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14-10-2009, 15:26   #1
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Calling all amateur Easter 1916 Rising historians.

I am trying to research the lives of two British born socialists who fought and died in the 1916 Easter Rising.


I'm wondering if any readers here can help me and/or forward on this appeal to anyone they think might.

The first is John Neale “a Londoner … with a cockney accent, and a good socialist” (1)(2) who was stationed in the Hotel Metropole garrison under the command of Lieutenant Oscar Traynor and Charles Saurin. Neale acted as lookout, sitting “on the parapet on the top floor, scanning O'Connell Street with a pair of field – glasses” (3). He also allegedly “took 'pot-shots' at nelson's nose on the pillar until Connolly told him to desist.” (4)

During the evacuation of the Metropole, “a carelessly discharged shotgun or a stray British sniper bullet exploded an ammunition pouch (spraying) shrapnel in all directions” (5)(6) injuring volunteers Andy Furlong in the leg, Charles Saurin in the hand and John Neale in the mid region.

Neale’s “lower torso was ripped to shreds” (7), swaying he gasped to his neighbour "Can't you stand away and let a fellow lie down?" (8) He was laid on a pile of mailbags where Traynor asked, "Are you badly hurt?" to which Neale replied wryly, "I'm dying comrade". (9) In one account, Neale died in the “Castle Hospital” (10) while in another, a house in Moore Street (11) both from a severe loss of blood and after the surrender.

The second is Abraham Weekes/Weeks/Wix a Jewish socialist (12) from Norwich (13) .

In email correspondence with Darren Lynch, he has sent me two references to Weekes that he found in his Grandfathers files from research done in the 1940s into those killed in the Rising:

Arthur "Neill" Weekes ... came over to Dublin with the Kerr brothers and many other Liverpool men to partake in the Rising. He was accidentally shot on Friday the 28th April 1916 as the last of the volunteers were making their way onto Henry Street.

Weeks is also named in the 1991 An Phoblact ‘Easter 1916 Roll of Honour’ as an Englishman who died on April 28th 1916 in the ‘GPO area’

Arthur Weekes nicknamed "Niall" was from Norwich, Norfolk in the U.K. and was a member of the London Brigade.

Donal Nevin describes an individual who may be Abraham Weeks (or possibly Neale):

"A stranger applied for permission to join the insurgents. He wore an IWW (Wobblies) on his coat. He said he had come over from England hand ad a conscientious objection to fighting for capitalistic and imperialistic governments but that he also had a conscientious objection to being left out of a fight for liberty. This man whose identity is unknown - his name might have been Allen – fought bravely during the week. He was wounded in the excavation of the GPO on Friday and died the following day'" (14)

The intriguing theory now is whether these three (Neale, Weekes, Allen) British socialists could all be the same person. They have all been described as joining the Rising late and being fatally shot during the evacuation of the Metropole/GPO.

Can anyone shed any light on any of these characters or their stories?

===

1. Max Caulfield, Easter Rebellion – Dublin 1916, (1963), 231
2. Neale has also been mentioned in The Irish Times article The Cockneys and Scousers who fought for Ireland in 1916 (March 28, 2005) as “John Neale of the Irish Citizen Army” and a “Cockney member of the Citizen Army” in Donal Nevin’s 'James Connolly, A Full Life' (2005), page 657.
3. Michael Foy and Brian Barton, The Easter Rising (2000), 139-40
4. Joseph E.A. Connell Jr. List of men in the GPO Headquarters Battalion in 'Where's Where in Dublin. A Directory of Historic Locations 1913-23.' (2006), 166
5. Michael Foy and Brian Barton, The Easter Rising (2000), 149-50
6. Caulfield describes the ammunition pouch as being Andy Furlong’s. While Nevin and Good’s, 'Enchanted by Dreams…’ report it has being Neale’s. Coffey doesn’t mention an ammunition pouch but just a “shotgun … (that) sprayed out a cartridgeful of pellets”
7. Foy and Barton, The Easter Rising, 149-50
8. Thomas M. Coffey, Agony at Easter, The 1916 Irish Uprising (1969), 212
9. Max Caulfield, The Easter Rebellion - Dublin 1916 (1963), 327
10. Foy and Barton, The Easter Rising, 267
11. Joe Good, Enchanted by Dreams: The Journal of a Revolutionary (1962), 72
12. The Irish Worker (No.43. Saturday, May 3rd 1924) - “A. Weeks, a Jewish comrade who joined on Easter Monday and died in action”
13. Padraic O'Farrell, Who's Who in the Irish War of Independence and Civil War (1916-23), (2nd Edition, 1997) - WEEKES, A,. Norwich, England, 28-4-1916.
14. Nevin, James Connolly: A Full Life. 646
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14-10-2009, 19:41   #2
 
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During the summer I read the above stories many times and came across different versions as you perhaps have. If they were real socialists from Britain/England then they most likely belonged to one of many of the socialist organisations which existed at the time. The difficulty there is there were so many groups at the time and records might not survive, but I would personally start with Liverpool socialist parties and Unions, especially those who were sympathetic to ITGWU if any. The Workers' Republic, the paper edited by Connolly in the last year of his life was sent to Liverpool if that is any help, there might have been subscriptions.
Apart from that the English Census records from the time might be of use to you.
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14-10-2009, 21:42   #3
 
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You might want to check out the work of Dermot Keogh of UCC - he has done extensive research on Jews in Ireland.

Also you might contact the Jewish Museum in Walsworth Rd, Dublin - they are very helpful and knowledgeable about Jewish participation in Irish life.

