"We got into the Post Office. Every place was quiet
at that period. Numbers of people were on the street looking
around. We had tea, eggs and cigars. I thought we should
have got a rest. Connolly paraded us and said it didnt
matter a damn if we were wiped out now as we had justified
ourselves. I thought this was a bit rugged.
That is how Thomas Harris from Caragh, Naas, recalled in
later years for the Bureau of Military History, his experience
of Easter 1916 in the GPO.
He continued: It was like one long day, I have no
recollection of sleeping. I remember being in the Instrument
Room where it was first noticed that the Post Office was
on fire. We could hear the guns going and I saw a little
hole, just a circle which came in the plaster, about the
circumference of a teacup and I could see this growing larger.
It was evidently caused by an incendiary bomb. We
reported that the roof was on fire. I remember the ORahilly
and a few of the heads coming along. They fixed up ladders
to the roof and tried to put on the hose but there was no
force of water.
Then they started to make preparations for the evacuation,
and what amazed me was the order that was maintained all
the time. At no time was there panic. All was carried out
in a routine way.
They were lined up and given their orders and instructions
and those who were not engaged in anything also lined up.
They commenced singing The Soldiers Song but they were ordered
to stop singing by the leaders as it was interfering with
the orders, which could not be heard. We were marched out
I remember seeing a sketch of Connolly lying in a
stretcher with Pearse on one side. My impression of that
sketch was that it got Pearses position pretty correctly,
Connolly, however, was not on a stretcher; he was on a bed.
Harris was captain of the Prosperous Company in 1917 and
later Vice-Commandant North Kildare Battalion.
In August 1920, as Comdt. No.2 Kildare Bn., he led the Kill
Company in an attack on the RIC at Greenhills when arms
were captured and Const. John Haverty was killed. Haverty
was single and aged 40. From Ballinasloe, he had 19 years
service and before joining the RIC he had been a herdsman.
Sgt. Patrick OReilly, aged 48 and married with 26
years service and who had previously been a farmer was injured.
He died later in St Stevens hospital, Dublin.
As a young man Thomas Harris had joined the Gaelic League
in Prosperous, where he found that the organisation was
weak but their Irish teacher, Sean OConnor living
in Celbridge, brought national papers to the classes and
we became more absorbed in political discussion than
in our pursuit of the language.
Inspired by OConnors enthusiasm Harris joined
the Irish Republican Brotherhood and in 1915 when Ted OKelly
was trying to reorganise the Volunteers, Harris decided
to establish a company in Prosperous. A meeting was called
and about a dozen men attended and companies were also established
in Maynooth and Rathangan.
In Rathangan Harris met Tom Byrne, who had fought with the
Boers in South Africa. It was now known that it was intended
that the Rising would take place within a week and that
arms were to be landed in Kerry. Byrne was given the task
of blowing up the railway lines, to cut off communications
with the Curragh, and the bridge at Sallins was also to
be blown up. Harris was ordered to be at Bodenstown at 6pm
on Easter Sunday with his men, for mobilisation. But soon
a message came that something had gone wrong and MacNeill
issued a countermanding order published in a Sunday Newspaper.
However, OKelly said to disregard MacNeills
order and that Moran from Ballysax, who had gone around
on his motor-cycle countermanding the order, should not
have done so, and that MacNeill was not trusted as he changed
his mind so often!
Harris and a couple of others travelled to Naas, but the
problem was where to get a phone to ring Dublin, or
a car to get up there.
He learned that Pearse had said that the Rising would take
place at noon on the next day.
With two companions, Harris went to the Dominican College
in Newbridge, where there was a sympathetic priest to collect
the gelignite which they had got from Dublin and was kept
in the college laboratory. Then they were informed that
a dispatch had come from Pearse informing them that at 12
oclock the next day the Rising was to take place.
Courtesy of the Leinster Leader