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The Men & Women of 1916: The Rebels Part 2

Kathleen Lynn
The daughter of a Church of Ireland clergyman in Co. Mayo, Kathleen Lynn received an education in England, Germany, Ireland and the USA before qualifying as a doctor. She became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1909 and a year later became the first female resident doctor at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in London, where she worked as a clinical assistant. She assisted in the soup kitchens during the 1913 Lockout, and later joined the Irish Citizen Army, serving as their chief medical officer in City Hall during the Easter Rising. Afterwards she was imprisoned alongside Helena Molony and Madeleine Ffrench-Mullen in Kilmainham Gaol. She later recalled her experiences in the gaol: 'Madame Markievicz was overhead in the condemned cell and we used hear reports that she was to be executed... We could hear the shootings in the mornings, and we would be told afterwards who it was. It was a very harrowing experience.' She renewed her commitment to social and national causes upon her release, becoming vice-president of the Sinn Féin executive and honorary vice-president of the Irish Women Workers’ Union in 1917. Lynn was arrested again in 1918, but was hastily released in order to assist in the fight against the Spanish flu epidemic. Along with her close friend Ffrench-Mullen she established St Ultan’s Hospital for Infants, also known as Teach Ultain, in 1919. She was elected in the Dublin county constituency as an anti-Treaty Sinn Féin candidate in 1923, but subsequently lost her seat four years later. Lynn spent most of her remaining years dedicated to public-health, running Teach Ultain as well as her private practice at 9 Belgrave Road, Rathmines.

John MacDonagh
John MacDonagh, the brother of Thomas MacDonagh, toured Britain and America as a singer and actor before returning to Ireland in 1914, where he managed the Irish Theatre in Dublin. He also joined the Irish Volunteers upon his return and fought in the Easter Rising under his brother’s command at Jacob’s biscuit factory. He marched alongside his brother and Major John MacBride as they entered the building, and worked as Thomas’ aide during the week, inspecting posts and distributing supplies. Following his release from internment in August 1916, he resumed his career in the arts, writing, directing and acting in productions for film, theatre and radio.

Sean MacEntee
A native of Belfast, Sean MacEntee joined the Socialist Party of Ireland in 1910 and the Dundalk branch of the Irish Volunteers in 1914. The confusion created by Eoin MacNeill’s countermanding order prevented the Dundalk Volunteers from participating in the Easter Rising, though they were involved in an incident in Castlebellingham which resulted in the death of an RIC Constable. MacEntee later joined the GPO garrison via a circuitous route into Dublin. He was sentenced to death for his actions during Easter week, but his punishment was commuted to imprisonment and he was released in 1917. Elected as a Sinn Féin MP for Monaghan South, MacEntee also rose to the position of brigadier of the Belfast Brigade during the War of Independence. An opponent of the Anglo-Irish Treaty due to its exclusion of northern nationalists, he was interned by the government in Kilmainham Gaol and Gormanston camp until December 1923. He was elected to the Dáil as a Fianna Fáil candidate in Dublin County in 1927 and was appointed as Minister for Finance when the party came to power in 1932, holding the position throughout the Economic War with Britain until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. He subsequently took on a variety of ministerial portfolios, including a return to Finance, as well as becoming Tánaiste in 1959. He held this position for five years before retiring from politics in 1969.

Eoin MacNeill
Born and raised in the Glens of Antrim, Eoin MacNeill was appointed Chair of Early and Medieval Irish History at UCD in 1909. A keen student of Irish language and culture, he had already co-founded the Gaelic League in 1893. MacNeill also edited a number of publications during this period, including Fáinne an Lae and An Claideamh Soluis, and it was in this latter newspaper that he published 'The North Began', a response to the establishment of the Ulster Volunteers in 1913. This article spurred the establishment of the Irish Volunteers, of which MacNeill became President. Less than a year after its establishment, MacNeill led a split in the organisation after John Redmond committed its members to service in the First World War in September 1914. Unbeknownst to MacNeill, the IRB had effectively hijacked the movement and he only discovered their plans for a rising in Holy Week of 1916. Despite his best efforts, was unable to prevent its outbreak. As leader of the Irish Volunteers, he was arrested and sentenced to penal servitude for life, but was released in 1917. A year later he was elected as a Sinn Féin representative for both Derry City and the National University of Ireland, and when the First Dáil was convened he took the role of Minister for Finance. He later acted as chair of the Second Dáil, presiding over the debate on the Anglo-Irish Treaty. He served as Minister for Education in the subsequent Cumann na nGaedheal government and later sat on the Boundary Commission, before losing his seat and exiting politics in 1927. He maintained an active academic career until his retirement in 1941.

