Monday 27 February 2017

Daughter of 1916 London Volunteer strikes a chord

Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Una Fletcher raises the Tricoulour with the help of Frank Colcannon, history co ordinator at St Josephs Boys National School in Terenure. Photo: Damien Eagers
Una Fletcher raises the Tricoulour with the help of Frank Colcannon, history co ordinator at St Josephs Boys National School in Terenure. Photo: Damien Eagers
Una Fletcher (85) withl(left to right), Josh Gunn, Araish Ahmed and Darragh Sheppard, all pupils at St. Joseph's Boys national school in Terenure. Photo: Damien Eagers

The classroom fell silent as grandmother Una Fletcher recalled her father showing her the bullet holes on Moore Street that were left after a shot narrowly missed his head as he fled from the GPO during the Easter Rising.

The group of 10 to 12-year-old boys from St Joseph's Boys National School in Terenure, south Dublin, sat enraptured as the 85-year-old daughter of London Volunteer John 'Blimey' O'Connor told how her father left his home in the British capital as a tin-whistle-playing 19-year-old to join the London Volunteers at the Kimmage Garrison and wound up making history.

Thanks to his bravery and skills as an electrician, he and fellow London Irish volunteer Liam Daly are credited with helping to tell the world that an Irish Republic had been declared in Dublin during the Rising.

Despite heavy gunfire from snipers, the pair managed to put up the aerials for the famous short wave broadcast from the GPO in morse code that crossed the Atlantic and alerted the world to the revolt in Ireland.

And as Mrs Fletcher proudly hoisted the Tricolour in the school's front garden as part of its celebration of Proclamation Day at schools across the country yesterday, she said she could feel her father looking down at her and smiling.

"I'm extremely proud of what he did. It's part of who I am," she said in response to an endless stream of questions from the boys who wanted to hear every detail of her father's life.

Irish Independent

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