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24 September 2014
Wars and Conflict - Witnesses

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Sean Harling
CURIOUS JOURNEY: An Oral History of Ireland’s Unfinished Revolution,
by Kenneth Griffith and Timothy O’Grady,
(Mercier Press, 1998).

Image of Kilmainham Gaol

Fourteen rebels were executed at Kilmainham between 3rd and 12 May 1916 ©

At this time the British were recruiting like hell for men to serve in France, you see, and the whole city was billposted with pictures of Kitchener and ‘We Want You’ and ‘Remember Belgium’ and all this sort of nonsense. There was one very big canvas streamer tied across the top of the GPO, also with a picture of Kitchener and him pointing his finger at the people –‘We Want You’. So my commandant came to me and said, ‘I’ve been instructed to get you to destroy that poster.’ So I went down and I looked and I thought, ‘How the hell am I going to destroy that thing?’ It was way up near the roof, you see, and I knew if you put ladders up the police would be on top of you before you knew where you were. Then I had this bright idea. We went into a shop and bought a sod of turf and then let the turf steep in a bucket of paraffin oil. We put some wire around the turf then, because if you put twine on it it would just burn along with the turf. Then we tied some twine on to the wire, lit the sod of turf and fired it up across the banner. Within a few minutes the whole thing was blazing, roaring. It was shocking. The fire brigade came along then. Joe Connolly, whose brother Sean was killed in 1916, was one of them. Well they all looked and saw what was burning and turned around and went back.
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