aloud by Pearse on the steps of the GPO on Easter Monday is a document synonymous with Easter Week and the birth of the modern Irish State. Widely accepted to have been composed by Pearse himself, there remain very few physical copies in existence.

Though it was intended for 2, 500 copies of the Proclamation to be printed in Liberty Hall and distributed around the country, it is likely that fewer that 1, 000 actually were, and these were entrusted to Helena Moloney for transport to the GPO. Seán T. O’Kelly, the second President of Ireland would from here take these and billpost them around the north and south inner city. The paper upon which they were printed was of poor quality, so very few remain. Fewer still exist of a facsimile of the Proclamation issued by the Irish Citizen Army for the first anniversary of the Rising in 1917 of which there is believed to be a sole surviving copy.

The Proclamation in full

The Proclamation in full, from typefoundry.blogspot.ie

The responsibility for printing the document lay with Michael Molloy and Liam O’Brien, two Volunteers, and Christopher Brady who had until now overseen the printing of ITGWU Weekly, “The Worker’s Republic.” Compositor’s and printers by trade, these men were approached by James Connolly in the run up to Easter week and asked to forego the planned parading of Volunteers in St. Anne’s Park on Easter Sunday morning and to instead meet him in Liberty Hall for a task he had prepared for them. Upon arrival, Connolly and Thomas MacDonagh, also present, handed them a sheet of paper with the words of the Proclamation inscribed upon it and remarked “Do if you wish to, and if not we won’t be the worse friends.” All three accepted the job.

As the men launched into their work, it became obvious that they would not have enough print to finish the job. The machine upon which they were to perform their task, an old Wharfdale Double- Crown machine upon which the Irish Worker was printed was wholly inadequate for the task at hand, the paper of an inferior quality, and print for the machine severely lacking. Different fonts had to be used, (the wrong font for the letter ‘e’ is used in over twenty instances,) many letters had to be fashioned out of others (in several cases, a capital ‘E’ was made from fashioning the type out of a capital ‘F’ and adding wax,) and eventually the men realised they would not have enough type and would simply have to borrow some more.

The Three Printers of the Proclamation. Irish Press,  Tuesday April 24th, 1934.

Irish Press, Tuesday April 24th, 1934.

The type was borrowed from an Englishman named William Henry West, a printer whose premises were located on Stafford Street. Following the tradition of Wolf Tone, the protestant revolutionary who Stafford Street would eventually be named after, West appears to have been sympathetic towards the cause for Irish Freedom. Census returns for 1911 list West as 41 years of age, with an address at Brigid’s Road Upper, Drumcondra. His job title is “Letterpress Printer” and his religion is given as “Cooneyite.” Cooneyism was an offshoot of a home based church movement known as the “two by twos” which gained some traction in Ireland in the late 19th and early 20th Century in Ireland. It was known as an “itinerant” religion and its lay people called “tramp preachers” due to the homeless and destitute nature of their calling.

West was printer of choice for the ITGWU and appeared twice in the courts alongside Jim Larkin. In January 1913, he appeared as a co-defendant with Larkin in a case in which Mr. William Richardson was claiming a sum of £500 after allegedly having been libeled in the Irish Worker. In September of that year, he appeared in a bankruptcy case involving himself, with the creditor bringing the case again him the same Mr. William Richardson, still looking to eek out punishment for his alleged libeling. In examination of his firms accounts, William Henry West had listed the ITGWU’s debt as a “bad debt,” or one which he deemed unrecoverable. West’s examination by the prosecution is below:

Mr. Larkin owes you £227 for the printing The Worker- isn’t Mr. Larkin the proprietor of The Worker?

He is, and he owes me £227.

Have you put that down as a bad debt?

Yes, because it is a bad debt.

Why?

Because I cannot get it.

Can you not recover it from Mr. Larkin?

I wish you could show me how. (laughter)

Has Mr. Larkin refused to pay the amount?

Well, he cannot pay.

He refused to pay?

No.

Did you ask him for it?

Of course, often. But he can’t pay what he hasn’t got.

You know that Mr. Larkin is Secretary of the ITGWU?

Yes, I have heard so.

And can you not recover this amount by suing him for it?

Do you think I would do that, when he’s my best customer? (laughter)

The case also makes reference to debt owed by other organisations, including the Labour Party and a drama class at Liberty Hall, and asked whether he could not sue for payment, to which he replied “I don’t believe in suing, I’ve never sued anybody in my life,” again to laughter.

The Witness Statement of Commandant Liam O’Brien states that on Easter Sunday, upon realising their shortage of type, Michael Molloy was ordered by Connolly to West’s printers along with a messenger and Citizen Army man employed by the Worker’s Republic who was known to him by the name ‘Dazzler.’ West provided the type, under the auspices that it was to be returned to him intact or compensated if lost- it was his livlihood after all. Of course, this wasn’t to be as Liberty Hall was first, pounded by shells from the Helga, and gutted by fire. When entered by British soldiers after the fighting had died down, they found the second half of the type still on the machine.

What happened to West after Easter Week, I can find no reference. But his is another story of the many from the Rising. The English protestant printer who supplied the type for the Irish Proclamation.