Sean McGarry
Along with Bulmer Hobson and Denis McCullough, Sean McGarry was a central figure in the revival of the IRB in the early years of the 20th century. He was made aware of the plans for a rebellion at an early stage, and joined the Irish Volunteers upon their formation. He was stationed in the GPO during the Easter Rising, serving as aide-de-camp for Thomas Clarke. He accompanied Clarke in the early stages of the occupation, and was amongst the last to leave the GPO, assisting Michael (The) O’Rahilly in ensuring that the building was cleared. Originally sentenced to death, his punishment was reduced and he was interned until June 1917. He joined the supreme council of the IRB upon his release, and became its president upon the death of Thomas Ashe. He was arrested and interned from May 1918 until February of the following year, when he escaped from Lincoln prison alongside Éamon de Valera and Sean Milroy. He served as a captain in the Dublin Brigade of the IRA during the War of Independence and in 1921 was elected to the Dáil as a representative of Mid Dublin. McGarry supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty and fought with government forces upon the outbreak of the Civil War in June 1922. He continued to sit in the Dáil until December 1924, when he resigned in protest against the government’s handling of the army mutiny earlier in the year.

Joseph McGrath
Joseph McGrath participated in the Easter Rising as a member of both the Irish Volunteers and the IRB. As a lieutenant in D Company of the 4th Dublin Battalion, he fought in Marrowbone Lane during Easter week. He was interned and in 1918 was elected as a Sinn Féin MP for the St James’s division of Dublin. Imprisoned for large portions of the War of Independence, McGrath was nevertheless able to assist Éamon de Valera during his negotiations with David Lloyd George in 1921, and supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty later that year. In 1922 he held two ministerial roles in the provisional government, taking charge of the Labour department as well as handling the Industry and Commerce portfolio. He also served a Director of Intelligence for the national army during the Civil War, overseeing the Criminal Investigation Department during these years. He resigned from Cumann na nGaedheal, and later from Dáil Éireann, in 1924 in response to the army mutiny. After a brief spell working on the Shannon hydro-electric scheme, he spent the rest of his life involved in Irish horse racing. He was involved in the establishment of the Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake, and took on prominent roles in bodies such as the Bloodstock Breeders’ Association of Ireland, the Racing Board, and the Turf Club, as well as breeding his own horses at Brownstown Stud.

John McLoughlin
John, better known as Sean, McLoughlin was active in Irish republicanism from a young age, joining Na Fianna Éireann, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Republican Brotherhood before his 21st birthday. He held the role of lieutenant in G Company in the 1st Dublin Battalion of the Irish Volunteers, and was part of the unit that seized the Mendicity Institute on Easter Monday, 1916. He ran messages between the Institute and the GPO, before relocating to the latter location. He took part in the assault on the Irish Independent offices in which James Connolly was injured and played an active role in the evacuation from the GPO to Moore Street. Impressed with McLoughlin, Connolly promoted him to a commanding role. He avoided the death penalty and was interned until December 1916. As well as helping to reorganise the Irish Volunteers upon his release, McLoughlin also became involved in socialist politics and spent 18 months campaigning in Britain on behalf of the Socialist Labour Party of Great Britain, an organisation founded by Connolly in 1903. He returned to Ireland upon the outbreak of Civil War in June 1922, joining the anti-Treaty Communist Party of Ireland and leading an IRA flying column in Limerick. He was arrested in December 1923 and sentenced to death, but his sentence was never enacted and he was released from Limerick Prison in 1923. He returned to socialist politics upon his release, relocating to Britain in 1924. 

