I dedicate this story to Grandmother Lucy and my Mother, Sheila O’ Leary, and to all the healers, nurturers and carers in our world whose capability, compassion and kindness sustains us, and also to my daughters Róisin, Eva and Elinya (Linny)
“... they did what came to their hands to do – day to day, whatever they were capable of by aptitude or training”
- Helena Molony when asked about the role the women played
(Above): One of the panels of the Kevin Barry Stained Glass Memorial Window by Richard King at the Harry Clarke Studios. The wounded James Connolly is tended by one of the women of the GPO Nursing Contingent.
Part1 - The Evacuation of the Cumann na MBan First Aid Contingent with the wounded from the GPO to Jervis Street Hospital along with the Main Garrison on the Eve of The Surrender ~ Easter Week Friday 28th April 1916.
This is the untold story of a brave group of 12 Cumann na mBan nurses who evacuated the burning GPO and courageously escorted the wounded GPO Volunteers under fire in the battlefield to Jervis Street Hospital (see their names in the panel below).
They left through a tunnel the Volunteers had bored during the week, only moments before the main evacuation of the 300 plus GPO Garrison (that included three women) to Moore Street and surroundings from the blazing GPO on the eve of the surrender. Even earlier, at noon that Friday, another group of the GPO Garrison women had been ordered home.
To the best of my ability I have pieced together my Grandmother's story and tried to do justice to the other women in this group as well.
The list of women is by no means exhaustive as the accounts recorded do vary.
My main goal in recording a version of this story is to actually name all the women in this group so that we as a nation can honour them and their harrowing journey through the battlefield during Easter Week 1916. There may be more women, but the twelve I have named herein I have placed in this group at this time and on this journey with my Grandmother by going through the recently released archives – sworn statements the women made of their involvement (Bureau of Military History Statements and Military Pension Service Collection Application Files) - all primary sources and available online for all to peruse.
However, not all the women left a record - my Grandmother did not - so this is not the final version of the story. I have long felt this group has been overlooked, that they deserve to be remembered and that this story should be more widely known.
Any errors are my own and I will be happy to correct them if notified.
(Above) Lucy Agnes Smyth, Cumann na mBan, the author's grandmother..
(Below L to R): Lucy's daughter Sheila O’Leary and her great-grand-daughter Roisin Alice Cutts.
(Below L to R): Lucy's daughter Sheila O’Leary and her great-grand-daughter Roisin Alice Cutts.
There were three groups of women which evacuated the GPO, Headquarters of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic, on Friday 28th April 1916, and this story relates primarily to the middle group of which my Grandmother was a part, though I do cover the other two groups.
My Grandmother Lucy Smyth was a member of Cumann na mBan’s Central Branch since its inception in 1914 – ‘A great worker for the movement’.
She arrived at the General Post Office on the Monday of Easter Week after mobilising other members of the Central Branch.
She was assigned duties as part of the GPO Nursing Contingent for the duration of that week within the GPO and smaller outposts, e.g. the Hibernian Bank across the road from the GPO on Sackville Street (O’Connell Street), which meant being out and about with the other women in the line of fire in the Battlefield which was extremely dangerous.
The Cumann na mBan women had received first aid training in preparation for the rebellion, though their duties were varied when the time came.
During the Rising the women did whatever they were called upon to do, unquestioningly and competently.
They were resourceful - one of the first women to enter the GPO used her petticoat as a bandage for a mortally wounded Volunteer before she had access to supplies. Another woman hid guns and messages in her bicycle basket in the battlefield. Guns were hidden in laundry baskets and orders to the different garrisons under berets.
There is no doubt these women knew the risk they were taking and they were prepared to die for their country. They were soldiers in every sense of the word.
The women involved were all ages and from all walks of life. Many of the younger girls came from very nationalistic, working class and trade union families.
Their fathers, brothers and sweethearts were ‘out’ too.
My mother has no idea where her mother got her nationalistic tendencies from. 'I wish I had asked her more’ she tells me now at aged 95.
Her mother was 34 years old at the time of the Easter Rising and living in Palmerston Place, off the top of Dominick Street, Dublin 7. She was working as a typist and had worked previously in a milliners as a Sales Assistant.
At the time of the Easter Rising both Captain Tom Byrne and Captain Con Colbert of the Irish Volunteers were rivals for her affections. Captain Con Colbert called her ‘the nicest girl in Dublin’.
She was storing guns on his orders in the lead up to the Rising. Con Colbert was to be tragically executed afterwards.
