Living History, — February 1, 2011 9:14 — 0 Comments
Rankin’s Newry Memoirs 5
Preparations were being made for an uprising and the IRB, the Volunteers under Eoin Mac Neill and the Citizens Army were to be involved. On the Friday night before Easter John Southwell and I cycled to Dundalk to report progress.
We returned to Newry the same night. It is important to note that at this time there was no cancelling order from Eoin Mac Neill.
Peter McCann, Newry, teacher, proposed that he would travel by train to Dublin to see Mr Will Power, to find out if the Dundalk report was genuine. Peter went and returned: he saw some people he knew but he could not verify any insurrection coming off.
Even before Peter McCann left for Dublin, I told some of my friends in the Irish Republican Brotherhood that his was a useless journey. In the first place, Peter, though one of the best human beings alive, was not a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and, second, any person going into Dublin on that Easter Sunday would be looked on as a spy.
After undertaking further chats with my friends, on Easter Sunday with my brother Owen (who was married then with two children) I proposed to cycle to Dundalk to learn of any news available. We left Newry at noon and stopped at Dundalk. Friends there told us that the Dundalk men had proceeded in the direction of Dublin.
We cycled on to Ardee as this was off the main road and so less exposed to any RIC hold-up. We enquired there if the Dundalk men had passed that way. We were told they had, several hours before. We were talking to strangers and we decided that they took us for RIC spies, looking for news.
We returned to Dromiskin, County Louth and stayed there that night with our aunt Mrs Parks and cycled back to Newry the next morning. We reported to our friends in Newry. Then Peter McCann proposed that the three of us should cycle to Dublin the next day, Tuesday, leaving at 10.30 am.
Though I agreed with this proposal, I was of two minds: I thought one brother was sufficient to sacrifice and that Owen was better off living for Ireland. And Peter too. When the time came on Tuesday morning I cycled out of Newry by the Dromalane Road before Peter or Owen could turn up.