The Terrible Beauty
In the eight months following his resignation from the presidency of the Gaelic League, Douglas Hyde maintained a discreet distance from all but his closest league friends. Faithful others, still hoping that he would return to active participation on the Coiste Gnótha if not to the presidency, dropped him notes from time to time to keep him informed on league activities. He scanned their letters dutifully, grateful for the devotion and appreciation that had prompted them, and tried to avoid reading between the lines. Sometimes he felt frustrated and angry that after so many years of struggle he had not been able to hold on for what was surely, he thought, the last mile. Then, remembering how the goal had been moved each time he thought he was closing the gap, he was again overwhelmed with the sense of futility that had led to his resignation. The fact was that his present life had its own rewards. Teaching was a genuine pleasure. And it was immensely satisfying to have time for the writing and research projects that in the past he had repeatedly postponed and delayed. On two projects in particular he had been making steady progress at last. One was a catalog of the books and manuscripts in the Sir John Gilbert collection, on which he had been working intermittently since 1901 with D. J. O'Donoghue, the librarian at University College, Dublin. The other was a translation for the Irish Texts Society of "The Conquests of Charlemagne," a Mid-
dle Irish account of a French saga found in the fifteenth-century Book of Lismore. Lucy seemed happier, too, with her Dublin town house and daily activities. The girls were well settled at school.
To his neighbors on Earlsfort Place, Hyde had become a familiar cheerful figure, cycling along "on his two round feet" in a gray knickerbocker suit and green stockings on this errand or that or on his way to the college or the academy. In the warm April sunshine of Easter Monday (April 24), 1916, he cycled off through the south center of the city, thinking the afternoon sun might have had more warmth in it—thinking, too, of those friendly notes, some with printed enclosures, that kept him better informed than he cared to be. Around and around like the wheels of his bicycle went the words in his mind, saying things he knew but did not want to know, not wanting to know how he knew, about plans for the "advanced political section" of the league and the Volunteers to implicate themselves in some attempted insurrectionary work. It was no secret—almost everyone in Dublin, almost everyone in Ireland, certainly everyone in Dublin Castle was expecting something to happen. Of one thing he was sure: whatever it was would be connected with the Volunteer battalions, smartly done up and drilling with make-believe guns on the demesne of one Big House and another, that he had spent so many of his sunny Sunday afternoons reviewing from 1913 through 1915. The Volunteers had organized and armed (albeit inadequately, as the wooden guns indicated) to protect themselves from the Carsonites. Even members of Parliament had acknowledged the necessity for this defense, especially after the resignations at the Curragh in 1914, which had told everyone just where the army would be if Ulster Volunteers attacked Dublin, and the gunrunning episodes right under the bows of British battleships at Larne, which said as much for the protection of the navy. Defense certainly was required, for even after Asquith had assured Carson that the government would never coerce Ulster into accepting Home Rule (that had happened on September 15, the very day that George V had signed the Home Rule Bill into law), the northern leader continued to declare that his mission was the destruction of any attempt to institute legislative independence anywhere in Ireland. But no one believed that the drills and meetings and colorful reviews were merely preparations for defense, what with all the slogans proclaiming "Ireland's opportunity" that every schoolboy could recite. Neither, however, did they understand, those men who ordered the drilling, scheduled the meetings, and wrote the slogans, that when it came, the insurrection would be put down (please God, with no great
loss of life) and the flower of another generation would go off to British prisons and into foreign exile. If John O'Leary were still alive, that would be what he would tell them, but they would not listen to O'Leary any more than they would listen to Hyde, for they would not listen to history.
A few years ago Cathal Brugha, who manufactured candles, had come to talk to Hyde about "Ireland's Opportunity," and he in turn had tried to talk to Cathal Brugha about patience and the promise of Home Rule at the end of the war. But as Brugha had pointed out, Asquith already had broken his 1912 promise of Home Rule for all Ireland and Carson already had received assurances of partition (the work of two Celts, Churchill and Lloyd George). Only a fool or a dreamer, he said, would believe in such British promises, which had no more substance behind them than those of Hyde's own Fairy talking to his Tinker. So Hyde had given up on patience and promise and had tried to talk to Brugha about history. They had parted sadly, warm friends, each sorrowing over the intransigence of the other.
