Irish Freedom Fighter 1916-1921
First Shots of 1916 fired by Offaly’s Rebel Leader
Events outside Dublin: Easter Week 1916 – Irish Weekly Independent 14 January 1954
Surprisingly, the first shots of 1916 were not fired in Dublin; but, in Tullamore on Monday night:
20 March 1916.
Peadar Bracken – Commandant Athlone Brigade Irish Volunteers (IV) – fired and seriously wounded a
Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) – Sergeant Aherne. The RIC had attempted to disarm and arrest the Volunteers.
Padraig Pearse heard the news on Tuesday evening, 21 March 1916, from Bracken’s second-in-command, Seamus Brennan.
Brennan had escaped to Dublin after the Monday night affray and reported to Pearse’s at his: St. Enda’s College, Rathfarnham, Dublin.
Pearse, then attending a play – presented by his pupils – took Brennan onto the stage and introduced him declaring:
“that the first blood has been spilled and the first blow struck in defence of the Volunteers right to carry arms”.
Pearse – then IV Director of Military-Operations – knew the action in Tullamore had been in line with the order issued to all Volunteer Officers by:
Eoin MacNeill, IV Chief-of-Staff, in March 1916:
“Your object will be to preserve the arms and the organisation of the Irish Volunteers and all measures taken by you will be to that purpose.
In general you will arrange that your men defend themselves, and each other in small groups so placed, that they may best be able to hold out”.
During the Easter Week Rising, Pearse would become:
Commandant-General of the Irish Volunteers.