independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Final moments of 1916 prisoners revealed

Two republican prisoners are escorted to Kilmainham Gaol in this photo from the on the Easter Rising
Two republican prisoners are escorted to Kilmainham Gaol in this photo from the on the Easter Rising

THE poignant final moments of some of the prisoners executed after the 1916 Rising have been published for the first time in a new book.

Remarkable trial records recount how Countess Markievicz "crawled" on the ground in distress at the executions as she was being held in Kilmainham Gaol.

She later had her sentence commuted to life.

Citizens' Army leader James Connolly was brought to his death on a stretcher, and not in a chair, and Major John MacBride "wished to die", according to opinion given in the records.

'Easter Rising 1916: The Trials' reveals previously unpublished trial records, including those of Harry Boland and Desmond Fitzgerald -- both of whom later became ministers in the first Dail.

Author Sean Enright, a judge and legal historian, consulted records that were released from Britain's national archives in 2002 as well as discovering 16 unreleased files.

After the Rising, 160 people were tried without lawyers and in the absence of any media.

Most cases lasted 20 minutes and the whole process took 16 days.

The trial records were not released at the time because the British army feared they would damage their war effort and recruitment in Ireland.

Mr Enright told the Irish Independent he decided to write the book as it was a "fascinating and enduring subject -- some of it's never been written before".

He explained that prisoners were being shot underneath the window of Countess Mark- ievicz's cell and that she "just crawled" when the executions were taking place.

Similarly, John MacBride did not put forward any defence at his trial and seems to have "courted his sentence," wrote Mr Enright.

Irish Independent

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