Sunday 22 January 2017

Pearse's 1915 letter to Commandant Eamon de Valera

From the UCD archives

Published 07/03/2016 | 14:00

A letter from Patrick Pearse to Eamon de Valera.
A letter from Patrick Pearse to Eamon de Valera.

When the Volunteers split in September 1914, the smaller group, led by Eoin MacNeill, retained the name Irish Volunteers and set about rebuilding and restructuring the organisation. At a meeting of the central executive in December, chaired by Patrick Pearse, a new military structure was proposed.

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MacNeill was appointed Chief of Staff, Pearse became Director of Military Organisation, Joseph Plunkett was Director of Military Operations, Thomas MacDonagh Director of Training, and The O'Rahilly Director of Arms.

The meeting also agreed that the Dublin Volunteers be divided into four battalions. Edward Daly was appointed acting commandant of 1st Battalion, Thomas MacDonagh 2nd Battalion, Eamon de Valera 3rd Battalion, and Eamonn Ceannt 4th Battalion.

All appointments were confirmed at a subsequent Executive Committee meeting on 10 March 1915. The following day, as they were walking along Kildare Street, Dublin, Pearse handed the letter of appointment to de Valera. It read:

A Chara,

At last night's meeting of the Executive you were formally appointed Commandant of the 3rd Batt., with Capt Fitzgibbon as Vice Commandant and Capt Begley as Adjutant. I have mislaid the name of the Quartermaster, but he was also approved of. Could you let me know his name and former rank by return? (to St. Enda's?)

Can you attend a meeting of the four Battalion Commandants on Saturday evening next after the officers' lecture? There are several important matters that the Headquarters staff wish to discuss with the Commandants.

Sincerely yours

P.H. Pearse

Following the meeting held by the Battalion Commandants, one of de Valera's first duties was to lead an exercise in Finglas village on Easter Sunday 1915. Plans for a September insurrection were also discussed.

Pearse's handwritten letter to de Valera (right) can be viewed online via the UCD Archives Centenary Special. http://historyhub.ie/march-1915-patrick-pearse-letter-to-eamon-de-valera FC

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