"Strike At Twelve"

Richard Mulcahy was a member of ‘C’ Company, 2nd Battalion, Dublin Brigade. In early April 1916 he was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant. Despite his promotion he had no idea that a Rising was going to happen and went on retreat to Milltown.

On his return he attended an officer's meeting where he was finally told of the plans. His orders were that at 4 pm on Easter Sunday he was to oversee the destruction of the communication lines at Howth Junction, severing communication with Belfast.

Mulcahy was to mobilise his men at 3.45 pm and cut the cables at precisely 4 pm, the time that the Rising was to begin. Mulcahy at the time lived out in Bayview, not too far from Howth.

Describing how he heard of the countermanding order Mulcahy says that on the afternoon of Easter Sunday, as he was leaving his home he was stopped by a colleague.

To my astonishment he showed me the Sunday Independent and MacNeill's orders.

Mulcahy then cycled into town to try and find out what was going on. Seeing James Connolly at Liberty Hall, he asked him what were his orders. 

Connolly turned on me and sharply told me that if there were further orders I'd get them.

Not sure of what he was going to do he returned home. On Easter Monday morning he again went into town and went to Liberty Hall. The place was full of activity and word finally came of what was going to happen. Mulcahy recalls seeing his Commanding Officer Thomas MacDonagh who he says,

Came along to me with his coat swinging around his shoulders and said 'Strike at twelve!'

Mulcahy grabbed the nearest bicycle and set off for Howth trying to gather his men along the way. He made contact with Volunteers Tom Maxwell and Paddy Grant. The three men went to Howth and succeeded in destroying the cables after which they began the journey back to Dublin city. Coming in by Glasnevin, Mulcahy decided to send Grant into the city to see what the situation was. Hours passed with no sign of Grant. Unknown to Mulcahy Grant went into the GPO and Mulcahy states

Got delighted with all that was going on in the GPO and he forgot all about us. 

On his way back Grant got lost in Finglas and was arrested by members of the 5th Battalion, Irish Volunteers and brought to Commandant Thomas Ashe. Mulcahy met with Ashe who appointed him as his second in command.

During the Rising there were very few successes for the Volunteers outside of Dublin. The exception being the battle of Ashbourne. Under the command of Ashe and Mulcahy, who adopted guerilla tactics, the Volunteers succeeded in inflicting heavy casualties on the local RIC garrison.

Richard Mulcahy was born in Waterford. He was a member of the IRB and joined the Irish Volunteers on their formation in November 1913. Arrested after the surrender Mulcahy was imprisoned in Richmond Barracks, Knutsford Detention Barracks, Cheshire and Frongoch Internment Camp, Wales. He was a member of Dáil Éireann and during the War of Independence was Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). He supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty and following the death of Michael Collins in the Irish Civil War, succeeded him as Commander in Chief of the National Army and was also Chief of Staff. He was a founding member of the Cumann na nGaedhal party and was later leader of the Fine Gael party. Richard Mulcahy died in 1971. He was eighty-five years old.

Richard Mulcahy was interviewed for the RTÉ Television project 'Portraits 1916' on 10 December 1965.