Mar 9, 2016

Insights into faith profiles of 1916 Rising leaders in new Limerick Diocese book - ‘The End of All Things Earthly’

An insight into the faith profiles of the leaders of the 1916 Rising will be launched on Wednesday with the publication of ‘The End of All Things Earthly’ – a book produced by Limerick Diocese to mark the centenary of the Rising.

Comprising short yet detailed faith profiles of the leaders of the 1916 Rising, from Roger Casement to Patrick Pearse and Limerick’s own Con Colbert and Edward Daly, the 95 page book gives a glimpse at the general faith interaction of leaders, including in the final moments before their execution.


Published by Veritas, the book will be launched by Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy, who initiated the project, and Fr Brian Shortall, tomorrow, Wednesday, March 9th, at 5:30pm at the Capuchin Friary , Church Street, Dublin.  The venue was chosen due to the Capuchin priests’ central role in the negotiation of peace in 1916 and with clergy there also having ministered to the leaders before their execution.


There will be also be a Limerick launch of the book on Tuesday, March 15th at 6:30p.m. at Mary Immaculate College.

Edited by Limerick Diocesan archivist David Bracken, ‘The End of All Things Earthly’ has contributions from 18 academics on this aspect of the leaders’ lives and also includes personal letters and testimonies of the leaders, as well as rarely seen photographs and transcripts.


Commenting ahead of the book launch, Bishop Leahy said, “The question of how faith and armed rebellion can be compatible has exercised much conversation from the time of the rising to, indeed, the present day.  However, the book does not seek to adjudicate on this but, instead, merely give a sense of what faith meant to the Leaders.


“The Rising Leaders clearly had varying degrees of faith.  But what is striking is the closeness with God in the final moments before execution, including for those with little Catholic faith prior to this.  It’s a piece of work we are very proud of and indebted to all involved, including our own David Bracken for his effort in pulling this together, and, of course, all contributors.”


Said Bracken, “There are deeper and much more detailed writings on the leaders, of course, but this book is focussed, in particular, on the spirituality of some of them and has, of course, a strong Limerick aspect to it through chapters on Con Colbert, Edward Daly and Seán Heuston, who also lived in Limerick for a spell.


“The contributors were asked to write very concise pieces for the general reader, focussing on an event, relationship or item as a point of departure for their particular piece.  We didn’t seek to address some of the more contentious issues around the rising, including whether or not was the bloodshed in any way justified, but sought, instead, to look at one strand, their faith.  We engaged academics and archivists to do this and without their help and enthusiasm, it would not have been possible.”


The book includes vignettes on 16 of the leaders, including those with Limerick links, Con Colbert and Edward Daly (both natives of Limerick) and Seán Heuston, who lived on O’Connell Street for a period. The book touches on areas such as:

  • Cappuchin priest Fr Aloysius’ engagement with James Connolly in the last days before his execution.  Fr Aloysius, who heard Connolly’s last confession in the hours before he was shot, stood behind the firing party as Connolly was placed on a chair and executed and remarked afterwards,  “It was a scene I should not ask to witness again.  I had got to know Connolly – to wonder at his strength of character……(and) now I had to say goodbye”
  • The “sacrificial” aspect of Patrick Pearse’s willingness to pay the ultimate price and how this underlined the shared circumstances of his own mother – who lost both Patrick and his brother Willie in the Rising – and of Mary at the foot of the cross
  • Roger Casement formally embracing Catholicism and receiving his first Holy Communion just before his execution
  • Con Colbert telling prisoner that he expected to be executed and adding “We are all ready to meet our God”
  • Seán Heuston reciting acts of faith, hope, love and contrition as he faced his death at just 25 years of age
  • Thomas Clarke – of whom there was little evidence of faith - refusing to repudiate his involvement in the Rising.  He said “I was not sorry for what I had done…..I was not going to face my God with a lie on my tongue”
  • Thomas Kent entrusting one of his prized possessions – his temperance badge – to a local priest
  • Seán MacDiarmada writing before paying the “penalty of death” that he bore no malice to any man and would die in “perfect peace with Almighty God”
  • Joseph Plunkett in his last words to Capuchin Friar Fr. Sebastian O’Brien saying “Father, I am very happy. I am dying for the glory of God and the honour of Ireland.”

The book will be available in book stores around the country.