As he cycled through Dublin on that Easter Monday afternoon, past University College, along Harcourt Street, past the Royal College of Surgeons, Stephen's Green, the Shelbourne Hotel, along Kildare Street, past Trinity College, and back to his home at One Earlsfort Place, listening carefully to everything he heard, did Hyde know that there would be great need for candles that day? Two years later, in an unpublished account of Easter, 1916, based on his diaries, Hyde wrote, "I never suspected for a moment that there would be such a rebellion as we had in Easter Week, 1916, or such violent fighting, or that they would have stood their ground so well." Was it the event itself or the force of it that he did not expect?
Noon, Easter Monday, April 24, 1916
At midday in Dublin approximately one hundred and fifty members of the Irish Citizen Army and the Irish Volunteers, some in uniform, many in their Sunday suits, all armed with a variety of weapons, left Liberty Hall under the command of James Connolly and Patrick Pearse, marched to the General Post Office on Sackville (O'Connell) Street, and on orders from their commanders, charged the building. They took prisoner a small unarmed detachment of British soldiers, then raised two Irish flags over the roof, fortified the windows, and barricaded the doors. When all was in order Pearse reappeared on the steps of the post office and read "The Proclamation of the Irish Republic" to a small crowd. Calling out to all Irishmen and Irishwomen,
"in the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood," he declared that Ireland now "summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom."
"We declare," he continued,
the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefensible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations.
In the absence of a duly elected representative government, Pearse asserted that "the Provisional Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people." Affixed to the printed copies of the proclamation that were distributed on behalf of the provisional government were the signatures of Thomas J. Clarke, Sean MacDermott, Thomas MacDonagh, Patrick Pearse, Eamon Ceannt, James Connolly, and Joseph Plunkett.
Shortly after 1:00 P.M. a troop of lancers charged down Sackville Street at a gallop with drawn sabres. Rifle fire from the post office killed three lancers and fatally wounded a fourth. The remainder wheeled and retreated quickly in the direction of the Rotunda. In the absence of police, widespread looting began of shops on Sackville Street by residents of the nearby slums. Reports brought to Pearse and Connolly in the post office by dispatch riders claimed that Dublin Castle had been taken and that Volunteer and Citizen Army units were in place at preselected strategic vantage points including St. Stephen's Green, the South Dublin Union, Jacob's Biscuit Factory, Boland's Mill, and the Four Courts.
Having cycled to Stephen's Green to see the pictures sent in for Miss Dease's competition, Hyde went on to Nassau Street to buy cigarettes but—it being a holiday—found the shops closed. It was a beautiful day—very warm. Bicycling back along Stephen's Green, as he turned out of Dawson Street he was startled by a loud burst from what sounded like the tire of a motorcar in front of the Shelbourne Hotel, then another burst, and then another. He said to himself, "There must be great mortality among tyres today." Minutes later, passing the Shelbourne, he saw
the large gate of Stephen's Green shut, and thought it curious that the park would be closed on Easter Monday. He then spotted armed men in the park and watched two of them dig holes, wondering to himself, "Are these fools thinking to hide anything?" Later he discovered that the men were digging defense trenches. He had, he said, "not the slightest idea that there was anything really serious in the air, not even when in the garden half an hour afterward, I heard a furious outbreak of firing." What he had taken to be Volunteer target practice turned out to have been a fire fight between British soldiers and Volunteers at the Portobello Bridge. He worried about his daughters, Nuala and Una, who had gone for a walk, but like others strolling around Dublin in the warm sunshine of that Easter Monday afternoon, they returned unharmed and apparently unaware that anything had happened. Together all three walked over to the area around the Portobello Bridge, where they saw that severe damage had been done to a public house. Its windows had been shot out; ransacked goods lay on the street. From the direction of Stephen's Green they heard intermittent gunfire. From the Green, Hyde later learned, Citizen Army rebels under Commandant Michael Mallin and the Countess Markiewicz had been exchanging fire with soldiers atop the Shelbourne Hotel. "This night," he wrote in his diary before going to bed, "so far as I could make out, except for continual firing in the Green and round it, everything was quiet in this quarter of the city."
Tuesday, April 25
Pearse's and Connolly's headquarters force in the post office heard sounds of machine-gun fire from south of the city, indicating British troop activity. Rumors flew. Pearse issued an optimistic communiqué. The British cleared the area around Dublin Castle. At Stephen's Green units of the Citizen Army withdrew to the Royal College of Surgeons. Martial law was declared. Pearse drafted and read a second proclamation to the people of Dublin. In the evening sniper fire increased and fires burned on Sackville (O'Connell) Street. British troops in the city now numbered 6,500. Artillery for shelling occupied buildings was brought into the city from Athlone.