Captain Tom Byrne went on the run up North and evaded arrest in 1916 though he was imprisoned in later years three times. He led the Maynooth 15 into the GPO on foot from Kildare during Easter Week, and had been instrumental in the formation of the First Irish Brigade in the Boer War in South Africa along with Major John MacBride, who was also executed after Easter Week. Had Boer Tom been caught he would have been very likely executed too because of his previous ‘form’.
Lucy, I imagine, would have been very concerned for the welfare of her friends during the week though this did not interfere with her doing her duty selflessly.
My Grandmother's pension application was like a treasure trove to me. Applying for a pension from the State was a rigorous and gruelling process particularly for the women. In my Grandmother’s own handwriting within her pension file she wrote, in response to a question regarding her movements on the Friday evening during Easter Week, that she was ‘accompanying the wounded to Jervis Street'.
She says she remained in the GPO ‘until the Surrender’, by which I now know she meant the surrender of the GPO to the fires and not the actual surrender by Patrick Pearse to Brigadier General Lowe, as that happened on the following day, Saturday 29th April. This story takes place when the battle was still raging and Dublin was an inferno on the Friday.
During Easter Week inside the GPO there was a makeshift field hospital set up at the back of the building on the Princes Street side. There were only minor casualties treated there until the Thursday.
During this time there was plenty of suspense and tension with the unfolding uncertain situation. Men and women were awake and on guard around the clock at the windows - the women often stood in for the armed men at their stations.
There was singing at times and the Volunteers recited the rosary often.
The kitchen was a hive of activity as the women and prisoners cooked to feed the garrison and those in the smaller outposts near the GPO.
(Above): Newspaper clipping of ‘Pretty’ Lucy tending to Tom after he arrived in the GPO after his long arduous trek from Maynooth. She was also highly competent and capable as well as pretty.
The numbers of women in the GPO on the Friday was about 35, though earlier in the week it was recorded there were close to 70 women who had showed up for duty.
About 15 were working in the kitchen and the remainder were despatch officers, messengers and nurses. These highly competent and capable ‘cool under fire’ women were out and about gathering intelligence and conducting reconnaissance missions to the various outposts.
The women were given passwords to enter and re-enter
12 Brave Cumann na mBan women in the battlefield
Aoife de Burca
Elizabeth (Lillie) Burke (McGinty)
Louise Gavan DuffyLucy Smith
Lucy Smyth (Byrne)
Martha (Birdie) Walsh (Slater)
Elizabeth (Lillie) Burke (McGinty)
Louise Gavan DuffyLucy Smith
Lucy Smyth (Byrne)
Martha (Birdie) Walsh (Slater)
Mary Josephine (Mary Jo) Walsh (Rafferty)
Margaret Walsh (Jenkins)
Matilda (Tilly) Simpson
Stasia Byrne (Toomey)
Mary Josephine (Mary Jo) Walsh (Rafferty)
Margaret Walsh (Jenkins)
Matilda (Tilly) Simpson
Stasia Byrne (Toomey)
The women were given passwords to enter and re-enter and were always given a hearty welcome when they returned safe, but not all made it back into the GPO towards the end of the week because of the danger.
On the Thursday Volunteers had come in from the surrounding smaller outposts as the fires had made these buildings untenable. Dublin was blazing.
At this stage the Field Hospital at the GPO was a hive of activity as thousands of British reinforcements had been sent against them and activity was rife in the battlefield. There were many casualties and deaths on all sides.Jervis Street hospital was full to overflowing as the staff there struggled to cope. Over 700 people were seen there. The St John’s Ambulance brigade was also out and about in the Battlefield administering to all sides amidst the danger.
Great credit is due to these nurses and doctors too who answered the call of duty of their profession splendidly.
At noon on the Friday as the fires encroached and the fighting was becoming fierce about twenty women of Cumann na mBan were ordered to leave the GPO via the Henry Street exit under the protection of the Red Cross flag and return to their homes.
Patrick Pearse said he wished 'that everyone who was not qualified in First Aid should leave, as the fighting would get very severe and it would probably come to using bayonets to fight their way out’.
(Above) Statement by John Doyle Chief Medical Officer GPO Garrison
Many of these women had been the couriers and messengers who had been in and out of the GPO (one fearless woman reportedly up to 60 times that week) and those who were helping out in the kitchens. They left very reluctantly under orders.
