Sunday, March 13, 2016

Easter Sunday, 1916

Below is an excerpt from Ella Young's memoirs, Flowering Dusk (Longmans, Green & Co., 1945), about her experience on that momentous day - Easter Sunday 1916. 
  • Memorial to the 1916 Uprising Executions (detail)
  •  © Denise Sallee 2008.
  EASTER SUNDAY - A day of uncertainty. Parades, maneuvers, and marches of the Irish Republican Army should have taken place today. We hear they have been called off. What does that mean? They were to be the signal for the Rising. After so much hope and preparation, has the Rising fizzled out? No one seems to know. It is said that Eoin MacNeill himself has called off the maneuvers. A slack, uncertain day filled with rumours.
   Easter Monday. The sun is shining, but it seems to be the only brightness. Nothing is happening. It does not seem as if anyone expected anything to happen. Sounds of shots! Everyone tense and alert. Something is happening! I hurry from my lodgings in Leinster Road to the town Hall at Rathmines...From Rathmines one can see Portobello Bridge. One can see the Portobello Barracks where the English Tommies for some time past have been leaning over brick-walls and trading rifles, blankets, and other equipment, for bottles of whiskey, pressed on them by eager patriots...There is a stir in the barracks...More and more shots!...News begins to to creep along the knot of bystanders. "They say that Pearse is in the General Post Office, that they have taken half the city..."
   Seumas O'Sullivan and Estella Solomons come up to me as I stand listening with all my ears to every shot, to every rumour. "The telegraph wires are cut! Railway stations are in the hands of the Volunteers," says Seamus. "It is terrible and splendid. If it could  only by true that they are rising everywhere in Ireland!" ~ 
   Easter Tuesday. News is filtering in. Constance de Markievicz, second in command with the Citizen Army, held St. Stephen's Green Park all Monday...Pearse, with Tom Clarke, Connolly, and The O'Rahilly, has taken possession of the General Post Office...There is fighting in the streets. How much or how little, no one can guess. But certainly dead bodies are in the streets. ~
   Easter Friday. Phyllis MacMurdo came to see me. Since she is the niece of General MacMurdo, and strongly pro-British in sympathy, she is in touch with the military here. She had authentic news: Pearse, Clarke, Connolly, The O'Rahilly, and others are still in the charred and fire-thridded Post Office. They must burn to the bone or surrender. 
   Easter Saturday. Firing has ceased. There is a horrible silence. They are all dead - or it is surrender!
   Wednesday...the third of May...England is again triumphant. Newsboys are crying the news! I buy a paper, and lean against a wall to spread it out. 

Executed this morning: Patrick H. Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh, Thomas Clarke

The sun is shining. This is a day of the days of the Festival of Bealtine: the old Celtic festival of the coming of the Gods of Dana, the young eager Gods who took on themselves the burden of heartening and fashioning the Earth...Gods do not die - nor do heroes!

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