Last Letters, Last Words Litreacha Deiridh, Focail Deiridh


The eyewitness statements, personal letters and military accounts from the Military Archives of Óglaigh na hEireann provide unprecedented insight into the executions of May 1916. These invaluable documents give a compelling and harrowing personal glimpse into the leaders of 1916, detailing just how the Rising's closing chapter played out in Kilmainham Gaol.

Tugtar sna ráitis finné súl, sna litreacha pearsanta agus sna cuntais mhíleata ó Chartlanna Míleata Óglaigh na hÉireann léargas dúinn ar na cuir chun báis a tharla i mí Bealtaine 1916 nach bhfuil a macasamhail ar fáil áit ar bith eile. Faightear sna cáipéisí luachmhara seo spléachadh pearsanta agus coscrach ar cheannairí 1916, le cur síos sonrach ar an gcaoi ar cuireadh deireadh le mórimeachtaí an Éirí Amach i bPríosún Chill Mhaighneann.


Thomas MacDonagh's Last Address

Aitheasc Deiridh Thomáis Mhic Dhonnchadha

Thomas MacDonagh's Last Address

At Thomas MacDonagh's Court Martial, he sought to personally thank the Court for its courtesy and duty in sentencing:

"I choose to think you have but done your duty, according to your lights, in sentencing me to death. I thank you for your courtesy. It would not be seemly for me to go to my doom without trying to express, however inadequately, my sense of the high honour I enjoy in being one of those predestined to die in this generation for the cause of Irish Freedom."

Thomas MacDonagh was executed in Kilmainham Gaol on May 3rd 1916.

To view the document in full, click here.

Ag cúirt airm Thomáis Mhic Dhonnchadha, thriail sé buíochas pearsanta a ghabháil leis an gCúirt as an gcúirtéis agus an dualgas a léiríodh nuair a bhíothas ag gearradh pionóis air:

“Is mian liom a chreidiúint gur chomhlíon sibh bhur ndualgas, de réir bhur gcuid prionsabal, trí bhreith bháis a thabhairt orm. Gabhaim buíochas libh as ucht bhur gcúirtéis. Ní bheadh sé cuí domsa m’aghaidh a tabhairt ar mo chinniúint gan iarracht a dhéanamh a chur in iúl, fiú go huireasach, an onóir a airím go bhfuil mé ar dhuine de na daoine seo a chuirfear chun báis le linn na glúine seo ar son Shaoirse na hÉireann.”

Cuireadh Tomás Mac Donnchadha chun báis i bPríosún Chill Mhaighneann ar an 3 Bealtaine 1916.

Chun an cháipéis a fheiceáil ina hiomláine, brúigh anseo.


PH Pearse's Final Letter to his Mother

Litir Dheiridh an Phiarsaigh chuig a Mháthair

PH Pearse's original letter from Kilmainham

PH Pearse wrote a final letter to his mother Margaret Pearse, on the morning of his execution on May 3rd 1916.

"I have been hoping that it would be possible to see you again but it does not seem possible. 'Good-bye' dear dear Mother... I will call you in my heart at the last moment".

To view this letter in full, click here.

To view a typed copy of this letter in full, click here.

Letter courtesy of the Allen Collection, Military Archives.

Scríobh PH Mac Piarais litir dheiridh chuig a mháthair, Margaret Mhic Phiarais, an mhaidin ar

cuireadh chun báis é ar an 3 Bealtaine 1916.

“Bhí mé ag súil go bhféadfainn thú a fheiceáil arís ach is cosúil nach mbeidh sé sin indéanta. ‘Céad slán leat’, a Mháthair dhil... Is tusa a bheas i mo chroí ag an nóiméad deiridh”.

Chun an litir a fheiceáil ina hiomláine, brúigh anseo.

Chun cóip chlóite den litir a fheiceáil, brúigh anseo.

Litir a bhuíochas le Bailiúchán Allen, na Cartlanna Míleata.


William Pearse's Cigarette

Toitín Liam Mhic Phiarais

Cigarette from Willie Pearse's pocket

The younger brother of PH Pearse, William shared his brother’s passion for an independent Ireland and assisted him in the running St. Enda’s. The two brothers were extremely close, and fought alongside each other in the GPO.

