"We Had Hoped As The Executions Had Stopped For A While That Himself And Connolly Were Going To Escape"

Min Ryan was born in 1884 in Tomcoole, County Wexford. In this interview Min talks about how she and her family became involved in the Republican movement. Around 1905/1906 she came to Dublin to study and it was around then that she first met Seán MacDiarmada who was,

A very nice young fellow, very interesting and amusing, considering he wasn't a university man.

Min went to London in 1909 to continue her studies. In 1914 she obtained her teaching degree and returned to Ireland and lived with her older sister Mary Kate in Ranelagh. Every Sunday night the sisters would entertain their nationalist friends including Seán T O'Kelly, Seán MacDiarmada and Liam O Briain to name a few. Min and Seán MacDiarmada soon became close. One person who did not attend their evenings was Patrick Pearse who Min says

They looked up to very much but would be looked on more or less as a spoil sport. 

In April 1914 Min Ryan was a founding member of Cumann na mBan. The Ryan sisters moved to Ranelagh Road and their house became a centre of IRB activity. On Holy Thursday, Min delivered a dispatch from Seán MacDiarmada to the Volunteers in Wexford with word that the Rising was going to take place on Sunday.

Min and her younger sister Phyllis and their brother Jim all served in the GPO during the Rising. Min and her sister delivered dispatches to the other outposts and worked in the kitchen in the GPO. She recalls a conversation with Tom Clarke one evening where he told her that although the leaders would most certainly die, they would live and it was their duty to explain to the Irish people why they had fought.  

As a leader and signatory of the Proclamation, Seán MacDiarmada was tried by court martial and sentenced to death. Min received word that he wished to see her and Phyllis in Kilmainham.

We had hoped very much as the executions had stopped for a good while that himself and Connolly were going to escape.

Min recalls the final visit in his cell in Kilmainham where they talked about everything that had happened during the Rising, anything but his impending execution. Soon their time was up and they said goodbye. Seán MacDiarmada was executed on 12 May 1916.

After the Rising she was sent to America on behalf of the Republican movement to report to John Devoy about what had happened during Easter week. John Devoy was leader of Clan na Gael, the Irish-American group who helped fund the Rising.

In 1919 Min married Richard Mulcahy, Chief of Staff of the IRA and during the War of Independence Min was a member of the Executive of Cumann na mBan.

Min Ryan was interviewed for the RTÉ Television project 'Portraits 1916' on 27 November 1965.