Tomorrow evening (Wednesday, March 23) author Ray Bateson will give an illustrated talk in the Jackie Clarke Library in Ballina. Ray is the author of They Died By Pearse’s Side, a unique book detailing the people who died in Easter Week. Too often the ‘name recognition’ of Easter Week rests with the signatories of the Easter Proclamation and, for Mayo people, the likes of Major John MacBride.
Over 60 Volunteers were killed in action during Easter Week 1916 with over 500 casualties in total, including civilians, police and soldiers. This book honours them in remembering those who, up to now, were largely forgotten. The book is the first major attempt to bring together the lives of these Volunteers. Ray Bateson would be the first person to admit that the book is not the final word on the Volunteer casualties of the Easter 1916. He is appealing for any information on Volunteers who died in 1916. The book is a labour of love by a man who is the founder of Dead Ireland, which promotes cemetery heritage through guided tours, lectures, exhibitions, publications and websites. See www.deadireland.com www.irishgraves.com and www.therisingdead.com
The book lists the opposing sides in the Rising. On the Irish side it lists the Irish Volunteers, Kimmage Garrison, Irish Republican Brotherhood, Irish Citizen Army, Cumann na mBan, Hibernian Rifles, Na Fianna Éireann and other individuals who were not part of the Volunteer movement but joined in the fight. The British side had the British Army, The Helga Gunboat, Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP), Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), Training Corps (various Training Corps including the Irish Volunteer Training Corps (the GRs) and the Officer Training Corps at Trinity) and others which included soldiers on leave and a group of Australians who were based in Trinity.
Among these groups it must be remembered that Irish men fought on both sides. Many Irish fought in British uniforms while many born in England of Irish parents fought for Ireland. Ray Bateson informs us: “The most official Roll of Honour, of the men and women who participated in the Easter Rising, was compiled by the Easter Week Memorial Committee and presented to the National Museum in 1936.” He goes on: “The most comprehensive listing of those who died on the volunteer side during the Easter Rising is to be found in the National Graves Association roll of Honour. It includes a number of non-combatants who, because of their actions or allegiance, were inscribed on the Roll. It also includes those who died of wounds or imprisonment, arising from Easter Week, up to 1919.”
Ray Bateson’s book, which contains over 300 photographs and 4 maps, is published by Irish Graves Publications with all proceeds going to the National Graves Association (NGA). The NGA traces its history back to the rising of 1867, when a Memorial Committee was formed. Some years later, the organisation became known as The Monuments Committee (of the Young Ireland Society), and later The Graves and Monuments Committee. In 1926 the Committee became known as Cumann Uaigheann na Laochra Gael or the National Graves Association, the name which it has retained up to the present day. The objectives of the NGA are: To restore, where necessary, and maintain fittingly the graves and memorials of our patriot dead of every generation; to commemorate those who died in the cause of Irish Freedom; to compile a record of such graves and memorials.
The Association is not in receipt of, nor have they ever applied for, state funding of any kind. It depends entirely on voluntary donations and subscriptions (annual associate member cost €12.).
The NGA has erected, or accepted to be placed in their care, in excess of 500 Memorials and Wayside Shrines in the 32 counties of Ireland. They include Wolfe Tone at Bodenstown; Bart Teeling in Sligo; Roddy McCorley, Toomebridge, County Antrim and The Croppy Boy in Tralee. Members of the governing body are not allowed to be a member of any political party. This rule does not apply to associates. The National Graves Association is an autonomous body, with no affiliation to any political party, organisation or group.
Among the Volunteers from the west who died in the Easter Rising are Major John MacBride (Westport), Éamonn Ceannt (Glenamaddy), Brendan Donelan (Loughrea), Seán MacDermott (Kiltyclogher, Co Leitrim) and William Partridge (Sligo and Ballaghaderreen). Perhaps some people have more information on people contained (or absent) from Ray Bateson’s book. He would appreciate any information or photographs, including those who survived the fighting of 1916.
Maeve Cavanagh, writing about her brother Ernest, who was shot dead on the steps of Liberty Hall by a British sniper, states:
To every noble cause your heart
Went forth unerring, true,
Maybe you played a greater part,
And braver than you knew.