On Thursday afternoon (of Easter 1916) it became evident that the G.P.O. could not be much longer held. The members of the Cumann na mBan, with three exceptions, left by Commandant Pearse’s orders. The three who remained were: Miss Winifred Carney, Miss Julia Grenan and myself. About 8 o’clock on Friday evening, April the 28th 1916, the building being entirely in flames, we retreated from there under very heavy fire, the intention as I understood being to cut our way through at some point and to join up with Commandant Daly at the Four Courts.
We left by the side entrance in Henry Street, crossed to Henry Place and around into Moore Lane. There was a barricade erected mid-way in Moore Lane, and it was very dangerous passing it, as the military were firing over it. We left in three sections. I, being in the last. Commandant Pearse was the last to leave the building. He went round to see that no one was left behind. We immediately preceded him, bullets raining from all quarters as we rushed to Moore Lane. As I passed the barricade I tripped and fell; in a second some man rushed out of the house (Gogan’s) No.12 on the corner of Moore Lane and Moore Street, where the second section had taken cover, took my up in his arms and rushed back to the house. It was Sean McGarry, of Ballybough Road, since sent to penal servitude for eight years. When I entered the parlour of the house I found some of the members of the Provisional Government already there, the house well barricaded, and James Connolly lying on a stretcher in the middle of the room. I went over to him and asked him he felt, he answered: ”Bad,” and remarked: “the soldier who wounded me did a good day’s work for the British Government.” After a short time the other members of the Provisional Government came in. Some mattresses were then procured, on which we placed Mr Connolly, and other wounded men. There were seventeen wounded in the retreat from the GPO and I spent the night (April 28th) helping to nurse them. Around us we could hear the roar burning buildings, machine guns played on the houses, and at intervals what seemed to be hand grenades.
The morning of the 29th I spent in helping to cook for the other Volunteers who had worked hard through the night burrowing from house to house up towards the top of Moore Street. After breakfast, Mr Connolly and the other wounded men were carried through the holes, and all others followed. Mr Connolly was put to bed in a back room in 16 Moore Street (Plunkett’s). The members of the Provisional Government were in this room for a considerable length of time (P.H. Pearse, J. Connolly, J. Plunkett, T.J. Clarke, and Sean MacDermott), where they held a council of war. Willie Pearse was also with them. On the floor of the room lay three wounded volunteers and a British soldier, a prisoner, who was badly injured, lay on a bed on the side of the room. Winifred Carney, Julia Grenan and I came in to attend to them. The soldier asked us would Pearse speak to him. Pearse said: “Certainly.” The soldier then asked Pearse to lift him a little in the bed. Pearse did this, the soldier putting his arms round his neck. This was all. Pearse returned to James Connolly’s bedside, and the consultation was continued in private.
Shortly afterwards, I got the orders from Sean MacDermott to provide a white flag – he first hung one out of the house to ensure me from being fired on. I left the house (Gorman’s), 15 Moore Street, About 12.45 p.m. on Saturday the 29th with a verbal massage from Commandant Pearse to the Commander of the British Forces, to the effect that he wished to treat with them. I waved the small white flag, which I carried and the military ceased firing and called me up to the barrier, which was across the top of Moore Street into Great Britain Street (now called Parnell Street). As I passed up Moore Street I saw, at the corner of Sackville Lane (now called O’Rahilly Parade), the O’Rahilly’s hat and a revolver lying on the ground – I thought he had got into some house. I gave my message to the officer in charge, and he asked me how many girls were down there. I said three. He said: “Take my advice and go down again and bring the other two girls out of it.” He was about putting me back again through the barrier when he changed his mind and said: “However, you had better wait. I suppose this will have to be reported.” Then he sent another officer with me up Great Britain Street, towards the Parnell Statue he went into one of the houses there I think it was 70 or 71 Great Britain Street (now Parnell Street) for someone in command. The officer in command then came out.
I said: “The Commandant of the Irish Republican Army wishes to treat with the Commandant of the British Forces in Ireland.”
Officer: “The Irish Republican Army – the Sinn Feiners you mean.”
I replied:” The Irish Republican Army they call themselves, and I think that a very good name, too.”
Officer: “Will Pearse be able to be moved on a stretcher?”
