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Saturday 10 December 2016

'The old men clasped hands and sang Irish songs'

Voices from The Rising

1798 rebel Michael Dwyer
1798 rebel Michael Dwyer

Many of those who fought on Easter Week were radicalised by the cultural nationalism of years preceding the Rising - not least by songs. They gave the following accounts to the Bureau of Military History.

I remember in my young days that the old men at social gatherings clasped hands and sang Irish songs together...Patriotic songs like 'Michael Dwyer' and 'The Bold Fenian Men' were sung at these gatherings
- Thomas Reidy, Volunteers

As long as I can remember from my earliest years I had a good national background. I remember hearing rebel songs such as 'The Wearing of the Green', 'Who Fears to Speak of '98', etc, being sung
- Seamus Reader, IRB

I was walking along the South Mall, in Cork...sounds of music could be heard faintly in the street...I arrived in at one of the senior competitions, and heard for the first time Irish songs properly sung...Something in the songs - though I could only understand a few of the words, something in the music, something in the atmosphere, gripped me, and I seemed to be put into touch with something far back in the race. Unknown depths in me were stirred
- PS O'Hegarty, IRB

In 1898 the centenary commemoration of the insurrection of 1798 occupied all our minds and attention. The newspapers and periodicals were literally filled with accounts of the many battles of that time and with poems and songs about that period
- Joseph O'Connor, Volunteers

The [teacher] told us that we should be ashamed if we did not know 'Who Fears To Speak of '98'
- Denis Madden, Volunteers

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