Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Irish Volunteer graves identified

Peter Kavanagh of Active Retirement Ireland views exhibition pieces including a German Mauser rifle

Unknown heroes of the Irish Volunteers have been identified in graves in Glasnevin cemetery as part of a new commemoration.

Details on the activists and where they fought and died is included in the exhibition at the centre which also includes a rifle smuggled for the organisation and later found in playwright Sean O'Casey's house.

The volunteers include John Lee from lower Rutland Street, a volunteer later wounded in Gallipoli and brought home to die in Dublin and James Grace from Summerhill, who fought on Mount Street in the 1916 Rising, who survived into old age.

Helena Moloney from Rathmines fought in City Hall in 1916 and went on to become president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and lived until 1967.

Andrew Barry, a volunteer, fought at the Somme, where he lost a leg. He died in 1984 and was the last surviving member of the National Volunteers.

John Green, chair of Glasnevin Trust, said: "For us, just as importantly, it shines a light on a number of the lesser known, though no less heroic, participants in the seminal events from that period who are also buried at Glasnevin."

Many of the artefacts were donated by families.

The Irish Volunteers exhibition includes the O'Casey gun, a German Mauser rifle made in 1870, landed at Howth on July 26 1914 on the Asgard by Erskine Childers in the gun-running plot.

The stock of the gun had been cut off allowing women in the rebel group to smuggle it under their clothes and it was later uncovered in the writer's house on the East Wall Road in Dublin.

Other historical finds include Roger Casement's personal bible from 1915 and an inscribed shell which was being carried by the rebel leader when he was arrested at Banna Strand the same year.

There are also letters from Patrick Pearse and Thomas McDonough to Joseph Mary Plunkett, film clips and images from O'Donovan Rossa's funeral and pieces from the Great 1913 Lockout Tapestry.

The Irish Citizen Army was founded on November 19 1913 with 350 members by James Larkin and James Connolly to protect workers from the Dublin Metropolitan Police.

The Irish Volunteers was founded six days later at a public meeting held in the Rotunda Rink in Dublin. It was made up of members of the Gaelic League, Ancient Order of Hibernians and Sinn Fein, and, secretly, the IRB with about 100,000 members at one time.

During the First World War, the Volunteers split with some joining John Redmond to fight with the Allies and others following Pearse and Eoin MacNeill to fight in the 1916 Easter Rising.