This cigarette was from a packet found in William's pocket after his execution May 4th 1916.

To view this photograph in full, click here.

This image is courtesy of the Allen Collection, Military Archives.

Deartháir óg le PH Mac Piarais, bhí an díograis chéanna ag Liam d’Éirinn neamhspleách is a bhí ag a dheartháir, agus chuidigh sé leis i Scoil Éanna. Bhí an bheirt deartháireacha an-mhór le chéile, agus throid siad taobh le taobh lena chéile in Ard-Oifig an Phoist.

Tháinig an toitín seo ó bhosca toitíní a fuarthas i bpóca Liam tar éis dó a bheith curtha chun báis ar an 4 Bealtaine 1916.

Chun an grianghraf a fheiceáil ina iomláine, brúigh anseo.

Íomhá a bhuíochas le Bailiúchán Allen, na Cartlanna Míleata.


Seán Heuston's Last Letter to his Employer

Litir Dheiridh Sheáin Heuston chuig a Fhostóir

Sean Heuston Letter

Written on the eve of his execution, May 7th 1916, from his Kilmainham cell, in Seán Heuston's letter to his employer, Mr E. Walshe, he maintains that he has no regrets for his actions in the Rising. Heuston also seeks to make provisions for his mother, asking Walshe to make sure she receives any salary owed.

"Whatever I have done I have done as a soldier of Ireland in what I believed to be my country's interests... after all it is better to be a corpse than a coward...".

To view the letter in full, click here.

I litir a scríobh sé chuig a fhostóir, an tUasal E. Walshe, óna chillín i gCill Mhaighneann an oíche sular cuireadh chun báis é ar an 7 Bealtaine 1916, maíonn Seán Heuston nach bhfuil aon aiféala air mar gheall ar a chuid gníomhartha le linn an Éirí Amach. Déanann Heuston iarracht freisin soláthar a dhéanamh dá mháthair, ag iarraidh ar Walshe a chinntiú go bhfaigheadh sise aon tuarastal a bhí ag dul dó.

“Gach rud a rinne mé, is mar shaighdiúir de chuid na hÉireann agus ar mhaithe le mo thír de réir mo chreidimh féin a rinne mé é... i ndeireadh na mbeart, nárbh fhearr a bheith i do mharbhán ná a bheith i do chladhaire...”.

Chun an litir a fheiceáil ina hiomláine, brúigh anseo.


James Connolly's Execution

Cur chun báis Shéamuis Uí Chonghaile

Connolly execution details

In May-June 1916, 2nd Lieutenant R.C. Barton made notes regarding the manner in which James Connolly's execution was carried out. These notes were recorded following a conversation with Major Harold Heathcote, 2/6th Sherwood Forresters, who was also the officer in command of the executions' firing party:

"Connolly was seriously wounded and was unable to move. He was brought to Kilmainham in an ambulance lying down and was in his pyjamas only. Heathcote thought that he had been heavily drugged by the medical officer on the way from the Castle.

He was blindfolded whilst still in the ambulance but his hands were not tied.

He was removed from the ambulance on a stretcher and lifted onto a chair where he sat in an extended position with his head falling backwards. The officer I/C (in command of the) firing party Major Heathcote had previously arranged with two of the firing party to aim at Connolly's head. Both shots took effect penetrating at each side of his nose, the remainder entered his chest with exeption of one which entered his abdomen. 

He died without movement but unlike any of the other prisoners he bled a great deal."

To view these notes in full, click here.

Le linn mhí na Bealtaine agus mhí an Mheithimh 1916, bhreac an 2ú Leifteanant R.C. Barton nótaí faoin gcaoi ar cuireadh cur chun báis Shéamuis Uí Chonghaile i gcrích. Breacadh na nótaí seo tar éis comhrá leis an Maor Harold Heathcote, 2/6ú Coillteoirí Sherwood, arbh eisean an tOifigeach a bhí i gceannas ar an scuad lámhaigh a mharaigh Ó Conghaile:

“Bhí Ó Conghaile gortaithe go dona agus ní raibh ar a chumas bogadh. Tugadh go Cill Mhaighneann é agus é ina luí in otharcharr, gan tada air ach a chuid pitseámaí. Chreid Heathcote gur thug an t-oifigeach leighis roinnt mhaith drugaí dó ar an mbealach ón gCaisleán.