Before they left the women took messages from the other Volunteers to bring to their families and loved ones which further endangered them carrying them on their person. The messages were not final goodbyes, more reassurances that all would be well, though some of the Volunteers gave these women their last wills and testaments.
Many of the GPO garrison had received absolution the night before in preparation for the worst. Tom Byrne had given Lucy a watch and some money for safekeeping as he had been deployed to Liffey Street the day before.Patrick Pearse made an impassioned speech and thanked this first group of women to leave the GPO for their unwavering commitment and service to the Volunteers during the week. Then Sean MacDiarmada and Patrick Pearse shook hands with each of them. They hurriedly left through the GPO's Henry Street exit as the Princes Street exit was blocked off at that time on James Connolly’s orders.
Fr. John Flanagan, who had bravely come from the Pro-Cathedral through the battlefield was ministering to the wounded and dying Volunteers in the GPO, had advised the women to go to Jervis Street to seek sanctuary and succour.
It must be remembered they were out in the warzone and they needed to remain undetected as they were carrying incriminating evidence, so they did not want to be identified as members of Cumann na mBan and were not wearing uniforms as far as I am aware and removed any badges or anything that might identify them as Cumann na mBan.
Leslie Price brought them down Henry Street to Jervis Street Hospital but it was full to overflowing. This was the main Dublin hospital and was inundated with casualties and refugees. There was a lot of activity and sniper fire in the vicinity as well.
The women were not permitted to remain there and a nun gave directions to Leslie and the group marched on to Capel Street, carrying a Red Cross flag to avoid been shot at.
Luckily, for the most part, the British Military did not take them seriously or at least had not up to that point as their activities fell way out of range of the feminine ideals expected of them at the time.
The idea of armed women would not have crossed their minds and many of these women carried revolvers, but my grandmother did.
One of the women in this group mentions how they were verbally abused and called ‘all sorts of names’ by other women standing in their doorways as they made their way along Parnell Street and Summerhill.
This group did not have wounded men with them - the wounded Volunteers had remained with the nursing contingent in the GPO.
(Above): The Coliseum Theatre Program
The women who were headed for home were held up by the British Military and sent to Broadstone Station for interrogation. Many were later detained or imprisoned and later released.
After this group left the General Post Office, Thomas Clarke, Sean MacDiarmada, Joseph Plunkett, Patrick Pearse and The O’Rahilly gathered around the bed of the wounded James Connolly to prepare a plan of evacuation from the burning buildings for the garrison including the remaining women and the wounded.
James Connolly ordered that his bed be positioned close to the main entrance in the GPO under the portico, from which the fiercest assault from the enemy was expected.
(Above): James Connolly’s Instructions to Volunteers which formed part of the evacuation route.
Lucy's Cumann na mBan Original First Aid Certificate ‘as Gaeilge’. It was lucky that this precious document survived. It reads: "Luiseach Uí Gabhainn (Lucy Smyth) attended a series of lectures on first aid for the wounded, she was examined in that knowledge, and was successful. Therefore, she is inducted as an aid group member". It is signed by: Lecturer: Sean Doyle, President: Mrs. Kathleen Clarke, Examiner: Donal Crowley, Vice-President: Liz Ryan,Secretary: Lesley Price.
(Above): Lucy Smyth's bloodstained armband that she wore through the battlefield and in the GPO.
At this stage the ceiling of the GPO was crumbling, the heat was intense and burning embers scattered from the nearby buildings.
The Imperial Hotel and Clerys and many of the smaller outposts had been gutted by fire. A few of the Volunteers who had been sniping on the roof and had spent days up there warding off the enemy and protecting the building were ordered down.
There was no hope of dousing the uncontrollable flames in spite of the Volunteers and women’s frantic efforts filling buckets and bathtubs with water and barricading windows. It was a race against time.
“Incendiary bombs had now landed on the sagging roof of the blazing building which was on the verge of collapse. Burning fragments and smashing glass were crushing through the curling flames onto the cinder-smouldering floor. The shaft descending to the crammed ammunitions cellar, would ignite at any moment”. (Seamus Scully)
(Above): Lucy Smyth's Military Pension Application File in her own words. She was asked for particulars of any military operations or engagements or services rendered during the Easter Week to which she answered ... “I then remained until the surrender when I went with other members of the nursing staff to Jervis Street”
At about 6:30pm that evening Commandant Joseph Plunkett gave the firm order to get the wounded men ready to evacuate headquarters immediately. James Connolly although in agonising pain refused to go to Jervis Street Hospital and said he would ‘remain with his men to the last’. He had been shot in the leg during a reconnaissance mission in the regions of Abbey Street and had crawled back through Williams Lane to Princes Street, out of the battlefield fire to the safer sanctuary of the GPO the day before.