I said: “Commandant Pearse doesn’t need a stretcher.”
Officer: “Pearse does need a stretcher, madam.”
I again answered: “Commandant Pearse doesn’t need a stretcher.”
To another officer: “Take that Red Cross off her and bring her over there and search her – she is a spy.”
The officer, as ordered, proceeded to cut the Red Cross off my arm, also off the front of my apron, and then took me over to the hall of the National Bank (now the Bank of Ireland) on the corner of Great Britain Street (now Parnell Street) and Cavendish Row, where he searched me and found two pairs of scissors one of which he afterwards returned to me, some sweets, bread, and cakes, etc. Being satisfied that I wasn’t dangerous he then took me of all places in the world to Tom Clarke’s shop as a prisoner – all this procedure occupied about three quarters of an hour. I was kept in the shop for about another three quarters of an hour, when another military man came to me – whom I learned was Brigadier General Lowe. He treated me in a very gentlemanly manner. I gave General Lowe my message, and he said he would take me in a motorcar to the top of Great Britain Street, and that I was to go back to Mr. Pearse and tell him “That General Lowe would not treat at all until he Mr. Pearse Would surrender unconditionally,” and that I must be back in half-an-hour, as hostilities must go on, Then the officer whom I first interviewed wrote a note to this effect for General Lowe. They both came with me in the motorcar to Great Britain Street. It was then about 2.25 p.m. I went on to 16 Moore Street, and as I passed Sackville Lane, the first turn on the left in Moore Street going down from Great Britain Street. I looked up and saw the dead body of the O’Rahilly lying about four yards up the lane his feet against the steps of the first door on the right the side entrance to Kelly’s shop, Moore Street and his head out on the curb stone. I gave both the verbal and written message to Commandant Pearse, and told him I was to be back in half-an-hour. The situation was discussed, and I was sent back with a written message. I went back again to the top of Moore Street, where General Lowe was waiting for me in the motorcar. He was rather vexed because I was a minute over the half–hour coming, but I really wasn’t as I pointed out by my watch – then one of the officers set his watch my mine.
Whatever was in the note from Commandant Pearse to General Lowe I cannot say: but General Lowe’s reply to it was:
“Go back and tell Mr. Pearse that I will not treat at all unless he surrenders unconditionally and that Mr. Connolly follows on a stretcher.” (Here General Lowe apologised to me and said: “It is Connolly that is wounded, not Pearse.”) He told me then that unless Mr. Pearse and I came back in half-an-hour he would begin hostilities again. I brought back the message. The members of the Provisional Government having held a short council, Commandant Pearse decided to accompany me back to General Lowe.
It was about 3.30 p.m. when General Lowe received Commandant Pearse at the top of Moore Street, in Great Britain Street. One of the officers that had been a prisoner in the G.P.O. was asked to identify Commandant Pearse and he could not – he said he did not see him in the G.P.O. He asked Commandant Pearse was he in the G.P.O. and he said he was – the officer said: “I did not see you there.” Commandant Pearse then handed up his sword to General Lowe. General Lowe to Commandant Pearse: “The only condition I make is that I will allow the other Commandants to surrender. I understand you have the countess de Markievicz down There.”
Commandant Pearse: ”no she is not with me.”
General Lowe: “Oh, I know she is down there.”
Commandant Pearse: “Don’t accuse me of speaking an untruth.”
General Lowe: “Oh, I beg your pardon, Mr. Pearse, but I know she is in the area.”
Commandant Pearse: “Well, she is not with me, sir.”
General Lowe then suggested that the military should detain me (Nurse O’Farrell) for the night in order to take around next day, Commandant Pearse’s orders for surrender to the other Commandants, when Commandant Pearse would give me a list of the addresses of the occupations by the Irish Republican troops, promising, at the same time, to set me free and give me a safe convoy pass when I should have accomplished this. Commandant Pearse turned to me and said: “Will you agree to this?” I said: “Yes, if you wish it.” He said: “I do wish it.” Pearse then shook hands with me, but spoke no word.
After this he was taken away in a motorcar, down Sackville Street, accompanied by General Lowe’s son and another officer inside, and an armed guard on the footboard outside.
