"Which of you had the twins?"

From 'The Gates Flew Open' by Peadar O'Donnell (Jonathan Cape, 1932).

Paudeen O'Keeffe was a restless little man with a fine pair of eyes and a waspish tongue. He came to us first in civils and was rather accepted as part of the queer trappings in the early jail days. I don't remember him figuring in anything in 'D' wing and indeed I didn't give him any special attention in the early days in 'C'. I first noticed him the night we decided to parade all our men for count. We had got fed up keeping two men hidden for it meant considerable inconvenience. Paudeen that night came in smartly as usual- he was now wearing the uniform of a captain in the Free State Army; he counted quickly, jotted down the number and hung on his stride; two men too many was nothing serious and he probably felt he had just counted an extra file. But he went back and counted again, this time more slowly; a third time he counted, saying the numbers out loud and then he wheeled around and faced Cooney. They were rather a contrast, for Paudeen O'Keeffe is about five feet seven inches and Andy Cooney must be six foot one. 'Jasus, Cooney', Paudeen explained, 'Which of you had the twins?'

Mr Pluck at the Glenview Hotel

Padraig O Caoimh (PO'K) in conversation with Richard Mulcahy (RM) in 1964 are discussing the events surrounding the Kilcoole gun running on the morning of 2nd August 1914 (my edits as per usual).

PO'K: So we went away with Cathal (Brugha) and came to the Glenview Hotel, a man by the name of Pluck owned it at the time. I'll never forget the name, Pluck. Then it was, I'd say, a guarter to five, a guarter to five roughly, between a quarter to five and a quarter to six and Cathal told me to go up to the hotel and tell them to open up that we were going to have a drink and 'I'm going to stand the boys a drink'. I looked at him and said 'this is bloody Sunday morning, Sunday morning (laughter) you see. You won't get any drink Sunday morning.' He said 'I'll get it'. I said 'Alright I'll do what I'm told'. I went up to the hotel. Poor Pluck put his head out of the bloody window upstairs. 'We're travellers on the road and we want to get a drink' I said. 'God, bloody bastards' says he. ' I'm warning you, keep quiet, open the door and let us in' I said. 'Not for you' says he. So I turned around and went down the bloody road and I got off the bicycle and I said to Cathal 'he won't open the door, he won't open the door. For God's sake '. 'I'll make him' says Cathal 'I'll give the boys a drink'. But in any case we went up and Pluck said 'I will not you bastards, you blackguards, at this hour of the morning, I will not'.I said 'for God's sake Cathal, come on away'. So we went along.

RM: So you say that's the Kilcoole second gun running?

PO'K: Yes, Kilcoole. The first didn't occur at all because....

RM: Well now, you came along through the Scalp, to Enniskerry and did you go down very far towards Kilcoole before you met Cathal Brugha and the lads coming along?

PO'K: Oh it was a good bit. Ah it was a good bit. It was a mile from Glenview, I'd say, on the Bray side.

RM: You went along and you were going down towards the valley there, the Glen of the Downs, and before you came to Glenview you met Cathal and the men?

PO'K: Yes.

RM: And they had been coming from the Glenview?

PO'K: To the Glenview, from Kilcoole, from Kilcoole.

RM: Oh had ye been further on than the Glenview?

PO'K: Oh we had, oh yes. Oh we were a mile on the Kilcoole side, the sea side.

RM: The sea side of Glenview.

PO'K: Cathal was in charge there, in any case.

RM: Cathal was in charge. Well now, ye had passed Sean T.

PO'K: Ah, two hours before, or three.

RM: So Sean T. was not in charge of the landing of the arms at Kilcoole?

PO'K: Ah, I'm not going to say that. I'm not, but I'm bloody sure that he was far away (laughter).

RM: Who did you say was with him? Diarmuid O'Laoire?

PO'K: Diarmuid O'Laoire of Hawkins. You don't know him?

RM: Was Diarmuid a member of the Keating Branch?

PO'K: He was. His father was a Kerryman.

RM: I see, yes. Did he do any writing?

PO'K: No, never wrote a line in his life, no more than myself.


to be continued......................................

I Used To Believe In Fairies

Padraig O Caoimh (PO'K) in conversation with Richard Mulcahy (RM) in 1964 continued (my edits).

PO'K: Sean MacDermott asked me to to go to Dundrum Village on my bicycle (July/August 1914) without a gun or anything and meet two fellows there and tell me them that a ship is coming in with the guns tonight. So I went out on the bike and I was there on time of course and who should be there lying on the bloody side of the road with his bicycle but Jack Larkin a plumber from Dorset Street. I went on further, about a mile, to Lamb Doyle's and who should be lying there but Greg Murphy with his bicycle. They were two IRB men and I knew them well. I said that I was going to the Scalp. In any case my job was to meet De Valera and Liam Mellows in a field by the side of the Scalp. MacDermott's message to me was to tell them that the gun running was off, that the ship was not coming in that evening or night and we'll let them know later on. (It was the following night). So when they were coming I saw Dev in Mellows motor bicycle in the side car. Dev said to me, and I'll never forget what Dev said to me 'we'll be always this way for poor Ireland'. Well I don't know about that but that's the message anyway and to watch Dundrum and Rathfarnham barracks and that's my instructions for you as well.

