"There Was Nothing But Confusion"

Padraic O'Broin joined the Irish Citizen Army on its formation in November 1913 but transferred to 'A' Company, 4th Battalion, Irish Volunteers in December of that year. He had known Éamonn Ceannt, some time beforehand. At that time Ceannt was Captain of 'A' Company. O'Broin was also a member of the IRB and as such was in close contact with Ceannt.

He describes the activities they were engaged in, route marches and drill and describes in detail the sports day that took place in St Enda's on 5 September 1915.

O'Broin recalls the lead-up to the Rising when he was promoted to the rank of Section-Commander and the confusion of the countermanding order on Easter Sunday. Finally on Easter Monday morning he got word to mobilise his section and proceeded to Joseph Plunkett's home in Larkfield, Kimmage. From there they made their way to Jameson's Distillery, Marrowbone Lane. This was an outpost under the overall command of Éamonn Ceannt, now Commandant of the 4th Battalion who set up his headquarters in the South Dublin Union.   

O'Broin describes the takeover of the distillery that morning. He was ordered to take a group of men, including his brother to an upper floor and they proceeded to prepare their position. Marrowbone Lane distillery was a vital outpost as it gave commanding views of all the routes the military would take to attack the South Dublin Union. Recalling the first time they opened fire on the the military who were slowly making their way down the canal towards their position, O'Broin says,

We saw the British chaps in extended order... They came in, we could just see them... we let bang.

The Volunteers did not have the luxury of having a large quantity of weapons or bombs. The bombs they did use were home-made canister bombs made by the Kimmage garrison in Larkfield. O'Broin states that the bombs were not reliable.

Sometimes they wouldn't explode...You lit it and when you counted five you let it go. But you couldn't be sure of them.

O'Broin describes the shock and disappointment the garrison felt when they heard of the surrender on Sunday 30 April. Éamonn Ceannt he says was 'very pale, and his uniform was torn and whitewashed.' Despite not wanting to surrender the garrison obeyed Ceannt's orders. 

Ceannt's forces and Thomas MacDonagh's forces had to formally surrender at the Ross Road, near St Patrick's Park. The 4th Battalion and twenty-two women of Cumann na mBan were marched through the streets of the Liberties. O'Broin recalls that the streets were full of people some jeering them and others showing their support to the Volunteers. 

They were brought to Richmond Barracks and O'Broin was later deported to Knutsford Prison in England and then Frongoch Internment Camp, Wales. Éamonn Ceannt was executed in Kilmainham Gaol on 8 May. Con Colbert, Captain of 'F' Company, 4th Battalion who had also fought in Marrowbone Lane distillery was executed on the same day. He was twenty-eight years old.

On his release from Frongoch Padraic O'Broin rejoined his company. In late 1920 he transferred to the Irish Citizen Army and became Captain of the South County Dublin Section of the Citizen Army. He took the anti-Treaty side in the Irish Civil War.

Padraic O'Broin was interviewed for the RTÉ Television project 'Portraits 1916' on 30 January 1966.