On Saturday night 22 April 1916, a tense meeting in Dublin went on into the small hours to decide whether or not the Easter Rising would go ahead. Present at that meeting were Pádraig Pearse, Tomás MacDonagh, Joseph Plunkett and Seán MacDiarmada. The fifth man present at the all-night session, Diarmuid Lynch, was the only one still alive two weeks later.
Eileen McGough, author of Diarmuid Lynch: A Forgotten Irish Patriot discussed why Lynch, a member of the Supreme Council of the IRB, has been forgotten so completely.
Lynch was at the heart of plans for the Rising and was aide-de-camp to James Connolly in the GPO. Initially sentenced to death, his sentence was commuted to ten years penal servitude because he was an American citizen. However, he was released on 16 June 1917. Immediately following his release, Lynch became active again, and along with Michael Collins and Thomas Ashe, participated in the reorganisation of the IRB. After the 1917 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, Lynch, like Collins, held three senior posts: in the IRB, Sinn Féin and in the Irish Volunteers. He was again arrested.
In 1918, Diarmaid stole two drove of pigs which he butchered and sold to local people.
The ballad, 'The Pig Push' to celebrate Diarmuid's successful Pig-napping in February 1918 was written by Cathal Mac Dubhghaill who, with Peadar Kearney, wrote and arranged The National Anthem
The original charge sheet presented to Diarmuid Lynch at his trial on May 18th., 1916, in Kilmainham Gaol, which his brother Denis smuggled out of Richmond Barracks after the trial and which Diarmuid himself presented to the Cork Public Museum in July of 1946.
He was sent to Richmond Gaol..........
The prisoners in Richmond Gaol awaiting trial smuggled notes out to relatives, they shared paper bags among them for writing materials... This letter was sent by Diarmaid Lynch to his wife on a brown paper bag.
While he was a prisoner, he got married to his sweeheart........
Note that the marriage certificate has a handwritten note added, 'marriage noted as contracted in a private place' the private place was in Dundalk Gaol on April 24th, 1918.
The marriage certificate was provided by St Patrick's parish in Dundalk in 1951 for probate following Diarmuid's death, late in 1950
This picture of the recently married couple was taken in 1918 when Kit(Kathleen Quinn) managed to rejoin Diarmuid in New York.
Lynch was elected, although still in the US, as a TD for the constituency of Cork South-East in the 1918 elections. In America he was working frenetically as the national secretary of the FOIF (Friends of Irish Freedom) organisation, but later sharp differences arose between De Valera and the FOIF about how funds raised in America should be spent.
Lynch did not take part in the Civil War but made several unsuccessful attempts to stop it.
Diarmaid Lynch – A Forgotten Irish Patriot by Eileen Gough is published by Mercier Press as part of its Irish Revolutionaries series.
Diarmaid Lynch was the first person to record witness statements from all those of the GPO garrison who were still alive.
When he was repatriated from America to Ireland in 1932, Lynch began an active programme of contacting, interviewing and recording statements from all those of the GPO garrison who were still alive.
He devised a standard form in 1935 for these witness statements, and 147 completed statements were returned during 1936–7. These are archived in the National Library.
He physically followed up on the information provided in the returned forms by meeting survivors for on-site discussions around the GPO. Having compiled a draft report, based on the statements, the resulting account was further edited and validated at a general meeting of the GPO garrison members before he completed a final draft, ‘Report on Operations, GPO Garrison Area, Easter Week, 1916’.
The breadth and thoroughness of his research is illustrated by one example out of many. It concerned the authenticity of Pearse’s valedictory letter of 28 April 1916. On this subject there was an exchange of letters during 1937 between Lynch and Molly Reynolds, Winifred Carney, Margaret Skinnider, Desmond Ryan, J.J. O’Connell and others, and then with Prof. Eoin Mac Neill in 1938. These letters are also filed at the National Library.
In November 1937 he interviewed Elizabeth O’Farrell and William O’Brien TD on the same subject.
Lynch retired to his native parish of Tracton in 1938 and in the subsequent years he continuously researched, edited and recorded various aspects of the Rising, frequently combining his efforts with those of Florence O’Donoghue, who became a firm friend.
Extensive communications between O’Donoghue and Lynch concerning the content of a series of articles that appeared in An Cosantóir during the 1940s on the subject of the signatories of the Proclamation are filed in the Cork City and County Archives. O’Donoghue was then editor of An Cosantóir and was a founder member of the Bureau of Military History, established in 1947.
Lynch’s persistent and dogged determination in accurate recording and his thoroughness in research lent impetus to the establishment of the bureau. Lynch’s unrelenting programme of research, recording and editing went on until his death in November 1950.
Despite a serious health set-back in the spring of that year, between August and October an animated exchange of letters between Lynch and Florrie O’Donoghue continued, concerning the actions of the Cork Volunteers in 1916.
As the first, persistent and painstaking researcher and recorder of the 1916 Easter Week events, Diarmuid Lynch, a member of the supreme council of the IRB and aide-de-camp to James Connolly in the GPO during Easter Week 1916, deserves recognition.