1916 Commemorative School Competitions, Projects & Other Events in O’Connell Secondary School

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O’Connell School and the 1916 Rising

Remembering, Reflecting and Reimagining

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It seemed at first like just another quiet Easter Monday. The schools were closed for the holidays and a young Christian Brother, William Allen, was enjoying a game of handball with some confreres at an alley in Marino, Dublin. Then an unexpected thing happened. No less a personage than the order’s Superior General, Brother Willis, came on the scene, looking worried. He interrupted the game to tell the players that the ‘Sinn Féiners’ had risen up in arms against the government. He told them to return immediately to their various monasteries and to avoid the city centre. It was 24 April 1916. The Easter Rising had just begun.

As Brother Allen hurried back to his base at O’Connell Schools, North Richmond Street, he encountered barricades at two bridges, manned by the Irish Volunteers. He was in his black clerical clothes and the insurgents saluted him and waved him through. It would be a tense, eventful week in O’Connell’s, as the fighting raged in nearby city centre. With deliveries to the shops disrupted, the Brothers had difficulty finding food. When they went out in search of supplies, they wore their black silk hats so as not to be mistaken for combatants. As one Brother approached a butcher’s shop on Berkeley Road, a bullet hit the door. After all that risk, there was no meat available. Two of the Brothers managed to get a half sack of flour at a bakery on Jones’s Road. Brother Allen recalled how a contingent of exhausted British soldiers, who had moved up from The Curragh, rested on the lawn at O’Connell’s, before moving off again after hearing shots from the North Strand direction.
The events of that momentous week in Irish history would leave a lasting impression on this young Christian Brother from West Cork. Brother Allen would eventually discover that among the rebels was a sizeable number of former O’Connell Schools (OCS) students, some of whom he knew personally. Current pupils of the school had also taken part, while on their Easter holidays. After the rebels surrendered at the end of a week’s insurrection, the British tended to release the younger insurgents. Thus, boy soldiers such as Richard Gogan and Sean Lemass, both aged 16, would return quietly to their classes at O’Connell’s. Both of them would later become Fianna Fáil members of the Dáil, with Lemass rising to the position of Taoiseach.
In old age, on 29 July 1968, Brother Allen drew up a list of OCS participants in the Rising. Probably relying largely on memory, he came up with 125 names, but noted that this was not necessarily a complete list. As part of the school’s commemoration of the 1916 events, I have tried to trace the background of all of those who took part in the Rising. My research in digital archives that were, of course, unavailable to Brother Allen indicated about ten additional names – there may well be others. There are some remarkable names on Brother Allen’s list. Three of the executed leaders of the Rising were past pupils, all shot by firing squad on the same day, 8 May 1916. They were Con Colbert, Sean Heuston and Éamonn Ceannt. The latter was one of the seven men who signed the Proclamation declaring an Irish Republic, and he had been in the same OCS class as Heuston. Among the many rebels who survived the Rising was another notable OCS man, Sean T. O’Kelly, who became President of Ireland. (Courtesy of S. Boyne).

 

EVENT

PARTICIPANTS

DATE

A
composition of an original song / music score / piece to
commemorate 1916

Open
to all pupils, solo or groups

Closing
Date: Friday

March
11th

A
Proclamation for a New Generation

Open
to each class as a group only.

600
words, reflecting the values, ideals and hopes of the 2016
Generation.

Closing
Date: Friday

March
4th

History
Tree / Ancestry Project.

Were
your family involved in the Easter Rising?

Open
to all pupils, solo or groups

Closing
Date: Friday

March
4th

Make
History – Make a short movie about 1916

Open
to all pupils, solo or groups

Closing
Date: Friday

March
4th

1916
Poetry Competition

Class
based competition

Closing
Date: Friday

March
4th

1916
Art Competition

Class
based competition

Closing
Date: Friday

March
4th

1916
Short Story / Creative Writing / Factual Essay Competition

Class
based competition

Closing
Date: Friday

March
4th

Intercom
Quiz about 1916

Class
based competition

Tuesday
March 15th 2016.

GPO
Witness History School Tour

Class
Groups

Opens
March 2016. Cost €5.

Tel:
8169538 to book

National
Flag & the OCS Flag. Commemoration / Ceremony Day in the
school.

Thomas
J. Meagher Foundation

Whole
School

Tuesday
March 15th 2016

EVENT

PARTICIPANTS

DATE

Proclamation
Day in the school to include a public reading of the names of the
OCS 125 Volunteers following a march of 16 pupils (in period
costume) from the GPO to our school

Whole
School

Tuesday
March 15th 2016

Launch
of Booklet by Sean Boyne: OCS Men and the Rising

Whole
School Community

Tuesday
March 15th 2016

Launch
of an OCS Pen commemorating the OCS 125 Volunteers

Whole
School Community

Tuesday
March 15th 2016

Glasnevin
Cemetery Witness History School Tour

Class
groups

March,
April, May 2016

1916
Commemorative Mass for pupils, past pupils, Christian Brothers,
staff, former staff , parents and 1916 relatives in North William
Street Church

OCS
Community

Tuesday
March 15th 2016 (provisional)

JCSP
Book Launch by JCSP Group

JCSP
Book Group

March
2016

Unveiling
of a Plaque commemorating the 125 OCS Volunteers

OCS
Community

April
2016

Construction/
Development of a Memorial/Sensory Garden for all deceased staff

All
staff, including former staff

September
2016

Unveiling
/ Dedication of the different parts of the school & classes in
honour of famous past pupils including 1916 participants

Staff,
Board & Students

Ongoing

Plough
& the Stars Screening by LCA Class

LCA
Pupils

Tuesday
March 15th 2016

EVENT

PARTICIPANTS

DATE

A
School Annual 1916 & 2016

OCS
Community

September
2016

School
Website section for 1916

All
welcome

Ongoing

1916
Memorial Week of Events

All
welcome

Ending
on Wednesday March 16th 2016

Traditional
music/ Ballad Session in the school hall

All
Welcome

Tuesday
March 15th 2016

(provisional)

Priming
the Canon: Me Mollser

1st
– 3
rd
Years

March,
April 2016

1916
Stained Glass Workshop in St Patrick’s Cathedral

1st
– 3
rd
Years

March,
April 2016

Presentation
of OCS Commemorative medals to relatives of the 125 OCS Volunteers

Family
Relatives

March,
April 2016

Launch
of Information Booklet for pupils about the 1916 Rising

For
use in class to give the 2016 pupils some information about the
1916 Rising

Monday
February 1st 2016

Five
Lamps Arts Festival

The
Rising Play in Liberty Hall on March 10th

Selected
Pupils

10th
March 2016

The
Abbey Theatre The Plough & the Stars Play

Selected
Pupils

March
30
th
2016 matinee.

1916
Commemoration in St Joseph’s CBS Fairview

Five
inner city schools

January
26
th
2016

1916
A Country is Born

Playful
Cartoon Strip on display in O’Connell School

Jan-June
2016