Margaret Browne: Courier during Holy Week 1916 (Extract from BMH.WS0322)

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“I came to Dublin on the Saturday before Holy Saturday

I was given two large sealed envelopes containing copies of the document for the Bishop of Galway and Tuam. I was taking the afternoon train from Broadstone and when I arrived at the station Seán McDermott came and gave me two dispatches, one for Laurence Lardner of Athenry and the other for George Nicholls of Galway. He did not tell me what was in the messages but said to me they were very important and that I should not let them fall into anyone’s hands. I was to eat them if necessary. He then took an affectionate farewell of me.

When I got to Athenry it was getting dark. I went to the hotel and left my case. I found Lardner’s – a public house – at the corner of a street. It was full of people drinking. I walked through into the room at the back of the shop. Laurence was not there but his brother and mother were. They told me he was in Dublin. They also mentioned that Mellows was in the neighbourhood, I think in Oranmore. The brother assured me that I would be safe in giving the message to himself. Athenry was full of police and the sergeant came in to inquire “who was the young lady that had come in”? Mrs Lardner told him I was her cousin who was working in Pim’s. They asked me to have tea but I wouldn’t. Mr Lardner brought me out the back through a vegetable garden which was very muddy, into which my heels sank.

…. I reached the street and went to the hotel and had tea. Shortly before ten o’clock the hotel people asked me if I was staying the night. I said no. Then they said there was curfew and I would have to go to the station. When I reached it I found it full of policemen. It became rather cold and I had a long time to wait so I sat with the night watchman who had a fire. I had sent a wire to Power’s (Prof. Power) that I was not coming until the night mail.

Professor Power did not meet me in Galway as his motorbike had broken down on his way to the station. I decided to stay at the Railway Hotel. I was not long in it when the Professor came to fetch me. I decided, as it was so late, not to leave the hotel ’til morning. The following morning Mrs Tina Power came and she brought me to George Nicholls in his office. When I handed him the message he seemed very disturbed and excited. He asked me did I know what was in it. I said “No” and he said no more about it! Afterwards I delivered the sealed document to the Bishop of Galway whom I knew as his niece was in Eccles St. with me. He was worried about it and asked a lot about the contents.

In the afternoon I went to Tuam by train and delivered the envelope to the Archbishop. I met George Nicholls a second time either that day or the next. He made some remark about things having changed since I gave him the message”.

Note

Margaret Browne was a sister of Cardinal Michael Browne and Monsignor Pádraig de Brún, President of University College Galway. She lectured in Irish in UCD and later married Sean McEntee – born in Belfast and educated at St Mary’s Christian Brothers School, St Malachy’s College and the Belfast Municipal College of Technology where he qualified as an electrical engineer. His early political involvement was with the Irish Socialist Republican Party in the city. He worked as an engineer in Dundalk, County Louth, and was involved in the establishment of a local corps of the Irish Volunteers. He fought in the GPO Garrison in 1916 and was sentenced to death, a sentence commuted to life imprisonment. He was released in the general amnesty in 1917. Sean McEntee was a founder member of Fianna Fáil, was elected TD for County Dublin in the June 1927 general election served in Dáil Éireann until 1965 – Finbarr O’Regan

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Written by Finbarr O'Regan

Published here 04 Feb 2021

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