He apparently had quipped later to Elizabeth and Julia and said ‘when I was lying there on the laneway I thought how many times have you two gone up and down that laneway and nothing ever happened to ye’ or words to that effect.
Indeed that very laneway ‘Williams Lane’ became hugely significant to the other group of women and the wounded.
The prisoner British Medical Doctor Officer RAMC George O’Mahony from Cork had attended to his wound as best he could. My Grandmother with the other nurses tended James Connolly too. This was the extent of my mother's knowledge of her mother’s revolutionary activities during Easter Week as the Volunteers as a rule did not talk about it. Having researched the story I can understand why.
Of the remainder of the women left they were mainly nurses as had been requested to stay and a few kitchen staff who had stubbornly refused to leave.
Louise Gaven Duffy was in charge of the Cumann na mBan in the GPO and she remained with Peggy Downey in the kitchens working away feeding the troops and prisoners.
Patrick Pearse had said on the Thursday that he did not think he had any right to prevent anybody taking part in the Rebellion who wanted to stay. He knew how valuable these women were with their kitchen and nursing and first aid skills and by this stage there were many casualties who had to be attended to.
The plan was to evacuate the wounded men along with the remaining nursing contingent and kitchen staff first before the main garrison. The cellars were deemed not a suitable place of safety as they led out into an enclosed area. The filthy sewers were not a realistic escape route either.
Diarmuid Lynch and Harry Boland (perhaps) were frantically removing bombs and arsenal from the cellars to prevent further explosions as the munitions factory was there.
Prisoners had also been moved to the basement prior to the fires encroaching. At this stage one of the women remarked she thought they would all be burned alive like trapped rats. All in all, after the other approximately 20 women left about 15 women remained in total.
Earlier in the week James Connolly had instructed to a group of men amongst them (thought to include the Ring Brothers) to begin to tunnel through the houses on the Henry Street side of the GPO to prepare an evacuation route out of the line of fire as on the street it was open warfare.
This group of about twelve Cumann na mBan women and the wounded would attempt to take that route carrying the wounded on stretchers from the burning GPO through this passage to safety. The other three women remained with the main garrison.
Accompanying the 12 women and the wounded were Fr John Flanagan, two medical students, Jim Ryan for a short time (who later returned to the GPO and joined the main group in Moore Street) and Dan McLoughlin, the Volunteers’ chief medical officer, John Doyle - and the British prisoner medical Dr Lieutenant R.A.C.M. George O’Mahony from Cork who had earlier assisted James Connolly when a bullet had caused injury to his leg.A group of eight armed Volunteers (some of them from the Maynooth 15) though Tom Byrne was nearby in Liffey Street on James Connolly’s orders at that stage and not part of this escort group), disguised as Red Cross helpers, escorted them through the burning warzone. They ripped the women’s red cross motifs off and put them on their own uniforms.
There were three stretcher cases and the other casualties were men who had cut fingers or sprained wrists. One man who was wounded in the stomach was carried in a sheet. On Patrick Pearse’s orders Joseph Plunkett appointed Desmond FitzGerald, who was the Commissariat at the GPO, to lead this group.
The women, the wounded, the priest, the prisoner, the armed guards and the medical staff prepared to leave.
(Above): Lucy Smyth’s Obituary
The Leaders in the GPO knew at this stage the garrison had to seek refuge and set up Headquarters nearby as a matter of urgency. There was a British armoured car nearby at Mary Street which had proceeded and then retreated after reaching nearby Arnott’s Department Store. It was agreed that the only chance of escape for the 300 plus garrison was through the adjacent Moore Street area and that they would take up headquarters there. This was a street market, where families lived and carved out their livelihoods.
Some of the women who evacuated with the wounded mentioned they did not have the impression that it was all going to end only that this group were taking up the General Headquarters of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic in the Moore Street area. This they did achieve for a short time though not without fatalities and casualties.Elizabeth O’ Farrell, Winifred Carney and Julia Grennan were a vital part of this group who went with the main garrison of Volunteers to Moore Street.
Elizabeth and Julia both had nursing skills and Winifred Carney was taking dictation to the end and always by James Connolly’s side when she was not tending others. She had been one of the first women to arrive to the GPO armed with a Remington typewriter and a Webley revolver. She was known for her good aim and her loyalty. James Connolly instructed the Volunteers to trust her as they would trust him.
