Nine men followed the signatories to the execution yard

Some of the men executed were almost peripheral to the Rising



Edward Daly

Supported by his Uncle James, Edward “Ned” Daly was educated in Limerick before moving to Dublin, in 1913, to stay with his sister Kathleen. She was the wife of 1916 Proclamation signatory Thomas Clarke.

Daly’s father, who died six months before his birth, fought in the Fenian rebellion in 1867, while his Uncle John, a Fenian cause celebre, had served jail time for possessing explosives before, in 1899, becoming mayor of Limerick.

Once in Dublin, the younger Daly joined the Volunteers. His huge military interest and famous forebears earned him the rank of captain, later commandant, of the 1st Battalion. Described as “quiet but very forceful”, Daly was at the Howth gun-running and during the 1916 Rising he was commander of the Four Courts area, stretching from the south quays to Cabra.

He saw action early, shooting dead a British lancer on Easter Monday, and he won praise for his military strategy. By the Friday, the 1st Battalion was forced to withdraw from outlying positions by the encroaching British cordon, but the Four Courts garrison was in excellent shape upon receipt of the unexpected surrender order from rebel leadership.

Detained in Richmond Barracks, Daly was the first of four prisoners executed at dawn in Kilmainham Gaol on May 4th, 1916.

William Pearse

Like his better-known older brother, William Pearse was a latecomer to nationalism and was more artistic than military. He went to art college in 1897 and, on his father’s sudden death in 1900, ran the family’s stone-carving firm, Pearse and Sons, until it failed in 1910.

A keen sculptor, Willie attended classes at the Royal College of of Art in Kensington, London, made trips to Paris and submitted sculpture to the Gaelic League cultural festival, Oireachtas. He also acted in his brother’s plays, including in the Abbey Theatre.In 1908, Willie was appointed teacher of art at St Enda’s school in Ranelagh and followed Patrick in joining the Volunteers in 1913. He was later appointed captain of E Company in the 4th Battalion. A minor figure in the Rising, Willie was at the GPO and later at the last council of war in Moore Street, but his role was largely that of personal attaché to his sibling.

Willie was on his way from Richmond Barracks to see Patrick in Kilmainham when he heard shots ring out, signalling his brother’s death. He was executed himself the next day, May 4th.

Michael O’Hanrahan

Born in New Ross, Co Wexford, in 1877 and brought up in Co Carlow, O’Hanrahan was heavily influenced by his nationalist father Richard, a cork-cutter. When his father died, the family moved to Connaught Street, Phibsborough, in Dublin.

Active in the Gaelic League, O’Hanrahan published, in 1914, A Swordsman of the Brigade, a historical novel for children about Irish soldiers in France in the 18th-century.

It received a glowing review from Thomas MacDonagh. (A second novel, When the Normans Came, was published after his death.) Employed full-time at Volunteer HQ on Dawson Street the job involved procuring arms.

O’Hanrahan was unaware of detailed plans for rebellion, although his dispatches to Wexford led to some rebel activity in Enniscorthy.

He was third in command at Jacob’s, the least active outpost in the Rising. On May 3rd he was court martialled and, despite a rousing defence, was found guilty and sentenced to death by firing squad. Transferred to Kilmainham Gaol that morning, he saw his sister Eileen before he was executed on May 4th.

John MacBride

An accidental participant in the Rising, MacBride had by his own account “no previous connections” with the Irish Volunteers when he left his home in Glenageary, Co Dublin, on Easter Monday to go to Dublin for his brother’s wedding.

Seeing his friend Thomas MacDonagh in formation with Volunteers in Stephen’s Green, he decided to join them. He was thus the only recorded instance of a 1916 Rising participant who turned up for the rebellion dressed in a blue wedding suit, carrying a cane and smoking a cigar.

Yet he was a veteran – some would say swashbuckling – Fenian of many years standing.

Born of Ulster Protestant stock in 1868, MacBride joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1883 and, following the Jameson Raid in 1895 in the Transvaal, resolved to make common cause with the Boers against the British empire. As major, he led a 300-strong Irish brigade into action in the second Boer War in 1899.

At war’s end, they evacuated to Europe, whereupon, in 1900, MacBride was welcomed to Paris by Arthur Griffith – and Maude Gonne, who accompanied him on a speaking tour of the United States afterwards. They married in Paris in 1903 and a year later they had a son, Seán, who became a founding member of Amnesty International. Never slow to take a drop, MacBride’s drinking got worse during Gonne’s frequent absences. She filed for divorce in 1905 citing cruelty, infidelity and alcoholism.

The subsequent court battle tarnished his reputation in Ireland. He was thus firmly outside the IRB loop in the run-up to the Rising, despite ample experience of asymmetrical conflict.

His past may have also sealed his fate. Maj Gen Charles Blackader, who presided over his court martial, was a Boer War veteran; so too was Gen John Maxwell, who confirmed his death sentence. He was executed on May 5th, 1916, having unsuccessfully asked to face to firing squad without a blindfold.

Seán Heuston

Born in 1891 and raised in the tenements of Dublin’s north inner city, Heuston was a bright student and Irish language enthusiast. In 1907 he earned a plum clerical role with the Great Southern and Western Railway Company in Limerick.

He was the driving force behind the city’s branch of Na Fianna, a nationalist alternative to the Boy Scouts.

