Dublin priests who ministered at 1916 Easter Rising remembered

Commemoration sees readings of accounts from clerics who aided wounded and dying

Among the documents of the Dublin diocesan archives from 100 years ago there is an account of how more than 40 people sought refuge in the Pro-Cathedral (above) when fighting broke out at Easter 1916 in  the city centre. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Among the documents of the Dublin diocesan archives from 100 years ago there is an account of how more than 40 people sought refuge in the Pro-Cathedral (above) when fighting broke out at Easter 1916 in the city centre. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

More than 20 Catholic priests who ministered to people killed and wounded during the 1916 Rising were among those remembered at a special event in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral tonight.

The priests had included Fr Edward Byrne, later an archbishop of Dublin.

Among the documents of the diocesan archives from 100 years ago there is an account of how more than 40 people sought refuge in the Pro-Cathedral when fighting broke out in the city centre.

All around the cathedral itself buildings burned, and the group was forced to stay inside the “Pro” for three days.

Meanwhile, priests of the cathedral continued to come and go from the building to be with the wounded and dying.

This evening’s unique commemoration involved readings of first-hand accounts from the priests who ministered in hospitals, on the streets and in jail during that week, often at great personal risk.

It also saw the first Dublin performance of a new suite of music, Áille na hÁille – a Terrible Beauty, composed by one of Ireland’s most distinguished traditional musicians, Dr Charlie Lennon.

Today also marked the centenary of the execution in Kilmainham jail of James Connolly and Séan Mac Diarmada.

One of the priests, Hubert O’Keefe, sacristan at St James’s Church, had accompanied the prison chaplain, Fr McCarthy, to the jail that day.

In his memoir, he recalled: “In giving a description of James Connolly’s execution, Fr McCarthy told me that the prisoner, who was in a bad condition, elected to stand like the rest, but failed. He was then tied to a chair, but slumped so much that he overbalanced.

“Finally, he was strapped to a stretcher and placed in a reclining position against the wall. The sight left an indelible impression on Fr McCarthy.”

Presenter for the evening was Dublin diocesan archivist Noelle Dowling, with readings by Darren Maher.

Music was by Dr Lennon, with Éilís Lennon on fiddle, Michael O’Brien on uileann pipes, Jim Higgins on percussion, Ruth McGinley on piano and Elizabeth Cooney on violin, with singers Patricia Bourke D’Souza and Albert Llussa Torra.