Having awakened early, before the rest of the household, Hyde had walked down Earlsfort Terrace to the corner of Stephen's Green, feeling "perfectly certain" that it had been evacuated during the night, for it appeared to him to be a place impossible to defend for any length of
time, as all the trenches and other cover for snipers could be searched by machine guns and rifle fire from the tops of surrounding buildings. To his surprise Hyde found that it had not been evacuated but in fact had been the scene of a sharp fire fight between marksmen from both sides, none of whom he could see. As he walked back up Earlsfort Terrace he stopped to chat with two women friends. A staccato of machinegun fire interrupted their conversation. Bullets struck a window and rain pipe eight feet over their heads. The shots, he theorized, had come not from immediately behind them but from the roof of Oliver Gogarty's house next to the Shelbourne Hotel where British soldiers had set up their guns. It was a "criminally careless" act on the part of the military, he thought angrily, to shoot down a street that was empty except for three civilians.
After lunch Hyde strolled out again with Nuala and Una. From one passerby on the street he learned that among the first orders issued from the post office, headquarters of the Rising, was that an official baker be appointed to supply the new Irish Republic with bread. Another passerby told them that the Rising had been ordered over the head of John MacNeill and against his direct orders. MacNeill, the man said, having learned of the plan for a rising on Easter Sunday, had issued a counterorder cancelling all Volunteer parades planned for that day. The O'Rahilly and Bulmer Hobson had sided with MacNeill. On the basis of this and other conversations Hyde surmised that Pearse, Connolly, and Plunkett might have refused to cancel the Rising because they had been notified of a secret order smuggled out of the Castle for wholesale arrests of Volunteers and the imposition of what amounted to martial law in Dublin.
MacNeill had sent a copy of this secret order to Hyde on April 19. That same evening Hyde had dined with Stopford, brother of Alice Stopford Green, and Sir Matthew Nathan, under secretary for Ireland. He had shown the document to Stopford, who doubted its authenticity, but neither man mentioned it to Nathan. Hyde at first had shared Stopford's view that the document was a forgery but he had changed his mind when he considered that the Castle might have been alerted to the possibility of a coup. Hyde suspected that the more hotheaded among the leaders had called out the Volunteers on their own account by an order which purported to come from headquarters.
Wednesday, April 26
The British armed fishery vessel, the Helga, shelled Liberty Hall from the Liffey Basin. Two infantry brigades arrived at Kingstown Harbor and began
to march on Dublin. Sir John Maxwell was assigned to command British operations. The British conducted house-to-house searches while infantry and two eighteen-pound artillery pieces were moved closer to cordon off the central city. The pacifist writer and beloved Dublin character Francis Sheehy-Skeffington was executed without trial at Portobello Barracks. Incendiary rounds fired into Sackville (O'Connell) Street, apparently from Trinity College, caused an outbreak of fires. Scores of Sherwood Foresters lay dead and wounded as nine Volunteers from de Valera's command at Boland's Mill held up their advance guard for nine hours.
In the morning Hyde and his two daughters set out to check on Nellie O'Brien. As they passed Stephen's Green they saw a dead horse on the street near the Shelbourne Hotel. The windows of the hotel were shattered by bullets; its hall and vestibule were barricaded with mattresses. They walked past the deserted Kildare Street Club to Nellie O'Brien's flat, where they found her calm but her housekeeper in a state of great excitement. They had been going through a much worse time than the residents of Earlsfort Terrace, as fighting had been going on all night with tremendous fusillades in the direction of Westland Row. The roof of Trinity College was full of men who apparently had been firing up Dame Street. Hyde was told afterward that they were men of the officers' training corps, with some Canadians and others. Nellie had been able to see them shooting quite plainly. Great cannon firing also had been heard; subsequent reports gave the target as Liberty Hall. Some people said that a gunboat had bombarded it from the basin of the river, others that eighteen-pounders planted in Tara Street had fired on it from there. The structure had not been demolished, all agreed, but it had been riddled and shattered with thousands of bullets and many shells.