RM: Was this referring to the German ship?

PO'K: Yes the second ship now, the second one not the first one (Asgard?).

RM: This was Kilcoole?

PO'K: Yes, yes. well we went to Kilcoole.

RM: Wasn't it Sean T. who was supposed to be in charge of the operation?

PO'K: No. In any case I went along and unfortunately at the time I used to believe in fairies, like in the country and it was bloody dark. It was half past twelve and I was by myself and only the bloody old bicycle and there was a stream running there and I was kind of half in dread and there wasn't a bloody sound between the Scalp and Kilcoole- a wild part of the country. Who should come along but Sean T. and Diarmuid O'Laoire and I held them up. Poor Sean T., do you see, 'where are you going' I said. It was only a joke. He said he had to go on further. But in any case I said goodnight and they went away. Well the day dawned and I was glad to see it. So I got on the bicycle and scooted around and who should I see coming along but Cathal Brugha, Sean Fitzgibbon, Dinny O'Callaghan and about 15 others.

to be continued...........


Full Bloody Private

Padraig O Caoimh (PO'K) in conversation with Richard Mulcahy (RM) in 1964 continued (my edits).

PO'K: But it was I who took the thing over to the Independent and they never gave me the bloody Iron Cross or anything else.

RM: You warned the Independent keep open for..

PO'K: No I didn't warn them.

RM: Who brought over the final message?

PO'K: Eoin MacNeill on his own bicycle.

RM: Oh did he?

PO'K: He did. Eoin MacNeill, nobody else. Eoin himself and he was there in time. Because when he was going I warned him.

RM: And he cycled over from Dr. O'Kelly's?

PO'K: He did. He cycled over from Dr. O'Kelly's. That's definite history and accurate history.Yes, of course there were a good many more in O'Kelly's house that night.

RM: You didn't stay to hear the discussion between Cathal Brugha and the rest of them after you...?

PO'K: I got sick of it. You know your wife was there (Min Ryan). Who else was there? Min Ryan was there. She was bloody well there and her sister, Mrs O'Kelly (Phyllis). She was there too.

RM: Was Michael Hayes there?

PO'K: Not that I know. Not that I know. Of course there was a big crowd there and between the thing I was doing, do you see, coming in and out, they'd be gone in the meantime. Sean T. was there definitely for a bit.

RM: Well now, you were a 3rd Battalion man?

PO'K: Yes.

RM: And while Cathal Brugha was your O.C. in the IRB circle, he belonged to the 4th Ballalion?

PO'K: Yes, he was.

RM: Now, what rank did you hold in the 3rd Battalion?

PO'K: Me? Oh, full bloody private.

RM: In what company?

PO'K: No company at all because you see we were warned off. Do you see Sean Hayes and Paddy O'Connor and myself and all the civil servants and Maurice Collins, were warned to leave the Volunteers, were warned by the British Government.

RM: Oh, by the British Government?

PO'K: By the Post Office Secretary.

RM: They warned me.

PO'K: Did they?

RM: Oh yes.

PO'K: Ah go away.

RM: Oh sure. I was working under a British soldier as a clerk in the engineering department, under Lt. Benton. I was marching the streets of Dublin in uniform and coming in from Sutton on a Sunday, all the time. However, we won't cut across that. So you were an unattached Volunteer?

PO'K: Unattached.

RM: So who ordered you to come out in the Rising?

PO'K: Who ordered me to come out in the Rising? Nobody.

RM: Except when you got the tip from Paddy Gleeson you were brought into the vortex of conversation and discussion and action.

PO'K: Yes and I went in volunteering with Sean Hayes after a long discussion.

RM: You went in with Sean Hayes to Gleeson's shop that particular night in Holy Week to obey some Volunteer. What put it into your head? Was it the fact that you were going to have some maneuvering? Did you know that you were going to have some maneuvers?

PO'K: We were going to have maneuvers. But of course, I had it in the back of my head, I knew they were going to strike. Because MacDermottsaid it to me when I said so and so. You know he's dead now. I was a great pal of MacDermott's.

RM: Where used you meet or associate with McDermott?

PO'K: 12 D'Olier Street.

RM: 12 D'Olier Street?

PO'K: Yes and we used often go into the Ship.

RM: Now, 12 D'Olier Street was the office of Irish Freedom was it? Or what else was it?

PO'K: Griffith had an office there for a bit, a part of it.

RM: In 12 D'Olier Street?

PO'K: Oh he had yes.