The gallant O’ Rahilly was to lead the men in small groups as they escaped from the side door of the GPO into Henry Street. They made a dash from the Henry Street into Henry Place and then Moore Street under a hail of bullets. As the main garrison made their break in groups Patrick Pearse stood at the side entrance and with the flick of his sword indicated when to go.
Eventually the entire garrison made their way over. It was sheer luck whether you made it or not crossing Henry Street. Some Volunteers would perish and would be left to die on the cold and bloodied cobblestones.
The Leaders and Volunteers occupied the surrounding laneways, courtyards and cellars and out buildings tunnelling and mouse-holing through the terrace
protection of a white flag, to Brigadier General William Lowe with a request to enter into negotiations.
She later traversed the city to the other garrisons to bring news of the surrender.
Meanwhile, the nursing contingent group, when packing up to leave, took medical supplies, food and blankets not knowing whether they or their charges would reach their destination alive or not.
One of the women carried a large bottle of ether (chloroform water). They were so long waiting for the holes to be broken through the houses that some reported they were the last to leave the General Post Office. One report records it was about 7pm or 8pm before they left the Post Office.
They eventually escaped through walls that the Volunteers had burrowed through to make a tunnel through the adjacent Henry Street houses.
It was slow going but the men proceeded to break out of the GPO using pick axes, crow bars and hammers aiming to reach what they considered to be the safe haven of the new white marbled fronted Coliseum Theatre that had been manned for days by the Volunteers but had suffered the onslaught from the Parnell Street barricade at the end of Moore Street.
It was thought at one stage earlier on to make a temporary field hospital here but that idea was abandoned. Shelling and sniper fire continued at the time of this groups evacuation and they were surrounded by fire. It must have been a terrifying ordeal yet they did not falter in their mission.
Machine-guns blazed and fire raged round them. Desmond Fitzgerald and Father Flanagan showed exceptional bravery ridding the Coliseum Theatre of ammunition that had been stored there and that would most likely have blown them all to smithereens in a fraction of a second
John Doyle Chief Medical Officer, and the British prisoner medical Doctor were also of great assistance to them.
No respect was given to the Red Cross flag they carried. Bullets rattled all round, one of them taking the top off the bottle of ether one of the women carried. Luckily she was not injured nor was there an explosion.
“The group reached a building facing Moore Street and one of the girls, momentarily forgetting precautions, crossed the room in front of a window. Immediately there was a shower of bullets, fired by the British at the Parnell Street end of Moore Street where there was a barricade, and they nearly added another casualty to their list”. (Molly Reynolds, Cumann na mBan).
One of the first casualties of the Rising was a civilian nurse, Nurse Margaret Keogh, who had been shot dead in the South Dublin Union - a comrade of one of the other trained nurses, Aoife de Burca. There was no time to grieve. I am sure Aoife was thinking she would suffer a similar fate.
Meanwhile another trained nurse, Linda Kearns, who had set up a makeshift hospital and nursed both sides and who later joined the GPO Garrison was close by in the battlefield seeing if she could render assistance to any wounded Volunteers.
She had heard the O’Rahilly lay mortally wounded and had gone searching in the battlefield with a stretcher but to no avail.
She later recorded that she often wondered would the outcome been any different and how she regretted that she had been unable to help.
(Nurse Kearns went on to be very active in the War of Independence like many of the women who had had a baptism of fire in the battlefield.)
This weary and heavily-laden group made their way into the Coliseum Theatre Musical Hall.
The adjacent Waxworks museum was already on fire.
There was a sense of urgency and if they did not make haste they would be trapped and burned alive, yet the going was painstakingly slow with the wounded and in the dark and under such danger. The fire and embers were spreading rapidly.
The streets were sprayed with bullets. Transporting the wounded was laborious under these perilous conditions.
Any sounds would alert the enemy or a sniper to their existence. They often had to feel their way in the dark. They had to crawl and climb in silence to safety relying on each other as they huddled and crouched together for safety and to avoid sniper fire.
At times they were ordered to drop everything and lay on the floor during onslaughts of fire. The noise of the roar of the fires outside was deafening.
The men carried the wounded Volunteers keeping them warm and protected in blankets.
The women were still laden down with medical and food supplies not knowing what fate would befall them and if they would survive and reach their final destination.
Some of the holes they had to navigate were near the ground. It was at times necessary to cross a roof from a window in one building to a window in another portion of the buildings.