Lucy's anxiety for Nellie's safety prompted a second trip by the Hydes that same day to persuade Nellie to return with them to Earlsfort Place. Lucy had shown "wonderful courage," Hyde said, as they passed Stephen's Green amid sounds of gunfire on all sides. On the way they met Sarah Purser, the artist, who was also out walking. When told of their mission to rescue Nellie O'Brien, she "sniffed and said 'That's always the way with the granddaughter of heroes.'"
With as many of Nellie's belongings as they could carry in their arms, the Hydes returned with Nellie to One Earlsfort Place. En route they paused to watch an English regiment weighed down with enormous field packs marching into the city from Kingstown, looking exhausted
from the heat. People in the terrace and road waved handkerchiefs wildly and ran down with jugs of water and oranges and other refreshments. Disdaining mere water, some of the men threw it away, but when a poor woman in a shawl (drunk herself, Hyde thought) produced a bottle of something else, it was "highly appreciated and finished in a jiffy."
Thursday, April 2
British reinforcements continued to arrive, tightening the cordon around the city's center. The post office, taking its first direct hit from artillery, was machine-gunned. Fires on Sackville Street spread closer to the post office. Volunteer outposts around Sackville (O'Connell) Street had to be abandoned as heat from the fires became unbearable. James Connolly was wounded while attempting to establish an outpost outside the post office. Inside, Pearse, Clarke, and MacDermott, who had assumed command of military operations, were joined by The O'Rahilly. A bulletin written by Pearse on Wednesday was released. It claimed that republican lines were intact and asked citizens to build street barricades to hold up the British advance. Pearse also reported (inaccurately) that "large areas in the West, South and South-East" were now in arms for the Irish Republic.
Except for "a miserable edition" of the Irish Times which contained little more than a terse government announcement of the Rising, a Wednesday issue that contained Lord Wimbourne's proclamation of martial law, and a report that the provinces were quiet, there had been no reliable news for three days. All mention of the tumultuous scenes in Dublin was omitted from the paper, as was any news of the English armies on the western front.
The Hydes accompanied Nellie O'Brien on yet another risky trip to her flat to rescue more of her belongings. On the way back to the Hydes' they passed dead horses in the streets and observed a few women and officers in mufti peering cautiously from the windows on the Kildare Street side of the Shelbourne Hotel. A passerby reported that three Volunteers in a house near Haddington and Northumberland roads had killed twenty-five soldiers and then escaped dressed in womens' clothing. On Harcourt Street they encountered a belligerent dentist who demanded of Hyde, "How much are you responsible for this?" Hyde asked him, "How much are you?" The dentist muttered something about putting a bayonet into Hyde. "Your forceps, you mean," Hyde
thought but restrained himself from saying. The dentist then threatened something to the effect of changing the professors of the National University "mighty quick." Hyde felt very sorry later when he learned that the dentist had one son at the university whom he had thrown out of the house because of his Sinn Féin sympathies and another son whom he had pressured to enlist in the British army. The son at the university was fighting with the Volunteers; the other son, an officer, had been shot in Flanders (ironically, along with a son of Count Plunkett). Hyde attributed the dentist's attack on him to the fact that, with John MacNeill a professor and MacDonagh an assistant lecturer at the National University, he must have confounded university teaching with Sinn Féin propaganda. His sympathy for the unfortunate man increased when he heard that two days later he lost his father also, killed in the street by a stray bullet.
Hyde was astonished by the number of soldiers and quantity of matériel pouring into Dublin. He estimated one contingent at two thousand, including cavalry, foot soldiers, and equipment, and wondered how many other columns had entered the city from other directions: the government evidently was taking no chances. On the street he obtained more information about the widespread looting and learned that Sheehy-Skeffington had been shot, not for fighting, of course (it was well known that he was a pacifist), but for posting notices about the formation of a citizens' committee to stop the looting. "It was most characteristic of him to be moving about and busying himself in public at such a time," Hyde wrote, remembering reports that "the military would hear nothing from him, would not look at his proclamation, but gave him half an hour to get a priest," an offer which he refused. "They offered him his choice whether he would be shot with his eyes bandaged or open. He tore open his shirt and on his breast were tattooed the words Votes for Women , and he bade them shoot him on that spot." The officer responsible for the shooting, Hyde was told, was to be tried for it. (Hyde did not know at the time what later became Dublin gossip: that the officer was a kinsman of Elizabeth Bowen, and that her father, a barrister, had declined to involve himself in the man's defense.)
