Cumann na Saoirse Náisiúnta

National Irish Freedom Committee


Countdown to 2016 Observance Report

By: Dominick Bruno

Following the Remembrance ceremony at Woodlawn Cemetery, the gathering adjourned to nearby Byrne & Hanrahan's for Easter breakfast and the Countdown to 2016 program.  Maggie Trainor took over as emcee and welcomed Brigid Brannigan, who read the Proclamation in English.

Brigid is famous in the United States for the fierce role she and her sister took on the streets of NY in defense of Irish political prisoners of war during the 1980s.  Often, even when no one else was about, Brigid and her sister could be seen never letting the Brits forget that there was support here for the IPOWs.  This year, she is being honored by the County Armagh Association of NY for her great contributions.  Brigid was followed by Liam Ó Murchadha who spoke on
the events of Easter week 1916.  The great musician Mary Courtney then treated all gathered to a moving rendition of The Foggy Dew, followed by a minute's silence in memory of Ireland's fallen heroes.

Cumann na Saoırse Náısıúnta member Dominick Bruno then read a tribute to Éammon Ceannt, followed by Gerry Enright and Maighréad Ní Dubhda rendering tribute to the other executed leaders of 1916 and focusing on Michael Mallin respectively.  Mary Courtney and Pádraic Garvey paid tribute to the brave men and women who made history.

The event closed with a recitation of Yeats' poem on 1916 by Joan Messina and the assemblage were lead by Mary Courtney in a rousing group rendition of "A Nation Once Again".

We thank everyone who came out and made the event a success, and look forward to seeing everyone again on May 6th for the Brıan Mór Ó Baoıghıll Commemoration in NYC.

Easter Week 1916 Remembered

 On Easter Monday, 1916 - like those who stood and fought in defense of American Liberty on Lexington Green and at Concord Bridge on the 19th of April in 1775, leading to the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on the 4th of July 1776 - brave Irish men and women took up arms to rid Ireland of its cruel invader, England.  In so doing they set in motion events, which would inspire the unraveling of England’s vast empire, on which the sun never set throughout the nineteenth century and into the twentieth.  The Irish War for Independence which followed gave hope and courage to other victims around the world to also rise up; it set in motion a ground swell of armed resistance and/or of civil disobedience in countries around the world including Asia, India, Africa, the Middle East, South America and the Caribbean.  The beginning of the end of that particular evil empire had its commencement on that fateful Easter Monday morning in 1916.

 Those who went out on that Easter Monday in 1916, the Irish Volunteers, the Irish Citizen Army, the Irish National Foresters, the Hibernian Rifles and the ladies of Cumann na mBan, without regard to their own personal safety, went into the gap of danger, made the sacrifice, set the example.

 For the poet William Butler Yeats, Easter 1916 transformed Ireland from a place where “motley was worn,” ... “all changed, changed utterly, a terrible beauty is born.”

Just as the way to properly respect the sacrifice on Calvary is not merely to read about the historical Jesus, but to live a Christian life, as both preached and exemplified by Christ, himself, in order that we might be saved; so too is the proper way to honor those who rose up during Easter week 1916 to relive their example, each according to his or her unique talents and abilities (with the example of the Constitutional Liberties of the United States), in order that we might be found faithful to the Fenian Faith which motivated them.

 The supporters of the connection with England have worked well in secret, and in the open.  In classic imperial form they seek to divide and rule, cultivating differences in fear of Theobald Wolfe Tone’s aim of replacing divisive labels with the separate, common title of Irishman.  Bribes, offices and so-called honors are part of their stock in trade.

Yet, just as in every generation there have been those foolish enough to accept these counterfeit compromises, so too is there a continuity of Irish resistance to alien domination stretching back to the resistance to the Vikings, which, under Brian Boru, finally broke their power in Ireland at Clontarf, and which has always regarded English pretension to sovereignty over any part of Ireland as fundamentally illegitimate, as the “fruit of the poison tree.”