He was preceded in another car by General Lowe and Caption Wheeler. I saw him no more. There were several officers standing round as Commandant Pearse was driven off, one of whom remarked: “It would be interesting to know how many marks that fellow has in his pocket.” I was then given in charge of Lieut. Royall, who was told to keep me under close observation, though not to regard me as a prisoner. Lieut. Royall brought by back to T. J. Clark’s shop in Great Britain Street, and provided me with some tea. It was then about 4.15 p.m. General Lowe shortly returned with Pearse’s written order for the other Commandants to surrender, and five or six typewritten copies; one of these was signed by Commandant James Connolly for his own men in the G.P.O. area and in Stephen’s Green. General Lowe first gave an order to take to Moore Street, where the Republican troops from the G.P.O. had taken over, and a written note as to how they should surrender. The note read as follows:
“Carrying a white flag, proceed down Moore Street, turn into Moore Lane and Henry Place, out into Henry Street, and around the Pillar to the right hand side of Sackville Street, march up to within a hundred yards of the military drawn up at the Parnell Statue, halt, advance five paces and lay down arms.”
At the same time General Lowe gave me an order for the
Commandant at the Four Courts. Accordingly, when I had given the order at Moore Street, I proceeded down Great Britain Street, and Capel Street, and towards the Four Courts, being stopped on my way by several officers, and being returned by one who would not let me pass under any condition. I returned to Moore Street, and the officer there sent a guard with me so then I go along all right. The guard left me at a barricade at Little Mary Street, after which I crossed the barricade and proceeded up East Arren Street, and around into Pill Lane (now called Chancery Street) – here I met Fr. Columbus of Church Street: I had a little white flag with me and I told him where I was going, so he took the flag and offered to accompany me. We passed Charles Street, and went over into the side entrance of the Four Courts. We called in for some volunteers and saw Caption? We told him we had a message for Commandant Daly, he told us we would have to go round to the quays to the corner of Church Street; this we did and found Commandant Daly strongly entrenched there. I gave him the order and told him of the Headquarters surrender. He was very much cut up about it but accepted his orders, as a soldier should. He walk back with us to the side entrance, and by this time the news had got about of the surrender, and several officers of the Republican Army were down at the rails waiting for us. Having delivered the massage I returned to Sackville Street by the same way I had come. When I reached Sackville Street, I was again delivered up to Lieut. Royall, who was told to look after me for the night, and also told he, was personally responsible for me. It was then about 7.15 p.m.
After about half an hour Republican troops from the Four Courts marched up Sackville Street and were lined up outside Crane’s; and nearing 8 p.m. the Moore Street men came up the other side of the street and were lined up about Mackey’s. While they were still in the street, Lieut. Royall took me over to the National Bank and provided me with supper, and procured a bedroom for me at the top of the house, in which I was fairly comfortable and slept well, Lieut. Royall sat on a chair outside my door all night. About 6 o’clock on Sunday morning I arose. On looking out of the window I saw about 300 or 400 volunteers and Miss Grenan and Miss Carny, who had left the Post Office with me, lying on the little plot of grass at Great Britain Street in front of the Rotunda Hospital, where they had spent the night in the cold and damp. All their arms and ammunition were piled up at the foot of the Parnell Statue. I had only just finished dressing when I was told I was wanted downstairs by Caption Wheeler to take round the orders to the other Commandants.
