#OTD in 1916 – James Connolly vanished for a three-day meeting with the IRB military council where they agreed upon joint plans for an insurrection on Easter Sunday.

A secret meeting between Pádraig Pearse and James Connolly held over three days from 19 January 1916, where the outcome is that Connolly commits the Irish Citizen Army to join with the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and the date for the Rising is agreed.

In early January 1916, and in high anxiety that Dublin Castle would imminently arrest the leadership of those plotting a rebellion, Connolly thought it essential to pre-empt this by triggering the rebellion himself with his own 200 strong Citizen Army. He hoped that this action would embolden the IRB, the Volunteers, and the wider separatist movement to fall in with his initiative. In mid-January, Eoin MacNeill and Pearse met with Connolly and became alarmed at his zeal to act unilaterally and within days. As they saw it, drastic action was needed to forestall Connolly. Pearse undertook to talk to Connolly to try and persuade him to desist and some days later Pearse reassuringly reported to MacNeill that he had succeeded in stopping Connolly from acting precipitously; Pearse did not explain fully to MacNeill how this persuasion had been achieved.

A story gradually emerged that Connolly was effectively ‘kidnapped’ by the IRB on 19 January 1916 and held for three days in a house of an IRB member in Dolphin’s Barn and during that time persuaded by key members (including Pearse, Clarke, Ceannt and Mac Diarmada) of the IRB’s military council (constituting a ‘sub-committee’ of the IRB Supreme Council) to fall in with their plans for the triggering of the rebellion at Easter that year. The participants were sworn to secrecy, but some important information has been gleaned, significantly from Joseph Plunkett as related contemporaneously to his sister, Geraldine.

The outcome is signalled in the Workers’ Republic newspaper of 29 January, in an editorial penned by Connolly himself:

“Our notes this week will be short. The issue is clear and we have done our part to clear it. Nothing we can now say can add point to the arguments we have put before our readers in the past few months; not shall we continue to labour the point.

In solemn acceptance of our duty and the great responsibilities attached thereto, we have planted the seed in the hope and belief there are many of us are much older it will ripen and blossom into action.

For the moment and hour of that ripening, that fruitful and blessed Day of Days, we are ready.

Will it find you ready?”

Source: Irish Life 1916 booklet – ‘A Record of the Irish Rebellion, 1916’, Photo colourised by 1916 Easter Revolution in Colour



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