Constance Markievicz
Constance Markievicz, née Constance Gore Booth, was raised in Lisadell House, her family’s ancestral home in Co. Sligo, where she counted W.B. Yeats amongst her close acquaintances. She was presented as a debutante to Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace in 1887, before studying art in London and Paris, where she met the Polish Count Casimir Dunin-Markievicz, her future husband. On returning to Ireland, she became involved in a number of labour, women’s suffrage, and Irish nationalist organisations. As well as being made an honorary treasurer of the Irish Citizen Army and sitting on the executive committee of Sinn Féin, she was a founding member of Cumann na mBan and Fianna Éireann, the nationalist youth movement. During the Easter Rising, she was second in command of Michael Mallin’s ICA detachment at St Stephen’s Green. Under heavy fire from British troops in the Shelbourne Hotel, the rebels retreated to the Royal College of Surgeons, where they later surrendered. Originally sentenced to death, she was later transferred to Aylesbury Prison and released in 1917. Standing as a Sinn Féin candidate in the St Patrick’s constituency of Dublin, she became the first woman to be elected to the British House of Commons, but did not take her seat in accordance with her party’s policy of abstention. She was instead appointed as Minister for Labour in the First Dáil, though spent most of the ensuing years on the run or in prison. Her status as a fugitive continued following her denouncement of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Joining Fianna Fáil in 1926, she won a seat for the party in the 1927 general election, but her health had declined severely over the previous years and she died within a month of her success.

Liam Mellows
Mellows was born in England but moved to Wexford as a child. He attended military school but did not follow his father into the British army. Mellows was a member of Fianna Éireann, the IRB and the Irish Volunteers. In the years leading to 1916 he was arrested a number of times under the Defence of the Realm Act and imprisoned. During Easter week Mellows was in command of the Western Division and led the Irish Volunteers in attacks on RIC barracks in Oranmore and Athenry. He left Ireland after the Rising, first to Liverpool, and by December, to New York. He was arrested in New York and imprisoned charged with aiding the German enemy. He was released from prison in 1918 but stayed in the United States and was an organiser of de Valera’s fundraising trip there in 1919-20. In the 1918 election, despite being in the United States, Mellows was elected MP for Galway East and North Meath. He returned to Ireland to fight in the War of Independence. Following the Treaty, which he vehemently opposed, he fought on the anti-Treaty side, entering the occupied Four Courts in June 1922. After State forces retook the Four Courts, Mellows was arrested and imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail. He was executed on 8 December 1922.

Sean Milroy
Born in England, Sean Milroy moved to Cork in his early adulthood and became involved in Sinn Féin after befriending Arthur Griffith. He also joined the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and fought with the 2nd Dublin Battalion during the Easter Rising. Initially stationed at the GPO, he saw action in Liffey Street and Abbey Street before relocating to Parliament Street as part of the City Hall garrison. After being interned in England until December 1916, he served as Sinn Féin’s director of elections for the 1918 general election, but failed to win a seat in Tyrone North East and was arrested again before voting took place. Imprisoned in Lincoln jail, he escaped along with Éamon de Valera and Sean McGarry in February 1919. In 1921 he was elected to both the Dáil and the Northern Irish parliament, representing Cavan in the former and Fermanagh & Tyrone in the latter, although he did not take his Northern Irish seat. He resigned from the Dáil in 1924 as a protest against the policies of Cumann na nGaedheal and, following a number of unsuccessful reelection attempts and a spell in the senate, he retired from politics in 1936.

Helena Molony
In 1903 Helena Molony heard a speech by Maud Gonne and subsequently joined Inghinidhe na hÉireann, Gonne’s nationalist-feminist organisation. She became secretary in 1907 and helped to launch and edit Bean na hÉireann, the group’s monthly periodical. Along with Countess Markievicz, she helped to establish the Fianna Éireann in 1909 and, having previously assisted James Larkin to disguise himself during the 1913 Lockout, she deepened her involvement with the labour movement, becoming general secretary of the Irish Women Workers’ Union in 1915 and secretary of the Irish Citizen Army (ICA) women’s group. She participated in the Easter Rising, taking charge of first aid and the commissariat in the City Hall garrison. Following the surrender, she was interned in Aylesbury prison until December 1916. She played an active role in the ICA during both the War of Independence and Civil War, taking an anti-Treaty stance on the latter occasion. Molony maintained her involvement in the labour movement until 1941, having served as President of the Irish Trade Union Congress from 1937 to 1938.

