Weekly Series on Centenary of Events of 1919 - 1921.
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Constance Markievicz is pictured in Liberty Hall, Dublin, with her supporters on the evening of her return following her release from Holloway Prison. She is pictured in the centre, with a hat.To her right are Dr. Kathleen Lynn, and Dr. Alice Barry. To her left are James O'Neill (ICA Veteran, who organised her homecoming), and Agnes Mallin.
From Sunday Independent, 16 March 1919
Remarkable Scenes of enthusiasm took place in Dublin last night when the Countess Markievicz, Sinn Fein member for St. Patrick's Division, the only woman elected for any constituency in the General Election, returned to Ireland on her release from Holloway Jail after 10 months' imprisonment In connection with the alleged German plot.
Madame Markievicz arrived at Kingstown in the evening and motored to Dublin, where she was welcomed by huge crowds gathered in the vicinity of Liberty Hall. After a halt there, a precession of Sinn Fein and Labour organisations took place through the city to St. Patrick's Division. Big public meetings were held at New street and The Fountain, James’ Street, and were addressed by the released M.P. and by Messrs. Joseph Mcgrath (M.P. for St. James's) and Sean Milroy, who recently escaped from prison in England.
Long before the time Countess Markievicz was expected in the city thousands of people had assembled along-Eden quay, and Beresford place was thronged. The multitude included a ! very strong body of Volunteers, members of Cumann na mBan and the Citizen Army and Boy Scouts, as well as hundreds of members of the ITGWU.
The crowds had congregated before six o’clock, but it was 7.15 when the Countess arrived from Kingstown, in a motor car, accompanied by Michael Collins, Madame Gonne MacBride, Mrs. Wyse Power and other ladies prominent in the Republican movement.
A scene of wild enthusiasm greeted the arrival of the returned republican leader. Loud cheers were raised by the assembly, the male members of which doffed their hats and Countess Markievicz entered Liberty Hall amidst the cheers of thousands. From the windows of the building, Sinn Féin flags were waved and addressing the crowd subsequently as ‘fellow rebels’ she said it was worth going to prison to find such a reception on her return. She thanked them for their reception.
To New Street
After delivering the short address Countess Markievicz proceeded to New Street to address a meeting of her constituents. The progress of the moror in which she was seated was impeded by the masses of people which thronged the streets. At the junction of O’Connell Street and the quay there was a big assembly and crowds clustered round and about to gain a view of the returned internee.
The music of the bands the motor containing the Countess and her friends moved away in the direction of the venue of the meeting and the organised bodies following in regular formation. The route was via Eden Quay, Westmoreland Street, Dame Street, Lord Edward Street, Cornmarket, and Francis Street, to New Street. Large bodies of the DMP were on duty at various points in the vicinity of Beresford Place and some hundreds of the same force followed the procession into New Street.
Amongst the bodies represented were - the ICA. James’ Band, na Fianna, Cumann na mBan, Inighide na hÉireann, Irish Women’s Franchise League, Sinn Féin, Trades bodies and the Irish Volunteers.
Eleven more Irish Sinn Fein prisoners from English jails arrived in Dublin this morning. They included Mr. P. Collivet, M.P., Limerick, who voiced the feelings of his comrades when he said:
"WE ARE OFTEN AMUSED AT INTERVIEWERS AND NEWSPAPERS SUGGESTING THAT WE SHOULD BE GRATEFUL TO SOMEBODY OR OTHER FOR RELEASING US. THE PEOPLE WHO RELEASED US FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY ARE THE MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNMENT , AND WE ARE NOT THANKFUL TO THEM FOR ANYTHING. ON THE CONTRARY , WE WANT TO KNOW WHY WE WERE IMPRISONED. WE SHALL DEMAND PROPER EXPLANATION AT THE PROPER TIME."
A very sad incident in the home-coming of the released men was the death to-day from pneumonia of Miss Dolan, sister of Mr. J, N. Dolan, M.P., who only arrived in Dublin yesterday. He was only just in time to be with his sister before she passed away.
Eleven more prisoners released from Lincoln and Reading
Bearded and Weak
The last of the Lincoln and Reading prisoners arrived at Kingstown by this morning's mail
boat from Holyhead. They are;
M. P. Collivet, M.P. (Limerick)
P. C. O'Mahony
Though all were in excellent spirits and good humour, and delighted that once more they were treading Irish soil, the majority of them were looking and feeling in impaired health. The long confinement and limited exercise, together with the innumerable privations of prison life, were easily discernible in their pale, drawn faces. Yet they did not sneak much in complaining tones. "What's the use," as one of them curtly put it. It seemed much more congenial to the temperament of all to recall some humorous episode or merry adventure rather than enter upon an indictment of their jailors' conduct.