RM: So Griffith and MacDermott under the one roof at that critical time?

PO'K: One upstairs and one downstairs.

RM: Is that so?

PO'K: Oh yes. Oh definitely. Oh yes.

RM: MacDermott was downstairs and Griffith was upstairs?

PO'K: Oh yes. And there were two artists there too from Northern Ireland and they were terrible. They did a lot of painting. Jack Morrow was one. But MacDermott started taking me on that time. I'd nearly be always off. I worked from seven in the morning until one or two and then I'd be always off and you could always change it you see. You'd be a month off, you'd be a month on at night from half eleven until half past six in the morning in the post office, the section I was in at Amien's Street. Well a lot of fellows would swop. Mick Sullivan would do my duty and I'd do his you see. I was meeting MacDermott and this Friday or Saturday I met him and he said 'Paddy where will you be tomorrow?'.

to be continued........


The Ship and the Aud

Padraig O Caoimh (PO'K) in conversation with Richard Mulcahy (RM) in 1964 continued from previous blogs (my edits as usual).

PO'K: Well now, the night before, as I said to you often, and you know we were working in the post office, Sean Hayes and myself and Paddy O'Connor. Paddy was killed in O'Connell Street in the Rising. But in any case we used to meet in the Ship (5 Lower Abbey Street), in little groups, three or four you know. Griffith was there, O'Leary and Curtis, Con Collins and Sean Hayes and Paddy O'Connor.

RM: Was this Friday night or Saturday night?

PO'K: This was Friday night and we were inside the Ship and of course you know it was a calm atmosphere but to me and the others it was electric. There was a kind of excitement and there was Griffith, Curtis, O'Leary there, but we didn't go near them at all of course, but this man came in, O'Sullivan from Listowel, Kerry man, very able journalist he was, he was a mad irregular after, I had him in the bloody Joy (Mountjoy Jail) after in the Civil War. I was terribly sorry for him. He was mad of course, but however he says 'I want to see Piaras Beaslai'. So I said 'I don't think he's in, I don't think he's in yet'. So I went in and looked around and I went into the back and I asked one of the porters there and he wasn't there. So I came back to him and I said he's not, definitely not, not at all. But he said 'you'll do'. I looked at him and he said 'I've something important to tell you' . 'But this is the bloody wrong place' I said 'for you to tell me anything like that because you see the three bloody jail men (police/RIC) across the road, they're never out of that place' I said. 'I know that' he said. 'Well come on' I said, 'I'll go in and then go out and I'll get my hat and put it on my head and come on now we'll be talking about something'. And we went down a good bit for about five minutes and we came back and he told me a story. 'What I want to tell Beaslai is this. We have a wire inside from Tralee that a ship is gone down sunk'.

RM: A what?

PO'K: 'A ship with arms for the Volunteers' (the Aud). With words to that effect, now, of course what I'm saying, you know, is from memory and I'm not dead accurate sometimes. 'But God' says I 'is that a fact' ? 'Oh it is' says he 'it is a fact and there was an army officer in uniform in the office some time between five and six o'clock and warned us and this fellow seemed to be a big noise and he stated that under no condition must anything be published, anything at all about it going down and tell that to the editor. Well I got my job done now and I've done it and what will I do now'? I said to him that Beaslai was sick. So I went over to Griffith and said that I wanted to talk to him for a bit. I whispered 'come on now we'll go out, we'll go up to O'Connell Street'. In O'Connell Streetsaid 'I want to tell you something. There's a ship with arms gone down on the coast of Kerry and that's all I can tell you, I know no more. I'm not well up on the ranks at all but that's what I've been told by a journalist who said he knew him'. So he said 'thanks very much' and he got very excited and he went back to O'Leary, Curtis and the others.

RM: He went back?

PO'K; Oh yes, he went back into the Ship. But Sean Hayes and i went home in any case. He went to his digs and I went home. Now that's that.

to be continued......................................................

Hold the bloody paper

Padraig O Caoimh (POK) in conversation with Richard Mulcahy (RM) in 1964 (my edits).

POK: At the Saturday night meeting MacNeill said to me, said to the meeting, "we have to put a notice in the papers calling off the Rising".

RM: That was before you went off with the note to deliver to de Valera?

POK: Oh yes, a long time before. But in any case I said I've the bike and of course I was young at the time and I was a fairly decent cyclist and I took out the bloody bicycle and I went over into the Independent office, the Sunday Independent office, in Middle Abbey Street and the man that was there in charge that night was Cogley, Jack Lynch was sick, Jack Lynch was a Corkman, he had a lisp, you don't know him at all?

RM: Fred Cogley of Wexford?

POK: Yes. He was acting that night and of course he knew me, do you see, I knew him. They were very friendly, a lot of the journalists...

RM: Cogley must to have been an IRB man?

POK: Was he?

RM: He must have been.