Caption Wheeler had the typewritten copies and he took me to the middle of Grafton Street in a car, and I had to walk from there to the College of Surgeons with a white flag. Bullets were whistling round St Stephen’s Green. There was no one on the streets and I saw no dead or wounded. I got in at a side door in York Street, and asked for Commandant Mallin and was told he was sleeping and that Countess Markievicz was next in command. I saw her and gave her the order-she was very much surprised and she went to discuss it with Commandant Mallin, whom I afterwards saw. I gave her a slip with the directions as to how to surrender – the Southern sides being ordered to surrender at St. Patrick’s Park. I don’t think this was carried out and I don’t know where the College of Surgeon’s troops did ultimately surrender. I left and went back to Grafton Street, to Caption Wheeler, who asked me if I had seen Mallin and what he said about it. I said I saw Mallin, who had nothing to say. Caption Wheeler told me I should have got him to say if he intended to surrender or not. He next brought me in the car down to Trinity College, into which he went for a few minutes. Then he decided to take me to Commandant de Valera, at Boland’s Mill – Mount Street area – for which purpose he brought the car down Brunswick Street (now called Pearse Street) but the barricades there blocked the way. Not wishing to go near any of the railway bridges because the Volunteers were on them – he finally drove down Tara Street, to Butt Bridge, and informed me that he did not think he could take me any further. So I started through the firing line Butt Bridge to Boland’s. I did not know whether the Volunteers were still in Boland’s or not, so I had to go up to Westland Row to the military to ask them to locate the Volunteers for me. This was a very difficult job and I had to take my life in my hands several times. When I came into Westland Row the military were lined across the top, and they were screaming to me to go back, but I kept on waving my white flag and the paper. When I got to the top a soldier was sent with me to Clare Street to find an officer – this being done, the officer sent another soldier with me to pass me through the military lines at Holles Street, Merrion Square. I asked a soldier where were the Volunteers firing from and he said from the gasometer. I went down Holles Street around Wentworth Place and into Harmony Row on the left – hand side, from which I proceeded down under the railway bridge in Brunswick Place and called up to the Volunteers but got no reply. Many people were in the streets in this dangerous area, several women standing in doorways. I then went on into Brunswick Street and over to the gas works, which I tried to enter, but did not succeed. Then to the old distillery, I tried to get in there, but failed. Proceeding across Ringsend Road Bridge towards Boland’s Mill (The Grand Canal Basin) I saw lying on the ground two loves and a hat covered in blood. I called out at the bakery, but like the previous places, got no reply. I then went along Barrow Street towards the railway bridge, and here I saw some Volunteers who knew me. I enquired from them for Commandant de Valera, and was told I would find him at the Grand Canal Street Dispensary. I went off to the Dispensary, back again towards town, and crossed Grand Canal Street Bridge the firing was terrific. At this point a man crossing the bridge about half a yard behind me was shot. I called to some people in houses down the street, and they ran up and carried him into Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital.
I crossed over to the Dispensary and asked the Volunteers on duty for De Valera, and he sent me around to the back. When I got to the back the barricades had to be removed and I was lifted in through the window into a small room. Here De Valera came to me. At first, I think, he considered the thing a hoax, but by the time some of my Volunteer friends came in he realised I was to be trusted. He then said: “I will not take any orders except from my immediate superior officer, Commandant MacDonagh.” So after my trouble in finding him I had to go off again. I started off again towards the College where I was to meat Caption Wheeler with Commandant de Valera’s answer. I went back to Holles Street, Merrion Square, and into Clare Street. Here I met Caption Wheeler with the car and gave him Commandant de Valera’s answer, on receipt of which he said we would go up to Jacob’s and see Commandant MacDonagh. We went by Dame Street and the Castle Yard, into which Caption Wheeler went for a short time. We then proceeded through Ship Street, into Bride Street, in the middle of which he stop the car. I got out and walked through the firing line (through Golden Lane, Whitefriar Street and Peter Street) to Jacob’s.