Messrs. Michael Collins, M.P., and Sean O'Muirthuile greeted them on their arrival at Kingstown, and motored with them to Fleming’s Hotel, Gardiner's Row, where breakfast was served.
A Herald representative had an interview with Mr. Collivet, this morning at the hotel. Like a large number of the other young Irishmen who have returned from English jails, Mr. Collivet is now wearing a beard. He expressed himself as feeling in average condition, though somewhat run down.
He recalled that he was arrested under the "Cat and Mouse" act last February twelve months, and placed in Mountjoy, and then to Dundalk jail. He was finally transferred to Belfast Prison, where he concluded his sentence.
"I was liberated Iast August; he said, smilingly, "but outside the prison gate I found a deputation awaiting me who took me to Arbour Hill Barracks. From there I was brought to Lincoln Prison."
When asked as to the escape of De Valera and two of his comrades, Mr. Collivet said that as to any matter dealing with the actual escape, their lips were sealed. Regarding the prison routine after the escape, he said, all guards were doubled, and in some cases trebled. The door lending from the common room to the recreation ground was nailed up, and in order to get out to exercise, the prisoners were required to utilise an exit at the other end of the jail, and directly under the surveillance of the military guard. But, with the exception of some slight incidents, such as denying the privilege of a morning bath to some of the men who had made a practice of it, and some brief interchanges between the government and themselves, the general treatment went on as before.
Mr. Eamonn Fleming, The Swan, Queen's County, in the course of conversation with our representative, said he was arrested in Trim on March 13 last, on a charge of drilling and sentenced to 6 months in Belfast Prison. He took part in the fight there against the authorities, and was in the prison hospital suffering from the effects of a blow dealt him during the row.
On the expiration of his sentence, on September 23, last he was re-arrested at the prison gate and deported to Reading Jail. There they were situated in the wing that used to be occupied by women. The accommodation was very defective generally. The baths were very small, and these were to be used by 17 men. About a month ago, however, the Governor agreed to equip another bath. "The food was bad," he continued and about 6 weeks ago we sent in an ultimatum through the Governor to the Home Office to have the food improved.
There was an improvement after that, but not at all up to the standard that internees should get. Only for the food we got from home - sugar, butter, etc., we would have been very badly off. We took exercise front 9 to 10, and 11 to 12 in the morning, and from 3 to 4.30 in the afternoon.
Close by the exercise yard was a factory, the chimneys of which were always sending forth volumes of smoke which filled the yard and penetrated to the cells, making the atmosphere very stuffy and unpleasant. About six weeks ago we made a plea to be allowed long walks in the country, the same as the German prisoners were, but this was refused.
"After the announcement of De Valera’s escape from Lincoln, the guard over us was doubled. There was greater activity on the part of the officials, and we were never allowed out of observation.
In wet weather, we had in exercise - that is, walking up and down -' in a very ill-ventilated hall. The men in Reading all escaped any serious attack of influenza, due, I think, more than anything else, to the attention that Dr. Hayes gave us, and the confidence his presence inspired. I was laid up myself for a while, and my temperature was pretty high. Dr. Hayes was unremitting in his attention to me, and remained up all night with me. He had me all right in a couple of days. He was very self-sacrificing in looking after our health
"We had an Irish class every day, led by Frank Fahy. No man could labour harder than Frank did in teaching us, and he even gave private lessons in the cell to any fellow who in his zeal required them.”
"We never read so many English papers as we did in prison. The stores we read in them, and their allusion to the character of the Sinn Fein leaders were intensely amusing to us. They were more like fairy tales than accounts of actual happenings in Ireland.
"It was only on Thursday morning we heard of Pierce McCann's death, and then we understood why the British Government were, so anxious to get us off its hands. I need not tell you we were not at all thankful for our release.
Group of returning Sinn Féin prisoners. Front row (L to R) - D.J O'Doherty, Stephen Jordan. Second Row (L to R) - Messrs. W.P Manahan, B.J Fallon, Peadar O'Hourihan, Peter Hughes, Colm O'Leary, George Nicholls, R. Davys. Back Row (L to R) - B O'Higgins M.P, D. O'Daly, Dr. B. Cusack M.P, James N. Dolan M.P, P.J Berrill, Seamus Dobbyn, Dr. H. McNabb
Another group of released Sinn Féin prisoners. Front Row (L to R) - Messrs. L. Lardener, M.P Collivet, M.P, P. C O'Mahony. Back Row (L to R) Messrs. S. O'Flaherty, T. Walsh, Alex McCabe, Michael Reynolds, Frank Thornton, Eamonn Fleming.
The home-coming of Mr. Peter de-Loughry, Mayor of Kilkenny, on Tuesday night last, was marked by a demonstration of welcome and joy, the like of which was scarcely ever before witnessed in this city, either for its dimensions or whole-heartedness. It was a demonstration not only of joy but of affection, and it gave full proof - if such were wanting - of the high esteem and deep regard the citizens have for their newly elected Mayor.
