Paul was strolling towards O’Connell Bridge. It was a fine day and the sun lit up Sackville Street (now known as O`Connell Street) as he walked through the city centre to meet a friend for lunch. Each time he walked down Sackville Street, he admired the old buildings, especially the majestic looking General Post Office. Paul was a doctor. His father was English and his mother was from Kerry. Paul wore a grey cap and grey, tweed trousers with a white cotton shirt. A small gold chain lay across the left pocket of his waistcoat which was attached to a gold watch that glinted in the sun. He had a warm, grey, woolen jacket.
Paul was humming to himself an Old Irish tune that his friend, Patrick Pearse, often sang at the Clan na Gael meetings. Paul always sang the song when he felt content in sunny weather when strolling along the coast at Malahide or along Sackville Street (the old name which is now O`Connell Street) The air was chilly and the sun poked through the clouds. The song went:
Tá Gráinne Mhaol ag teacht thar sáile,
Óglaigh armtha léi mar gharda,
Gaeil iad féin is ní Frainc ná Spáinnigh
Is cuirfidh siad ruaig ar Ghallaibh.
In English this verse means:
Grainne Mhaol is coming across the sea
Armed warriors with her as her gaurd
They are Gaels and not French or Spanish
And they will rout the foreigners
The song was about a pirate woman called Granuaille. She was a ruthless military leader who sailed the seas of Western Ireland. She fought the English occupation and was imprisoned by them twice but her spirit was never broken. Granuaille was returning on the seas with many soldiers, to fight the English.
His good friend Patrick Pearse sang the lyrics at Clan na Gael meetings with an accompaniment of Irish instruments. They had almost been forgotten in some places of Ireland. The leaders of this group were reviving Irish culture, songs, the Irish langauge and anything Irish. He smiled as he thought of his good friend, Patrick Pearse. Patrick had kind, soft, prominent cheek bones and a sharp nose and chin. He had bright blue eyes that seemed to glow when he became excited about some idea or Irish song. His appearance made him look both kind and stern at the same time. It seemed to Paul that when Patrick spoke to people, his bright blue eyes penetrated into their very soul. Patrick would know whether someone was telling the truth, sooner or later. He wrote the lyrics to Gráinne Mhaol that Paul loved to sing so much. Patrick had adapted the song, which was written in the 1700s, to suit his own ideas. Patrick also liked to read old Irish stories in the Gaelic tongue which he had researched. Paul loved talking to Patrick and singing the songs he wrote.
Patrick would listen to Paul talk about the complications of his upbringing. Paul’s father loved his mother dearly. Their backgrounds did not match well. His father, Andrew, was a wealthy English man who had married his mother, Aoife. Patrick also had an English father and an Irish mother. The family was harmonious and Paul grew up knowing he was loved and he knew how to treat people lovingly and sensitively. His father’s relations often clashed with his mother and her relations. It seemed to Paul that Andrew’s relations thought Aoife and her family to be little more than simpletons – uneducated and brainless yet good for fetching tea and making dinner. Paul’s English relations would speak with simple words, just to agitate Aoife. Aoife’s family would, being from Kerry and fluent Irish speakers, speak in Irish together to exclude the English family. The English relations would sometimes glance at the native Irish speakers, puzzled by the foreign tongue the Kerry people spoke. The two sides of the family met out of obligation for special events. Paul was very fond of Patrick but Patrick had become more extreme in his attitudes about the English rule of Ireland. He even talked about removing the English from Ireland. Paul loved the atmosphere of Clan na Gael nights out. They leaders were teaching the members about Irish culture. Paul adored the singing and the merriment. He did not like the way his friend Patrick was speaking about the English. Paul had an English father and English relations.He did not want them harmed.
How would the Irish govern themselves? Were they not better off being part of the greatest empire in the world? Paul felt that Home rule was the answer to all this. The Irish would be allowed to govern themselves on some issues. Paul felt that it was wrong that when the War started England decided to cancel the possibility of granting Ireland Home Rule. This had angered some Irish people like his friend Patrick. Patrick began to speak about staging a protest against the English and told Paul the plans were secret. Paul had told him not to challenge English rule, England was at war and would not tolerate a rebellion. Paul and Patrick fell out with each other over the issue. Paul sorely missed Patrick and their fun nights out at Clan na Gael meetings. Patrick frightened him with his talk about challenging English rule.
Paul strolled down the street and began to sing the old Irish song aloud. Suddenly he saw a medium-sized man in a green uniform, like an English soldier’s uniform. The man was too small for a British soldier. Paul had very strong long-distance vision and could make out his friend Patrick Pearse. He was reading from a sheet of paper outside the General Post Office. A small group of people in green uniform were huddling at the doors behind him. Paul instinctively turned around and ran towards O’Connell Bridge, feeling unsafe near the General Post Office.
(This is an excerpt from Easter Rising 1916 A Family Answers The Call for Ireland`s Freedom, by Gabriel Woods, is available in Amazon.)