Sunday 17 December 2017

Secret police files reveal rebel activity before 1916

Dublin’s O’Connell Street lies in ruins after the Easter Rising in 1916
Dublin’s O’Connell Street lies in ruins after the Easter Rising in 1916
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Secret police files which provide a remarkable insight into the run-up to the 1916 Rising are now available to the public online.

They show how some of those suspected of being involved in hardline nationalist activities at the time were closely monitored by the British authorities.

Online access to the files is part of the National Archives' contribution to the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme.

They contain what was at the time top secret material, collated in a series of daily reports, by the detective section of the Dublin Metropolitan Police.

"These files begin at the start of June in 1915, and lead right up to 20th April 1916, just four days before the beginning of the 1916 Rising,'' said Arts Minister Heather Humphreys.

They describe Republican activity in Dublin at the time, and include details of intelligence gathered at a number of key city centre locations, such as the shop of Thomas J Clarke at 75 Parnell Street, and the Irish Volunteers Office on Dawson Street.

"The files may be 100 years old, but they still paint a fascinating picture of how the Dublin Metropolitan Police were monitoring the people who they believed were plotting Ireland's independence," she added.


More than 230 individuals were monitored, with a number of very familiar names cropping up in the files. These included Thomas J Clarke, who is mentioned in almost every report, Con Colbert, Seán T Ó Ceallaigh and Seán Mac Diarmada, said the minister, who launched the new service.

"Major events which took place in 1915 and 1916 were also under close surveillance," added Ms Humphreys.

The files include references to the funeral of Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa and the Annual Convention of the Irish Volunteers.

The reports also include details of anti-recruitment and conscription rallies and meetings of the Irish Women's Franchise League.

They also describe Republican activity in Dublin during the 11 months preceding the Easter Rising.

Irish Independent

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