POK: But, however, to make it short, I told him the story. "Well" says he "I'm only acting because Lynch is sick. Up to the last minute I'll do everything for you, but I must have it at three am. My printers will go to work. They are ready, but the machine must be set off at three o'clock and If I haven't it... now that's your business", or words to that effect.

RM: So you went down to tell him just to hold....

POK: To hold.

RM: To hold.

POK: To hold the bloody, to hold the bloody paper. That's definite, clear and distinct and he said " I'll do that but it must be here at three o'clock". So I went back and I told Eoin MacNeill at the meeting in Kelly's house. I told him what happened and that. They all knew Cogley of course. " Well now", I said " he must have it at three and I'm going home. My job is done". On the Saturday night/ Sunday morning I left them. I came home and went to bed and went to Holy Communion in the morning and that's the story now.

RM: Well now, had you any contact during that time with de Valera, with Mick Hayes or with Tom Kelly?

POK: No.

RM: Had you not?

POK: No.

RM: I see. And you never met de Valera in the whole of that business?

POK: Never a bit, because Simon Donnelly took the dispatches.

RM: Yes, yes, yes.

to be continued..............


I was sent across to Clery's

continuing from previous blogs, Padraig O Caoimh (POK) in conversation with Richard Mulcahy (RM) in 1964 (my edits).

POK: Sean Hayes came into me, late in the evening (Easter Sunday), about five or six o'clock and he said 'what are you going to do?' and I said 'I don't know what the hell I'm going to do to tell you the God's honest truth. I don't know what to do because they are divided. We have no bloody ammunition but we have arms.' So, in any case, we rambled down and near Stephen's Green there was a lot of shooting and we came back in to see Cait again and we had a discussion there where to go. In any case we decided to go to the Post Office and Sean and I went down to the bloody Post Office with our two guns. He was kept in the Post Office and I was sent across to Clery's (the Imperial Hotel).

Looking for Dev

Padraig O Caoimh (POK) in conversation with Richard Mulcahy (RM) in 1964 continued (my edits),

POK: Back at 53 Rathgar Road they got into it the whole bloody lot of them (to go ahead with the Rising or not), MacNeill himself and Griffith and Sean Fitzgibbon and Gleeson and I said nothing. So I said to Gleeson "I've been at confession and I'm going to Holy Communion in the morning". I didn't know what I was going to do at all, but I said to myself, I better go home, it's getting late. We were then living in Lower Camden Street. Before I went Eoin MacNeill asked me to deliver a letter, poor Eoin, to Dev." I will of course, says I, but not tonight, I'll deal with it first thing in the morning, I'll deliver it before ten o'clock". So I knew where de Valera was living, do you see, it was 33 Morehampton Terrace, if I don't make a hell of a mistake, 33 Morehampton Terrace off Morehampton Road and I went over and Sinead had two of the children in her arms, and she seemed to be excited, and says she to me, and she's not an excitable woman, she's very level-headed, I haven't seen her for years, but I said "where's the captain, the commandant" or whatever I called him. "Not here" says she "but is he dead?" "Oh not yet" says I. (laughter). "So, I have a dispatch here for him" I said and she said "I couldn't tell you where he is, he wouldn't tell me and I'm glad he didn't because if anyone called, do you see, I could always tell the truth but if you try Flanagans of Lower Baggot Street". Thanks and I left her there, slan leat, got on the bicycle and right across the bloody hotel there in St. Stephen's Green..

RM: The Shelbourne?

POK: The Shelbourne. Who should be coming down, going like bloody hell, but Simon Donnelly. I got off the bicycle. "Hello Simon" says I "you're the very man I want to see. Where's de Valera? That's what I want to know". Says he "I think I know where he is, but I'm not sure". "I have a dispatch here for him". "Oh I'll save you that, I have to get to him in any case and I'll do that for you". So that was all right. I came home.

RM: Did you give the letter to Simon?

POK: Oh to Simon, yes.

RM: And you came home to Camden Street?

POK: I came home to Camden Street on the bloody bicycle and I had an appointment with Cuffe, after dinner, and we went for a walk out as far as Churchtown, the golf club there and we heard shooting and I said to Cuffe "tis on, we better go back".

RM: This was the Sunday morning was it? (April 23rd, 1916).

POK: This was the Sunday morning now. Ah now I'd say it would be about twelve o'clock, maybe between roughly twelve and one, I'd say. However, we came back and so it was, it was on.

to be continued.........................................

Where is Cathal Brugha?

Padraig O Caoimh (POK) in conversation with Richard Mulcahy (RM) in 1964 continued (my edits).