Among the day's news items that Hyde picked up on the street and passed on to others were rumors that the post office garrison was holding twenty hostages; that pictures of the leaders of the Rising had been issued to British soldiers; that the soldiers had been instructed to shoot these men on sight; that the British officers expected the revolt
to be over by week's end; and that those same officers had been astounded by the bravery and marksmanship of the Volunteers.
Back at the Hydes', the wife of Richard Irvine Best (Celtic scholar and assistant director of the National Library) stopped in to have tea with them. She told them that her husband had brought out Thomas Lyster, director of the National Library, to see the fighting at Haddington Road and had left him sitting on the lock gate of the canal, moralizing upon Cornwallis and the war of American freedom. Only a day or two before, Lyster had gone to Hyde's neighbors, the Coffeys, and apologized to Mrs. Coffey for having said to her that the Irish were cowards. He assured her that he could never again think such a thing—that it was really extraordinary that a couple of thousand men armed only with rifles should try to hold off an empire. Mrs. Best also reported that spent bullets were falling all around Sarah Purser's house on the Grand Canal and that her servants had offered her the bullets as souvenirs.
Thursday evening the Hydes had other visitors: Diarmid Coffey and his mother, who lived nearby. In her own diary of the Rising, Mrs. Coffey wrote, "We often go into the Hydes in the evening. They are a cheer, taking such a wise and sympathetic view." Through it all her husband, George Coffey, the archaeologist, lay gravely ill. Diarmid Coffey had that day gone out to try and find a doctor to attend him. After they left, Hyde noted that "the night was lurid with flames and hideous with firing."
Friday, April 28
Pearse ordered the evacuation of women from the post office and prepared a statement to be read to his soldiers: "I am satisfied that we have saved Ireland's honour." By midafternoon the upper stories of the post office were ablaze from shell fire. The O'Rahilly was killed while leading a sortie down Moore Street. By evening the post office fire was out of control. Pearse, Connolly, and Clarke were the last to evacuate the building for a small house on Moore Street.
Fine weather continued. Sitting in the garden, Nuala and Una heard bullets overhead. Hyde could not hear the whistle of them in the air, but he did hear them striking slates on houses. Hyde, his daughters, and Nellie O'Brien walked to Leeson Park to inquire after a relative of Nellie's who had been shot in the shoulder on Monday in Stephen's
Green. On their return at 4:30 in the afternoon they heard a burst of fire from Harcourt Street Bridge. Hyde learned later that five men and two women had been killed, apparently by British soldiers. That evening at about 8:30 he heard a "desperate outburst" of firing which seemed to come from the direction of the College of Surgeons, "the principal storm centre in this part of the city." He noted the effectiveness of the Volunteer sniper fire from the top floors and roofs of nearby houses:
The single shots which are going on in our neighbourhood all day and half the night appear to come from semi-detached or corner houses, or houses of a commanding height in the surrounding street. The Volunteers appear to quietly walk in and take possession of any building they want. They confine the family below, and then get on the roof or fire from the top windows.
That night more smoke and flames could be seen in the sky in the direction of O'Connell Street. The smell of burning was coming in through all the windows.
Saturday, April 29
Pearse proposed a negotiated surrender. Nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell was sent out from the Moore Street house under a white flag and was escorted to a British commander who told her that surrender must be unconditional. At 3:45 P.M. Pearse signed a general surrender order in the presence of General Maxwell. The order was later cosigned by James Connolly and Thomas MacDonagh. Orders were carried to other Volunteer and Citizen Army positions in the city.
Heavy firing could now be heard in Hyde's section of the city. In the street he learned that the Volunteer unit at Jacob's Factory was still intact and that the Volunteers there were able to slip in and out according to assigned shifts, exchanging bandoliers and rifles as they took turns going home to catch up on some sleep. There had been, he was told, heavy fighting at the Four Courts. A rumor that had swept through Dublin since Tuesday, that Sir Roger Casement had been captured off the south coast of Ireland and returned to England as a prisoner, had been corroborated. At six that evening Hyde was told by a driver for the Red Cross that the Volunteers had surrendered and that the Rising would soon be over except for desultory sniping that might continue for several days. He sent two men out to get provisions for
the family, but bread, flour, oatmeal, and Indian meal were all unobtainable. At night Hyde observed only small conflagrations. Noting that the firing had nearly died down, he concluded that reports that the end was approaching were accurate.