Richard Mulcahy
While working for the post office in Dublin, Richard Mulcahy joined the IRB and the Irish Volunteers, rising to the position of second lieutenant in the 3rd Dublin Battalion in the latter organisation. After cutting telegraph wires in north Dublin at the beginning of the Easter Rising, he was unable to link up with his battalion and instead joined with the 5th (Fingal) Battalion, with whom he seized control of the RIC barracks in Ashbourne, Co. Meath. Interned in Knutsford and Frongoch, he was released in December 1916 and involved himself in the reorganisation of the Volunteers, being appointed Commanding Officer of the Dublin brigade in 1917. He was elected as a Sinn Féin MP in December 1918, representing the Clontarf constituency in Dublin, and briefly served as Minister for Defence in the First Dáil. Mulcahy also operated as Chief of Staff of the IRA during the War of Independence, directing strategy along with Michael Collins and evading capture throughout the conflict despite much attention from the authorities. He supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty and, following the death of Collins, he became Commander-in-Chief of the national army during the latter portion of the Civil War, when he was known for his ruthless stance against the IRA. He was appointed as Minister for Defence in 1924, but subsequently resigned his army and cabinet positions in 1924 as a result of the army mutiny. He was later reappointed to the cabinet in 1927 as Minister for Local Government and Public Health. He remained active in politics until 1961, succeeding WT Cosgrave as leader of Fine Gael in 1944 and led the party into coalition governments in 1948-51 and 1954-1957, though he deferred the role of Taoiseach to John A. Costello on both occasions. 

Liam Ó Briain
After receiving his university education in Dublin and Berlin, Liam Ó Briain returned to Ireland in 1914 where he joined F Company in the 1st Dublin Battalion of the Irish Volunteers and was later sworn into the IRB. In the days before the Easter Rising he helped to print the Proclamation of the Irish Republic in Liberty Hall, but was then dispatched by Eoin MacNeill to Westmeath and Offaly with countermanding orders calling off the insurrection. He subsequently returned to Dublin and spent Easter week with the Irish Citizen Army in St Stephen’s Green and the Royal College of Surgeons. He served time in Wandsworth prison and Frongoch internment camp following the Rising, and was released in December 1916. The following year he was appointed Professor of Romance Languages at University College Galway (UCG). While based in Galway he served as a judge in the republican courts, and also went on arms-smuggling excursions to Italy and France, but was arrested by the Black and Tans in 1920 and went on to spend 13 months in prison. He then resumed his position in UCG, serving for a period as Dean of Arts, until his retirement in 1959. He remained active in culture and the arts for the rest of his life.

Domhnall Ó Buachalla
A native of Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Domhnall Ó Buachalla (also known as Ua Buachalla or Buckley) was a member of the Gaelic League, the Kildare Gaelic football team, the IRB, and the Irish Volunteers. A lieutenant in the Maynooth Company of the Kildare Brigade, he learned of the Rising’s outbreak from a bread van driver and, along with 14 of his men, joined the GPO garrison. He took part in patrols to the Royal Exchange Hotel and the Dublin Bread company, and also operated as a sniper on Henry Street. After being interrogated in Kilmainham Gaol he was interned in Knutsford Jail and Frongoch prison camp. He was released in December 1916 and elected as a Sinn Féin MP for Kildare North in the 1918 general election. He later participated in the War of Independence and fought on the anti-Treaty side during the Civil War until his imprisonment in Dundalk in 1922, a year in which he also lost his Dáil seat. He returned to the Dáil chamber in 1927 as a Fianna Fáil TD but subsequently lost his seat again in 1932, leading to his appointment as Governor General by Éamon de Valera in November of that year. In accordance with de Valera’s ambition to diminish the significance of the office, which represented British authority in Ireland, Ó Buachalla neglected his duties, failing to show up for public functions and abandoning the Viceregal Lodge for a house in the suburbs of Dublin. Ó Buachalla’s wilful negligence paved the way for the removal of the office in the 1937 Constitution.

