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24 September 2014
Wars and Conflict - Witnesses

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

Image of Ruined Buildings

A view of the ruins after the Easter Rising ©

After the Rising we started to reorganize immediately – to look for guns, try and buck up the language, the Gaelic League and any other organization that wasn’t banned and that we could get into. It was a terrible time. There were still thousands of Irishmen fighting in France and if you said you had been out in Easter Week one of their family was liable to shoot you.

With the surrender in 1916 and the immediate raids by the military and the round-up, the country was disarmed. Here and there we managed to hold onto a few guns, but very few, so looking for arms was a very high priority. I remember getting the key of an old Sinn Fein Hall from an old Fenian, and we started there, about eight, ten or twelve of us, drilling and organizing. I always thought that was the great test of a man – if he was able to keep coming to meetings, without any arms and with nothing happening, just drilling and going through the long haul until he could see combat.

It was in that hall that one of the most famous of the guerrilla fighters, Ernie O’Malley, was brought into the movement. That little hall dissolved then and we took up headquarters in the painters’ union – the Tara Hall, Gloucester Street, which is now Sean MacDermott Street. We met and drilled there. We were under cover of the painters’ union, you see, so we got away with it. We more or less just kept in touch until the prisoners were released from Frongoch, because they were the ones who would be able to lay the foundations for the fight to come.

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