Markievicz journal suggests link between 1916 and 1803

Lissadell House document shows Rising leaders studied Robert Emmet’s plans

Constance Markievicz used plans drawn up by Robert Emmet for the rebellion of 1803 in planning for the Easter Rising, documents made public for the first time suggest.

A handwritten copybook in the files of Lissadell House owners Edward Walsh and Constance Cassidy contains plans in which Markievicz details troop deployments and barracks in Dublin.

Lissadell House was Markievicz’s family home.

Mr Walsh picked up the copybook at an auction 12 years ago.


It and another that contains poems she wrote while in Kilmainham Jail had been in the possession of the Coughlan family from Rathgar, Dublin.

They looked after Markievicz following her frequent stints in prison.

The poems, transcribed by Fr Albert Bibby, include In Kilmainham which suggests the execution of Tom Clarke was botched.

“A peel of shots swift pattering fall/Breaking the air like hail/Silence – more shots – a sickening flash/Showed me the volley fail”.

Fr Bibby, a Capuchin friar who ministered to the rebels, including Markievicz, after the rebellion, wrote at the bottom of his transcript.

“I was told yesterday that Tom Clarke did not die as a result of the first volley, but was only seriously wounded . . . his little poem seems to confirm this report.”

Mr Walsh and Ms Cassidy are making both journals public to coincide with the centenary of the Easter Rising.

Markievicz was with the Irish Citizen Army during Easter Week. She was regarded as one of the leaders and would have been executed by the British but for her sex.

Point of attack

In the copybook, Markievicz lists the point of attack, points of check and points of defence used by Emmet during the failed 1803 rebellion.

She gives a detailed list of changes since that rebellion and concludes with a series of words that suggest that she and the other leaders of the Rising studied Emmet’s rebellion closely .

She writes “Emmet’s death”, “why a failure”, “Why 4?”, “Why Fenians”, “discipline”, “be prepared”, “content to do with you can” and “little things”.

Mr Walsh said he was convinced Markievicz used the copybook to plan for the Rising and that references to Emmet were used to disguise her real intention as her home was frequently raided by police.

“It seems to me that she looked at what he did and tried to find out where he went wrong. On the balance of probabilities, at the very least, these were Constance’s own ideas about how a Rising should take place.”

He believes a reference to rebels “to rush down Thomas St” could relate to the failed attack on Dublin Castle by the Irish Citizen Army on Easter Monday.

Lissadell House and Gardens will be open to the public on March 20th from 10am-6pm. Price €5. The copybooks will be published in the Constance Markievicz Journal 1916, published by Willow Ireland and available at Eason from this week.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times