 As Pearse said regarding those who collaborate with English rule, theirs may be... a safer gospel, but it is not the Gospel of Tone.  At the grave of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa in 1915, Pearse also insisted that we must stand together “in brotherly union for the achievement of the freedom of Ireland.  And we know only one definition of freedom: it is Tone’s definition, it is Mitchel’s definition, it is Rossa’s definition. Let no man blaspheme the cause that the dead generations of Ireland served by giving it any other name and definition than their name and their definition.”
 Like O’Donovan Rossa, Pearse and those who rose up with him in 1916, held it a Christian thing, “to hate evil, to hate untruth, to hate oppression and hating them to strive to overthrow them.”

 In conclusion let us reflect once more on the following excerpt from the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic:
 “We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonor it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.”

 Mac Dara, do scrí

Executed Signatories

The Easter Rising of 1916 was an armed uprising of Irish nationalists against British rule in Ireland. The uprising occurred on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, and centered mainly in Dublin. The aim of the uprising was to achieve political freedom in a 32-county Irish Republic. 

The uprising began when about 2000 men led by Padraic Pearse seized control of the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin and other strategic targets throughout the city. Shortly after the initial deployments, at four minutes past noon, Pearse read the ‘Proclamation of the Irish Republic’ from the steps of the GPO and announced the establishment of a provisional government of the Irish Republic.

Throughout the night of April 24, the rebels occupied additional positions and by the morning of April 25 they controlled a considerable part of city.

The British counteroffensive began on Tuesday with the arrival of reinforcements. Martial law was proclaimed throughout Ireland. Bitter street fighting took place throughout the city during which time the strengthened British forces dislodged the Irish from their positions. By the morning of April 29, the post office building, site of the rebel headquarters, was under violent attack. Recognizing the futility of further resistance, Pearse surrendered in the afternoon of April 29.

'All changed, changed utterly, a terrible beauty was born.'



    James Connolly          Patrick Pearse        Thomas J. Clarke       Eamonn Ceannt     Joseph M.Plunkett  Sean MacDiarmada  Thomas MacDonagh

Tribute to Eamonn Ceannt

Eamonn Ceannt was born in Glenamaddy, County Galway. He was educated by the Christian Brothers' and graduated from University College, Dublin before joining the administrative staff of Dublin Corporation. In 1900 Ceannt joined the Central Branch of the Gaelic League, which also numbered Padraig Pearse and Douglas Hyde among its members. Ceannt was an active promoter of Irish music, a fine Uileann piper and founder of the Dublin Piper's Club.

Ceannt joined Sinn Fein and the IRB in 1908 and in November, 1913 he was appointed to the Provisional Committee of the newly formed Irish Volunteers whose object was: 'To secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland; To train, discipline, arm and equip a body of Irish Volunteers for the above purpose; and to unite for this purpose Irish men of every creed and of every party and class'.

On 26th of July, 1914 Ceannt was involved in the Howth gunrunning operation organized by Erskine Childers. Throughout the period leading up to the Rising Ceannt was a member of the Supreme Council of the IRB and was instrumental in its planning. Ceannt was a signatory of the 1916 Proclamation and held command of the South Dublin Union during the Rising. He was afterwards imprisoned in Kilmainham Jail and executed by firing squad on May 8th, 1916.

Other executed or killed in action leaders

In addition to the signatories of the Proclamation the British executed nine other leaders of the Rising. Eight of those were executed by firing squad and one, Roger Casement, by hanging. The only leader to lose his life in action was Michael O’Rahilly.

 There seemed to be no particular pattern in who was executed and who was spared. Eamon De Valera who was one of four battalion commanders was spared while William Pearse, Patrick’s aide-de-camp, was shot simply because he was Patrick brother.

Although those gallant men were not signatories to the Proclamation they, nonetheless, went forth placing their cause and lives in the hands of the Most High God as so eloquently stated in the last paragraph of the Proclamation:

“We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonor it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its velour and discipline and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.” 




