Our friendly and excellent guides are available as Step On Guides for any visiting tour or coach operators who may like a unique, entertaining and educational tour of Irish History and the events of Easter Week 1916.

Monday, October 24, 2011


With the Easter Rising engulfing the city, the Dublin Theatre going public was one of the silent casualties of the Rising. With the outbreak of the rebellion on Easter Monday and martial law declared on the Tuesday, the stage lights went out for over two weeks in the city. But what could you have seen on the stages of the city during Easter Week 1916? The main theatre was The Theatre Royal on Hawkins Street and due on stage that week was vaudeville star Kitty Francis in a one act satire 'Mrs O'Malley's Reception' written by KF Welsh in 1914.


At the Empire known today as The Olympia, Dublin pantomime favourite Madge Clifton was starring in what was described as a musical melange 'Shall Us'. The show was produced by legendary Dublin music hall producer Barney Armstrong whose funeral in October 1921 was featured on British Pathe Newsreels.

At the Gaeity Theatre on Easter Monday night you could have enjoyed D'Oyly Carte Opera Company's production of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera 'The Gondoliers'. The Opera company who specialised in comic operas had been founded in 1875 by Richard D'Oyly Carte and toured extensively entertaining packed houses.

The Coliseum was a theatre located on Henry Street that was completely destroyed as British artillery targeted the rebels in the GPO. Due on stage at the Coliseum was Les Trombettas a male/female comedy duo with the male star known for his bird impressions were the stars. Sharing top of the bill was Fred Barnes who had earned success in 1907 with the hit tune 'The Black Sheep of the Family'. Barnes was topping bills all over the UK and Europe but with success came heavy drinking and his open gay lifestyle haunted him in later life dying in 1938 aged 53.

The nationalist aspiring Abbey Street was about to present WB Yeat's Kathleen Ni Houlihan but action on the streets of the city intervened with their plans. Many of the Abbey actors and staff were directly involved in the action. Sean Connolly an actor was killed in action on the first day of the Rising as his squad attempted to storm Dublin Castle the then seat of British Government in Ireland. Fellow actor Arthur Shields was a member of the GPO garrison and was directly involved in launching the rebels very own radio station. Shields would later star in Hollywood with his brother in The Quiet Man and in 'How Green is My Valley' with John Loder who had stood beside his General father on Moore Street as Pearse unconditionally surrendered.


Some of the theatres were also due to show British propaganda war movies but the action had jumped from the silent screen to the reality of the streets of Dublin.

Another casualty was C.H. Hyland who was shot dead on Percy Place during the Battle of Mount Street Bridge when he went to assist injured British soldiers and was shot dead by a rebel sniper in Clanwilliam House. Hyland's father was manager of the Gaeity Theatre.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


4.4 Million Population of 1916 Ireland (32 Counties)
200,000 Irishmen Serving in The British Army 1916
35,000 Irishmen K.I.A. in World War One
14,000 Irish Volunteers
1467 Rebels In Action Easter Week
5 Number of Irish rebels killed on Thursday April 27th 1916
538 Irishmen killed at Hulloch by a German gas attack on Thursday April 27th 1916
25,000 British Troops on the streets of Dublin by weeks end.
3500 Arrests
1800 Interned in the U.K.
90 Sentenced to Death
1 Woman Sentenced to Death
7 Signatories on the Proclamation
15 Executions
64 Rebel Killed in Action
132 British Army & Police Killed
260 Civilians Killed
2,500 Wounded
683767 Irish entitled to vote in December 1910 General Election
120700 Voted - just 20%
275 Buildings Completely Destroyed in the Centre of Dublin City
20,000 Rifles on Scuttled on board The Aud
1,000,000 Rounds of Ammunition
10 Machine Guns on Scuttled on board The Aud
0 Machine Guns landed with British reinforcements
22 German Prisoners of War
123.45 hours The Duration of the Irish Republic
1666 Acres the maximum size of Pearse's Irish Republic
2431 1916 Medals issued by the Irish Government
200,000 Annual Visitors to Kilmainham Jail
1997 Last survivor of the Easter Rising Lily Kempson passed away
2,411 days from the 1916 Surrender to creation of the Irish Free State after the War of Independence
15 Euro the cost of the 1916 Easter Rising Coach Tour
90 Minutes the duration of the Easter Rising Coach Tour

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


In 1966 most of the nations railway stations were renamed in honour of the men who fought in 1916.
Westland Row - Pearse Street in honour of the Pearse brothers.
Amiens Street - Connolly Station (James Connolly)
Kingsbridge - Heuston Station (Sean Heuston)
(All Dublin)
Cork - Ceannt Station (Thomas Kent)
Limerick - Colbert Station (Con Colbert)
Dun Laoghaire - Mallin Station (Michael Mallin)
Waterford - Plunkett Station (Joseph Plunkett)
Galway - Ceannt Station (Eamonn Ceannt)
Dundalk - Clarke Station (Thomas Clarke)

