James Connolly was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on June 5, 1868. He was a committed Marxist union leader and revolutionary, and one of the leading participants in the Easter Uprising, 4/24-29/1916 against British rule.
After arriving in Dublin in 1896, Connolly helped found the ‘Irish Socialist Republican Party’. From 1903 – 10, he lived in New York City where he helped organize the ‘Industrial Workers of the World’. In 1912 after his return to Ireland he helped found the ‘Irish Labor Party’ and assisted in organizing the ‘Irish Transport and General Worker’s Union’, which conducted sympathy strikes in support of other labor disputes.
In 1913 after a number of violent demonstrations Connolly became commander of an irregular Citizen Army set up as a worker’s defense force. With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, and asserting that peace could only be secured through the fall of Capitalism, he committed the Irish Labor movement to oppose the allied war effort. Connolly’s militancy threatened to interfere with the plans of the Irish Republican Brotherhood to declare independence from Britain.
In January 1916, Connolly reached an agreement with the Brotherhood and his 200 – strong citizen army joined forces with the Irish Volunteers in a republican army over which he was commandant. On Easter Monday the revolutionaries captured the Dublin General Post Office where the Irish Republic was proclaimed. In the ensuing battle Connolly was wounded in the foot and captured. He was subsequently court-martialed, sentenced to death, and executed by firing squad on May 12th, 1916.
William Pearse was born on Nov. 15, 1881 in Dublin, and was a younger brother of Patrick, a leader of the rising. He studied at the Metropolitan School of Art and became a sculptor. He also studied in Paris and gained notice for several of his artworks.
He followed his brother into the Irish Volunteers and took part in the Easter Rising in 1916, constantly staying at his brother’s side at the G.P.O. Following the surrender he was courtmartialed and sentenced to be shot. It has been said that he was only a minor player in the struggle and it was his surname that condemned him. He was executed by firing squad on May 4, 1916.
Michael O’Hanrahan was born on March 17, 1877 in New Ross, Co. Wexford. He came from a staunchly Republican family, with a burning desire to see an independent Ireland. His father Richard, a cork cutter, is said to have taken part in the 1867 Fenian Uprising. As a child the family moved to Carlow where Michael was educated at Carlow Christian Brothers’ School and Carlow College Academy.
As a young man Michael showed great promise as a writer, becoming heavily involved in the promotion of the Irish language. He was instrumental in setting up the first branch of the Gaelic League in Carlow. In 1903 he moved to Dublin where he worked as a proofreader for Cló Cumann which produced Gaelic League publications. He also joined Sinn Féin in Dublin and was quite active in the party for a few years and sat on its National Council. He was also sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood.
He joined the Irish Volunteers from their inception in November, 1913, and was employed as an administrator on the headquarters staff at 2 Dawson Street. He became quartermaster general of the 2nd Battalion and was responsible for the procurement of many of the arms used in the Easter Rising. In the Rising, O’Hanrahan served in Jacob’s biscuit factory where he was third in command under Thomas MacDonagh and Major John MacBride. He was taken into custody following the surrender of the Jacob’s garrison on Sunday, April 30. He was tried by court-martial, sentenced to death, and executed by firing squad on May 4, 1916.
Conn Colbert was born October 29, 1888 in Co. Limerick. He was educated at the local school in Athea and at age 16 went to live with his sister in Dublin. He was a devout Catholic. In 1913 he was an early member of the Irish Volunteers and also joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood.
In the weeks before the Rising he acted as bodyguard for Thomas Clarke. During Easter Week, he fought at Watkin’s bakery and Jameson’s distillery. On Sunday, April 30 he surrendered with the Marrowbone Lane Garrison. When the order to surrender was issued, he assumed command of his unit, to save the life of his superior, who was a married man. He was court-martialed, sentenced to death and executed.
Thomas Kent was born in Bawnard House, Castelyons, Co. Cork in 1865. His family had a long tradition of fighting injustices, and was known by the local police to be agitators. When Thomas was 19 he immigrated to Boston and worked as a furniture maker until health problems forced his return to Ireland.
Upon his return he spent a few months in prison for agitation. Kent then joined the Gaelic League and the Irish Volunteers, when they were founded in 1913. He formed a local company of volunteers and a few weeks later was arrested and remanded. He was acquitted and released. A few days’ later police raided the Bawnard House and found weapons and ammunition. Kent was rearrested and sent to prison for two months.
When news of the Rising came, Kent and his brothers waited for word to mobilize. None came. The order to stand down came and by May 2nd Thomas and his three brothers had returned home to Bawnard House. The police then came and surrounded the house, demanding that the Kent’s surrender. Thomas refused stating that they were soldiers of the Irish Republic. A three-hour gun battle ensued resulting in the death of a Head-Constable. Thomas was arrested and on May 4 was court-martialed and sentenced to death. He was executed by firing squad at Cork Detention Barracks on May 8, 1916.
Michael Mallin was born in Dublin c.1874, the son of John Mallin a carpenter. Presumably he was educated locally at a national school. He joined the army around age 16 and served for approximately fourteen years. Following his discharge, he settled in Dublin where he worked as a silk weaver. He was active in the Silk Weavers’ Union of which he became secretary.
He joined the Irish Citizen Army on its formation in 1913. A committed member his dedication and ability were noted by James Connolly who promoted him to chief of staff. During the Rising the ICA with Mallin in command was stationed at St. Stephen’s Green, a park located a mile south of the GPO, across the Liffey. Being overlooked by tall buildings most positions in St. Stephen’s Green had to be abandoned within twenty-four hours. The majority of men occupied the College of Surgeons to the west side of the green and held out until the order to surrender reached them.
Mallin was tried by court-martial, sentenced to death and executed by firing squad.