All arrangements for the reception were carried out with regularity and order. Form 9 o’clock onwards large crowds assembled around the railway station. The members of the Corporation, with the town clerk, Mr E. O’Donnell, and the sword and mace bearers arrived early and took up their position on the platform. A body of Volunteers lined the side of the platform and kept a clear space for passengers getting out and in. When the train steamed in al necks were craned to catch a glimpse of the returned prisoners and a wave of disappointment was beginning to spread when a murmur of applause told that they had modestly got out of a carriage at the far end of the platform.
Out of the respect of the late Rev. M. Walsh, Adm., whose remains were lying in state in St. John’s Church, opposite the station, there was no cheering, but the welcome was none the less warm.
Having been greeted by Alderman Nowlan and other members of the Corporation, the Mayor and Mr. William T. Cosgrave (the Lady Mayoress, Mrs. de Loughry accompanying the former) took their places in the brake and motor car, respectively, which were waiting and the procession marched ahead. In addition to a large body of Volunteers who carried tricolours and torchlight. There was a fine contingent of Cumann na mBan, fronted by a beautiful banner worked in green, white, and gold.
St. John’s Brass Band, the Pipers’ Band, and St. Rioch’s Fife and Drum Band played national airs as the procession marched by way of Greensbridge to the Parade where a public meeting was held.
Alderman James Nowlan, the Mayor’s locum during his enforced absence, presided and in his opening address said;
Fellow citizens, at a special meeting of the Corporation I was appointed to welcome Peter de Loughry on their behalf and on behalf of the citizens of Kilkenny (hear, hear). As you are all aware he was, 10 months ago whipped away out of the country by the emissaries of Kind George of England and kept in a British Dungeon up to this night. I have also been appointed to place around his neck tonight the chain of office and to install him as Mayor of Kilkenny (cheers).
De Loughry spoke to the people;
He and his comrades had come back to Ireland when the greatest cloud that had ever darkened the world was lifting and when the English Government and the English people in the delirium and delusion of triumph, were clapping themselves on the back, and shouting form the rooftops; Behold, we are the masters of creation. The Turk we have beaten to her knees, the Austrian Empire annihilated, and the once proud German people are now before us looking for terms’, but they had overlooked one fact, which stood out clear and indisputable and that was the fact that they had not yet beaten the Irish nation.
After de Loughry had concluded his rousing speech, and a few others from the citizens of Kilkenny, Cosgrave rose to his feet. Speaking on ongoing efforts to gain American support he said;
I say tonight, that we are not going to take any dictation from America. If America means business and if the American President is an honest man p and I believe he is - if the American people and our own kinsman and kinswomen in America are really in earnest, the cause of Ireland is going pretty strong. If there is one danger at the present moment, besetting the Irish cause of Ireland it is those back-boneless creatures who tell us we are not fit to govern ourselves, and that we should be satisfied to be under the English flag. I say we are prepared to shoulder the responsibility of nationhood, and supply our quota towards the peace of the world; to assist at the Irish nation assisted fourteen hundred years ago in rescuing from barbarism the peoples of the world in spreading the light of civilisation Christianity and in bringing back even the Englishmen into the fold of civilisation.
Pierce McCan sleeps his last long sleep in the churchyard of Dualla in the heart of the splendid Tipperary country which he knew s0 intimately and loved so intensely, there he was laid to rest on last Sunday evening within sight of the home where he was nurtured, and amid every manifestation of public and personal sorrow.
And good reason there was for this universal grief. For in his death, Ireland has lost a devoted son, an untiring worker, a stainless personality, a man of broad and urbane culture, gifted with a wide outlook, a mind full of constructive thought, a character that shrunk from no sacrifice, however terrible, where principle was at stake.
It is unnecessary to refer to the circumstances surrounding his arrest and deportation last May. What we have to remember is the effect of the rigours of prison life that have robbed us in the bloom of life and manifest beauty of this noble soul. All accounts agree that the prison life told severely upon him; it was too great a change for one so accustomed to lead a free and open existence to the narrow courtyards of Gloucester Prison were an unhappy and unwelcome change from the free air and the homely atmosphere of the Tipperary plains
The fine constitution was undermined, death came in a strange land, but consoled in the last moments by his aged parents. His body was brought home amid every manifestation of regret and sorrow in Dublin and along the route, in the Cathedral of his native Archdiocese of Cashel the remains lay for one night, and on last Sunday were borne across the broad Tipperary plain from Thurles to the quiet country churchyard in Dualla.
