April 12, 2015

Day 7 and the last of the Easter Rising - By James Stephens

Portrait of James Stephens by Irish writer, poet, and painter George W. Russell (AA), circa 1910.
James Stephens was an Irish writer living and writing in the age of Irish writers, where his contemporaries were Joyce, Yeats, George Russell, O'Casey, Maud Gonne, Lady Gregory, Horace Plunkett, Synge, Oliver St John Gogarty, George Moore and many others. Stephens was a Dubliner living in Dublin during the Easter Rising of 1916. He logged for posterity his experience of that week in his book 'The Insurrection in Dublin'. I have republished his account of Easter Monday, Easter Tuesday, the Wednesday, the Thursday, the Friday and the Saturday. You can read his account of the Sunday, Day Seven and the end of the Rising, April 30 1916 below. He wrote:
"The Insurrection has not ceased.
There is much rifle fire, but no sound from the machine guns or the eighteen pounders and trench mortars. From the window of my kitchen the flag of the Republic can be seen flying afar. This is the flag that flies over Jacob's Biscuit Factory, and I will know that the Insurrection has ended as soon as I see this flag pulled down. 
When I went out there were few people in the streets. I met D.H., and, together, we passed up the Green. The Republican flag was still flying over the College of Surgeons. We tried to get down Grafton Street (where broken windows and two gaping interiors told of the recent visit of looters), but a little down this street we were waved back by armed sentries. We then cut away by the Gaiety Theatre into Mercer's Street, where immense lines of poor people were drawn up waiting for the opening of the local bakery. We got into George's Street, thinking to turn down Dame Street and get from thence near enough to Sackville Street to see if the rumours about its destruction were true, but here also we were halted by the military, and had to retrace our steps. 
There was no news of any kind to be gathered from the people we talked to, nor had they even any rumours. 
This was the first day I had been able to get even a short distance outside of my own quarter, and it seemed that the people of my quarter were more able in the manufacture of news or more imaginative than were the people who live in other parts of the city. We had no sooner struck into home parts than we found news. We were told that two of the Volunteer leaders had been shot. These were Pearse and Connolly. The latter was reported as lying in the Castle Hospital with a fractured thigh. Pearse was cited as dead with two hundred of his men, following their sally from the Post Office. The machine guns had caught them as they left, and none of them remained alive. The news seemed afterwards to be true except that instead of Pearse it was The O'Rahilly who had been killed. Pearse died later and with less excitement. 
A man who had seen an English newspaper said that the Kut force had surrendered to the Turk, but that Verdun had not fallen to the Germans. The rumour was current also that a great naval battle had been fought whereat the German fleet had been totally destroyed with loss to the English of eighteen warships. It was said that among the captured Volunteers there had been a large body of Germans, but nobody believed it; and this rumour was inevitably followed by the tale that there were one hundred German submarines lying in the Stephen's Green pond. 
At half-past two I met Mr. Commissioner Bailey, who told me that it was all over, and that the Volunteers were surrendering everywhere in the city. A motor car with two military officers, and two Volunteer leaders had driven to the College of Surgeons and been admitted. After a short interval Madame Marckievicz marched out of the College at the head of about 100 men, and they had given up their arms; the motor car with the Volunteer leaders was driving to other strongholds, and it was expected that before nightfall the capitulations would be complete. 
I started home, and on the way I met a man whom I had encountered some days previously, and from whom rumours had sprung as though he wove them from his entrails, as a spider weaves his web. He was no less provided on this occasion, and it was curious to listen to his tale of English defeats on every front. He announced the invasion of England in six different quarters, the total destruction of the English fleet, and the landing of immense German armies on the West coast of Ireland. He made these things up in his head. Then he repeated them to himself in a loud voice, and became somehow persuaded that they had been told to him by a well-informed stranger, and then he believed them and told them to everybody he met. Amongst other things Spain had declared war on our behalf, the Chilian Navy was hastening to our relief. For a pin he would have sent France flying westward all forgetful of her own war. A singular man truly, and as I do think the only thoroughly happy person in our city. 
It is half-past three o'clock, and from my window the Republican flag can still be seen flying over Jacob's factory. There is occasional shooting, but the city as a whole is quiet. At a quarter to five o'clock a heavy gun boomed once. Ten minutes later there was heavy machine gun firing and much rifle shooting. In another ten minutes the flag at Jacob's was hauled down. 
During the remainder of the night sniping and military replies were incessant, particularly in my street. 
The raids have begun in private houses. Count Plunkett's house was entered by the military who remained there for a very long time. Passing home about two minutes after Proclamation hour I was pursued for the whole of Fitzwilliam Square by bullets. They buzzed into the roadway beside me, and the sound as they whistled near was curious. The sound is something like that made by a very swift saw, and one gets the impression that as well as being very swift they are very heavy. 
Snipers are undoubtedly on the roofs opposite my house, and they are not asleep on these roofs. Possibly it is difficult to communicate with these isolated bands the news of their companions' surrender, but it is likely they will learn, by the diminution of fire in other quarters that their work is over. 
In the morning on looking from my window I saw four policemen marching into the street. They were the first I had seen for a week. Soon now the military tale will finish, the police story will commence, the political story will recommence, and, perhaps, the weeks that follow this one will sow the seed of more hatred than so many centuries will be able to uproot again, for although Irish people do not greatly fear the military they fear the police, and they have very good reason to do so."
Original source here. Click the links to read about Easter MondayEaster Tuesday, the Wednesday, the Thursday, the Friday and the Saturday.

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