On Thursday 24 March Stephen Coyle, who had travelled from Scotland, delivered a public lecture in
the Pearse Institute on Pearse Street in Dublin to commemorate the Rising. Entitled ‘Scotland and
The Easter Rising’. Organised by the Irish Branch of the Celtic League the talk was delivered to a full
house in the theatre which sits in the building where Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the Irish
rebellion of 1916, was born.
Coyle, a member of the 1916 Commemoration Committee in Scotland, elaborated on the role of the
Scottish companies of the Irish Volunteers during 1916. Many of their members were Scots of Irish
extraction or recently migrated Irish, with the Ulster connection having been especially strong.
However, Coyle also noted the involvement of Scots with no Irish background. He also elucidated on
the strong connections between the radicals of both countries stretching back to the United Irish
and United Scotsmen of the 1790s which he asserted were maintained with a decent degree of
continuity right into the early twentieth century and the emergence of the Irish Volunteers in
Scotland from around 1913.
The role of the Scottish was very important as they raided collieries and sent gelignite and arms to
Ireland for the forthcoming rebellion. Steve gave some really interesting accounts of this smuggling
including that of the lady who travelled across on the ferry with detonators in her hat!
Indeed Scottish members of the volunteers went to Ireland many weeks before the rebellion and
were billeted in the Larkfield Mills, on the land of Count Plunkett (father of Joseph Mary Plunket, a
signatory of the Proclamation) where they trained and prepared munitions for the forthcoming
rebellion. Padraig Pearse referred to them ‘Ireland’s first standing army for centuries’.
When they mobilised on Easter Monday they went into Dublin city on the tram with Count Plunkett
who insisted on paying 50 + tickets to the conductor for all these armed volunteers! They then
dispersed to different garrisons around the city. Steve gave a list of these locations and volunteers at
the end of his talk. While there were many persons of note mentioned in Steve Coyle’s talk one
particular person who stood out was Margaret Skinnedar who took on a role as a sniper and is
mentioned in many accounts of others of the Rising.