herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Staines led sortie to rescue the injured James Connolly

Rebel stories

Michael Staines was among the last to leave the GPO
Michael Staines was among the last to leave the GPO

Michael Joseph Staines was born on May 1, 1885 in Kiltarnaght near Newport, Co Mayo.

His family moved to Dublin in 1904 and lived at Murtagh Road in Stoneybatter.

Staines worked at Henshaw’s ironmongers on Parliament Street and joined the Irish Volunteers at their inaugural meeting in November 1913.

Following a stint as ­quartermaster of the ­Dublin brigade, he took

up the position of quartermaster general of the national movement on March 16, 1916. He also held the rank of captain.

Stretcher

Staines spent the morning of Easter Monday 1916 delivering arms to the rebels’ headquarters at the GPO - as Padraig Pearse read the Proclamation outside the building - before leading the assault on the top floor of the building, which was held by a group of Connaught Rangers.

On the Thursday of Easter week he led a sortie to Williams Lane, between Abbey and Prince’s Street, to retrieve the wounded James Connolly, bringing him back to the GPO for medical treatment.

By Friday afternoon, the GPO was under heavy fire. The building “was alight in every quarter and the front portion was a roaring furnace”, according to a later account.

The order was given to evacuate.

Houses

Staines was in the last group of rebels to leave, carrying Connolly on a stretcher alongside Padraig Pearse, Willie Pearse and Judge Law Smith’s chauffeur.

The men placed Connolly on a bed in a property at Moore Street before cutting through the houses and arriving at Sackville Lane, where The O’Rahilly lay dead. On the Saturday, Staines selected six men and carried Connolly on a stretcher towards Dublin Castle to negotiate terms.

They were booed almost the entire way by the gathering crowds who at times came close to attacking the party.

In the years following the Rising Staines remained heavily involved in Irish politics and played an active role in  the War of Independence.

He sat on the supreme council of the IRB, was elected commandant of the rebel prisoners at Frongoch internment camp in Wales, was a member of the first Dail Eireann, served as a TD and senator, and was the first commissioner of An Garda Siochana.

He died in 1955 and is buried in Clontarf alongside his wife Julia and daughter Sheila.

Details submitted by Michael Staines (great-grandson)

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