One of the men hoisted a Red Cross flag on the roof but no
respect was shown to the flag.
“Bullets began falling like rain around the building. The noise was deafening. It seemed as if bombs were being thrown by the dozen about us and we expected every moment to be our last” £Aoife de Burca).
Their armed escort had paved the way, scaling rooftops and climbing ladders to get in and out of the narrow and barred windows to what was to be a place of rest and refuge.
The Coliseum provided a little comfort and rest though a terrifying sense that at any moment might be their last. The women prepared to die by saying acts of contrition. The priest comforted them and they in turn comforted the wounded with prayers and the rosary and kindness and compassion.
They hoped to gather strength to continue with their mission to Jervis Street. They had sought refuge in The Coliseum Theatre but now it seemed their journey had come to an end such was the ferociousness of fire. They had really only travelled a very short distance.
The armed escort of Volunteers never gave up and continued to force their way to safety, burrowing, tunnelling and mouse-holing through making a safe path for their charges.
Progressing necessitated a climbing and resting, not an easy or a quick task. The wounded never complained.
I did read a report that the tunnel the Volunteers had bored earlier in the week terminated at Jervis Street, emerging in a hole in the wall in a hospital ward that was concealed by furniture but I do not think at this stage if true it was safe to use this passage. It may have been unsafe or on fire or not an option for them with the stretcher patients.
At one stage the men who were tunnelling ahead left and the women thought they would never see them again nor would they live to tell the tale.
In the dark they were ordered suddenly to lie flat on the floor, every wounded man and woman, heads and toes huddled and bundled together in the most bewildering confusion as it was a small confined space. It was pitch dark as they had been ordered to put out any candles.
The noise of gunfire was deafening. One of the girls was trying to prepare for death by saying acts of fervent contrition. Another became hysterical. What could they do? Any minute now they would be blown up. The shelling was fierce and if that didn’t get them the fires would.
“I tried to make a fervent act of contrition…but the situation was bordering on the comical as well as tragedy”. Aoife de Burca said she burst out laughing instead and was joined by another girl's laughter and soon they were all at it.
Desmond FitzGerald said “That’s right, let’s keep our spirits up though we are facing death”.
Aoife later recorded in her Bureau of Military History Statement: “That laugh did us great good and I recollect wishing not to die so I could relate it some day”
They eventually gathered up their belongings and passed along the upper balcony in the Coliseum Bar and up a wide stairs after a delay of a half an hour and made their way towards Abbey Street.
(Above): Newspaper clipping of ‘Pretty’ Lucy tending to Tom after he arrived in the GPO after his long ardous trek from Maynooth. She was also highly competent and capable as well as "pretty".
They proceeded slowly on their treacherous journey defying death and further injury as they left the Coliseum which was later burned to a cinder. It was to be a very lucky escape.
They found themselves in a yardway between the Coliseum and the G.P.O where they heard footsteps as the gates were opened. Two heads appeared over the top of the wall dividing the yards - Diarmuid Lynch and Harry
of sixteen houses on Moore Street when they reached No. 10 Moore Street.These three women were indispensable and nurtured and tended the wounded and made meals in the bloody battle that was Moore Street. Many lost their lives on all sides including civilians and children.
The heroic O’ Rahilly lead the first frontal attack on the Moore Street-Parnell Street barricade, so as to divert the British attention while the remainder of men made their to escape in groups from the blazing GPO from the Henry Street entrance. He was mortally wounded.
It was from No. 16 Moore Street that the leaders would surrender the next day.
Civilian casualties were rising and the Leaders did not want any more innocent lives lost. Indeed, children and elderly civilians were caught up in the mayhem and a child, Bridget Kane, was accidentally shot in one of the Moore Street houses.
On the Saturday when the decision was made to surrender to avoid any more loss of civilian life Elizabeth O’ Farrell was sent into the battlefield under the
Boland (perhaps) who had returned to the G.P.O. to check everyone was out safely. They joined the group for a short time and assisted them proceed out to Princes Street and to Williams Lane.
It is thought these two men then returned to the Moore Street area to the main garrison and where the battle was raging.
When the group got to Williams Lane which is only on the other side of the GPO to their horror the entrance was barricaded and on fire. They were in a very grave predicament at that point. They could not go forward and they could not go back.
In desperation and accepting their fate Fr. Flanagan began administering conditional absolution to prepare them for death. Was this to be the end of their story?
Next instalment……Trapped between two burning barricades in Williams Lane they must abandon all supplies ... but not their charges.
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