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Huge crowds attend funeral of Thomas Ashe
Crowds in Glasnevin Cemetery at Thomas Ashe's funeral Photo: National Library of Ireland

Huge crowds attend funeral of Thomas Ashe

Dublin, 30 September 1917 - Up to 40,000 people attended the funeral today of the Republican Thomas Ashe, who died on 25 September at Mater Misericordiae Hospital, five hours after being admitted from Mountjoy Jail, where he had been on hunger strike.

Newspapers are reporting that the funeral was, in terms of its size, greater than anything that has been seen in more than a generation, and was unmatched in terms of public outpouring of grief. The enormous crowd would have been still greater had more special trains been permitted to enable mourners to travel from various parts of the country.

The funeral procession ran from City Hall to Glasnevin Cemetery and along the route the streets were thronged with mourners.

There were uniformed members of the Volunteers and Cumann na mBan, members of the GAA clubs wielding hurleys, members of Gaelic League branches, national school teachers, postmen and more. Many of these wore colourful costumes and uniforms and sported Sinn Féin colours.

Left: Thomas Ashe lying in state (Image: Military Press Bureau) Centre: Ashe's funeral cortege making its way through the streets of Dublin (Image: ) Right: Ashe's coffin draped in the tricolour flag arriving at its final resting place in Glasnevin Cemetery (Image: )

From the main entrance gates in the Mortuary Chapel to the graveside, the pathway was lined with young men on either side and a circle was formed by another contingent around the grave, which is situated in the Fenian plot adjacent the burial ground of John O’Leary and James Stephens, and close to the graves of O’Donovan Rossa, The O’Rahilly, and Muriel Gifford -  wife of Easter Rising leader, Thomas MacDonagh.

Around the grave where Ashe’s remains were laid there were scenes of unrestrained grief. Tears flowed freely, most notably among the relatives of the deceased, which included his father. Hundred of floral tributes and wreaths were sent from around the country and placed at the graveside.

In keeping the military-style arrangements, the Last Post was sounded and a volley of shots was fired by a party of eight Volunteers under the direction of Capt. Liam Clarke.

Vice-Commandant Michael Collins, standing at the edge of the grave, spoke. ‘Nothing additional remains to be said’, he remarked. ‘That volley which we have just heard is the only speech which it is proper to make above the grave of a dead Fenian.’

Footage of the funeral of Thomas Ashe courtesy of the Irish Film Institute via Glasnevin Cemetery Museum. 

[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.