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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!”

The O'Rahilly around the time of his marriage to Nancy Browne

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.

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As mentioned before, last weekend was a busy one for CHTM! with involvement in the Punky Reggae Party gig on Friday night, the Sounds of Resistance gig on the Saturday night and the latest pub crawl scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Before the pub crawl though, JayCarax had lined up a walking tour of Grangegorman Military Cemetery for us, led by Ray Bateson, author of “They Died by Pearse’s Side,” historian and specialist on those killed in the Easter Rebellion, 1916. We were joined on the tour by comrades from Story Map, the Chasing the Light photography blog, and Irish History Podcast.

Grangegorman Military Cemetery

Grangegorman Military Cemetary lies 2.5 miles from the GPO, but ask any Dubliner about it’s existence and who’s buried there, and you can be guaranteed you’ll get a blank face from the majority of them. Located on Blackhorse Avenue, not far from The Hole in the Wall pub, it is the resting place of British soldiers who died or were killed in action on this island. Whilst, for obvious reasons, a large portion of our interest was given to those who died on Easter Week, there are graves scattered around of those who came/ were sent here to recover from wounds received in the trenches of World War 1 and a long line of graves for those who died in the sinking of the RMS Leinster in 1918.

5th Lancers, 25th April, 1916

Military casualties (not counting police) in the Easter Rebellion were around the 120 mark, with those killed serving a variety of different battalions though most notably, large numbers from the South Staffs and the Sherwood Foresters battalion, killed in the Battle for Mount Street Bridge. Battalion badges are marked on the headstones along with the name of the person buried, their rank and the date of their death whilst a very few have personal inscriptions. Matching the battalions and dates from the gravestones with the known events in Easter week can give us an idea of where these British soldiers met their deaths. The grave above bearing the date 25th April and the soldier’s battalion, the 5th Lancers, suggests for example, he was wounded the ambush of the ammunitions convoy by Ned Daly’s garrison at the Four Courts and died the following day.

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Sad state of affairs when it takes the Boston Public Library (4,811 km away from the GPO) to digitize such a historically valuable document. Read the 308 page booklet here.

The Rebellion Handbook was published by the Irish Times in 1917, and is based on articles carried in the Irish Times in May 1916. The handbook provides a fascinating insight into the Easter rising. It is one of the key sources and contains a wealth of information, including an official list of casualties, names of prisoners, photographs and a map showing the key locations in Dublin.

The handbook contains 308 pages of information. It includes:

* facsimiles of documents
* articles from the Irish Times
* photographs of principal rebels and government & security personnel
* a detailed account of the events in Dublin and around the country
* detailed list of buildings destroyed
* official and rebel documents
* names and personal details of 1,306 casualties (including 300 deaths) from army, navy, RIC, DMP, civilians and rebels.
* full account of court martial hearings and execution of 15 rebels
* names, addresses and occupations of over 3,000 rebels arrested and interned.
* a detailed Whos Who of the people of the time.
* full court details of the Casement trial.

It remains one of the most detailed accounts of the rising, and is an essential resource for those studying the people and events of this tumultuous event.

Front cover.

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“The old guard and the new”, this is a classic Fianna Fail election leaflet encouraging the public to get behind two 1916 veterans (Oscar Traynor and Harry Colley), “stand by De Valera” and to put faith in two newer faces, Eugene Timmons and Charles Haughey. It is a most unusual piece, from the Dublin North East constituency.

Traynor is a well-known figure in Irish political history, in command at the Metropole Hotel during the 1916 Rising. Unusually, he was a soccer-man, and had toured Europe with Belfast Celtic in 1912. The image below is taken from a piece on his time at that club over on the excellent Belfast Celtic historical site.

Traynor (Goalkeeper) with the rest of the Belfast Celtic team in 1912.

Harry Colley had also taken part in the Rising, and the leaflet notes that he was “..left for dead at a Dublin street barricade” during the rebellion.

Ultimately, Charles Haughey would fail to win a seat in 1954, obtaining 1,812 votes. When Haughey did obtain a seat three years later in 1957, it was at the expense of Colley. The rest, as they say, is history.

Click to expand and read:

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On my recent walking tour of radical Dublin, one of the places I brought people was to the site of the Irish Farm Produce Company restaurant and shop on Henry Street. It was there that the 1916 Proclamation was signed, and indeed the premises was the ‘radical cafe’ of its time. Interestingly, most of the people on the tour had not noticed the plaque marking the location of the premises before. It truly is an unusual Dublin plaque.

The plaque to Captain Thomas Weafar on the corner of Lower Abbey Street is another prime example of a plaque many Dubliners are unaware of.

Captain Thomas Weafer ( The plaque reads Wafer, however as you will see below Weafer is more commonly found when discussing him) was shot and killed on Wednesday April 26 1916 while occupying the Hibernian Bank on the corner of Lower Abbey Street and Sackville Street. The strategic importance of the building is clear. It allowed Weafer and his men to control access to the street from Amiens Street Station for example, and members of the the GPO Garrison were occupying a number of buildings on each side of Sackville Street.

