Oldest participant in Easter Rising was aged 63 while the youngest was just 12

The oldest participant in the 1916 Rising was Mathew Stafford, who was 63 at the time. According to testimony in support of his claim by Oscar Traynor (right), the officer commanding the Dublin IRA, Stafford took part in sniping at the British military during the Rising.

Traynor also says that as a young man Stafford had been involved in helping the Fenian leader James Stephens to escape from Dublin to France in March 1866.

Traynor, who was later a Fianna Fáil TD and government minister, applied for the pension himself and was awarded on at the maximum rate.

The youngest participants to be awarded pensions were three men who were 12 in 1916. They were Padraic Tobin from Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, and Thomas Patrick Keenan and Charles MacMahon, who were both from Dublin. All were members of Na Fianna Éireann and were involved in scouting work and the carry of despatches and supplies.


All of them came under fire during Easter Week and went on to serve during the War of Independence and Civil War.

MacMahon, who survived a bullet in the brain during the IRA attack on the Custom House in May 1921, went on to serve in the National Army during the attack on the Four Courts in 1922.

The bullet was not removed until a hospital operation in 1925.

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins is a columnist with and former political editor of The Irish Times