Drogheda - McBride Station (John McBride)
Sligo - McDermott Station (Sean McDermott)
Bray - Daly Station (Edward Daly)
Wexford - O'Hanrahan Station (Michael O'Hanrahan)
Kilkenny - McDonagh Station (Thomas McDonagh)
Tralee - Casement Station (Roger Casement)

Sunday, October 16, 2011


The Aud was captured by the British as it waited for instructions from the beach. The British had broken the German codes and knew a shipment was on its way but not exactly sure where off the Southern Coast it was to be landed. They increased patrols hoping to capture the shipment. The Aud was actually the Libau, a German ship that had been captured from the British at the beginning of World War One and known then as the SS Castro. The ship was crewed by three German naval officers and nineteen German navy men. (Spindler). The Aud left the Baltic port of Lubeck on April 9th and journeyed along the Norwegian coast, around the north of Scotland and down along the Irish Coast from Donegal to Kerry. Unable to land his cargo Captain Karl Spindler was attempting to leave Tralee Bay when he was blockaded by a number of British Naval vessels. HMS Bluebell and HMS Zinnia escorted the captured vessel to Queenstown but as they entered the harbour the captain and crew abandoned ship and scuttled her with preset explosives. On board heading for the bottom of the sea were 20,000 rifles, 100,000 rounds of ammunition and ten machine guns. The crew were detained as prisoners of war.

In the early hours of April 21st, Casement was put ashore at Banna Strand in Tralee Bay. Exhausted from his journey he attempted to rest in a disused fort but he was captured by the British and transported to the Tower of London and charged with High Treason. On August 3rd 1916 he was hanged in Pentonville Prison.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I was asked by an American visitor who was taking my guided Easter Rising Coach Tour, what if the rebels had succeeded in April/May 1916? It has been a question that I have given much thought to and as I attempted to answer the question I came up with even more questions.

Following the split with John Redmond’s National Volunteers, The Irish Volunteers had about 13,500 trained members but were lightly armed. Even if the Aud had successfully landed their cargo of weapons on Holy Thursday, there were no heavy guns or grenades only explosives they had stolen from quarries and some police barracks. The question is if all 13,500 had mustered on either the Sunday or the Monday would the bridgehead established by such a force been enough to halt the British. British forces on the streets of Dublin despite their commitment to the western front numbered over thirty thousand by the end of the Rising. If the rising appeared to be gaining the upper hand would this have affected the attitude of Irishmen serving with British regiments both in Ireland and at the frontline in France and Flanders?

The problem with success for the leaders of the rebellion would not have been to placate the population but to overcome Unionist objections in Ulster. With the rebels lauding the success of the Howth gun running mission that landed 1000 rifles imported from Germany, it was over shadowed by the Ulster Volunteers importation of 10,000 rifles also from Germany. Germany was hoping to agitate trouble that would have caused the British to either commit more troops to Irish streets or set up a second front.

Would attitudes of the ordinary Irish person have changed if the rebel forces had got the upper hand or would the population have supported more forcibly the British forces? Many households who had men serving in the British Army depended on the pay that was being earned for impoverished families and the loss of this and resultant food shortages would have made keeping the peace difficult for the rebels.

The Curragh Mutiny of 1914 had shown the British Government that Irish troops were not willing to take on the Unionists in Ulster and would have disobeyed any direct orders. The strength of the Unionists in Ulster can not be underestimated or the influence of Sir Edward Carson. Carson had already announced that a Provisional Government was in place in Belfast to take control of the six Ulster plantation counties should Home Rule be activated in Dublin. The implementation of Home Rule had been delayed by the outbreak of World War One and over a quarter of a million Irishmen at the request of Redmond had joined the British Army to fight the Germans believing this support would speed up the ending of the war and encourage the British Government to follow through on the implementation of Home Rule.

The spectre of civil war between the Ulster Unionists and Irish nationalists had been a growing threat until the outbreak of World War in 1914 focussed some peoples attention elsewhere. Belfast was a rich industrious city with ship building, thriving linen and distilling industries and munitions factories with a powerful rich elite completely diverse from the ghettos and tenement slums of Dublin. Home Rule as Carson saw it would be ‘Rome Rule’ and that it would create economic, social and religious disadvantages from Unionists. Carson had the support of the Conservative Party in Britain and its then leader Andrew Bonar Law. Liberal Prime Minister Henry Asquith had succumbed to pressure from Redmond for the support of the Irish Parliamentary Party MPs to keep Asquith in power, the price of this support being Home Rule.

This I believe could possibly had been a different time line to that of Kilmainham Gaol and the executions of Pearse, Connolly and the others.

