Visitors to Ireland may notice that all mainline stations in cities and large towns are named after people, more specifically, the executed leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, an armed rebellion prior to our War of Independence (1919-1921).
While the Easter Rising took place predominantly in Dublin, events in Kerry were the starting point for the rebellion. Here I will look at the two key events in the 1916 Rising in Kerry: Banna Beach outside Tralee, and Ballykissane in Killorglin. Both sites are part of the Wild Atlantic Way in Kerry.
BANNA BEACH: ROGER CASEMENT
Sir Roger Casement was a Dublin-born British diplomat and human rights campaigner who challenged the social injustices of colonialism around the world. Upon retirement he turned his attention to colonial abuses in his own land and became involved in the Irish nationalist cause, travelling to Germany for help to support independence.
A German shipment of arms arrived off the Kerry coast on Holy Thursday night, 20th April 1916, disguised as a Norwegian fishing vessel named the Aud.
Casement travelled from Germany on a submarine and came ashore on Banna Beach in North Kerry with two others, Daniel Bailey and Robert Monteith. The Aud arrived prematurely and was intercepted while an ill Casement remained in the Banna area and was later arrested.
He was transferred to London where he was found guilty of High Treason and hanged in Pentonville Prison on 3rd August 1916, the last of the 1916 leaders to be executed and the only one who had a public trial. Casement’s efforts of furthering Irish independence are commemorated at Banna Beach, outside Ardfert in North Kerry.
Further information on the North Kerry area can be found on my Tour of North Kerry post.
BALLYKISSANE PIER, KILLORGLIN
The other significant Easter Rising event in Kerry occurred at Ballykissane Pier outside Killorglin in Mid-Kerry.
On Good Friday, 21st April 1916, five men arrived in Killarney via train from Dublin with the wireless communications station on Valentia Island their final destination. The task of Con Keating, Charles Monahan, Donal Sheehan, Denis Daly and Colm O’Lochlainn was to get hold of a portable radio unit to warn the Aud not to land until Easter Sunday.
The men travelled towards South Kerry in two cars with the vehicles becoming separated en route through a series of mishaps. The second car carrying Keating, Monahan, Sheehan and driver Thomas McInerney took a wrong turn in Killorglin and headed straight towards Ballykissane pier where their car entered the River Laune. Only McInerney survived.
Their operation failed and the British Navy captured the Aud.
EASTER RISING LEGACY
The rebellion operation in Dublin was unsuccessful with the leaders surrendering on Saturday 29th April. All but one of the Rising’s leaders were subsequently court-martialled and executed by firing squad while thousands of people unconnected with the Rising were interned without trial in prison camps.
The Easter Rising only lasted a few days and was a military disaster for its proponents but its legacy was immense, swaying public opinion towards complete independence and leaving us with the Proclamation, the egalitarian statement of principles that independent Ireland is still aspiring to.
As part of the 50th anniversary commemorations in 1966, the State renamed the mainline railway stations in honour of the leaders. Further information on the 1916 Easter Rising can be found on Joan O’Reilly’s Simplified History site.
So it’s only fitting that I finish this post with the list of rebellion leaders and their respective railway stations.
Seven Signatories of the Proclamation
Éamonn Ceannt – Galway city
Thomas Clarke – Dundalk
James Connolly – Dublin city
Seán MacDiarmada – Sligo town
Thomas MacDonagh – Kilkenny city
Pádraig Pearse – Dublin city
Joseph Plunkett – Waterford city
Sir Roger Casement – Tralee
Con Colbert – Limerick city
Edward Daly – Bray
Seán Heuston – Dublin
Thomas Kent – Cork city
John MacBride – Drogheda
Michael Mallin – Dun Laoghaire
Michael O’Hanrahan – Wexford
William Pearse – Dublin city
For general Ireland travel information check out my Planning a Trip to Ireland post.