POK: So I came home and told Cait, Lord have mercy on her, they are all gone now. "I won't be in until eleven, I have a latch key and you go to bed and the children"- they were very young. So, she never asked any questions of course. And I cycled up to 53 Rathgar Road, near the chapel there, I could walk to it. Dr. O'Kelly, he was a Belfast man, a nice little man. I went down the steps into the room and there was Eoin MacNeill at the table and Sean Fitzgibbon and Jimmy O'Connor and a lot of others and Gleeson came in at maybe 10 o'clock and he was over there in the sofa, do you see, and they were arguing the toss and Griffith was standing there, do you see, he wasn't sitting, didn't he sneeze into the fender and they were talking. After a bit I said, I was getting fed up with it, "surely to God we are all of the same mind on it. Where is Cathal Brugha?" Do you see? "Where is Cathal Brugha? Surely to God, he'll have a say in it too?" Well MacNeill said "I sent for him and he wouldn't come". "Well I'll bloody well get him! I'll bloody well get him" I said. So I put out my bicycle and however, 'tis only across the road you know from the Rathgar Church, up Frankfort Avenue and you turn to your right and it was the corner house there, you know where it was, Fitzwilliam Terrace (5 Fitzwilliam Terrace, Upper Rathmines Road) and it was then eleven o'clock, or half eleven, and I knocked on the bloody door and the house was dead of course, he was in bed, and who should come down but the sister in law, what was their maiden name?

RM: Kingston.

POK: Kingston is right. Kingston. And I said I want to see Mr. Brugha. "He's up in bed". "Tell him that Paddy O'Keeffe is here and I want to see him". She said "come in". And she brought me into the sitting room and Cathal came down in his dressing gown. And I looked at him. "Tis in bed you are and the Rebellion going on, do you see". Says he "who told you that?". Oh, I said "that's my business" right away. (laughter). I knew very well what he was up to , do you see. "That's my business" I said, "but" I said "they're putting it on and off, they don't know what the hell they are doing, they don't know themselves and I don't know what I'm doing either. But you are my commanding officer and I'd like you to be present". You see he was the head of the circle, do you see, at the time.

RM: He was head of the IRB circle?

POK: In our circle he was, he was. Oh he was. So of course we were great personal friends. We were going out for years to Bodenstown on the bike, nine or ten of us, but in different groups you see, we divide into three or four. But, however, it was a day out. But in any case, he looked at me and he said "I'll be down to you in a few minutes" and he dressed and he pulled out the bicycle and I told him where the house was and he said he knew it. He was a divil of a cyclist and he cycled before me.

to be continued...................................... 

Will I bring my gun?

Padraig O Caoimh (POK) in conversation with Richard Mulcahy (RM) in 1964 continued (my edits).

POK: Well of course Gleeson, Paddy Gleeson, had his ear to the ground. He met all kinds of people, do you see, and he was a businessman, of course, I being a civil servant, I only met a few. (Gleeson's drapers, 11 Upper O'Connell Street). But in any case, there was a man by the name of Sean Hayes, he was a TD afterwards for West Cork and Mick (Collins) was for South East. But he was a civil servant (in 1916) and he was a quiet, easy-going man and said very little, but he was a very deep thinking man and he lived in 77 Heytesbury Street, I'll never forget the address, a very decent landlady there and he was very happy. I was living in 21 Lower Camden Street at the time. So we were going to work together at that time on Saturday (22nd. April 1916). We had to work on Saturday from half-past four until half-past eight, broken time, but in any case I said to him 'when I'm finished tonight I'm going to Gleeson's, I want to get a belt or a buckle, I want something small' and we went in to work. I was in to Gleeson's first that night and I was talking to...there was a fellow in Gleeson's by the name of..my God I haven't his name but he had a very bald head. You don't remember him at all in Gleeson's? He'd divil a hair at all on his head and I was looking at him and I said to him 'where is Gleeson?'  'Oh', says he, 'at confession in Marlborough Street'. That was enough for me, you know bloody well where he was. What the hell was his name? Sean Hayes arrived and he was getting his stuff and I had mine got and put it in my pocket you see and paid for it. Dick! Dick was his name. I'll get his other name later on. However, who should come in, in a terrible bloody state, this is what you want to know, but Griffith. Griffith used to deal in Gleeson's, of course, naturally, do you see. He didn't take any notice of us. Sean and I were here and he was over there talking to Dick and he said to Dick ' where is Mr. Gleeson?' And Dick says 'he's over in the chapel at confession'. Griffith got a bit flurried. He had him, do you see (laughter).  So he saw me then. He came up to me and said' goodnight Paddy' whatever he said 'goodnight, could you be in O'Kelly's house in Rathgar Road, between 8 and nine, or as soon as you can?' (Dr Seamus O'Kelly, 53 Rathgar Road). 'Well I could be there at half-past eight' I said, 'will I bring my gun?' (laughter). Well he looked at me, do you see, that's what I said , true as God 'will I bring my gun?' 'Oh no' says he ''no, no, no, no'. Well I came home and I told Cait.

to be continued..................

Oh begob, that's a long one!

