'it's a mistake to fight only in the country, fight in the towns'.
As a group of Irish Volunteers gathered at Coalisland in County Tyrone on Easter Sunday in advance of the Rising a shot was fired. Was this the first shot of the Rising.
Two companies of Volunteers gathered on Easter Saturday having arrived by train from Belfast and on foot from Dungannon. On Sunday they were joined by further Volunteers from Coalisland. As they awaited orders they began to march in the direction of Cookstown. By now the countermanding order of Eoin McNeill was causing confusion among their ranks.
As the march reached Stewartstown towards the rear of the column of 140 men a group of Loyalist women on the side of the road began to hurl verbal abuse. A revolver was produced and shots fired at the Orange women. A number of RIC men accompanying the group of armed Volunteers attempted to arrest the shooter but he disappeared into the column but despite attempts to trip up Sergeant Ryan and Head Constable O'Neill they arrested their man and another for obstruction in that arrest.
Now the story becomes muddy. The man arrested initially gave the false name and address of John McCloskey of Platus Hill, Coalisland but when charged he was John Dillon of 49 Gibson Street Belfast. The man arrested for obstruction was Jeremiah Hurley of Amelia Street, Belfast. Both men were bailed Dillon on £50 with two independent sureties of £25 and Hurley on £20 with two sureties of £10.
Denis McCullough who was president of the Irish Republic Brotherhood was on the march and in his witness statement to the Bureau of Military History gives the same account but names the man as Butler whom he described as a 'hanger on' and his drinking was a bad influence on the other volunteers. A number of witness statements about those couple of days refers to a lot of drinking and drunkenness.
In July 1916 before Dungannon Courts a jury of two men were sworn in but just as a verdict was about to be delivered on the two men who had pleaded not guilty there was a charge of jury tampering and the case was adjourned with the two men released on continuing bail.
There is a John Dillon recorded in Belfast Brigade of participants in the Easter Rising but why would should a senior figure in the planning of the Rising get the key facts so wrong?
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