At 15 Peter Street I knocked and asked to see Commandant MacDonagh. I was blindfolded and walked about for five minutes. I then heard Commandant MacDonagh’s voice and the bandage was taken off my eyes. I gave him the orders from Commandant Pearse and told him of our position in the G.P.O. and Moore Sreet. He brought me into a small room and told me he would not take orders from a prisoner, that he, himself, was next in command and he would have noting to say to the surrender until he would confer with General Lowe, the members of the Provisional Government already prisoners, and the officers under his command. An interview was then arranged by Fr. Augustine for Commandant MacDonagh with General Lowe. This took place outside St. Patrick’s Park at about 3 o’clock. Cmmandant MacDonagh then went to Marrowbone Distillery to consult Commandant Ceannt, and after this consultation agreed to surrender also. I remained in Jacob’s while all this was taking place, and when Commandant MacDonagh returned, he called the officers together and afterwards told the men there that they had decided to carry out Commandant Pearse’s orders. The men were against surrendering, but I heard Commandant MacDonagh say to them: “Boys, it is not my wish to surrender, but after consultation with Commandant Ceannt and other officers. We think it is the best thing to do – if we don’t surrender now they will show no mercy to the leaders already prisoners.” He then gave the orders for them to get ready to march out. Just then Michael O’Honrahan, and his brother Henry, asked me if I would take charge of some silver (about £3 in all) they had in their pockets, and convey it to their mother – this I consented to do. Another young man asked me to take some money from him, £13 in gold, explaining at the same time, that he was saving up to be married, and being in lodgings here, took all his money out with him on Easter Monday – this I also took charge of. I then walk down to Bride Street, where Commandant MacDonagh and his men were to surrender. As I waited at the corner of Bride Street, and Ross Road, Commandant MacDonagh came down to the military to complain that a British soldier had entered Jacob’s and was firing on his men. An officer was sent back with him and the soldier was placed under arrest. Cmmandant Ceannt came down the Ross Road at about 6 o’clock p.m. and surrendered with his men and also with the members of the Cumann na mBan who were attached to his command. Both sections of Volunteers were then disarmed, after which Caption Wheeler came over and took me away to the car. By this time it was getting dusk and he drove to Trinity College to telephone General Lowe to know if it was to late to go back down to Boland’s to Commandant de Valera with the orders from Commandant Pearse, which Commandant MacDonagh had countersigned. Whatever information Caption Wheeler received, he conveyed me up to Dublin Castle. It appears that in the meantime De Valera had surrendered.
Taking me into the Castle Hospital, he introduced me to the Matron and told her I was to stay there for the night as a guest, by General Lowe’s orders, and that he (Caption Wheeler) would call to me in the morning (Monday, May 1st). I was brought upstairs to a sleeping apartment and given supper. I was very comfortable and slept well. I awoke next morning about 8.30 and was about to arise and dress when I discovered some of my clothes had been taken away from me, including my coat with the money in the pockets. I asked the nurse where my clothes and she told me a medical officer (Whose name I do not know) took them. I protested against my clothes being removed, it being understood that I was there as a guest. After about fifteen minutes or so, the officer came up and asked quite a lot of questions, and wanted to know where did I get the money? This I told him, and he seemed to be quite alarmed at any Irish Volunteer possessing £13 of his own. I gave the young man’s explanation of the money, and the officer said: “Going to be married, indeed, he looted some safe.” He went away then and after some time my clothes were sent up but not the money. When I had dressed, the officer and another soldier came up; I asked where was the money, and he said the Provost Marshal had it and then asked me to come along with him. I enquired where he was taking me, and he said to the Provost Marshal. They brought me downstairs and across the Castle Yard, and whilst crossing the yard I heard the officer say to the other soldier: “What did the Provost Marshal say?” He replied: “Lock her up and keep there her for the day.” I understood then that they were going to make me a prisoner although Caption Wheeler had left me there “as a guest,” and General Lowe had given me his word of honour that I should not be made a prisoner. They brought me back into the building, opened a door, and ushered me inside – the officer went away and left me in charge of the other man.