In thinking of Pierce McCan one is not disposed to dwell upon the last splendid tribute paid to his memory. We rather turn to the lessons of his life. He came from the class that has unquestionably rendered very slight service to Ireland. It was the cabin of Ireland and not its comfortable home that, as T. F. Meagher said "have serve as shrines in which the hopes of the nation have been treasured and transmitted.' Every local influence, every class feeling every desire for human pleasure served to point the way to the easy safe path in life but Pierce McCan wisely chose otherwise.
He took the hard road of service to Kathleen ni Houlihan. His life has been an achievement in solid work and self-sacrifice. He was a keen student of the Irish language, studying it all through the Irish speaking district, and helping in countless ways to foster its revival. He realised, as every investigator and thinker does, how deeply the spiritual tradition of a people affects their whole outlook.
He strove to recreate the Gaelic spirit of kindliness and simplicity of life, the spirit that expresses itself in the kindly word and the ever ready prayer. He knew that politically or socially a complete nation can never be achieved unless it be built up on the deep and true foundations of a country's culture and tradition.
In 1895, Just 24 years ago, I saw him out with the Tipperary Hounds, a boy on a well-bred pony. It was a meet during Christmas holidays, and all the crack followers of the Tipps were out.
Mr Jos Phelan; Mr W. P. Hanly, Mr. Darby Scully, and Mr Dan Moloney, the former on Slug. In the afternoon hounds were put into Meldrum, one of the best covers in the Tipperary country, and Mr. Burke arranged the field at the Cashel side of the covert, allowing young McCan, whose father owned most of the surrounding land to stay with himself, and Tierney, the first Whip.
A fox broke on the Fethard side, giving the Master, whip and boy sportsman an advantage over the rest of the field, which the latter never lost, and fifty minute later, when hounds pulled their fox down it the open, Pierre McCan was the proud recipient of the brush, being first up, and side by side with the Master, closely followed by the others I have mentioned
Some years later Mr McCan, for the second time, gained the medal of the Royal Humane Society for his unsuccessful attempt to save the life of poor Tierney in the Suir, near Cashel.
How well may those plaintive words of Ethna Carbery be applied to the grave at Templekelly wherein are deposited the remains of Willie, son of Mr and Mrs O'Brien, The Glebe House, Ogonnelloe, and one of Ireland's truest and noblest of sons.
At the early age of 27 years this young clever and chivalrous Volunteer has been summoned by his maker leaving behind him to mourn his great loss a fond father, a heartbroken mother, devoted brothers and loving sisters. The deceased was in the best of health up to Friday last when he first complained.
Dr McCormack, Ballina, was immediately requisitioned and found symptoms of pneumonia threatening which he skilfully undertook by medical process to checkmate and thwart. Dr Roberts, Limerick, was also in attendance, but notwithstanding all that the eminent medical practitioners could do the heart, gave way under pressure from the operation performed in trying to prevent the development of pneumonia, and on Monday morning this young and promising Gael breathed his last.
During the few days of his illness the Rev. D. O'Meara P.P, Ogonnellow, was in constant attendance, and as the end was approaching administered the Holy Sacraments.
Willie O’Brien was physically and morally the finest specimen of Irish manhood to be found in East Clare. In athletic circles he was unrivalled, and in the wielding of the caman was5 an adept dexterity gifting for him from time to time the cheers and plaudits of appreciative spectators. On leaving Mr Tuohy's classical school, Killaloe, he proceeded to All Hollows College, and from thence to Carlow wherein he had a brilliant and distinguished college course.
Owing to Ill-health occasioned by a strain received while in pursuit of his Gaelic pastimes he
was obliged to relinquish his clerical studies and resume a quiet life on his father's farm at home. He threw himself into the Sinn Fein, Volunteer, and Gaelic League movements. At the Irish class in he was a regular attendant, and a keen and enthusiastic worker. His parents have lost a loving and grateful son, his companions a guiding and leading spirit.
On Monday evening last the remains were conveyed to the parish Church, and the large cortege that accompanied them bore testimony of universal respect and the esteem in which the O'Brien family are held. The funeral which took place at one o'clock on Tuesday was the largest and most impressive ever seen in East Clare. The coffin, which was covered with the Republican Flag, borne by the Volunteers from the Church. An immense crowd witnessed the removal of the remains, and all heads were uncovered while the coffin was being placed in the hearse. The funeral procession was headed by a contingent of 100 Volunteers from Ogonnellow, The Glen, Garranboy and Tuamgraney districts, the father arid mother, brothers and sisters of the deceased came next, and were followed by the Rev. D. O'Meara, P.P. and Rev. Father Farrell, Ogonnelloe. The procession was fully one and a half miles in length, and en route to Killaloe and Ballina blinds wore drawn and every manifestation of sorrow and regret was in evidence.
*The above is based on transcriptions from newspaper reports. Transcriber bears no responsibility for any errors in transcription. Above may contain amendments for publication. As always, please refer to actual newspaper editions for academic purposes.