herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

'Blimey' O'Connor's daughter leaves pupils in awe

Una Fletcher (85) with (from left) Josh Gunn, Araish Ahmed and Darragh Sheppard, all pupils
at St Joseph's Boys National School in Terenure (Damien Eagers)
Una Fletcher (85) with (from left) Josh Gunn, Araish Ahmed and Darragh Sheppard, all pupils at St Joseph's Boys National School in Terenure (Damien Eagers)

The classroom fell silent as grandmother Una Fletcher recalled her father showing her the holes on Moore Street that were left after bullets narrowly missed his head as he fled from the GPO during the Easter Rising.

The group of 10-12-year-old boys, from St Joseph's National Boys School in Terenure, south Dublin, sat captivated as the 85-year-old daughter of volunteer John 'Blimey' O'Connor told how her father left his home in London as a tin whistle-playing 19-year-old to join the Irish Volunteers at the nearby Kimmage Garrison and wound up making history.

Thanks to his bravery, and skills as an electrician, he and fellow London-Irish volunteer Liam Daly are credited with helping to tell the world that an Irish Republic had been declared in Dublin during the Rising.

Snipers

Despite heavy gunfire from snipers, they managed to put up the aerials for the famous short wave broadcast from the GPO in Morse Code that crossed the Atlantic and alerted the world that Ireland was in revolt.

Mrs Fletcher, from Terenure, proudly hoisted the Tricolour as part of Proclamation Day celebrations at schools across the country yesterday in which students read out The Proclamation and their own modern versions. She said she could feel her father looking down at her and smiling.

"I'm extremely proud of what he did. It's part of who I am," she said as she fielded an endless stream of questions from the little boys, who wanted to hear every detail of her father's life; his heroes, his dreams, his regrets.

Although the bullet-ridden wall on Moore Street is now gone, Mrs Fletcher said she will never forget the role her father played when she proudly takes her place among the other direct descendants of the heroes of the Rising during the upcoming 2016 celebrations.

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