I asked if I was a prisoner, and he replied: “Very much a prisoner,” I protested and said that I had General Lowe word of honour that I should not be made a prisoner and he replied: “Oh, don’t worry, you won’t be lonely, as your friends, Dr. Lynn, and Miss Molony, and all the rest, will be here in a minutes – they are only taking exercise. I discovered the place was Ship Street Barracks. In the room there was a couple of tables and a plank affair, something like a bed on the floor. After some time Dr. Lynn, Miss Molony and nine others come in, and were quite surprised to see me – those eleven women had been lodged in this small room from the previous Tuesday. We then had dinner, consisting of bully-beef, biscuits and water provided by the military and to this fare I contributed a barm-brack, an apple and a few sweets, which I had since I left the G.P.O. on Friday night. While we were at dinner another soldier came and took our names, and told us that when we had finished we were to be sent off somewhere else. A guard was sitting in the room all the time. After dinner we were brought out to the Castle Yard and lined up together with some men prisoners who had been brought from some other part of the building. A tall man in khaki with black trimmings took charge of us there. I went up to him a said I had General Lowe’s word of honour that I should not be made a prisoner, and he said: “Don’t be silly, I know for a fact you shot six policemen yesterday.” I knew there was no use in arguing with him, so I took my place in the line. After about fifteen minutes we were sent off between the guard to Richmond Barracks (now called Saint Michael’s Est. Inchicore). On arrival there we were handed over to two officers, and to these I protested but they did not take the slightest notice of me, so I them informed them that if I was imprisoned I would, when released,” publish to the ends of the earth how General Lowe kept his word of honour.” After standing here for about ten minutes the men prisoners were brought into the Barracks, and we were told the women were going to Kilmainham. Just then Ft. Columbus, the same priest who had come with me to Commandant Daly at the Four Courts on Saturday evening, April 29th, came out of one of the buildings. I called him, and told him I had been made a prisoner, and he said he would go to General Lowe. He went back to the officer and told him he knew I had General Lowe’s promise, and he was going to him immediately. It was about 4 p.m. when we women were marched down to Kilmainham prison and delivered up to two other officers, counted and signed for. The two officers from Richmond Barracks informed the two at Kilmainham that I expected to be released at any moment. Our names were then called out, and we were inspected, after which we were brought upstairs and put into the small cell. I was called out first and brought into another cell, where I was stripped of my clothing and searched by two female warders. My clothes were also searched, and no dangerous weapons being concealed on me, I put on my coat and boots, carried all my other clothes under my arms, and was conducted to another cell, and locked in to dress at my leisure. After about a quarter of an hour the cell door was opened and Miss Molony, Miss French-Mullen and another girl were put in and the door locked again. While we were chatting, the door was again opened and four tins slid in about the floor – this was our supper. It was awful stuff, neither soup nor stirabout, and while I was sampling it a terrible commotion was being raised outside the door, keys were rattled, the door push in, and I was called for, in terrible haste. I went outside to behold, in an apologetic attitude, the officer who had searched my clothes, taken away my money, and put me into Ship Street Barracks that morning. He begged my pardon for the mistake. I was then brought downstairs to a room where Caption Wheeler was waiting for me, having being sent by General Lowe with a motorcar to take me away, after Ft. Columbus had seen the letter. Caption Wheeler was also very apologetic and told me General Lowe was very much annoyed that such a thing should have happened, and that he was coming himself to the Castle to personally apologise to me. Caption Wheeler, who was accompanied by a nurse from the Castle Hospital, drove the car around via Sackville Street, and then on to Dublin Castle.
We reached Dublin Castle about 6.15 p.m. and I was then brought upstairs and provided with some dinner and while I was partaking of it General Lowe arrived and assured me the fact of my being made a prisoner was all a mistake, and wouldn’t I understand that a mistake would occur in those strenuous times, that he knew nothing about it, or he would have seen to it immediately. I told him I quite understood a mistake could happen, but what I could not understand was that any of the officers to whom I had protested had not taken the slightest notice of my protest, and in fact, one of them went so fare as to tell me he “knew for a fact you shot six policemen yesterday” (Sunday, April 30th).
General Lowe also said:
“I hear you have been accusing me of breaking my faith.”
I said: “Yes. I have.”
General Lowe: “Well. I’m determined my honour shall be upheld.”
I protested that I had been put to the humiliation of being stripped and searched while I was in the position of a “guest.” General Lowe apologised again, and vowed it was a mistake. He then said he would give me a letter, and that I would not have any further trouble with the military. He also offered to bring me home in the car, but this offer I declined. He went out, and after a short time came back with the letter, accompanied by the officer who had taken away my clothes and money. General Lowe then bade me goodbye, and was going off when I asked: “What about the money that was taken from me this morning?” “What money?” said he?
“There was over £16 taken out of my pocket here.”
General Lowe: “Who took the money?”
“That man,” said I, pointing to the officer.
General Lowe to the officer: “Where is the money?”
Officer: “The Provost Marshal has it.”
General Lowe: “Go and get it immediately and restore it to this lady.” The officer came back with the money and gave it to me. I thanked General Lowe and he went a way. The Matron of the Castle Hospital accompanied me down to the Castle gates in Dame Street, and I left Dublin Castle. Thus finished my activities in connection with the Surrender. In concluding, I would like to say that I found General Lowe, Caption Wheeler and Lieut. Royall most courteous.