In the last two Celtic Corners, I felt the two most influential leaders of the Rebellion were James Connolly and Padraic Pearse but just as important were the five additional signers of the Proclamation and the nine other leaders all who were executed. These brave men are:
Éamonn Ceannt: Born in Galway in 1881, prior to the Rising Ceannt was an employee of the Dublin Corporation. He was a co-founder of the Irish Volunteers, partaking in the successful Howth gun-running operation of 1914. His involvement in republican activities was complemented by his interest in Irish culture, specifically Irish language and history, although he was also an accomplished uileann piper .As the commander of the Fourth Battalion of Irish Volunteers during the Rising, he took possession of the South Dublin Union, precursor to the modern-day St. James’s Hospital. He was executed on 8 May 1916.
Thomas James Clarke: Born on the Isle of Wight in 1857, Clarke’s father was a soldier in the British army. During his time in America as a young man, he joined Clann na nGael, later enduring fifteen years of penal servitude for his role in a bombing campaign in London, 1883-1898. In 1907, having returned from a second sojourn in America, his links with Clan na nGael in America copper-fastened his importance to the revolutionary movement in Ireland. He held the post of Treasurer to the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and was a member of the Supreme Council from 1915. The first signatory of the Proclamation of Independence through deference to his seniority, Clarke was with the group that occupied the G. P. O. He was executed on 3 May 1916.
Seán MacDiarmada: Born in 1884 in Leitrim, MacDiarmada emigrated to Glasgow in 1900, and from there to Belfast in 1902. A member of the Gaelic League, he was acquainted with Bulmer Hobson. He joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1906 while still in Belfast, later transferring to Dublin in 1908 where he assumed managerial responsibility for the I. R. B. newspaper Irish Freedom in 1910. Although MacDiarmada was afflicted with polio in 1912, he was appointed as a member of the provisional committee of Irish Volunteers from 1913, and was subsequently drafted onto the military committee of the I. R. B. in 1915. During the Rising MacDiarmada served in the G. P. O. He was executed on 12 May 1916.
Thomas MacDonagh: A native of Tipperary, born in 1878, MacDonagh spent the early part of his career as a teacher. He moved to Dublin to study, and was the first teacher on the staff at St. Enda’s, the school he helped to found with Patrick Pearse. MacDonagh was well versed in literature, his enthusiasm and erudition earning him a position in the English department at University College Dublin. His play When the Dawn is Come was produced at the Abbey theatre. He was appointed director of training for the Irish Volunteers in 1914, later joining the I. R. B. MacDonagh was appointed to the I. R. B. military committee in 1916. He was commander of the Second Battalion of Volunteers that occupied Jacob’s biscuit factory and surrounding houses during the Rising. He was executed on 3 May 1916.
Joseph Mary Plunkett: Born 1887 in Dublin, son of a papal count, Plunkett was initially educated in England, though he returned to Ireland and graduated from U. C. D. in 1909. After his graduation Plunkett spent two years travelling due to ill health, returning to Dublin in 1911. Plunkett shared MacDonagh’s enthusiasm for literature and was an editor of the Irish Review. Along with MacDonagh and Edward Martyn, he helped to establish an Irish national theatre. He joined the Irish Volunteers in 1913, subsequently gaining membership of the I. R. B. in 1914. Plunkett travelled to Germany to meet Roger Casement in 1915. During the planning of the Rising, Plunkett was appointed Director of Military Operations, with overall responsibility for military strategy. Plunkett was one of those who were stationed in the G. P. O. during the Rising. He married Grace Gifford while in Kilmainham Gaol following the surrender and was executed on 4 May 1916.
Roger Casement: Born in 1864 in Dublin, Casement was knighted for his services to the British consulate. He campaigned tirelessly to expose the cruelty inflicted on native workers in the Belgian Congo in 1904, and again in Brazil from 1911-1912, causing an international sensation with his reportage. Casement had become a member of the Gaelic League in 1904, beginning at that time to write nationalist articles under the pseudonym ‘Seán Bhean Bhocht’. He retired from the British consular service in 1913, after which he joined the Irish Volunteers. Casement was dispatched to Germany on account of his experience to raise an Irish Brigade from Irish prisoners of war. He was captured in Kerry in 1916 on Good Friday having returned to Ireland in a German U-Boat. Casement was imprisoned in Pentonville Gaol in London, where he was tried on charges of High Treason. He was hanged on 3 August 1916, the only leader of the Rising to be executed outside of Ireland.
