Elizabeth O’Farrell and the 1916 Rising
If you have read about Padraig Pearse’s surrender to General Lowe at the end of the 1916 Rising, you have probably heard a mention that he was accompanied by nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell. But do you know how she was involved? When she died in 1957, Irish newspapers paid glowing tributes to O’Farrell and her involvement in the 1916 Rising. Here the Irish Independent remembers her:
The late Nurse O’Farrell.. 27 Lower Mount St., Dublin, who played a hero part in the 1916 Rising, collapsed and died unexpectedly In Bray while walking from the sea, accompanied by Miss Julia Grenan, who also was with her in the G.F.O. in Easter Week. Nurse O'Farrell was in her 70s and had been suffering from heart trouble. An inquest was not considered necessary.
Nurse O'Farrell's part in the Rising began when she was given the task of informing Liam Mellows in Galway that the Rising was to begin on Easter Monday. On arriving back in Dublin, she made her way to the G.P.O. through laneways and streets on which cordons had not been placed. There she attended the wounded and dying during the week, and when the women were ordered to leave as the position was getting hopeless, she remained on with Miss Grenan and Miss Winifred Carney. When the garrison began to retreat from the building, the three intrepid women went with them through a side-entrance and across to Henry Place as bullets whistled, through the street. As she clashed across the street Nurse O’Farrell tripped and fell heavily but a Volunteer ran to her aid; lifted her in his arms and together they reached safety. On the Saturday morning Nurse O’Farrell brought a verbal massage from Padraig Pearse to Brigadier-General Lowe that he wished to treat with him. She walked slowly towards the barricades at Parnell St. carrying a white flag and met the British leader. She brought his answer back to Pearse, and twice made the same journey. On the last occasion she accompanied Pearse. He shook hands with her and was driven down O’Connell St. She never saw him again.
It was agreed that she should be detained for the night and that on the following day she would take the order for surrender to the commanders of the other garrisons. After doing this she was hustled to Richmond Barracks, Inchicore. and later to Kilmainham. Brigadier-General Lowe had given her his word of honour that she would not be made a prisoner. When he heard how she had been treated he came to her personally to apologise and to give orders for the return at once of money which had been taken from her.
Nurse O'Farrell had been staying with Miss Grenan at the convent of the Sisters of Charity, Ravenswell. Bray, for some time before her death.
For more information on Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell and the 1916 Rising, see the pages of the Irish Newspaper Archive (www.irishnewsarchive.com )