April 24th 1916 - The Easter Rising begins at noon. 10,000 volunteers flood onto the streets of Ireland. Dublin Castle is captured and Under Secretary Nathan held prisoner. Cork is seized and a number of British naval vessels are captured but instead of utilising these assets the ships are scuttled. Galway, Wexford and Athlone are also seized and reinforced.

April 25th – May 3rd - Heavy fighting at the Curragh and Newbridge and mush of Kildare and Offaly. The British Army maintain the high ground in Tipperary.

May 2-3rd - The Ulster Volunteers mobilise and Carson declares himself Prime Minister for an Ulster Provisional Government and opposes a partitioned country. He holds secret talks with the British military authorities in Ireland.

May 5th - Increasing casualties across Ireland and a German offensive in France force the British Government to begin to withdraw their forces to Ulster. The main regiments are redeployed to Europe but heavy weaponry is left with the Ulster Volunteers. The Ulster Volunteers were 100,000 strong with 25,000 rifles prior to Easter 1916.

May 10th - An Ulster Volunteer force seizes Dundalk and Drogheda in County Louth. Donegal Sligo and Leitrim also fall. Irish regiments in the British Army in France begin to dessert and attempt to return to Ireland. Many are captured and executed by the British army.

May 15th - Padraig Pearse goes on a nationwide tour to generate support and help morale. His force is still lightly armed. Many of the Irish born British soldiers left in Ireland begin to take sides with many of them siding with the Unionists.

May 20th - Under pressure from The British Government, The US President recognises Edward Carson’s Government as the new Irish Government. Carson warns Pearse to surrender or die.

May 20th – June 1st - Heavy fighting and casualties on both sides as battles rage in Cavan, Monaghan and Meath.

June 13th - Pearse is killed in an ambush in County Dublin by Unionists living in the city. Rioting takes place as protests about food shortages and lack of Army pay become more militant.

June 20th - The Provisional Government in Dublin is captured by the Unionists who moved unhindered once they crossed the River Boyne. The leaders are executed. There are celebrations on the streets of Dublin. Loyal Unionist units are created along the East coast to act as the police and military.

June 30th - Battles continue to rage in Munster as the Ulster Volunteers hold the line from Dublin to Thurles to Galway.

July 12th - Carson declares victory. Belfast is named the new capital of Ireland and a Provisional Government is created without a Catholic representative. Carson announces conscription in Ireland. A guerrilla war continues for many years I centered on Cork, Kerry and Limerick.

1918 - Following the ending of the war, Ireland reintegrates with Great Britain and returns to the Empire and direct rule is re-established from London with Carson appointed Lord Lieutenant.
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Tuesday, October 4, 2011


In 1916 the Irish Volunteers in Munster failed to rise. During the Civil War, Munster became the seat of anti-Government forces and the creation of the Munster Republic. Since our first President Douglas Hyde in 1938 twenty three people have either held or stood for the position of President of the Republic of Ireland. Not since 1973 when Tom O'Higgins stood against Erskine Childers has anyone represented Cork City (the so called second capital)or Cork county. The break down of the figures of Presidential candidates including the 2011 election is as follows;

Dublin - 5 (President O'Kelly, Mitchell, Nally, Banotti, Lenihan)
Wicklow - 1 (President O'Dailaigh)
Longford - 1 (MacEoin)

Roscommon - 1 (President Hyde)
Mayo - 2 (President Robinson, Davis)

Cork - 1 (T. O'Higgins)
Limerick - 1 (M. O'Higgins)
Clare - 1 (President Hillery)
Tipperary - 1 (Roche)

Cavan - 1 (Gallagher)

Northern Ireland
Down - 1 (President McAleese)
Tyrone - 2 (Currie, McCartan)
Derry - 1 (McGuinness)

Outside Ireland
New York - 1 (President DeValera)
London - 2 (Dana Scallon, President Childers)
Kinshasa - 1 (Norris)

Three of the eight Presidents to date have been born outside the Republic of Ireland to which the President serves.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Poblacht na hÉireann.
The Provisional Government of the Irish Republic
To the people of Ireland.

(Only Norway, Finland and Denmark allowed women to vote prior to 1916.)
In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.
(Ireland had never been a unified nation. In the 9th century the country was ruled by various clans and High Kings. The Anglo-Norman invasion in the 12th century eventually led to English and then British rule. Ireland did have its own autonomous parliament until 1801 when the Act of Union led to direct rule from London.)

Having organised and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organisations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and, supported by her exiled children in America
(In 2008 the US census indicated that there were 36,278,332 ‘Irish’ in the United States. Following the Great Famine of the 1840’s, there were more Irish in the United States than in Ireland itself)
and by gallant allies in Europe
(support from the Kaiser in Germany)
, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory
(that victory was compromised as with many Irish attempts at Rebellion by internal bickering, splits and spies)

We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. (
Ireland became part of the EEC in 1972 and the renamed EU in 1992. The Euro was introduced in 2002 and a Constitution in 2004)
.The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty: six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms
(This included the 1848 United Irishmen rebellion more commonly known as the Cabbage Patch Rebellion as it took place in the garden of widow Margaret McCormack in Ballingarry, County Tipperary and caused the deaths of 2 people)
. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and its exaltation among the nations.

