Irish HX followers will be well aware, but for the many non-Irish who read MB’s blatherings from time to time, the Irish Rising of Easter weekend, 1916, was a seminal moment in Irish history. It resulted a few years later in the War of Independence which resulted in the formation of the Irish Free State in December 1921. The 100th anniversary of the rising is almost upon us and numerous events are planned in MB’s homeland in celebration and memory.
The following is an excerpt from the statement of local man James Moloney from Ballycampion, Bruff, who was involved in republican activities during that time, and later during the War of Independence, in MB’s HX locality and surrounding areas.
The family name ‘Baring’ is mentioned in the below piece. The same family came to prominence much more recently in 1995, when the family bank in Britain, of same name, collapsed, following the wild investments of infamous employee Nick Leeson. Ironically, Nick went to live in Ireland after serving some prison time, and married an Irish girl. He was, for a few years, Treasurer of Irish soccer club Galway Utd FC.
MB is intending to post some similar excerpts from the statements of Moloney and others, leading up to the Easter commorations.
“Then came Easter Week, 1916.
Rumour and counter-rumour; the daily papers were no great help. There was no wireless. Some said Dublin was cleared of the British; the Germans had landed; ‘twas only a skirmish; Dublin was burned and so on. Finally came the sad news of the surrender. True to tradition, England, through General Maxwell, showed no pity. Morning after morning brought news of the execution of the leaders. Eventually, Maxwell showed signs of being satisfied, but the ‘Irish Independent’ in an article dated 12th May 1916, was not yet satisfied and stated, among other things, “Leniency will be interpreted as a sign of weakness”.
Of the leaders, James Connolly and Sean McDermott still remained. Instigated by the article in this newspaper which called itself Irish, they, too, were executed. The Irish people were struck dumb. All the rebels who had surrendered after a week’s fighting, except, of course, the leaders who had been executed, were prisoners in England. The whole nation was prostrate. The Irish Party in the British House of Commons had cheered at the announcement of the executions.
Just then, two priests, Fr Tomás De Bhall and Fr Micheal Hayes of West Limerick, spoke publicly in praise of the rebellion. General Maxwell wrote to Edward Thomas O’Dwyer, Bishop of Limerick, asking him to chastise his two priests. Dr. O’Dwyer’s reply was trenchant and courageous. Both Maxwell’s letter and Dr. O’Dwyer’s reply may be seen in full in “Limerick’s Fighting Story”. The reply and other letters which followed did more to awaken the sympathy of the Irish people for the rebels and the rebellion than any other such happening. We in Bruff were proud that a native of our own parish, An tAthair Tómas, had provided the spark. Sympathy turned to admiration, admiration to pride and we began to square our shoulders. Photographs of the dead leaders appeared in the shops. The mists cleared and we saw these men as the true inheritors of our nation’s struggle. We spoke with admiration of this noble effort of scarcely one thousand men. We wore mourning badges and were scoffed at by the RIC and their children. We felt we should be doing something. Gone was our allegiance to the Irish party. We looked to Seán Wall and he didn’t fail us. Secretly he had being weighing us up and he bided his time, and very early in 1917 a small group were invited to meet Con Collins – a native of West Limerick and who had fought in the rebellion, in a little clubroom at Fair View, Bruff, ostensibly to form a branch fo the Gaelic League, but we knew better.
To the best of my knowledge, those present on the occasion included Con Collins, Seán Wall, Nicholas O’Dwyer, B.E., Liam Purcell, David Cremins Denis Conway, James O’Connor, John Cremins, James Mortell, Denis Mortell, Geoffrey Mortell, Joseph Neilan, James Quirke, Martin Conway, James Moloney, and John Moroney.
About this time, the Sinn Féin organisation issued instructions that all hunting was to be prevented where possible while there were volunteers imprisoned in English jails. Seán Wall, with Denis Conway and Patrick Carroll, approached the Master of the Fox Hounds at a hunt meeting at Bruff about February 1917, and informed him of Sinn Féin’s instructions. He, (Nigel Baring, Rockbarton, Bruff) demurred but Wall stated he would use force if necessary. We had nearly seen our first test as Volunteers, but the hunt did not take place”.
Shot by MB over Christmas holiday – part of the Baring Family Estate at Rockbarton, a stone’s throw from MB’s home in HX.