31.3.08

The Wolfe Tones - The Foggy Dew

My maternal grandfather, Charles Joseph Boyle was 8 years old and living in Donegal in 1916.

I used to sit on his knee listening with breathlessness to him tell the tales of the heroes of the Easter rebellion of 1916.

At four minutes past noon on Easter Monday, April 24th, 1916, a sudden hush fell over the O’Connell Street. From the steps of the General Post Office Patrick Pearse read the Proclamation of the Republic:

POBLACHT NA h-EIREANN
THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF THE
IRISH REPUBLIC
TO THE PEOPLE OF IRELAND

IRISHMAN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.

Having organized and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organization, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organizations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and, supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.

We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty; six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State. And we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations.

The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irish woman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities of all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority in the past.

Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provision Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.

We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.

Signed on behalf of the Provisional Government,

THOMAS J. CLARKE
SEAN MAC DIERMADA
THOMAS MACDONAGH
P.H.PEARSE
EAMONN CEANNT
JAMES CONNOLLY
JOSEPH PLUNKETT

When Pearse finished, the beaming Connolly took his hand and shook it vigorously. A few ragged cheers hung in the air, but the poet, Stephen McKenna, who listened to Pearse read these words, recorded later that he felt sad for him, for the response from the crowd was chilling. There were no wild hurrahs, no scenes reminiscent of the excitement which had gripped the French mob before they stormed the Bastille. The Irish simply listened and shrugged their shoulders, or sniggered a little, and then glanced round to see if the police were coming.

Nearby young insurgents were posting copies of the Proclamation, or handing them round among the crowd. One copy, weighted down with stones, was placed on the ground at the foot of Nelson Pillar so that everybody could read it.

Slowly the crowd broke up. Some strolled across to the Pillar, where they idly read the Proclamation; others just stood and stared up at the unfamiliar flags (the green flag on the left at the corner of Princes Street and the Tricolor on the right at the corner of Henry Stree) from the roof of the G.P.O. Quite a few, bored with the whole affair, simply turned and wandered away.

Part of the lack of interest came from actions that had occurred from a rift in the organization. During Holy Week, when Eoin MacNeill got word of the Rising, MacDiarmada with other leaders did their best to persuade MacNeill to agree it it. Late on Holy Saturday night MacDiarmada got word of MacNeill's Countermanding Order appearing in the "Sunday Independent" (Note*** MacNeill did not agree with the Rising and knew that the practice maneuvers of the Irish Volunteers planned for Easter Sunday was a cover for an uprising. He sent messengers all over Ireland to tell the Volunteers to do nothing on Easter Sunday, and he published a cancellation notice in the Sunday Independent, with this action he effectively doomed the uprising to failure***)

A conference between Pearse, Plunkett, and Dermot Lynch was called, but Connolly, Clarke and Ceannt, couldn't be reached so the meeting was adjourned, and they all met at Liberty Hall at 8 a.m.

All members of the Military Council were at the 2nd meeting, it lasted till 1 am Easter Sunday. The decision was made to take action on Easter Monday.

While I am still a steadfast monarchist I honour the courage, bravery, and resolve of those who fought in 1916. I take pride in my Irish heritage.

God save Ireland.
Dieu le Roi.
de Brantigny

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