Last edited by MarchDub; 14-10-2009 at 23:28.
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15-10-2009, 00:45   #4
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During the summer I read the above stories many times and came across different versions as you perhaps have. If they were real socialists from Britain/England then they most likely belonged to one of many of the socialist organisations which existed at the time. The difficulty there is there were so many groups at the time and records might not survive, but I would personally start with Liverpool socialist parties and Unions, especially those who were sympathetic to ITGWU if any. The Workers' Republic, the paper edited by Connolly in the last year of his life was sent to Liverpool if that is any help, there might have been subscriptions.
Apart from that the English Census records from the time might be of use to you.
Thanks brianthebard for the reply.

I've already been in contact with the IWW's main archivist William LeFevre but with no luck. As expected, they haven't kept membership lists from as far back as the 1910s. I'll try the liverpool route now.

I've also dipped into the English census but with so many John Neale's living in the East End, it's like a needle in a haystack.
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15-10-2009, 00:48   #5
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You might want to check out the work of Dermot Keogh of UCC - he has done extensive research on Jews in Ireland.
Thanks for this lead. Will do.

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Also you might contact the Jewish Museum in Walsworth Rd, Dublin - they are very helpful and knowledgeable about Jewish participation in Irish life.
I actually went into the Jewish Museum and talked to the curator Raphael about this mysterious jewish socialist but he could add no information to what we already know. Sadly Raphael passed away a few weeks afterwards, a great loss.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/...867925000.html
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15-10-2009, 12:30   #6
 
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This is a long-shot, but have you contacted the Military History Archive people in Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin? There may be something in the depositions taken in the 1940's from the 1916 survivors.
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15-10-2009, 21:49   #7
 
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I actually went into the Jewish Museum and talked to the curator Raphael about this mysterious jewish socialist but he could add no information to what we already know. Sadly Raphael passed away a few weeks afterwards, a great loss.
Yes, Raphael was a really great guy - I was sad to hear of his passing. A few years ago he was of help to me when I was doing material on another great Irish Jewish figure, Bob Briscoe, who was also IRA and was appointed arms purveyor under Collins. The Jewish contribution to Irish freedom is understated IMO.

I would be interested in any results you come up with.
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16-10-2009, 01:37   #8
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The Jewish contribution to Irish freedom is understated IMO.

.
Reading the memoirs of another illustrious Irish Jew, Chaim Herzog who went on to become president of Israel, he made the point that many Jews were involved in the national struggle at some level or another and most leading Jews backed Irish independence. This included his own father, the Chief Rabbi, who was very close to De Valera.

As well as Briscoe there was another character called Michael Noik who was a legal adviser to the provisional government and was given a state funeral when he died in the 1960s. Somewhat distressingly, his great nephew is the arch neocon and borderline racist Canadian journalist Mark Steyn whose rants used to appear in the Irish Times.
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16-10-2009, 21:11   #9
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Yes, Raphael was a really great guy - I was sad to hear of his passing. A few years ago he was of help to me when I was doing material on another great Irish Jewish figure, Bob Briscoe, who was also IRA and was appointed arms purveyor under Collins. The Jewish contribution to Irish freedom is understated IMO.

I would be interested in any results you come up with.
Hi
I am very interested in the story of Bob Briscoe. I have read his book "for the life of me". I am particularly interested in his involvement with fianna eireann and especially his friendship with Eamon Martin (who was, i think, best man at his wedding). Was it college work that you did on Briscoe or personal research?
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18-09-2010, 23:11   #10
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Any 1916 historians know about James J. Kelly?

I'm trying to find out what happened to James J. Kelly, who owned the tobacco shop on the corner of Camden St. & Harrington St. (Kelly's Corner). Two pro-British journalists who were on his premises during a raid by soldiers on 25th April 1916 - McIntyre and Dixon - were arrested and executed unlawfully the following day along with Sheehy-Skeffington. Kelly was later arrested (in error) and deported to Wandsworth Jail, London, where he was tortured but released without charge 16 days later. He was an Alderman, Justice of the Peace, and one-time High Sherriff of Dublin. Does anyone know what happened to him after 1916?
Thanks.
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23-09-2010, 22:11   #11
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I am trying to research the lives of two British born socialists who fought and died in the 1916 Easter Rising.
A guy in The Irish Times in March 2005 wrote an article dedicated to English-born people who fought in the Easter Rising on the Irish side. Here's the link to it.
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30-09-2010, 21:36   #12
 
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I am trying to research the lives of two British born socialists who fought and died in the 1916 Easter Rising.

not sure if you have tried this but you could check the irish newspaper archives, it is an online database of all newpapers from ireland going back to 1763.
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22-10-2010, 20:23   #13
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A guy in The Irish Times in March 2005 wrote an article dedicated to English-born people who fought in the Easter Rising on the Irish side. Here's the link to it.
Thanks, I've read that piece before. Cheers for the heads up though.
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23-10-2010, 09:23   #14
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in "Wexford's Civil War" mention is made of Volunteer George King (an insurance agent) who left his home in Liverpool for Ireland where he took part in the Rising and was interned in Fron Goch. Active during the Tan War under the name Nicholas Murphy. Died in the Meath Hospital 5th Feb 1923 following an attack on a military party guarding the ruined house of the Free State Chief Solicitor, Mr Corrigan, Leinster Rd, Rathmines. King was 26, single and came from Blackwater, Co Wexford stock.

I've not yet been able to find out if this man was English born of Irish parents, or Irish born and emigrated when young.
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23-10-2010, 15:41   #15
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in "Wexford's Civil War" mention is made of Volunteer George King (an insurance agent) who left his home in Liverpool for Ireland where he took part in the Rising and was interned in Fron Goch.
A George King is listed here as a member of the ICA who fought in the GPO.

http://www.communistpartyofireland.ie/ica.html
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