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John F Kennedy in Ireland at Arbour Hill Memorial
John F Kennedy in Ireland
He visited Ireland and the Arbour Hill Memorial in 1963.When the President of the United States of America was asked what was the highlight of his trip to Ireland he said. “The highlight? that was the Memorial Service at Arbour Hill!”
This National Monument was built in 1955. The Proclamation of the Republic of Ireland is engraved in both in Irish and English on the wall.
Arbour Hill Memorial Park
He was accompanied by the Taoiseach, Mr Sean Lemass. The President first reviewed a Guard of Honour. The army band then played the American Presidential Salute.
He then walked up the pathway to the plot where the fourteen men were buried. As he stood at the head of the plot, the band played Chopin's Funeral March. He laid a wreath of laurel and lilies to the roll of drums. A guard of honour, made up of Irish Army Cadets presented Arms.
As Commander P.M. Quinlan slowly raised the Irish Tri colour to full mast, the Last Post was played. Then at the end of the ceremony the Irish National Anthem was played.
Proclamation of the Republic of Ireland
President JFK read some of the Proclamation of the Republic of Ireland
He turned to the wall behind him in which a cross is embedded in the centre. Carved in stone on the right is the Proclamation of the Republic of Ireland in English. He read some of this.
He chatted to a few of the cadets and shook hands with some military nurses. He left Arbour Hill and went on to Leinster House where he entered the Dail. He made a speech to the joint session of Dail Eireann and the Seanad.
He was so impressed with the military cadets that he asked for a film of the Guard of Honour drill movements to be sent to him. On his return home to America he had suggested that a similar ceremonial drill should be introduced at the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington.
When leaving Ireland from Shannon Airport he said, “This is not the land of my birth, but is the land for which I hold the greatest affection, and I certainly will come back in the spring time.”
President John F Kennedy was assassinated only a few months later on November 22nd 1963, in Dallas, Texas His wife, Jacqueline Kennedy remembered his enthusiasm for the Irish cadets. When making the funeral arrangements she requested that Irish Army Cadets be present.
They performed the same ceremonial drill at the President's funeral on November 25th at Arlington as was done at Arbour Hill.
Easter Rising in 1916
The graves of fourteen men who were executed after the Easter Rising in 1916 are at Arbour Hill Memorial Park. Those buried in the mass grave at Arbour Hill are:
- James Connolly
- Tom Clarke
- Joseph Plunkett
- Con Colbert
- Sean Heuston
- Sean McDermott
- Thomas MacDonagh
- Michael O'Hanrahan
- John McBride
- Eamonn Ceannt
- Michael Mallin
- Edward Daly
- Brothers Patrick, (Padraig) Pearse and William Pearse.
The Easter Rising Monday 24 April 1916.
We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland…
There were three Irish organizations that came together to fight in the Rising in Dublin that week. They were the men of The Irish Volunteers led by Patrick Pearse.
The men and women of The Irish Citizen Army led by James Connolly and the women of the Cumann na mBan, the female wing of The Irish Volunteers.
The General Post Office on Sackville Street, now O’Connell Street was the Headquarters of the Irish soldiers. Once the GPO was secured the British flag was removed and two Irish flags were hoisted onto the roof of the GPO.
Patrick Pearse read out the Proclamation of the Irish Republic to the people. There were other outposts around Dublin that had been captured by the Irish soldiers at the same time as the GPO that day.
The battle lasted for seven days until 30 April when a meeting of the leaders in Moore Street was held and the decision was made to surrender.
14 Men Buried at Arbour Hill
Patrick Pearse was born on November 10th 1879 at Great Brunswick Street in Dublin. He had a very good education and qualified as a barrister.
In 1908 he opened St Enda's School. This was an all Irish School because Patrick Pearse was convinced all Irish children should be able to speak in Irish.
The 1916 Easter Rising
At 12.00pm on 24th April 1916, Patrick Pearse left Liberty Hall and marched up Sackville Street, now O’Connell Street, with James Connolly and Joseph Plunkett.
They were on their way to the GPO and the start of what became known in Irish history as the 1916 Easter Rising. With these leaders were men and women from the Irish Citizen Army and the Irish Volunteers Force.
Once the GPO was secured both James Connolly and Patrick Pearse stood outside on the street and Patrick Pearse read out the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. This had been written and printed at the headquarters of the Irish Citizen Army in Liberty Hall a few days before.
Irishmen and Irishwomen
He began with, ' Irishmen and Irishwomen, in the name of God and of dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom…… We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland…
A few days later Patrick Pearse surrendered to the British on behalf of the Irish soldiers. After the surrender he was detained at Arbour Hill Prison. On 2nd May he was tried by Court Martial and sentenced to death.
