Tuesday 12 December 2017

Soldier's 1916 diary 
reveals photo of a wounded Connolly

It is the only existing picture of the rebel leader taken during the rebellion
It is the only existing picture of the rebel leader taken during the rebellion

Danielle Stephens

A NEVER before seen photo of James Connolly, pictured during the final days of the 1916 Rising, has been published in a new book.

It is the only existing picture of the rebel leader taken during the rebellion.

Captain Milligan, who was a soldier with the British army, took the picture despite the fact that cameras were forbidden for use by soldiers.

The photograph appears in 'The 1916 Diaries of an Irish Rebel and British Soldier', which was written by author Mick O'Farrell.

He first saw the artefact 10 years ago, but it took several years of research to determine its origin.

Statements from Diarmuid Lynch, who preceded the stretcher to Moore Street, as well as Liam Tannam and Michael Staines, who were two of the bearers, place the men at the scene of the photo.

Lynch recalled being "searched and surrounded by a heavy armed guard", before "the stretcher bearers were ordered to lay [the stretcher] down" on Parnell Street.

Landmarks mentioned in other testaments match clearly with what can be seen in the photograph.

The picture shows the moments before Connolly attempted to agree terms of surrender, but was subsequently arrested.

The large building, the National Bank Ltd, can be made out, which was on Parnell Street.

Author Mick O'Farrell studied this photo along with two diaries that gave an insight into the experiences of soldiers from both sides of the Rising.

Volunteer Seosamh de Brun discarded his diary, as well as his uniform, in order to escape British guards. A mechanic fitter, from Jacob's Factory, where de Brun was stationed, found it shortly after the Rising.

However, it wasn't until last year, when Mr O'Farrell put an advert in the Irish Independent looking for the soldier's descendants that he found out more about the mystery man.

The Dubliner was 33-years-old when he was ordered to be one of the 14 cyclists deployed as a diversion for De Valera's men. He documented that day and the fear he felt after one of his comrades, John O'Grady, was killed.

He started writing 
entries into the diary six months before the Easter Rising, giving readers an insight into how an ordinary life was disrupted by violence.

Mr O'Farrell's book also showcases the diary entries from a British Sgt Major Samuel Lomas, who originally believed he was being sent to France.

He went on to be the NCO who gave the orders to the firing squad on the first day of executions, which saw the deaths of Pierce McDonagh, Padraig Pearse and Thomas Clarke.

This is Mr O'Farrell's fourth book on the 1916 Rising.

He said: "There's a danger of reading a history book, where a story of war starts, happens and ends. People forget that lives were ended, or at best disturbed."

Irish Independent

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