Padraig O Caoimh (POK) in conversation with Richard Mulcahy (RM) in 1964 continued (my edits).

RM: Now, when did you, how did you get into the Volunteers?

POK: How did I get into the Volunteers? The day that there was a meeting below in York Street (in 1914).

RM: In York Street?

POK: Yes. I went to 41 York Street.

RM: What meeting was in York Street?

POK: There was a meeting of the South, the Southern Volunteers there do you see and they called a meeting for us to join and Sean Fitzgibbon was in it and Simon Donnelly and who else was there? Oh, the lads from Donnybrook were there, de Valera was there and that was the 3rd Battalion. That's the night I joined. Well it was changed from that then up to a slaughter yard that Simon Donnelly got at the back of the butcher's shop in Camden Street, at Long Lane, I think they call it. We drilled there for 3 or 4 months. Of course we used to go to Larkfield in Kimmage on a Saturday. Con Collins and I were off shooting.

RM: So Con belonged to the 3rd Battalion, although he lived over on the North Circular Road.

POK: He lived on the NCR with Mrs. Dunne.

RM: With Sean MacDermott?

POK: That's right.

RM: Well now. How did ye get into the Rising? When did you hear there was going to be a Rising and what exactly did you do about it?

POK: Oh begob, that's a long one!

RM: Is it?

POK: That's a long one! (laughter).


to be continued.............

Anti-Griffith Section

Padraig O Caoimh (POK) in conversation with Richard Mulcahy (RM) in 1964 (my edits).

POK: John Rooney was in Frongoch camp of course and Boland, a bodymaker too and I think he was working in Cork. He was no relation to the Bolands you and I know. He had the same profession or trade as Rooney. A tall man with reddish hair. He was anti-Griffith too.

RM: Who would be the people in the IRB now in that particular time who would be of that mentality?

POK: Well, I'll tell you who. The bloody ringleader was P.S. O'Hegarty. He came from London to meetings. Dinny McCullough, P.S. O'Hegarty, Bulmer Hobson. A man by the name of Kenny of Galway. He was a blacksmith. From that it started then you see. And that went up to until Mick Collins came along in 1917.

RM: Hold on. We are pre-Rising now. P.S.O'Hegarty wrote for the United Irishman on arms etc., the necessity for political force and that and while he was writing for that was he so much anti-Griffith that he would be prepared to tolerate the tearing down of Rooney's photograph?

POK: Oh undoubtedly! No doubt about it. Oh without a doubt. Oh God yes. Oh undoubtedly!

RM: At that time did you have any connection with Sean O'Hegarty, the brother?

POK: No. I didn't know him. In 1910 he was in Cobh in the post office.

RM: But now, in the meantime while this anti-Griffith racket was going along, you were a member of of the IRB in Dublin.

POK: I was.

RM: And you went to your weekly meetings, your monthly meeting, and am I right in saying that until the Volunteers were formed that it was a monthly roll-call where you paid your shilling before you went to your Gaelic League classes, or to your pub, and it never lasted more than a quarter of an hour,?

POK? Well it would be half an hour , roughly.

RM: And you never got any subjects to discuss, or advice, or argument, or anything and you accepted the political situation for what it was.

POK: The man who came to see us, he was manager of White's, he was a Protestant, he wore a whisker. He was a Wicklow man. Oh what was his name? Sure I knew him well. I don't say he was terribly brainy or anything like that.

RM: Well now, in the meantime then you were still meeting in 41 (York Street?) and you may have gone from the basement upstairs a bit?

POK: Sometimes.

RM: Well were you still drilling?

POK: We didn't start drilling I'd say until 1911 or 12. I wouldn't be sure of that now. But certain enough we were drilling in 1912. 

to be continued...........

Kings, Lords and Commons

Padraig O Caoimh in conversation with Richard Mulcahy in 1964 at 3 Leinster Road, Rathmines, our family home (my edits).

Dick Mulcahy asks my grandfather what he was doing in Sinn Fein ( and the IRB?)  up to around 1912.

'We started drilling in a basement and Con Colbert, Lord have mercy on him, drilled us in 1912. Up to 1908 we had meetings with a chairman and there was a collection of a shilling then you see. There was a roll call and "have you any recruits? And if you haven't any recruits, what the hell are you doing? Why don't you get recruits?" And that went on until 1912 and then we started drilling. I attended the meetings. There was Con Collins and Jimmy Mac. They are both dead. We had Sinn Fein then in 11 Lower O'Connell Street and there was still work being done there, people reading papers and gaining recruits and they had no connection with the IRB at all because Griffith was blackballed by the IRB. Dinny McCullough will tell you all that and Cathal O'Shannon. We had Irish classes and Con Collins was teaching a class and Tadhg Scallon, who's alive yet, and one Saturday we were doing the Irish classes and a man by the name of Boland and a man by the name of Jack Rooney, do you know a brother of Willie Rooney's? I knew his brother Paddy, a forester. He cleared to America with Mary Quinn. Jack was a bodymaker in Corrigans in Camden Street, same as his father. At about 5 o clock these two gougers came in and nobody would believe it now but a man who was there and there was a photograph of Willie Rooney, Lord have mercy, a lovely one, and they came in. I wasn't teaching, I was walking around the room doing something else. Rooney took it off and he brought it out to the landing and he hit it down against the banisters and smashed it. "You can take that now, with your kings, lords and commons". The full brother of Willie Rooney took down his photograph off the Sinn Fein walls and smashed it. Mick Foley gave us the room. We paid so much a week for it. That was the start of the split between Griffith and the others. Put that down there, now, that would be 1908 or 1909. So I reported it to Griffith the next time I met him, but he smiled and said nothing. I was young at that time and I didn't know much'.  