Con Colbert: Born in 1888, Colbert was a native of Limerick. Prior to the Easter Rising he had been an active member of the republican movement, joining both Fianna Éireann and the Irish Volunteers. A dedicated pioneer, Colbert was known not to drink or smoke. As the captain of F Company of the Fourth Battalion, Colbert was in command at the Marrowbone Lane distillery when it was surrendered on Sunday, 30 April 1916. His execution took place on 8 May 1916.
Edward Daly: Born in Limerick in 1891, Daly’s family had a history of republican activity; his uncle John Daly had taken part in the rebellion of 1867. Edward Daly led the First Battalion during the Rising, which raided the Bridewell and Linenhall Barracks, eventually seizing control of the Four Courts. A close friend of Tom Clarke, their ties were made even stronger by the marriage of Clarke to Daly’s sister. Daly was executed on 4 May 1916.
Seán Heuston: Born in 1891, he was responsible for the organization of Fianna Éireann in Limerick. Along with Con Colbert, Heuston was involved in the education of the schoolboys at Scoil Éanna, organizing drill and musketry exercises. A section of the First Battalion of the Volunteers, under the leadership of Heuston, occupied the Mendicity Institute on south of the Liffey, holding out there for two days. He was executed on 8 May 1916. Heuston Railway station in Dublin is named after him.
Thomas Kent: Born in 1865, Kent was arrested at his home in Castlelyons, Co. Cork following a raid by the Royal Irish Constabulary on 22 April 1916, during which his brother Richard was fatally wounded. It had been his intention to travel to Dublin to participate in the Rising, but when the mobilization order for the Irish Volunteers was cancelled on Easter Sunday he assumed that the Rising had been postponed, leading him to stay at home. He was executed at Cork Detention Barracks on 9 May 1916 following a court martial. In 1966 the railway station in Cork was renamed Kent Station in his honor.
John MacBride: Born in Mayo in 1865. Although he initially trained as a doctor, MacBride abandoned that profession in favor of work with a chemist. He travelled to America in 1896 to further the aims of the I. R. B., thereafter travelling to South Africa where he raised the Irish Transvaal Brigade during the Second Boer War. MacBride married the Irish nationalist Maude Gonne in 1903. He was not a member of the Irish Volunteers, but upon the beginning of the Rising he offered his services to Thomas MacDonagh, and was at Jacob’s biscuit factory when that post was surrendered on Sunday, 30 April 1916. He was executed on 5 May 1916.
Michael Mallin: A silk weaver by trade, Mallin was born in Dublin in 1874. Along with Countess Markievicz, he commanded a small contingent of the Irish Citizen Army, of which he was Chief of Staff, taking possession of St. Stephen’s Green and the Royal College of Surgeons. He was executed on 8 May 1916.
Michael O’Hanrahan: Born in Wexford in 1877. As a young man, O’Hanrahan showed great promise as a writer, becoming heavily involved in the promotion of the Irish language. He founded the first Carlow branch of the Gaelic League, and published two novels, A Swordsman of the Brigade and When the Norman Came. Like many of the other executed leaders, he joined the Irish Volunteers from their inception, and was second in command to Thomas MacDonagh at Jacob’s biscuit factory during the Rising, although this position was largely usurped by the arrival of John MacBride. His execution took place on 4 May 1916.
William Pearse: Born in 1881 in Dublin. The younger brother of Patrick, William shared his brother’s passion for an independent Ireland. He assisted Patrick in running St. Enda’s. The two brothers were extremely close, and fought alongside each other in the G. P. O. William was executed on 4 May 1916. Pearse railway station on Westland Row in Dublin was re-named in honor of the two brothers in 1966.
“The fools the fools the fools
They have left us our Fenian dead
And while Ireland holds these graves