Brian Ó hUiginn
A native of Kilskyre, Co. Meath, Brian Ó hUiginn (a.k.a. O’Higgins) became well known in Gaelic League circles as a writer and performer. As well as ridiculing aspects of Irish society on stage, he published many satirical pieces of writing, including articles, poems, and the Irish Fun newspaper, which he founded. Ó hUiginn participated in the Easter Rising and was stationed in the GPO, though his activity was limited due to ill health. He was imprisoned in Stafford jail and Frongoch prison camp, and was again incarcerated in 1918 in relation to the 'German plot'. He won the West Clare seat for Sinn Féin in that year’s general election, and was influential in establishing the republican courts in his constituency. An opponent of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, he spent 24 days on hunger strike whilst interned by the government in 1923-1924. He returned to the Dáil upon his release and held his seat for Sinn Féin until 1927. A staunch critic of the new Irish political establishment, Ó hUiginn continued to write satirical pieces for the rest of his life, whilst also running a greetings card manufacturing firm.

Lily O’Brennan
A teacher and playwright, Lily O’Brennan was a founding member of Cumann na mBan in April 1914. Along with her sister Áine, wife of Éamonn Ceannt, O’Brennan was active during preparations for the Easter Rising, sending dispatches, putting together medical kits and obtaining material for a tri-colour. She also participated in the Rising, linking up with the Inghinidhe branch of Cumann na mBan, who were attached to Ceannt’s 4th Battalion of the Volunteers. She was stationed at Jameson’s Distillery on Marrowbone Lane for the duration of the week. She was imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol in the Rising’s aftermath, and was one morning 'awakened at dawn by a volley of shots, followed almost immediately by a revolver shot'. O'Brennan 'insisted that they were shooting the prisoners, but the other girls laughed her to scorn'. O’Brennan was made an executive member of Cumann na mBan in 1917 and later joined the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations in 1921, working in the secretarial staff. She subsequently joined the anti-Treaty side during the Civil War and was arrested in republican headquarters in November 1922. Initially detained in Mountjoy Prison, she spent three months in Kilmainham Gaol before being transferred to the North Dublin Union and later released. She thereafter receded from public life, although she continued to write, publishing a novel based on the Land League in 1929.

Elizabeth O’Farrell
O’Farrell was born in Dublin in 1884 and professionally worked as a midwife at Holles Street Hospital. She joined Inghinidhe na hÉireann in 1906, and in 1914 joined Cumann na mBan. During Easter week she was stationed at the GPO and worked as a messenger dispatching notes from the GPO to outposts across the city. O’Farrell remained based in the GPO throughout the week, and was part of the group that moved into Moore Street on Friday evening. After the decision was made to surrender, it was O’Farrell, at great personal risk, who carried a white flag from 16 Moore Street to the British. She was taken to General Lowe who demanded a complete surrender from Pearse. She returned to Moore Street to convey that message and was with Pearse when he did surrender. She then spent Saturday and Sunday travelling to all rebel positions to pass on the news of the surrender. O’Farrell was briefly held prisoner in Kilmainham, but Lowe had promised her at the time of the surrender that she would not be a prisoner. Lowe was true to his word, and O’Farrell was released on 1 May. She was active in Cumann na mBan in the War of Independence and opposed the Treaty. She remained active in republican politics throughout her life and died in 1957.

Michael O’Rahilly (The O’Rahilly)
O’Rahilly was born in 1875 in Kerry and educated at Clongowes. He was active in the cultural revival and a key figure in the Gaelic League. He was a founder member of the Irish Volunteers and the key organiser of the Howth gun running in July 1914. He was not a member of the IRB so was unaware of the planning for the Rising. On the issuing of MacNeill’s countermanding order O’Rahilly drove around the country delivering that order to Volunteer commanders in Munster. Despite this, once it was decided that the Rising would begin on Easter Monday, he reported to Liberty Hall and marched to the GPO where he was stationed for the week. On the Friday of Easter week O’Rahilly led a group of men in an attempted break out from the GPO along Moore Street. He was shot by a British machine gun, and died on Moore Lane. Before his death he wrote a letter for his wife which now appears on his memorial plaque on O’Rahilly Parade.

