Michael O'Hanrahan (Micheál Ó hAnnrachain, 1877 – 4 May 1916) is another one of the 1916 Leaders who is not universally known. He was born in New Ross, County Wexford to Richard and Mary O’Hanrahan (nee Williams). He had a brother, Henry, and a sister, Eily. His father was heavily involved in the 1867 Fenian Rising. Michael's family moved to County Carlow when he was a young child where he attended the Carlow Christian Brothers School, moving on to Carlow College Academy thereafter. While at college, he showed great promise as a writer becoming heavily involved in promoting the Irish language.
When he left school, he had hoped to join the Civil Services. However one big obstacle stood in his way: He refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Queen. He worked at various jobs, including working with his father in the cork-cutting business.
His brother, Henry, joined O’Hanrahan in all the his endeavours with the Irish Volunteers and Sinn Féin. Henry Served alongside him at Jacobs Factory.
Michael then founded the first branch of the Carlow Gáelic League and immersed himself and his recruits in learning Irish culture -- especially the language. While still maintaining his roles at work and at the Gaelic League, he wrote and published two novels: "A Swordsman of the Brigade," and "When the Normans Came" (published posthumously in 1918).
He then moved to Dublin where he found work as a freelance journalist for an Irish publisher and as a proofreader for the Gaelic League printer, Cló Cumann. In 1903, he became involved in Maud Gonne's and Arthur Griffith's campaign against the visit of King Edward VII to Ireland. This is where he joined Sinn Féin and sat on its National Council. O'Hanrahan, like all the other leaders of 1916, joined the Irish Volunteers from its inception. His hard work and dedication earned him promotion to National Quartermaster. For quite some time before the Easter Rising, he was a full-time member of the volunteer HQ staff. At the start of the Easter Rising, he was made second in command under Thomas MacDonagh of the 2nd battalion based at Jacobs Factory. On their way to Jacobs Factory, they met Major John McBride who joined their ranks.
When they had found their bearings, O’Hanrahan tumbled down a set of stone stairs and was concussed as a result. He did not want Thomas MacDonagh to relieve him of his post as second in command, so he played his injuries down. During the fighting, his position was largely usurped by the arrival of Major John McBride.
Although Jacobs Factory did not see much of the fighting -- largely due to the fact that the British army chose to penetrate the inner city of Dublin -- sniper fire became dangerous for the troops. When it became clear to O’Hanarahan that they had been boxed-in, he told his commanding officer, Thomas MacDonagh, they were inviting destruction of the factory by incendiary shells. They were also putting the local densely populated area at risk by remaining in the Factory. MacDonagh ordered a breakout, so it was amid the chaos and confusion that O’Hanarhan led the troops out of of the factory with some difficulty (as he was still concussed) through New Bride Street.
At this point, all the leaders were arrested. O’Hanarhan was taken to Kilmainham Gaol, court martialled, and sentenced to death by firing squad.
His sister, Eily, visited him at Jacobs Factory . Eily O’Hanrahran was a founding member of Cumann na mBann and one of a number of dispatchers who made themselves available to the Irish Military Brotherhood. Eily and one of the Capuchin friars visited O’Hanrahan the night before his execution and stayed with him for a long time.
Michael O’Hanrahan was executed by Firing Squad on the 4th May 1916.
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