‘Irish Times’ correspondent returns from the trenches
1916/2016: a miscellany
MJ O’Rahilly: Dublin Metropolitan Police files report him as being among the extremists observed moving about the centre of Dublin on January 21st, 1916.
January 21st, 1916
Dublin Metropolitan Police files: I beg to report that on the 20th, the undermentioned extremists were observed moving about and associating with each other as follows : With Thomas Clarke, 75 Parnell Street, John McGarry and Joseph Murray for a quarter of an hour between 4 and 5pm. John McDermott for a half an hour from 8.30pm, William O’Leary Curtis and JJ Farrelly for half an hour between 10 and 11pm. Bulmer Hobson, Herbert Mellow, Michael O’Hanrahan, MJ O’Rahilly (pictured), Thomas MacDonagh, JJ O’Connell, E O’Duffy and L Raul in 2 Dawson Street at 12 noon.
An unnamed Irish Times correspondent had just returned from the trenches of northern France and wrote a long report. “To be lifted suddenly out of the quiet of life in Dublin,” the correspondent wrote, “to spend four days amid the noise and movement of the greatest war in human history and then to be as suddenly restored to Dublin is a bewildering experience.”
They made their way to the front line where “through the periscope we saw a welter of scarred landscape like the crater of an extinct volcano where both sides had exploded mines”.
The correspondent was just 30 yards from the German trenches when two bullets “slammed into the sandbags above our head”. This was followed by a “sudden uproar of all sorts of German guns” who were firing at a British plane overhead.
The correspondent went on to exchange pleasantries with a soldier from Dublin who was in the Royal Irish Rifles. He told the correspondent he was from Rathfarnham. “We were instant and old friends. To our mutual joy we reconstructed the topography of that quiet village, including a little golf links with whose every bunker I am painfully intimate.”
MacDonagh (pictured), one of the signatories of the Proclamation, was born in Cloughjordan. His parents, Joseph MacDonagh and Mary Louise Parker, came in 1877 as the first teachers in the newly opened Catholic school in the village.
On Easter Sunday a wreath will be laid on the grave of MacDonagh’s parents. The main commemoration in Cloughjordan will take place on the May bank holiday weekend, and a statue in MacDonagh’s honour will be unveiled in Cloughjordan on May 2nd, 2016, a day before the centenary of his execution.