The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights (
equal rights for women but would this have also meant equal rights for the Gay and Lesbian community that would have included men like Sir Roger Casement)
and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally
(the protection of children was seriously flawed as it was often left in the hands of both male and female clergy who systematically abused their positions),
and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.

Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provisional Government
(there were 7 members all of whom were executed in the aftermath of the Rising)
, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.
(It was obviously the aim of the rebel Government to hold elections following their victory. Voting in Ireland was patchy and uneven. The elections prior to 1916 were in January and December 1910. A total of 683,767 people were entitled in Ireland to vote. In January 1910 the two main winners in Ireland were the Irish Parliamentary Party who gained 74,047 votes equating to 71 MPs and the All For Ireland Party who garnered 23,605 votes equating to 8 seats. In December 1910, 90,416 voted for the IP Party or 74 seats and the All For Ireland party 30,332 votes and 8 seats. As a entire UK electorate the IP Party gained 1.85% of the vote but this equated to 11% of the seats in the House of Commons. This compared to the Liberal Party who won 44% of the vote equating to 40% of the seats in the Commons. Post 1916, the 1918 general election of saw the success of Sinn Fein. 1,926,274 people in Ireland were entitled to vote in this election. Sinn Fein won 476,458 votes equating to 73 MPs and the IP Party garnered 226,498 votes but only 7 seats. Less than one third of those entitled to a vote exercised their democratic franchise. Irish nationalists had won 7% of the vote when entitled them to 12% of the seats in the House of Commons.)

We place the cause of the Irish Republic
(The Irish Republic refers to a 32 county nation, while the present Republic of Ireland is a 26 county constituted nation)
under the protection of the Most High God
(Ireland’s population was in 1916 90% Roman Catholic with Pope Benidict 15th on the Vatican throne who had actively thwarted plans by the Germans to give financial aid to the Rising through a Vatican bank account in Switzerland and some historians have speculated that it was Vatican representatives who tipped the British off to the arrival of Casement by U Boat off the coast of County Kerry )
, whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine
(Dictionary defined as the ‘plunder of another’s property)
. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.



Saturday, October 1, 2011


It was interesting to watch the Presidential debate on RTE's The Late Late Show on Friday night. Martin McGuinness used every euphemism possible to avoid mentioning the Republic of Ireland, the Presidency of which he now seeks. He spoke of a 'new Republic', the 'country', the 'state' and the 'nation' but never once spoke of the Republic of Ireland.

The BBC reported that seven people are seeking the Presidency of the Irish Republic which again is a complete misrepresentation of the state that exists today. The 'Irish Republic' refers to a nation of 32 counties as declared in 1916 and by the First Dail of 1919 but the nation that exists today is a 26 county constitutional Republic of Ireland which succeeded the Irish Free State which itself was created in 1922 after the War if Independence.

The Republic of Ireland Act was enacted in 1949 and covers the territory and seas of the 26 counties. The 'Irish Republic' only lives in the ideals of nationalists and republicans who seek a unified island of Ireland. What do you think of the debate on Friday Night

US Presidential Election 1908

Irlanda Respubliko proklamis en Dublino
The chances are you have no idea what you have just read but at least two of the signatories of the Proclamation in 1916 would have. This is the Esperanto for ‘The Proclamation of the Irish Republic’ and both James Connolly and Joseph Plunkett spoke Esperanto, the international language. Esperanto was a language created by Ludwig Zamenhof in 1887. This is just one of the little known facts about the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic(1916).

Of the seven members of the original cabinet (the signatories all of whom were executed) two were teachers, Pearse and McDonagh, McDonagh at one stage having studied to be a priest. Two had severe illnesses McDermott had polio and Plunkett had TB. Thomas Clarke was a tobacconist a business that is practically outlawed in today’s Ireland. Eamonn Ceannt was an accountant at Dublin Corporation.

With the 2011 Irish Presidential campaign rumbling across the country few people would have known that one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising had experience of campaigning during a Presidential campaign. James Connolly while in the United States was involved in the campaign of Socialist Party of America candidate in the 1908 Presidential election Eugene Debs. Debs (1855 – 1926) finished third in the poll which was won by Republican William Taft. Connolly had founded the Irish Socialist Federation and used the newspaper of his organisation ‘The Harp’ to drum up support for Debs’ campaign along the socialist Irish communities along the east coast of America. Connolly returned to Ireland in July 1910 to become secretary of the Socialist Party of Ireland and as the man would say ‘the rest is history’.