Patrick Pearse was executed on 3rd May, 1916 in Kilmainham Jail yard. His body was dumped in the pit at Arbour Hill and covered in quick lime.
He was born in 1868 in Scotland to Irish parents. James Connolly was the Commander of the Irish Citizen Army and one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising.
He joined Patrick Pearse and Joseph Plunkett on 24th April 1916, as they marched up O’Connell Street at the head of the Irish soldiers. Also beside him was his fifteen year old son Rory. As the days progressed James Connolly was shot twice and had to be attended by the doctor and then stay on a stretcher.
As the soldiers evacuated the burning GPO on Friday he was carried on the stretcher out and across the road to Moore Street. After the surrender he was imprisoned at Dublin Castle in the hospital wing.
James Connolly was tried by court-martial at Dublin Castle on 9th May, still in hospital. He had to be propped up in the bed. In part of his statement to the court he said, ' Believing that the British Government has no right to Ireland, never had any right to Ireland and never can have any right to Ireland.
I personally thank God that I have lived to see the day when thousands of Irish men and boys and hundreds of Irish women and girls were ready to affirm that truth, and attest it with their lives if need be. '
James Connolly was taken to Kilmainham Jail yard by ambulance. There he was put on a stretcher and brought into the yard and strapped to a chair. He was shot dead on 12th May 1916. His body was dumped in the pit at Arbour Hill and covered in quick lime.
Sean McDermott was born in Co Leitrim on February 1884. Sean McDermott marched up O’Connell Street and into the GPO with the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army. He was the Liaison Officer between Patrick Pearse and James Connolly.
As the week progressed and the leaders decided to surrender Sean McDermott read out the orders. The men and women wanted to fight on but he persuaded them to accept the surrender.
He told them it would be probably just him and the other leaders that would be executed and Ireland needed them alive so they could fight another time. He told them, “I know also that this week of Easter will never be forgotten, Ireland will one day be free because of what you've done here.’
Sean McDermott was tried by Court – Martial at Richmond Barracks. He was then transferred to Kilmainham Jail where he received his sentence of death. He was shot dead in Kilmainham Jail Yard, at dawn, 12th May 1916. His body was dumped in the pit in Arbour Hill and covered in quick lime.
He was born at Hurst Castle, the Isle of Wight on March 11th 1857. He marched to the GPO on that day too and fought all week knowing that they did not have much chance of coming out alive. He had a young lad beside him as they were kneeling down at the windows of the GPO waiting for the onslaught of the British soldiers. He told him, “I have lived to see the greatest hour in Irish history.”
His Court Martial was held in Richmond Barracks on Tuesday the 2nd May. He received the death sentence. That evening he was transferred to Kilmainham Jail. His wife, Kathleen had been arrested on 1st May and was a prisoner at Dublin Castle. When she was told she could visit him, she said to the other women in her cell,
“I suppose they are going to shoot Tom.”
She arrived just after midnight and spent about an hour in the cell with Tom Clarke. She did not tell him that she was pregnant with their fourth child. He had written a message for the Irish people and gave it to Kathleen. It said:
Message to the Irish People, 3rd May 1916
‘I and my fellow signatories believe we have struck the first successful blow for Irish Freedom. The next blow, which we have no doubt Ireland will strike, will win through. In this belief, we die happy. '
Thomas J Clarke. Kilmainham Jail, 3rd May 1916.
Tom Clarke was shot dead at dawn on 3rd May 1916 in Kilmainham Jail yard. His body was dumped in the pit in Arbour Hill and covered in quick lime.
He was in the GPO with Commanders James Connolly and Patrick Pearse. He was the tactical officer and received the information from the other garrisons.
He had to take frequent rests because a few months before the Easter Rising he contacted Glandular Tuberculosis. He throat was still bandaged after an operation when he marched into the GPO.
He was also due to be married the day before, but it had to be cancelled because of the Rising. Joseph Plunkett was born in Dublin in November 1887.
He went to private schools in England and then returned to Ireland, went to UCD and obtained a degree in Philosophy. He had always suffered bad health so he traveled to Italy, Egypt and Algeria. After the surrender he was taken to Richmond Barracks. He was tried by Court Martial there on 2nd May and transferred to Kilmainham Jail. He was sentenced to death.
His two brothers, George and John, had also received the death sentence, but these had been commuted to ten years imprisonment. His parents had also been arrested. They were released after a few weeks and deported to England.
