THE Beara Historical Society is continuing its series of events to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising with a talk by acclaimed travel writer, broadcaster and documentary-maker Manchán Magan.
Manchán will talk to the Society about his great-grand uncle, Michael ‘The’ O’Rahilly, one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising. O’Rahilly’s niece, and Manchán’s grandmother, Síghle Humphries, was herself a political activist and member of Cumman na mBan.
Manchán has titled his talk ‘The Pros and Cons of Having a Revolutionary in the Family.’
‘The key issue with 2016, is everyone is looking back and finding an ancestor who was involved in the Rising, but nobody has looked at the psychological impact that had on their families,’ he told The Southern Star. ‘The men in many cases were away fighting or in prison and not earning an income, and it caused resentment in the home.’
Michael O’Rahilly, was born in 1875 in Ballylongford, Co Kerry, the son of a shopkeeper, who made his fortune in the family business. O’Rahilly soon became enamoured with Irish nationalism, he was a founding member of the Irish Volunteers and its Director of Arms, and instrumental in the landing of German arms on board Robert Erskine Childers’ yacht Asgard at Howth in July 1914.
He was not a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood who planned the Easter Rising. The IRB went to great lengths not to inform the leaders of the Volunteers about their plans. When on Good Friday, O’Rahilly discovered what was afoot he drove through the night around the country, informing groups in Cork, Kerry, and Limerick that they were not to mobilise. However, on his return to Dublin when he discovered the rebellion was about to take place, he made the decision to join it, with his famous quote: ‘If the men I trained to fight are going into action, I must be with them.’
Manchán recounts how, on the morning of the Rising, O’Rahilly cut an impressive figure, in his dress uniform. ‘He had this gallant idea that going in to battle, an officer was leading his men, and if they weren’t coming back, neither was he. He kissed his pregnant wife goodbye that morning, knowing he would not see her or their children again.’
O’Rahilly was shot on the Friday of Easter Week, as he led a party in search of a route out of the GPO. As he lay dying in Sackville Lane (now O’Rahilly Parade) he penned a final message to his wife.
•Manchán Magan will talk to the Beara Historical Society on Tuesday, November 8th, at 8.30pm in Twomey’s Lounge, Castletownbere.