Object: James Connolly’s hat
National Museum of Ireland
Object title: James Connolly’s Hat
Physical description: Brown felt with a black band. A microscope slide was prepared, a ladder medulla and surface scales were observed. The fibre could be rabbit or beaver but the species could not be identified.
James Connolly leader of the Irish Citizen Army played a key role in the Rising. As commandant general of the forces in Dublin he fought side by side with Patrick Pearse in the General Post Office, until surrendering on 29 April. His son Rory fought alongside him in the GPO.
The object a bullet-pierced hat, stated to have fallen from James Connolly's head when he was being carried on a stretcher to the Castle Hospital, was picked up by one of the ambulance men who were carrying him. Connolly had a corresponding gash in the side of his head. The object is significant in highlighting injuries/violence of 1916, considering Connolly was already wounded and being brought by stretcher to Red Cross team stationed at Dublin Castle it’s interesting to think of him still a target and to have another near miss of a bullet through his hat.
Connolly was badly injured in the foot, and was court-martialled along with 170 others, and was one of 90 to be sentenced to death. Connolly was the last one of the fourteen to be executed by firing squad in Kilmainham Gaol on 12 May 1916. His was seen to be the most shocking of the executions, specifically in turning public opinion and creating martyrs of the executed men.
He was buried in the cemetery within Arbour Hill military barracks. His wife and six of his children survived him.