Post 73 – Mary Rose and the Rebels

In February 1916 there was snow over the Burren country in Ireland’s west Clare. People in the towns and villages were wrapped in warm coats with wool blankets for the old folk and children. In Ennis, Mary Rose Casey made sure that groceries had been delivered to her Stamor Park home and that the youngest of her children was happy with her nanny. She then walked from her house past the old Friary and up the street to Slattery’s.

People in the bar nodded and smiled towards her, for she was a popular woman. A barman gestured discreetly towards a curtained corridor as she passed and then paused outside a large oak door. Inside, six men sat with tea around a table. They all looked up as Mary Rose entered, and she was warmly greeted by Michael McMahon.

‘You may not have met Mary,’ he said to the others, ‘but she has been doing great work for the Fenians, and we hope she will join us in Dublin for our Easter Rising.’

Mary Rose smiled at this and took a free seat at one end of the table.

‘Do you have any news for us, Mary?’ McMahon asked.

She kept her head down as she composed herself and then looked up to quietly take in each of the Fenian Volunteers.

‘The Black and Tans are coming here tomorrow,’ she said slowly. ‘We think they are going for Brian Fogerty – so we need to warn him to get his family out of the house by midday … and he should go too, because if he doesn’t, he may be shot … and whatever happens they will burn his house to the ground.’

The Volunteers shook their heads and then clenched their fists in anger, for they knew that Fogerty was not an active Republican, although he clearly sympathised with their cause.

‘This is only going to get worse,’ McMahon told the Volunteers. ‘These Scottish bastards have been sent over here to intimidate us … but we’ll be ready for them when they attack us … and we’ll need all of you.’

An ambush might account for six or eight of the hated Scottish Black and Tans. But their murderous activities against peaceful Irish folk were escalating, and a gesture of defiance was surely needed.

‘We’ll stop these Scottish bastards tomorrow,’ McMahon said, ‘and we’ll find a safe house for Fogerty and his family. But the rising has been confirmed in Dublin for Easter, and we’ll need all of you there, along with as many more as we can get from around the country to raise our flag.’

For now, there wasn’t anything else to say, other than for each of the Volunteers to shake hands with their leader and nod respectfully towards Mary Rose Casey.

‘We’ll meet here again in the morning,’ McMahon said, ‘and your guns will be in the cellar as usual … so god speed and good luck to you all.’

When the men left, Mary Rose got up and walked over towards McMahon with a warm smile.

‘You’re doing a fine job, Michael,’ she said, which caused him to blush slightly, for he felt the same about her.

‘We don’t know how it will go tomorrow, or indeed with the Rising, Mary,’ he said quietly. ‘But the time has come now for us to make a stand against the British … and we must do all we can to stop these evil Scottish criminals they’ve sent over to bully us into submission.’

For now though, their families needed them. But before they parted, McMahon took Mary Rose’s delicate hand. ‘You’re a grand woman,’ he said. ‘And if the King’s criminals go back to England, I’ll want our first Irish President to give you a gold medal with a harp on it.’

There was more to say, but they each had pressing commitments. so they just gave each other a smile and allowed their eyes to linger briefly on each other before they parted.

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