Reading the United Irishman

Padraig O Caoimh in conversation with Richard Mulcahy in 1964 (my edits).

'In 1899 I was going to school and one of the teachers read the United Irishman. That's how I started. About 20 copies were sold in Cullen, a little village 4 miles from Millstreet, Co. Cork, at that time. There was a football club and a hurling club in the district so there was nothing else to do but read the United Irishman. There was a good Irish class in Cullen and another in Millstreet. Of course they were half native speakers you know. At that time it was a half Irish speaking district. A man named Sean the Bard was the boss man in the IRB at that time. He lived between Millstreet and Macroon. Also, O'Riordan was involved. He was born an IRB man, I'd say. There was always a sprinkling of the IRB and the Fenians in the district.  I went to London in 1901 and got involved with the IRB there. Mick Collins came 8 years after. I went to London and worked in the post office. I came to Dublin to work in the GPO in 1903. I was doing nothing as an IRB man between 1901 and 1908 except go to monthly meetings and collect the shilling from new recruits.'

to be continued..................

Bank robbery 1919

Padraig O Caoimh in conversation with his friend Richard Mulcahy in 1964 (my edits):

'Do you remember when there was a bank robbery in November 1919? The two banks, that's my place you know, my brother's farm is there on the roadside- but in any case, the Munster and Leinster and the National Bank were bringing money to the Knocknagree Fair, which is eight miles from Millstreet, but they are all in the County Cork and they were going on the main road and they came to a certain crossing. They turned right to go in to the fair with the money- there was no law and order between yourselves and Mick Collins and the rest of the lads- these fellows robbed them and there was a terrible hullabaloo I needn't tell you. There was no bloody fair. The farmers were going mad. Canon Breen- there were three Breens in it, Fr. Joe Breen in Millstreet, one was treaty and the others were irregular, of course you know Kate Breen well?  Canon Breen sent for Roger Kieley, son of the master, and he sent for O'Reardon and he sent for Con Meaney and he sent for Jackeen Shine- a lot of them are alive yet mind you- he said to them tell me everything you hear, give it to me and tell nobody and keep your ears to the ground. That was November (1919). March was Fair Day in Millstreet- it's a big Fair Day for five hundred years or more. Great horse country before the motor- I remember when the motor bike came in of course. There were four fellows in a pub in Millstreet in the evening between seven and eight o clock roughly and one fellow said he only got £1000 and another fellow said he only got £500 and that was all right and Roger was listening. He went out and he brought another fellow in with him and they had a drink- the other fellow was from Cullen. They reported that evening about nine o clock to Fr Breen in the presbytery - the old parish priest there was O'Laoire, he was eighty bloody years old and he wasn't able to do anything- the Canon was doing everything. However, they watched themand one night didn't they arrest the whole damn lot of them, the five of them and brought them down to Jackeen Tarrant's house and tried them. They were told to leave the country at once. There was one fellow- he was a local fellow, Buckley but he joined the British army- he came back and they sent him away again. They sent him down to Cobh and put him on the boat, but he came back in any case and they took him and court martialled him and Canon Breen heard his confession and they shot him, they executed him. They got the money, but £500/£600 missing and Liam Lynch came up here with the Canon and he sent a message to me at No.6 (Harcourt Street, Sinn Fein HQ) and I went over to see him and he said what do you think we are up here with the money and the banks won't take it, he said. The man who will handle that is Mick Collins, I said, we will have nothing to do with that at all, I said. God help you in every way, but he gave the money to Mick Collins'.  

The busy Bean

Mrs Wyse Power, in a letter to her brother-in-law Patrick O'Keeffe who was in Usk prison in late 2018, stated in veiled language, that she had been re-elected as Sinn Fein treasurer to 6 Harcourt St., in the face of great opposition.

Extract:- "By the papers you will understand how busy I was for some days. Now about your business you will remember how last year a ticket was sent out to all the customers, from the same source another went this year to prevent the Bean minding the £.s.d. However with all their efforts in she walked again. I hear she offended many of the boys last year by not being soft enough. The old pull is there all the time against her. But on the whole the business is in a good sound state- of course Salaries had to be increased, but the Bean thought an increase of from £2 to £5 a little too much- so you will understand her lot is not a happy one, and how she got back is a miracle."

