1916: The revolution of the young

Many teenagers took part in the 1916 Rising, either as messenger-boys or in the actual fighting

Sean Lemass, out walking on Easter Monday, was told by other youngsters that the Rising had started. The next day the 16-year-old Lemass was given a shotgun and took position on the roof of the GPO

Sean Lemass, out walking on Easter Monday, was told by other youngsters that the Rising had started. The next day the 16-year-old Lemass was given a shotgun and took position on the roof of the GPO

 

The Easter Rising was overwhelmingly a young people’s revolution. As well as the hundreds of fighters in their late teens and early 20s, many teenagers took part, either as messenger-boys or in the actual fighting.

The most famous was Sean Lemass, who later became Taoiseach. Out walking in the Dublin Mountains with his brother on Easter Monday, he was told by other youngsters that the Rising had started. The next day, Tuesday April 25th, the 16-year-old Lemass was given a shotgun and took position on the roof of the GPO. He was also involved in fighting on Moore Street, but survived, and after a month’s imprisonment, was released due to his age.

Others weren’t so fortunate. One messenger boy was James Fox (16), a member of Na Fianna, the rebels’ youth wing, who lived on Thomas Street in Dublin. He was killed in a trench the rebels had dug on St Stephen’s Green.

One of the youngest to die was 14-year-old Sean Healy. A member of Na Fianna, he had been carrying despatches before being sent home from the GPO by one of the leaders, Thomas McDonagh, who thought him too young to be involved. Sean was hit by a deflected bullet near his home in Phibsborough.

Shot dead

A large group from St Enda’s Secondary School in Rathfarnham joined Na Fianna, and even the IRB, and 15 of these later joined in the 1916 rebellion. It’s no coincidence that the school was run by Pádraig Pearse. He once offered a new rifle as a prize for a poetry competition.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.