Sunday, April 30
The remaining forces of the provisional government surrendered. Of all the major strategic sites occupied and held by the Volunteers and Citizen Army, only the post office had been lost to British military action. Exhausted and dejected, the captives were herded into the Rotunda gardens under cloudy skies. Soon it began to rain.
The morning was fairly quiet. Nuala and Una went to nearby St. Matthias Church where the sermon was punctuated by nearby shooting. Food remained short; Hyde was told of long lines of famished Dubliners waiting for bread outside a bakery at Ballsbridge. New outbreaks of firing occurred, this time from railway carriages at the Harcourt Street Bridge where a train had been stalled since Tuesday. Volunteers shot from carriage windows and were answered with fire from troops at Charlemont Bridge. In the street Hyde met Father Sherwin, who had been attending the wounded and dying since Monday. He stopped for a while in Hyde's garden, where he reported that the Citizen Army unit in the College of Surgeons, which had been fighting with such skill that it had dominated Stephen's Green since Monday, had surrendered at 2:00 P.M. According to Sherwin a good many of its members were women "who shot as well as the men." He praised "the courage and resourcefulness and intelligence of the Volunteers, many of whom were very young."
The priest's account of the looting was both grim and humorous. People were carrying off, he said, the most incongruous articles. He had seen one old woman staggering along under a huge box of soap. Just beside a British military outpost, unable to carry it any longer, she had put it down and sat on it. After a while, "with great aplomb" she raised it again on her back and walked right past the soldiers, who said she looked dirty enough to want it all.
Accurate news was still sparse and uncertain. That night, as he consulted the sky and listened for gunfire, Hyde was under the impression that the units at Jacob's Biscuit and Boland's were still holding out, but he noted that the sky was no longer bright with the glare of fires.
Monday, May 1
The rain continued. Many of the prisoners, including the leaders of the Rising, were taken to Kilmainham Gaol. The courts-martial began.
Following a quiet morning Hyde heard tremendous firing at about noon from the Leeson Street Bridge. He was told that the British soldiers were firing indiscriminately up and down every street. He supposed that they were clearing the way for an army contingent that came by later, in a long parade of wagons carrying tents and other cumbersome items, cavalry scouts, motor scouts, and a bicycle corps. Malone, a man who worked for the Hydes and who also was a driver for the Red Cross, brought news of the utter devastation on O'Connell Street. "When you turned around the Bank of Ireland and looked ahead of you," he said, "you would not know where you were. You might be in some foreign city in France or Germany." The only familiar landmark was Nelson's Pillar. Later in the day Hyde heard that the men of Jacob's Factory had surrendered, although their flag had been flying until six o'clock Sunday evening. "They have surrendered in Boland's also," he wrote in his diary, "and that definitely breaks the back of the revolt." Nobody could say with any certainty just how many prisoners were taken. No one had any other official information, either. Everyone had a selection of unconfirmed reports, rumors, and possible facts. The presence of police on the streets for the first time since Easter Monday prompted raillery among some of the citizenry. There was much speculation on the whereabouts of Countess Constance Markiewicz. One rumor had it that she had surrendered on George Street, a bayonet at her chest; another that she was taken prisoner at the College of Surgeons. All stories agreed that, dressed in men's clothing and with a feather in her hat, she had kissed her revolver before surrendering it.
The street-fighting skills of the young Volunteers was a source of considerable comment. Hyde noted that, although many were hardly more than raw recruits, they had learned to harass the British troops by taking cover in protected positions, firing, and then moving quickly to other sites. "Most comical," said Hyde, was the sight of civilians flying down the road when shots were fired. He had watched one group of five men jump in unison when shots landed near them, then wheel and run to the far end of the street. Diarmid Coffey, he added wryly, had such respect for the curfew under martial law that he chose not to walk the fifty yards from his own house to come to the Hydes' for dinner for fear that he might be shot.
Tuesday, May 2
The courts-martial continued.
Wild rumors were circulating in the absence of official news: that British soldiers had thrown the corpses of Volunteers into the Liffey; that Galway had been cleared of the Sinn Féiners by artillery fire. There were also stories, some amusing, some heartwarming, about the ability, honesty, and restraint of the Volunteers: that for several days one group had occupied a pub on Leeson Street but had drunk only one bottle of lemonade; that many had attempted to stop the looting; that even the British said that they were excellent shots.