In 1913 he was returned to Dublin by the GSWR (Heuston Station was later named after him). A keen student of military manuals, he began leading Fianna and IRB drills in the capital, he participated in the Howth gun-running and stored weapons in Colmcille Hall. On Easter Monday he led an understrength company to seize the Mendicity Institution. Following a bloody battle with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers on the Wednesday, they surrendered.

At his court martial, he attempted to escape execution, stating that written orders from James Connolly to seize the position in fact referred to another Capt Heuston. He was executed at 3.45am on May 8th.

Michael Mallin

Mallin co-founded the Irish Socialist Party with Francis Sheehy-Skeffington and was second only to James Connolly in the Irish Citizen Army. During the 1916 Rising, he was commandant of the rebel garrison at Stephen’s Green with Countess Markievicz as his deputy.

His nationalism partly stemmed from his time with the British army in India and Afghanistan, where he felt inspired by the guerrilla tactics of rebellious local tribes.

The father of a young family, he attempted to downplay his commanding role at his court martial by effectively blaming Markievicz for forcing him to fight. All to no avail.

On the night of May 7th, Mallin was visited in his cell by his mother Sarah, his pregnant wife, his four children and three of his siblings. He was executed early on Monday, May 8th.

Con Colbert

The youngest of those executed, Colbert was just 25 in Easter 1916, the 10th of 13 children raised by his widowed father Michael, a small farmer in Co Limerick. To lessen the burden on the family, he joined his sister in Ranelagh, Dublin, and worked as a bookkeeper at Kennedy’s Bakery on Parnell Street. He joined Na Fianna and rose to become chief scout in Ireland, later joining the IRB.

A serious-minded, teetotal republican, Colbert was a staunch Catholic who attended Mass daily. He criticised Thomas Clarke’s wife Kathleen for holding a céilí on Palm Sunday before the Rising. Colbert was also madly in love with a Dublin girl, Lucy Smith.

Seeking to join the fighting, Colbert was allowed to leave Watkins Brewery to take command at Marrowbone Lane, where he directed sniper fire. Stunned upon receipt of the surrender order, Colbert was also deeply disillusioned by the low turnout of Volunteers and the jeering received from Dubliners en route to Richmond Barracks.

He called no witnesses and offered no defence at his court martial. His death sentence confirmed on Sunday, May 7th, and he was shot the following day.

Thomas Kent

The only rebel executed in Ireland outside Dublin, Kent took part in a gun battle with the RIC at his home of Bawnard, near Castlelyons, Co Cork, on May 2nd.

The teetotal son of well-off farmers, Thomas moved to Boston upon his father’s death in the mid-1880s, learning to speak Irish while in exile.

He later returned to join his brothers in the Land War, for which he was imprisoned. In January 1916, he was imprisoned again for possession of arms, after addressing an Irish Volunteer recruitment meeting.

Like his brothers David, William and Richard, Thomas feared arrest during the Rising, but returned to the family home after the rebels in Dublin surrendered.

They were promptly surrounded by RIC officers and took up arms – three shotguns and one rifle. They were ably assisted in their endeavours by their mother Mary, by then in her 80s.

As the RIC began to retreat, shots were fired, fatally wounding head constable William Rowe. The Kents surrendered upon the arrival of the military. While David lay seriously wounded and missing two fingers, Richard was shot attempting to escape. William and David were held.

They were court martialled on June 14th. Described as a “quiet, inoffensive type” by Constable Frank King, William was acquitted, but Thomas was sentenced to death and executed by Scottish Borderers soldiers on May 9th in Cork. His last request was that no Irishman be part of the firing squad.

Sir Roger Casement

Arguably the most accomplished of all those associated with the 1916 Rising, Roger Casement was born in Sandycove and raised a Protestant, although secretly baptised a Catholic by his mother. Orphaned by the age of 13, Casement was raised in Antrim and from then on considered himself an Ulsterman.

Knighted in 1911 by Britain for exposing brutal abuses in the Congo and Peru, Casement spent 20 years in Africa, beginning in 1884 in the Belgian Congo and later in Niger. In 1895 he was appointed a British consul in Portuguese East Africa, before moving to Luanda (now Angola), covering much of central and west Africa.

In 1903 he caused international uproar with a report, published by the British government, on Belgian atrocities in the Congo. He soon returned to Ireland, joining the Gaelic League and growing more nationalist. By 1906, when he was posted as consul to Brazil, he felt a fraud, saying he “ought to be in jail” rather than representing British imperialism.

In 1910 he uncovered yet more ill-treatment and sexual abuse of natives in rubber plantations, this time in Peru. His international standing was such at this time that he directly briefed US president William Taft on his findings.

By 1913, however, he had resigned from the British foreign office and had co-founded the Irish Volunteers, aiding their financing.

Casement spent the run-up to the Rising in Germany. After failing to muster an Irish brigade from captured British prisoners, he succeeded in gaining from imperial Germany a small quantity of arms for the Volunteers, sent on the Aud Norge to Tralee Bay.

Casement followed in another German submarine, with the idea of calling off the Rising due to the paltry international support.

The two boats failed to rendezvous as planned. Casement was arrested on Banna Strand and transferred to the Tower of London. Tried for treason under a 1351 statute, Casement’s Black Diaries, which contain detailed descriptions of his homosexuality in Africa, were used to quell international pressure to spare him. He was hanged in Pentonville Prison in London on August 3rd.

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