Kingdom's doomed role in Rising
An edited extract from 'Kerry 1916: Histories and Legacies of the Easter Rising - A Centenary Record' edited by Bridget McAuliffe, Dr Mary McAuliffe and Owen O'Shea
Late into the night of Saturday April 23, 1916, dozens of men, all members of the Irish Volunteers, began to assemble and mobilise in parishes in and around Dingle in the western-most part of Co Kerry. With their comrades from Ballyferriter and Dunquin, the Dingle Volunteers began to march eastwards towards Tralee, a journey of some 30 miles over demanding terrain. In torrential rain, having crossed the treacherous Conor Pass, the men rested briefly in Castlegregory and met with Volunteer companies from Lispole and Annascaul near Camp before marching onwards.
Now over 100 strong, they faced wild and wet conditions into the early hours of Easter Sunday. Tired, wet, and footsore but determined to make it to Tralee, they arrived at about 10am. In the Rink - the headquarters of the Volunteers in Kerry - they joined with the Tralee companies and other groups, while, in Killarney, the Volunteers from the town and outlying districts also gathered and stood ready. These assemblies of hundreds of men and dozens of women - armed, trained and willing to act - would, within 24 hours, be told to stand down, return to their homes and await further orders. What motivated the men to march through the night from west Kerry in dreadful conditions - and the hundreds of others who assembled in Tralee, Killarney and other parts of the county - was the belief that they were about to strike a blow for Irish freedom.
Kerry had been integral to the planning of the Rising and was to be a major centre of action had the Rising, as it was conceived and planned by the IRB, gone ahead. The weapons to arrive in the Aud were to be distributed by the Kerry Volunteers to their counterparts in Cork, Limerick, Clare and Galway. The sight of well-armed Volunteers along the west coast would, it was presumed, encourage people to flock to their support, while a British government and army, engaged in war, might be reluctant to take on a popular, well-organised and well-armed force. The British might also not be in a hurry to use excessive force on Irish civilians at the expense of alienating America and its large Irish-American population. America, of course, would have been informed of this mass uprising by communications from the cable station on Valentia Island, off the south Kerry coast.