Grace Gifford Plunkett
Grace Gifford was one of 12 children born to a Catholic father and Protestant mother in Rathmines, Co. Dublin. Despite her family’s unionist background, Gifford, along with her sisters, including Muriel, Nellie and Sydney, sympathised with Irish nationalism and became a member of Inghinidhe na hÉireann. She was also known as an artist whose illustrations appeared in the Irish Review and Irish Life, amongst other publications. After a brief courtship, she became engaged to Joseph Plunkett. Their wedding had been planned for Easter Sunday, 1916, but was curtailed by the Rising. Instead, the pair married in Kilmainham Gaol hours before Joseph’s execution. She later recalled being 'brought in and was put in front of the altar; and he was brought down the steps; and the cuffs were taken off him; and the chaplain went on with the ceremony; then the cuffs were put on him again. I was not alone with him - not for a minute'. She joined the Sinn Féin executive in the aftermath of the Rising and produced illustrations for various nationalist causes. She opposed the Treaty and was arrested in 1923 after taking part in a Women’s Prisoners Defence League demonstration. Whilst imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol, she drew a picture on the wall of her cell which became known as the ‘Kilmainham Madonna’, a copy of which can be seen in the Gaol today. She largely retired from public life following her release, though continued to draw and had illustrations published in several newspapers and magazines until her death in 1955.

Desmond Ryan
Born in London to Irish parents, Desmond Ryan moved to Navan, Co. Meath, in 1906, after his father was appointed as editor of the Irish Peasant, which was based in the town. He subsequently relocated to Dublin and was educated at St. Enda’s College, where he came under the influence of Patrick Pearse. Along with a number of other St. Enda’s students and alumni, Ryan joined E Company of the 4th Battalion of the Irish Volunteers in 1913. He was also sworn in to the IRB. As well as studying in UCD and teaching at St. Enda’s, Ryan helped to prepare explosive devices for the Easter Rising and was based in the GPO during Easter Week, initially taking up a position on the roof of the building. He was interned in Stafford Jail and Frongoch prison camp until July 1916. He completed his education at UCD following his release and worked as a journalist and author thereafter, writing a great deal about the revolutionary period, including biographies of Pearse, James Connolly and Éamon de Valera. His own autobiography, Remembering Sion, was published in 1934.

Margaret Skinnider
Skinnider was born in Scotland in 1893. She joined Cumann na mBan in Scotland and began travelling to Dublin. She was active in preparations for the Rising, and as part of the Irish Citizen Army she was based in the St Stephen’s Green area. While working as a scout and messenger during the week, she also operated as a sniper as she was an excellent sniper. At the end of the week she was shot and injured. She was arrested and imprisoned. However, after weeks in hospital she escaped the attention of the authorities and made her way back to Scotland. She subsequently went to the United States where she raised money for and awareness of the Republican movement. She returned to Ireland in 1917, and was later active on the anti-Treaty side in the Civil War. For her activities she was arrested by the State in 1923. Up to her arrest she had worked as Paymaster General for the IRA. After the Civil War she taught until her retirement in 1961. She was always active on women issues and also in the trade union movement, serving as President of the INTO in 1956.

Austin Stack
Born Augustine Mary Moore Stack in Tralee, Co. Kerry, Austin Stack worked as a legal clerk and income-tax collector in his native county. He co-founded the Tralee Mitchels GAA club and played on the Kerry Gaelic football team between 1902 and 1908. He was also a member of the Gaelic League and the IRB, and in 1913 helped to establish the Irish Volunteers in Tralee. He was charged with collecting German arms and explosives from the Aud in advance of the Easter Rising, but the episode ended in disaster and the ship was scuttled. Stack was quickly arrested and interned in Britain until June 1917. He reinvolved himself in the republican movement upon his release, but spent a large proportion of the subsequent years in prison. His participation in hunger strikes whilst incarcerated added to his prominence and he was elected as a Sinn Féin MP for Kerry West in December 1918. He served as Minister for Home Affairs in the Dáil between 1919 and 1922, helping to establish republican courts throughout the country. He rejected the Anglo-Irish Treaty and served as director of finance for the IRA during the Civil War. He remained with Sinn Féin upon the establishment of Fianna Fáil and held his Dáil seat until 1927.