Tribute to Michael Mallin

Michael Mallin was born in Dublin in 1874. His early youth was spent in the British Army as a drummer boy. He was stationed in India and was promoted to the rank of NCO. After 14 years in the service he returned to Dublin. During the Lockout of 1913-14 Mallin became involved with James Connolly and the ICA. The departure of Jack White to the Irish Volunteers saw Mallin become the main trainer of the small force. He wrote for the Workers’ Republic and gave endless lectures on tactics and was eventually made Chief of Staff of the Citizen Army.
Mallin was also a crack shot no doubt thanks to his training in the British Army. He commanded the Stephen’s Green area with Markievicz, as his second. Those who were under him said he fought bravely. Mallin left a wife and small children behind when he was executed on 8 May 1916. His last letter to his wife and children is probably one of the most poignant of all the final words written by the executed leaders

Tribute to the Women of 1916

A few women, mainly female relatives of the leaders, were given important tasks to perform in the few days before the Rising.


By: Kathleen Clarke

Early in April, Tom and Sean MacDermott asked me to select sixteen girls, members of Cumann na mBan, for dispatch work, girls whose silence and discretion they could absolutely rely upon. With the help of Miss MacMahon I drew up a list and handed it to Tom and I have the intense satisfaction that all were true to the trust placed in them.

On Palm Saturday night, 1916, the Central Branch of Cumann na mBan held a Ceilidhe (dance) in, I think, the Grocer’s Hall, Parnell Square. Many criticised us for having it on such a night, but I had been asked by Sean MacDermott to hold it in order to cover a meeting with men from the provinces. Miss MacMahon and I got busy to carry out his request, and we were the only two in the branch who knew the object of the Ceilidhe. Sean came early, and asked me to stay with him until those he had to meet turned up, as he could leave me without apology. I asked if he would mind Miss MacMahon staying with us. He said, ‘If you wish, I have no objection. She will of course understand when I leave you.’ So we both formed a kind of bodyguard for him; many of his friends who would, I knew, have liked to speak to him passed into the hall, but with Miss MacMahon on one side of him and myself on the other they did not dare ...

Con Colbert came into the shop to protest against a Ceilidhe being held in Lent. He was deeply religious, and did not think it right. I could not explain the reason for it to him, so I told him not to be so squeamish and to dance while he could, as he might be dancing at the end of a rope one of these days. I fear I shocked him, and I was sorry the minute the words were out of my mouth. I was sorry for being so flippant, but I was under a great strain at the time.

I had no intimate knowledge of the work of the other branches of Cumann na mBan in Dublin or throughout the country, but I did know, as a member of the Executive, that they all worked as hard as Central Branch, of which I was President.

On the Tuesday of Holy Week, 1916, Tom left the shop in Parnell Street to go to a meeting. I took his place there, and when he was not back by 11 p.m. I closed the shop and went home, hoping to find him there. He was not and after a while I began to worry. It was unusually late for him. Our house was at the end of the avenue, which was not well lighted, and I was always uneasy when he was late, fearing that some night the British might lay for him there and murder him ...

On reaching home we settled to supper, and during it he told me the great news, that the Rising had been arranged for the following Sunday, that a Proclamation had been drawn up to which he was first signatory. I said ‘That means you will be first President.’ ‘Yes,’ he said, ’that is what it means.’ Then he told me how the Proclamation was drawn up. Some time before, Pearse had been asked to draft it on lines intimated to him and submit it to the Military Council. He did, and some changes were made. When it was signed that night, it represented the views of all except one, who thought equal opportunities should not be given to women. Except to say that Tom was not that one, my lips are sealed.

On Holy Thursday, I was sent to Limerick with dispatches. I took my three children with me to leave them with my mother, so that I could be free to take on the duty assigned to me in the Rising.

 Excerpt from Revolutionary Women: Kathleen Clarke

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