Cuireadh daillicín air agus é fós san otharcharr ach níor ceanglaíodh a chuid lámh.

Tógadh amach as an otharcharr ar shínteán agus cuireadh ar chathaoir é, áit ar shuigh sé, sínte amach agus a chloigeann ag titim siar. Bhí sé socraithe roimh ré ag an oifigeach a bhí i gceannas ar an scuad lámhaigh, an Maor Heathcote, go ndíreodh beirt den scuad lámhaigh ar chloigeann Uí Chonghaile. D’aimsigh an dá lámhach a sprioc agus chuaigh siad isteach gach aon taobh dá shrón, chuaigh an chuid eile acu isteach ina chliabhrach, seachas ceann amháin a bhuail a bholg.

Fuair sé bás ciúin gan bhogadh ach, murab ionann agus na príosúnaithe eile, chuir sé go leor fola.”

Chun na nótaí seo a fheiceáil ina n-iomláine, brúigh anseo.


The Act of Execution

An Cur Chun Báis

Map of Execution Plan

2nd Lieutenant R.C. Barton also noted the manner in which all of the Kilmainham executions took place in May 1916.

"Whilst I was attached to the Provost Marshall's staff in Richmond Barracks in May 1916, Major Harold Heathcote 2/6 Sherwood Forresters gave me the following account in which the Easter week leaders were shot. He stated that he was the officer i/c (in command of the) firing party and that when he waved his hand the firing party came to the ready.

The prisoner marched out from passage A (see attached drawing) followed by a priest and then by a warden. Prisoners were blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs. When the prisoner had reached a point immediately opposite the firing party the warden said 'I am going to see that everything is ready'. The Priest then gave the Prisoner absolution and moved away. Major Heathcote waved his hand and the firing party came to firing position. Heathcote yelled 'fire' and the prisoner was shot unaware that his end was so close. The prisoners fell straight backwards exactly where they had stood without moving their feet."

To view this document in full, click here.

Ghlac an 2ú Leifteanant R.C. Barton nótaí ar an gcaoi ar tharla gach uile ceann de na cuir chun báis i gCill Mhaighneann i mí Bealtaine 1916 freisin.

“Agus mé mar chuid d’fhoireann an Phropast-Mharascail i nDún Richmond i mí Bealtaine 1916, thug an Maor Harold Heathcote 2/6 Coillteoirí Sherwood an cuntas seo a leanas ar scaoileadh cheannairí sheachtain na Cásca. Dúirt sé gurbh eisean an t-oifigeach a bhí i gceannas ar an scuad lámhaigh agus gur chreath sé a lámh san aer nuair a bhí an scuad lámhaigh réidh.

Tháinig an príosúnach amach as pasáiste A (feic an léaráid iniata) agus é á leanúint ag sagart agus, ansin, ag maor. Cuireadh daillicín ar na príosúnaithe agus ceanglaíodh a gcuid lámh thaobh thiar dá ndromanna. Nuair a bhain an príosúnach áit amach díreach os comhair an scuaid lámhaigh dúirt an maor ‘feicfidh mé anois an bhfuil gach rud socraithe’. Ansin, thug an Sagart maithiúnas don Phríosúnaí agus sheas sé ar leataobh. Chreath an Maor Heathcote a lámh agus ghlac an scuad lámhaigh suíomh lámhaigh. Scread Heathcote ‘scaoil’ agus scaoileadh an príosúnach, i ngan fhios dó go raibh sé chomh gar sin dá bhás. Thit na príosúnaithe siar díreach, san áit chéanna a mbíodh siad ina seasamh, gan a gcuid cos a bhogadh.”

Chun an cháipéis seo a fheiceáil ina hiomláine, brúigh anseo.

Find out more about the 1916 executions and their commemorations, here.

Foghlaim tuilleadh faoi chur chun báis na gceannairí i 1916 agus faoin gcomóradh a dhéanfar orthu, anseo.

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