Meda Ryan wrote about the experiences of Leslie Price (who went on to marry Tom Barry), in her study of the famous Cork rebel leader entitled Tom Barry: IRA Freedom Fighter.

Receiving no orders, like many Cumann na mBan activists, Leslie headed for the G.P.O

Initially they cooked meals and helped the men in the Hibernian Bank. On Tuesday forenoon the building came under attack from British troops. Leslie was standing beside Capt. Tom Weafer, OC of the Hibernian Garrison, when a bullet whizzed past her and into his stomach. As she was about to attend to him another bullet lodged in the chest of the man who had gone to Capt. Weafer’s aid. She had just time to say a prayer in Weafer’s ear when he died.

From tropicalisland.de, the building on the corner of Lower Abbey Street and O' Connell Street is the old Hibernian Bank premises

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In the Dublin of the revolutionary period, ‘G Men’ would have been a familiar sight on street corners, never quite as inconspicuous as they sought to be. G Division of the Dublin Metropolitan Police served as the eyes and ears of the intelligence community, tasked with observing political subversives in the city. Their ‘Movement of Extremists’ files record the whereabouts of republicans, socialists and other radicals in the city, noting where they loitered and who they talked to.

One business they would have come to know quite well was found at 21 Henry Street, the location of the Irish Farm Produce Company, a shop and restaurant (specialising in vegetarian cuisine) run by veteran nationalist campaigner Jennie Wyse Power. It was popular with Dublin’s small Indian community (and perhaps even smaller vegetarian community) but owing to its proprietor it also became a rendezvous point for advanced nationalists. A plaque on the site today marks the fact that the drafted 1916 proclamation was signed on the premises days before insurrection.

Amidst the wave of cultural nationalism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, an ‘Irish Ireland’ movement emerged which sought to promote the native language, native games and native culture over that of the neighbouring island; Archbishop Croke (he of Croke Park fame) complained that the Irish were importing from England, “her fashions, her accents, her vicious literature, her music, her dances, and her manifold mannerisms, her games also and her pastimes” among other corrupting influences. But what about what was on our tables? The Irish Farm Produce Company boasted of its “all-Irish produce”, a reminder that even dinner could be a political choice.

Jennie Wyse Power, born in Baltinglass in 1858, moved through the ranks of many important political movements in her lifetime, and had earned the respect of the men and women who frequented her business. Active in the Ladies Land League of the 1880s, which sought to advance the rights of Ireland’s tenant farmers, she was later a founding member of the Sinn Féin political party and close to Countess Markievicz.  While serious about her politics, Wyse Power was also regarded as one of the friendliest faces in Irish nationalism. Sinn Féin Executive member Seamus ua Caomhanaigh remembered that “she always left out the Wyse part of her name. She said there was nothing ‘wise’ about her. She was a remarkably able woman, very brainy, full of fun and a great teller of humorous stories.”

Some of the most watched individuals in the city frequented her restaurant in the years before the Rising, including Major John MacBride, who had fought in the Second Boer War alongside his Irish Brigade. Seán T. O’Kelly, later President of Ireland, remembered holding court there most days in the company of MacBride and Arthur Griffith. Wyse Power’s business remained popular after the Rising too, though unsurprisingly the authorities were still vigilant. P.J Paul, a prominent republican in Waterford, remembered visiting the restaurant while in Dublin, as “most of the Volunteer and Irish-Ireland people went there.” On one occasion during the War of Independence, he was having a meal “when suddenly a number of Auxiliaries rushed into the shop and began turning the place upside down.”

Dublin’s small Indian community, primarily formed from medical students in the city, would be drawn towards Wyse Power’s restaurant too, at a time when there was little in the line of vegetarian offerings in the city. Dublin’s first vegetarian restaurant, The Sunshine (advertised as ‘vegetarian dining rooms’), had opened its doors in the 1860s on Grafton Street, though such endeavours tended to be short-lived. Indian students in the capital during the revolutionary period included V.V Giri, later President of India, who studied under the poet and revolutionary separatist Thomas MacDonagh. As historian Conor Mulvagh has suggested, “in searching for routes of entry for Indian students into Irish radical politics, it is perhaps the dinner table as much as the lecture theatre that provided them with introductions.” The cause of the Indian people received sympathetic coverage in Irish nationalist newspapers, including Arthur Griffith’s Sinn Féin and The Irish Volunteer.

While the female republican body Cumann na mBán flatly rejected the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, Jennie Wyse Power came to support it, which created friction between her and many former comrades. In 1923, her business premises was entered by young men who at first appeared to be ordinary customers, but “as the tea was about to be served the raiders suddenly took petrol bottles from their pockets and announced their intention of setting the house on fire.” Her other business premises, located on Camden Street, had already been attacked by republicans, with “bombs being hurled through the plate glass window.”

Despite her support for the Treaty, Wyse Power later joined the Fianna Fáil party, and elected for the party in the 1934 Seanad elections.  She died in January 1941, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. The plaque on Henry Street today honours the signing of the proclamation on the premises, but in truth there was much more to the story of the Irish Farm Produce Company, and its place in Dublin’s political and culinary history should be noted.

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