An Irish Volunteer, The Funeral of O’Donovan Rossa and the Easter Rising 1916

The Foundation of the Irish Volunteers

Wynnes Hotel, Abbey Street Dublin, October 1913 was the location of a seminal meeting attended by the leading lights of the Nationalist and Republican movement.  It was there the decision as to the need for a military force similar to the eponymous Ulster Volunteers was reached.  No time was wasted and within two week at the Rotunda Rooms in Dublin – November 1913, the inaugural meeting of the Irish Volunteers took place.  Chaired by Sean T. O’Kelly, the principal line up of speakers included;  Richard O’Carroll, Padraig Pearse, Séan McDermott, Eoin MacNeill, Bulmer Hobson and Batt O’Connor.


The Funeral of O’Donovan Rossa – 1915

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa aged 83, a prominent figure for more than fifty years in the nationalist movement and member of the IRB died in America where he had lived in ‘active’ exile for forty five years.  Tom Clarke realising O’Donovon Rossa’s hero value to the nationalist cause, instructed John Devoy, to ‘send his body home at once’.  And so it was that the Unrepentant Fenian was returned to Ireland for a hero’s burial.  His funeral on August 1, 1915, was a masterpiece of propaganda garnering substantial recognition for the Irish Volunteers and the IRB, who were plotting a rebellion which would manifest eight months later as the Easter Rising of 1916.

The funeral planning was meticulous, nothing was left to chance.  O’Carroll headed the Cemetery sub-Committee.  The cemetery was scene to Pearse’s historic graveside oration – one of the most evocative political/militant speeches ever made and pivotal in turning the tide of support back towards revolution.  O’Carroll’s part in the success of the O’Donovan Rossa funeral event was significant.


The Rising – Easter 1916

On April 25th 1916, Major John McBride and Thomas McDonagh, appointed Richard O’Carroll to the rank of Lieutenant and assigned him to command a post in Camden Street known as Delahunts.  On the morning of April 26th, O’Carroll marched with his comrades from Jacob’s Factory where the garrison was quartered to take up their position.  As the British soldiers under Captain Bowen-Colthurst approached from Portobello headed for Jacob’s Factory, O’Carroll and his men engaged them and a severe encounter took place. One of the volunteers was shot in the street, O’Carroll, anxious to ensure his comrades made their escape, was himself trapped in the top of the house.

The building occupied by O’Carroll was eventually taken by Bowen – Colthurst’s men.  O’Carroll was led to the yard at the rear of the building where he was asked by Bowen – Colthurst if he was a ‘Shinner?’  O’Carroll’s response was …

“From the Back Bone Out”.

He was then shot outright by Colthurst.  The bullet pierced his lung.  O’Carroll died 10 days later on May 5th 1916, of septicaemia.  Six days would pass after his shooting before Annie learned of the fate of her husband.


Richard and Annie O’Carroll along with their baby son Séan, are buried in St Paul’s Cemetery Glasnevin.


Through his every action and association Richard O’Carroll:  Trades Unionist, T.C.  P.L.G., Irish Volunteer and IRB member, sought to better the fortunes of the Irish nation and of the man and woman on the street – his story remains untold.  Until such times as he is written into the narrative of the era, its turbulent and fraught history to which he gave his life’s blood, cannot be deemed concluded or definitive.

It is clear from the breadth of his undertakings and participation that Richard O’Carroll was a true man of and for the people; a dedicated and courageous public figure, a patriot to the core, a Dubliner at heart and a martyr to the country he loved.  His epitaph reads:


‘He loved his country and served his kind’

‘Bhí sé dílis dá thír is dá chineál’


One thought on “An Irish Volunteer, The Funeral of O’Donovan Rossa and the Easter Rising 1916

  1. In relation to the article (Irish Press Feb 1937) This refers to the funeral of my grandmother. My father Richard O’Carroll was at that funeral as the article shows. He told me that he had privilege of meeting Mrs Kathleen Clarke, (widow of Joe Clarke the first man to sign the proclamation of 1916) on that day and that she told him that “your father had such capability and potential his loss to Ireland was immense”. Like my grandmother she lived in “the tenters”. A lot of well known people turned up to pay their respects that day. But that was the only story my dad ever told us of that day . Dick O’C.


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