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Enormous crowds attend funeral of O’Donovan Rossa

Enormous crowds attend funeral of O’Donovan Rossa

Striking nationalist demonstration in Dublin

Dublin, 1 August 1915 - The funeral of the late Fenian, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, was the occasion of one of the most striking nationalist demonstrations ever witnessed in Dublin.

Special trains brought thousands of people from all parts of Ireland, while people also travelled from England and from the United States. Amongst the throng were numerous members of the clergy and public representatives.

A notable feature of the funeral was that it was the first time since the division in their ranks that the men of the National and the Irish Volunteers were brought together as one body.

Many of these Volunteers acted as marshals, under the charge of leaders such as The O’Rahilly and Eamon de Valera.

More scenes from the day: (L) the funeral cortege makes its way through Dublin city and (R) mourners gather around the grave of the late Fenian, Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa. (Images: National Library of Ireland)

The remains of the Fenian leader had lain in state at City Hall for several days following the arrival of his coffin from New York. Before removal from the building, the coffin was covered by Tom Clarke, an old friend of the deceased. Members of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army then carried it to the hearse.

The funeral procession

The funeral procession was led by two bands, a mounted guard and accompanying the hearse were nine veteran Fenians. 

In the leading mourning coaches were the deceased’s widow Mrs. O’Donovan Rossa, his daughter Eileen O’Donovan Rossa, Countess Markievicz, Fr. Michael O’Flanagan and others. Behind them were companies of Irish Volunteers, National Volunteers, pipe bands, men carrying croppy pikes, teams of hurlers and representatives of national organisations and societies.

As well as the hundreds of thousands of spectators, 20,000 people were estimated to have taken part in the procession which passed by College Green, O’Connell Street and out the Glasnevin Road. It took several hours to pass each point on the route.

Dublin Metropolitan Police Movement of Dublin Extremists Reports 23 July 1915. Page two notes that Countess Markievicz visited Mrs O'Donovan Rossa at the Gresham Hotel. Click to view full document. (Document: National Archives of Ireland, CSO/JD/2/42)

Mr Pearse's oration

Prayers were recited at the burial by Fr. O’Flanagan, and Patrick Pearse gave an oration first in Irish and then in English.

A firing party of Irish Volunteers fired three volleys over the grave and the trumpeters of the St. James’s Street Band sounded the Last Post.

Mr. O’Donovan Rossa’s grave is near the O’Connell Circle and immediately beside the cenotaph of the Manchester Martyrs and the graves of the Fenians James Stephens, John O’Leary and Michael Barrett.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.