On May 4th at 1.30 am Joseph Plunkett walked the small distance from his cell down the dark corridor, which led to the chapel in Kilmainham Jail. There he was allowed to marry Grace Gifford.
His handcuffs were removed during the ceremony but he was surrounded by twenty soldiers. Once the ceremony was over, Plunkett was immediately handcuffed and returned to his cell. Grace Gifford went to James Street for the night.
She was called back later and was allowed ten minutes with her new husband in his cell. There were fifteen soldiers in and outside the cell. Only a few hours later at dawn on 4th May 1916, Joseph Plunkett was shot dead in Kilmainham Jail Yard.
His body was dumped in the pit in Arbour Hill and covered in quick lime.
The younger brother of Patrick, he was born in November 1881 at 27 Great Brunswick Street. He studied to be a sculptor like his father in Dublin and Paris. When his father died he took over the family business.
William fought inside the GPO with his brother during the week
The last time he saw his brother alive was when he left Moore Street with Elizabeth O'Farrell who was a nurse and soldier in the Irish Citizen Army to surrender.
William Pearse surrendered with the rest of the soldiers. He spent Saturday night at the spot across from the Rotunda Hospital and was marched to Richmond Barracks on Sunday morning with the rest of the men.
William Pearse was tried by Court Martial, and then transferred to Kilmainham Jail. As he arrived at the prison he heard the shots that had just killed his brother Patrick. William Pearse was shot dead in Kilmainham Jail yard at dawn on 4th May 1916.
His body was thrown into the pit at Arbour Hill and covered in quick lime.
He was born in Tipperary in 1878. In 1909 he became a Lecturer in English at University College Dublin. He was also a poet and playwright.
He was one of the leaders of the Irish Rising and the Commander at the Jacobs Factory garrison in Camden Street. Thomas MacDonagh was tried by Court Martial at Richmond Barracks on the morning of 2nd May.
In a statement from jail he said. ‘I am to die at dawn. I am ready to die, and I thank God that I die in so holy a cause….. For myself I have no regret.
The one bitterness that death has for me is the separation it brings from my beloved wife, Muriel and my beloved children, Donagh and Barbara… Goodbye my love until we meet again in heaven. I have a sure faith of our union there. '
He was shot dead in Kilmainham Jail Yard at dawn on 3rd May 1916. His body was dumped in the pit at Arbour Hill and covered in quick lime. His wife Muriel died only a few months later in a drowning accident.
He was born in Co Wexford on March 17th 1877. He was a writer of plays and books.
He was attached to the Jacobs Factory garrison and was second in command. His brother Henry was also fighting beside him at the Jacobs Factory garrison.
After the surrender Michael and Henry O'Hanrahan spent the night with the men at the Rotunda and marched to Richmond Barracks the next morning.
They were both tried by Court Martial, transferred to Kilmainham Jail and received the death sentence. Henry’s death sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.
Michael O'Hanrahan was shot dead in Kilmainham Jail yard on 4th May 1916. His body was dumped in the pit in Arbour Hill and covered in quick lime.
He was second in command of the Jacob's Factory garrison. He was tried by Court Martial in Richmond Barracks and transferred to Kilmainham Jail. He received the death sentence; As John McBride arrived in the yard he was about to be blindfolded.
He did not want this, and asked could he be shot without the blindfold or tied hands. The British soldier whose job it was to carry this out, apologised to him and told him he had his orders.
John McBride was shot dead in Kilmainham Jail yard on 5th May 1916. His body was dumped in the pit in Arbour Hill and covered with quick lime.
He went to University College Dublin. He was working in the City Treasurers Office when the Rising took place. He was Commander of the 4th Battalion in the South Dublin Union.
Eamonn Ceannt was tried by Court Martial on 4th May. He was then transferred to Kilmainham Jail. He received the death sentence. In a letter to his wife he wrote on the 5th May, he had a message for his ten-year-old son. ‘Tell Ronan to be a good boy and to remember Easter 1916 for ever.‘
He was shot dead at dawn in Kilmainham Jail yard on the 8th May. His body was dumped in the pit at Arbour Hill and covered in quick lime.
Michael Mallin was born in 1874 in Dublin. He was a Silk Weaver in Dublin. He was the Chief of Staff of the Irish Citizen Army. He was Commander of the St Stephens Green garrison.
He was tried by Court Martial at Richmond Barracks, found guilty and sentenced to death. Michael Mallin was shot dead in Kilmainham Jail yard on the 8th May 1916. His body was dumped in the pit in Arbour Hill and covered in quick lime.
He was Captain of ' F ' Company of the Fourth Battalion. On Easter Monday he marched off from Emerald Square under Eamonn Ceannt.
