img_20160317_184433.jpgIn the early afternoon, probably about 1.30pm, the above photo was taken as the tail end of the 1916 St Patrick’s Day procession in Cork made its way into the city – 100 years ago today.

In the centre of the shot of some of the 1,080 Irish Volunteers who marched in the parade that day, there are around a dozen men carrying croppy pikes. Around half of the men who took part with the organisation were armed, while ‘a good number’ carried more naive implements like these (we know this from contemporary Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) reports of proceedings).

Less than five months after its formation, the Volunteers’ Kilmurry company and its 40-odd members had very little in the way of armament, little more than a handful of shotguns. So, perhaps conscious of the increasing possibility of the RIC tyring to disarm the Volunteers, they left their few shotguns in their farms and homes in Kilmurry when they went for the train at Dooniskey and Crookstown Road on that Friday morning. (The Cork & Macroom Direct Railway terminated at Summerhill South, a site now operated by Bus Eireann as its Capwell bus depot.)


Close to 30 of them travelled that day, joining up with their colleagues from city and county on the Mardyke – outside what is today Fitzgerald’s Park – waiting to line up behind the Redmondite National Volunteers who were directed by the organisers to assemble just beyond Gaol Cross on the Western Road.

The main photo above was taken near the formal beginning point of the parade, on what was then Great George’s Street West (Washington Street today – its name changed by the Republican-dominated Cork Corporation in 1920, as part of the efforts to flatter the US, whose support was being courted for international recognition of the self-declared Republic). Today, the building with the Beamish & Crawford signage still sells alcohol, it is an off-licence.  Just beyond it is Dwyer’s Lee Boot Manufacturing Company, which has operated in more recent times as the Square Deal furniture shop.

According to Matt Murphy from Crossmahon, Lissarda, the Kilmurry Volunteers had about 20 croppy pikes made – according to a design supplied by Terence MacSwiney – in late 1915, by a Kerryman named Pat Leary at Sweeney’s forge in Crookstown. Around a dozen of those pikes were borne by Kilmurry’s 20-plus Volunteers who marched with hundreds of city and other Volunteers who came through Kilmurry on their way to Macroom on Easter Sunday, April 23, 1916 (many of the visitors had come most of the way on the train from Capwell to Crookstown Road station.)

The Kilmurry men and boys (some were only teenagers, including Murphy and company captain Tom Neville) did bring out some shotguns at Easter 1916.

But they carried only pikes to the Cork city St Patrick’s Day parade in 1916.

Could this be them with some of those pikes in the centre of the picture?

***  The arrival and assembly of more than 350 Irish Volunteers from east Cork, Cork city, and the Bandon and Kinsale districts in Kilmurry on Easter Sunday 1916 will be re-enacted 100 years later – on Saturday, April 23, 1916.

— Walkers from Bandon will re-trace the route taken by over 100 men from the town and beyond, marching to Béal na Bláth, where they will be joined by members of Kilmurry Historical and Archaeological Association (KHAA).   The walk will conclude in Kilmurry village on Saturday afternoon, where a plaque will be unveiled to commemorate the historic occasion a century earlier, which was to have been a key part of the Easter Rising, had everything gone to plan in Kerry and Dublin.

— The plaque will be on the wall of Independence Museum Kilmurry, which will be open for the first time on the day, allowing visitors to see artefacts from the period in a collection that has been put together by KHAA over the past 50 years.

— Find more details on the events of Easter 1916 in Cork – including details of the March to Macroom – in a 32-page  Rising in the Regions supplement which I have edited, in the Irish Examiner next Monday, March 21.
— Visit the Facebook page of Independence Museum Kilmurry for updates on the event on April 23, when music, other entertainment and refreshments will help make it a great family and historic day out.