According to the Home Office Report, the "Bean" is the pseudonym under which Mrs Wyse Power is known in this correspondence.

John Wyse Nolan (Power)

Today on Bloomsday I salute my grandmother's brother, John Wyse Power, or John Wyse Nolan as he is known on 16 June 1904 in James Joyce's Ulysses. He is one of a group who visit the wine rooms of James Kavanagh during the progress of the viceregal cavalcade. He is a staunch nationalist with a hatred of the British establishment, as evidenced by his cold contemptuous stare at the viceregal cavalcade. He turns up at Barney Kiernan's with news of a meeting in the City Hall about the Irish language and expresses strong patriotic views in his conversations. 

The Usk men 1919

Letter from Arthur Griffith to his wife 11.2.1919 Extract:- "The Usk men are improved in health since they came here- and you may tell Mrs Power that Mr O'Keeffe, who was looking very delicate indeed when he hither from Usk, is now looking much stronger and is in the best of spirits. The Population of Gloucester Jail has been largely increased by arrivals in uniform from Portland and other places in the past few days and since the Lincoln episode we have had much food for amusement. Be quite assured about my health and that of my colleagues. We intend to keep it up to the full and come out as vigorous as when we came in."

The lady is a daisy

February 1919. Jail letters continued from previous blog post.

Patrick O'Keeffe corresponds with Mrs Wyse Power and his wife about recent events in Dublin.

From Mrs O'Keeffe, 4.2.1919. Extract:- "I posted you 'Sunday Chronicle'. You will see an interview with the Lady in Black (Maud Gonne). God help her if she is reduced to such straights to keep herself before the public, and of course the stage scene was not arranged before hand, oh no! They all just dropped in unawares ( i.e. W.B. Yeats, James Stephens etc.). The only person missing in the tableaux is the daughter Iseult, who by the way was a prominent figure amongst the audience at the "Dail" in the Mansion House..........By the way, what a day Madame arranged her Seance for the benefit of the Gutter Press when the poor Mayor's Mother was lying dead in Westport. Oh, she is a greater rip than I thought."

From Mrs Wyse Power, Dublin, 3.2.1919. Extract:- "I hope you saw yesterday's Sunday Chronicle with an article in it on Dubliners, starting out with the large lady- oh, she is an advertiser, but one good thing has come out of her stay in England (Holloway Jail) is that Connie and her companion have cut themselves adrift from her."

From Patrick O'Keeffe to Mrs Wyse Power, 8.2.1919. Extract:- "I tell you the lady in black is a daisy. But my opinion is the smiling Dr. is not far behind her. I know you won't agree with this but time will tell."

From Mrs O'Keeffe, 14.2.1919. Extract:-" I believe Mrs Clarke's "hauling home" is tomorrow, but it is not known if she will be able to travel so soon or no. She is to have a public breakfast in the Gresham-invitations- it will be great fun trying to keep out the "tall dark Lady"- I am urging on the bean (Mrs Wyse Power), who is more or less in charge, saying "I am sure some notable like the "smiler" will fetch her along.The bean is ready to resist so there will be some news next time. Mrs Clarke herself sees through the Tall One since they shared the same apartments in London!"

Who was the smiling Dr. / the smiler,  I wonder? 

The jail letters to be continued next blog post.

Maud Gonne and the Sinn Fein women leaders

Between July 14th 1918 and March 15th 1919, the Home Office examined about 25,000 letters sent to and from the Irish Internees in UK jails.

A report on my grandfather's correspondence stated that it had been largely concerned with the return of Mrs. Clarke to Dublin from Holloway Jail, and the refusal to permit Maud Gonne MacBride to attend the banquet given to celebrate the occasion. The women leaders of the Sinn Fein Party were apparently doing their utmost to oust Mme. MacBride from amongst them.

From Mrs O'Keeffe, Dublin, 20.2.1919. Extract:- "The Black Lady did not get beyond the Hall at the Gresham Hotel where she was turned down by- Nancy Wyse Power- Can you imagine the scene? I believe it was superb. The tall one is making a fight to the finish at present for recognition. She realizes it is now or never".

From Mrs Jennie Wyse Power, Dublin, 25.2.1919. Extract:- "Connie (Markievicz) and her fellow lodger (Mrs Clarke) had enough of the large lady when they were all in London lodgings (Holloway Jail) together, and orders now from that corner of the world are to cold shoulder her".

Letters from my grandmother and her sister-in-law, Jennie Wyse Power to my grandfather show great dislike and jealousy of Mme Gonne MacBride (The lady in black; the large lady; the tall one) to whom frequent reference is made.

For more...... read my next blog post.