Michael Staines
Raised in Newport, Co. Mayo, Michael Staines returned to his birthplace of Dublin as a young man and became a founding member of the Irish Volunteers in 1913. He served as a Quartermaster in the 1st Battalion and was later promoted to Quartermaster General, replacing The O’Rahilly shortly before the Easter Rising. Having helped to hoist flags on the roof of the GPO at the beginning the rebellion, Staines was based in the post office’s telegraphy room and later acted as a stretcher-bearer for James Connolly when they evacuated the building. He was interned at Wakefield and Frongoch prison camp until December 1916. He resumed republican activities upon his release, working for the Irish National Aid Association and Volunteer Dependents Fund, as well as helping to reorganise the Irish Volunteers and taking up a leading role with the IRB. He also served as alderman with Dublin Corporation and in 1918 was elected as a Sinn Féin MP in Dublin, playing a leading role in organising the republican courts and the Belfast Boycott. He was appointed as the first commissioner of An Garda Síochána but resigned following the Kildare mutiny in 1922. He vacated his Dáil seat a year later, though served as a senator between 1930 and 1936 and co-founded the New Ireland Assurance Company.

Joseph Sweeney
Joseph Aloysius Sweeney studied at St. Enda’s College in Rathfarnham before commencing an engineering degree in UCD. Initially a member of the Irish Volunteers in his native Burtonport in Donegal, he transferred to E Company of the 4th Dublin Battalion in 1914. He was sworn into the IRB a year later and helped with preparations for the Easter Rising, sending dispatches and assembling explosives. Sweeney took up a position on the roof of the GPO during Easter week, acting as a sniper. He was interned in Stafford jail and Frongoch prison camp until July 1916. Elected as a Sinn Féin MP for West Donegal in 1918, he was active in re-organising the Irish Volunteers and commanded the 1st Northern Division of the IRA during the War of Independence. He supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty and, having led the Donegal Command during the Civil War, went on to serve in a variety of high-ranking positions in the army, including a period as Chief of Staff between 1929 and 1931, before his retirement in 1940. He later worked for the Irish Red Cross Society, becoming general secretary in 1956.

Liam Tobin
Born in Cork and educated in Kilkenny, Liam Tobin moved to Dublin in 1912, where he joined the 1st Dublin Battalion of the Irish Volunteers. Tobin was based in the Four Courts during the Easter Rising, taking up positions at barricades on Church Street and Greek Street during the week. Following the surrender, he was placed in Kilmainham Gaol, where he recalled being awoken one night by an officer, who 'said, 'You have been sentenced to death'... With that he left, brought his soldiers with him, and closed the door. In a matter of minutes, as far as I can remember, he re-opened the door and said, “and the sentence of the court has been commuted to ten years’ penal servitude''. Tobin was interned in Britain until June 1917. He worked in Michael Collins’ intelligence branch during the War of Independence and was involved in the activities of Collins’ 'Squad'. He supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty and became a Major-General in the National Army. He continued to work in intelligence, as well as taking part in operations such as the defeat of republican forces in Cork city in August 1922. As a founding member of the Irish Republican Army Organisation, Tobin was a leading instigator in the Army Mutiny of 1924. He was subsequently dismissed from the army and, after establishing the short-lived Clann na nGaedheal political party in 1929, Tobin undertook a variety of roles in his later life, the longest of which was as superintendent of the Oireachtas from 1940 to 1959.

Oscar Traynor
Oscar Traynor joined the 2nd Dublin Battalion of the Irish Volunteers in 1914, following the shootings at Bachelor’s Walk in July of that year. He was stationed at Ballybough Bridge at the beginning of the Easter Rising, before relocating with the rest of his company to the GPO. He was then sent to the Metropole Hotel, which he was instructed to occupy with twenty men. They came under heavy fire and he later recalled a fire breaking out on the east side of Sackville Street, where he saw 'the huge plate-glass windows of Clery’s stores run molten into the channel from the terrific heat'. He was interned in Knutsford Jail and Frongoch prison camp until December 1916. He was made captain of F Company in the 2nd Battalion shortly after his release and in November 1920 became commandant of the Dublin Brigade of the IRA, leading the attack on the Custom House in May, 1921. An opponent of the Treaty, he rose to the position of Chief of Staff of the IRA during the Civil War, but was imprisoned from 1922 to 1924 after his involvement in the initial attack on Dublin. He was elected to the Dáil for Sinn Féin in 1925, but later joined Fianna Fáil, retaining his seat in the process. In 1936 he was appointed Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and served as Minister for Defence during the Second World War. He later held the post of Minister for Justice, before retiring from politics in 1961. A life-long soccer supporter, and former player with Belfast Celtic, Traynor also served as president of the FAI.


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