After lunch Hyde and his family walked to Westmoreland Street where for the first time they could see for themselves the ruins that stretched down Sackville (O'Connell) Street to Nelson's Pillar. Not one window in Trinity College, Hyde noted, had been broken. At Nellie O'Brien's flat in College Park Chambers they were horrified to find that machine-gun fire had ripped through her rooms. They congratulated themselves for having insisted that she stay with them. There was word at last of John MacNeill: he was under military arrest in his own house. MacNeill had stated, Hyde was told, that he had nothing to do with the uprising, that it had gone forward against his advice and wishes, but that he accepted responsibility for it and wished to share the fate of his companions.
Shortages of food still plagued the city. The Hydes had begun to despair of getting milk. Officially, they were told, the Rising was over, but they continued to hear distant thunder from heavy guns.
The judges of the courts-martial completed their work quickly. Fifteen of the leaders were sentenced to die according to a published schedule. Thomas J. Clarke, Thomas MacDonagh, and Patrick Pearse were executed on May 3; Edward Daly, Michael Hanrahan, William Pearse, and Joseph Mary Plunkett on May 4; John MacBride on May 5; Eamon Ceannt (Kent), Cornelius Colbert, Sean J. Heuston, and Michael Mallin on May 8; James Connolly and Sean MacDermott on
May 12. Had Eamon de Valera's death sentence not been commuted to life imprisonment, there would have been one more.
For Hyde as for almost everyone else in Ireland, what passed for official news was spotty and suspect, especially as sounds of shooting continued for days after official word that the Rising had ended. The streets were full of rumors. Most concerned the systematic and thorough looting that had gone on under the heaviest fire, particularly in the poorer areas of the city, by British soldiers supposedly looking for arms. The headquarters of the Gaelic League had not escaped. Fortunately, Stephen Barrett, the treasurer, had removed £ 100 from the office the night before it was ransacked. The soldiers found only loose coins and stamps in a desk drawer.
During a May 5 house-to-house search for weapons, a team of two soldiers and two detectives had come to Hyde's door. He had been required to give up a valuable gun and gun case plus several other items for which he was not given a receipt. On May 12 he and Lucy dressed in their best clothes and drove to Dublin Castle in Hyde's Ford touring car (a prized possession purchased in Dublin just two years earlier). Everyone in Dublin had stories of confiscated items that had disappeared without record into the pockets of British soldiers. Consequently, although everyone had been assured that at a designated time all items would be returned by Dublin Castle, Hyde did not have much hope of ever seeing his gun and gun case again. In the Castle yard he met a man he knew, a resident magistrate from Drogheda, who advised him to see a Colonel Johnson. After being kept waiting for Colonel Johnson, Hyde asked for Commissioner Quinn. As Quinn was out, Hyde asked for Superintendent Dunne, who disclaimed any knowledge of anything confiscated by any military officer. At that moment a man in Dunne's office volunteered to take Hyde to the appropriate department.
"Do you know me?" he asked as soon as they were in the hall.
"I think I know your face," Hyde said cautiously.
"Well," said the man, "I'm Mrs. Hanley's brother."
As Mrs. Hanley was a Frenchpark neighbor, Hyde knew that he was in safe hands.
"I'll get your gun for you if it is to be had at all," Mrs. Hanley's brother assured Hyde, taking him to a room in which three officers were sitting around a table.
The officer in charge, however, gave little hope that, especially with-
out a receipt, anything might be reclaimed. "You're the twentieth person in with us already today. We are inundated with complaints about watches and everything."
Hyde explained that the gun and gun case were not his but belonged to the brother of Lady Wright. As this information brought exclamations of concern from the officers, Hyde confided only to his diary the fact that he had "omitted to mention that the poor chap whose gun it was had died many years previously." The advice he received from the officers took him back to square one: he must see Colonel Johnson. Fortunately, Mrs. Hanley's brother had other ideas. Escorting Hyde to still another department, he stood in the doorway, saluted smartly, and announced that Dr. Douglas Hyde had come to look for his gun.
"Oh," said a jolly-looking little man, "I know him."
Then, putting his hand behind his chair, he produced gun case, revolver, sword bayonet, and a box of ammunition which he insisted on bringing out himself and placing in Hyde's Ford "in the friendliest and most amiable manner."
It was over. Hyde's image of the Rising was not, after all, one of candles burning in memory of the dead. It was the memory of the green, white, and orange-yellow flag hoisted over University College to the cry, "Up the Republic." To Lady Gregory he later declared, "That cry and that flag have taken possession of the imagination and I don't think it will ever be got out of it."