His Company secured the outpost at Watkins Brewery in Ardee Street. Once their position was secured Con Colbert decided to help the small garrison at Jameson's Distillery in Marrowbone Lane.
He was tried by Court Martial in Richmond Barracks, then transferred to Kilmainham Jail. He received the death sentence. He did not want any visits from his family because it would be too hard on them He wrote ten letters to them instead.
He wrote a letter to Anne and Lily Cooney. They were both members of Cumann na mBan and had fought in the Marrowbone Lane garrison with him. They were also prisoners in Kilmainham Jail.
He told them, ' Indeed you girls gave us courage and may God grant you freedom soon in the fullest sense. ‘He wrote in a letter to his sister, ' May God help us - me to die well, and you to bear your sorrow. '
He was shot dead in Kilmainham Jail yard on 8th May 1916. His body was dumped in the pit in Arbour Hill and covered in quick lime.
He was Captain of ' D' Company, but was promoted to Commander on Easter Monday. He and twelve Volunteers occupied the Mendicity Institute on Ushers Island.
His orders were to delay the British troops on their way to the Four Courts and the GPO as long as he could. They constructed a barricade and almost immediately they came under heavy fire. They were attacked all Monday night. James Connolly sent re - enforcement's from the GPO.
But by Wednesday they had been fighting for three days non stop. They were out of food and barely had any ammunition. The British troops had reached the outer walls of the Institute and were throwing hand grenades at the men.
As grenade after grenade came over the wall Sean and his men did their best, trying to catch the grenades before they exploded and throwing them back at the British. Sean Heuston decided it was time to surrender.
From Arbour Hill Prison, Sean Heuston was transferred to Richmond Barracks on 4th May. He was tried by Court Martial. At Kilmainham Jail on 7th May he received the sentence of death.
That night he wrote to his sister, a Dominican nun in Galway. He said, ' Let you do your share by teaching the children the history of their own land. Ireland's history as it should be taught.’
As the British soldier was preparing him to be shot in the yard he asked permission to shake his hand out of respect to Sean as a fellow soldier.
Sean Heuston was shot dead in Kilmainham Jail yard at dawn on 8th May 1916. His body was dumped in the pit at Arbour Hill and covered in quick lime.
Edward Daly was born in February 1891 in Limerick. He was the only son, with nine older sisters. His father died six months before he was born.
One of his sisters was Kathleen Clarke, whose husband was Tom Clarke. Edward was living with them in a house in Dublin when the Rising started.
He was Commander of the Four Courts Garrison
This covered a wide area including North Circular Road, Church Street, North King Street and Linenhall Street. The headquarters was set up in Father Mathew Hall, Church Street.
The barricades in N.C.R. came under heavy fire on Tuesday evening from artillery guns. The British soldiers had taken over Bourke's undertakers in Queen Street. The men could not defend the barricade in the NCR so they retreated to headquarters. Daly sent some to the Four Courts and some to other outposts.
Edward Daly was at the Church Street barricade when he received the order to surrender on Saturday evening. They marched to the green across the road from the Rotunda with the rest of the Volunteers.
After the surrender Edward Daly was marched to Richmond Barracks. He was tried by Court Martial and then transferred to Kilmainham Jail. He was sentenced of death.
He was shot dead in Kilmainham Jail yard at dawn on 4th May 1916. His body was dumped in the pit at Arbour Hill and covered in quick lime.
The Bodies of the Executed Men
All the relatives asked for the bodies of the men back. They left a request form at Kilmainham jail reception before the men had been executed.
Mrs Clarke did not receive any word about her husband's body. Some of the other relatives received a letter a few weeks later to say that the bodies had already been buried.
All the bodies of the men had been covered in Quick Lime so that the bodies would disintegrate bones and all. It would be impossible to identify the bodies so that they could be given a decent burial at a later date.
Arbour Hill Memorial in Dublin Ireland
The British Government tried to stop the men becoming martyrs for the cause of Irish Freedom during the 1916 Easter Rising.
But by their action in burying all the men together at the Arbour Hill Prison Yard they gave the Irish people the opportunity to create a fitting monument to them.
The Arbour Hill Memorial is the grave of these fourteen Irishmen who were executed in 1916. It is also a fitting memorial to their courage. It is situated in Stoneybatter Dublin 7 and open to the public all year round.
Every year on the nearest Sunday to 28th April a memorial mass and ceremony is held to remember their contribution to Irish freedom from British rule which was finally achieved in 1921.
President John F Kennedy was deeply moved by what he experienced at the ceremony at Arbour Hill Memorial Park on Friday 28th June in 1963.