“Pearse Whispered To Us To Hide Our Arms”

During the Easter Rising Enniscorthy town was taken and held by the Wexford Brigade, Irish Volunteers who established their headquarters in the Athenaeum. Volunteers from the surrounding areas took over the RIC barracks in Ferns. Despite this initial local success on 30 April news arrived from Dublin that the Rising was over, Patrick Pearse had surrendered to the British forces.

Volunteers Seamus Doyle and Sean Etchingham were given permission to travel to Dublin and meet with Pearse to get confirmation of the order.

On reaching Dublin they were brought to Arbour Hill Prison where Pearse was being detained. Seamus Doyle remembers that although he seemed very tired Pearse was in good spirits. He then wrote an order for them to lay down their arms.

Managing to get a few moments alone with their Commander in Chief, Doyle states that Pearse had another message for the Volunteers. That message was to hide their arms, not give them up completely.

…They will be needed later. 

Doyle and Etchingham returned to Enniscorthy and relayed Pearse’s instructions. After laying down their arms the Volunteers were arrested.

At the time of the Easter Rising Seamus Doyle held the rank of Adjutant, Wexford Brigade, Irish Volunteers. He later went on to command the Brigade in the War of Independence.


Seamus Doyle was interviewed for the programme 'The Boys of Wexford', broadcast on Radio Éireann, 11 April 1966. Photograph of Arbour Hill Prison courtesy of RTÉ Archives.

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