"I had no other ambition other than to serve the national movement"


About this Item

Denis McCullough talks to Brian Farrell about the restructuring of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the movement's role in the Easter Rising.

  • Title
    The Survivors Denis McCullough
  • Production Year
  • Contributor
    Brian Farrell (Presenter)
  • Clip Duration
  • Material Type
  • Series title
    The Survivors
  • Clip title
    "I had no other ambition other than to serve the national movement"
  • Extended description

    Denis McCullough grew up in Belfast where his parents were both separatists. At the age of 17 McCullough's father took him to a meeting of the Irish Republican Brotherhood to have him sworn in to the movement.

    He explains how he in 1915 he reluctantly became President of the IRB having been persuaded by Sean McDermott. McCullough recalls the IRB has being a tired and old organisation until his generation took it over and restructured it. He says that the IRB was key to the foundation of the Irish Volunteers because they already had a presence across the country.

    At a meeting in the Clontarf Town Hall in 1915 it was decided that a rising would have to take place before the First World War ended. Although McCullough says they were aware that there would not be widespread public support for a rising it was felt that "an armed demonstration against English occupation" must take place.

    The planning and organisation of the Easter Rising was down to the IRB. A military committee within the IRB of Connolly, Pearse, McDermott, Clarke, McDonagh, Ceannt and Plunkett were left to their own devices.   

    He is keen to emphasise that Tom Clarke was the inspiration for the rising to take place. McCullough recalls Clarke as having only one idea in his mind, the freedom of Ireland and that it should be gotten by "physical effort".

    In Belfast McCullough is anxious that due recognition it given to F.J. Biggar a Protestant who fostered and supported many nationalist movements and organisations.  

    This interview was recorded on 8 March 1965.

  • Information

    In the early 1960s Telefís Éireann (RTÉ Television) began to record interviews with individuals who had taken part in the Easter Rising and the War of Independence. These interviews were recorded under the working title of 'The Survivors' under 'a special projects' label. 

    The Survivors interviews were never broadcast as a series in themselves. Early in 1965 a group was established to plan how RTÉ would commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. A decision was taken not to broadcast the Survivors interviews as a series.

    Around 14 individuals were interviewed under the Survivors title. The first Survivors interviews were organised by Jack White and recorded at the television studios in Donnybrook on 31 August 1964. Desmond Ryan, Cathal O'Shannon and M.W. O'Reilly were interviewed by Brian Farrell.     

  • Local keywords
    IRB, Irish Republican Brotherhood, 1916, Easter 1916, Easter Rising 1916, Denis McCullough, Brian Farrell, Belfast, Sean McDermott, Tom Clarke, F.J. Biggar
  • Geographical coverage
  • Topic
    Wars and Conflict
  • Publisher Broadcaster
  • Country of production
  • Original identifier
  • IPR restrictions
    Rights Reserved - Free Access
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  • Item type
  • Item colour
    Black and White
  • Item sound
  • Aspect ratio
  • Language used
    English (eng)