Molly O’Reilly hoists the flag over Liberty Hall

“The one that stands out for me is the Molly O’Reilly the young girl from Gardiner St that Connolly had given the honour of hoisting the flag over what was deemed the first free part of Ireland, Liberty Hall, and she hoisted it up. Molly she ran out of Liberty Hall because she broke a window [..] She was messing around and the window got broken and Molly wasn’t waiting around for Connolly to give out to her.  Molly and that used to hang around – I think Connolly room was number 9 or something in Liberty Hall – and they used to hang around there and they’d run errands for James Connolly and the window got broken and Molly said I’m off and she went to her house in Gardiner Street, and she hadn’t been around for a couple of days and Connolly said to Hacker where’s Molly? She’s up in the housing. Anyway tell her I want her, and Hacker goes up and says to her, so Molly’s in fear that Connolly’s going to eat the head off her, that’s what she thought, and when she goes into the room Connolly says Molly I want you to do the honours, we want you to hoist the flag over the first free part of Ireland. So that Palm Sunday in 1916 was the first time Connolly wore the uniform, he came out and Molly carried the flag and presented the flag to the Citizen Army, they gave her the salute, paraded outside, side by side with Michael Mallin she went back up through Liberty Hall, up onto the roof, the parapet of the roof, it was too high up, so they had to get a chair for Molly to stand on, Molly stood on the chair clipped the flag up and hoisted the flag up, the green flag with the gold harp on it and that flew there. Thousands of people witnessed that. Everybody was watching. Molly then the following week marches into war. She’s alongside Sean Connolly in City Hall, she’s a despatch carrier between City Hall and the GPO. After the rising then she’s involved in the War of Independence and during the Civil War she’s interned. She’s on hunger strike in the Dublin Union.

Those women were held in the same cells in Kilmainham that the men of ’16 were in and some of their husbands were in the cells and their boyfriends. Take for instance Grace Gifford you know. Then the Free State says we better get those women out of Kilmainham but they don’t want to move out of Kilmainham they went in with darkened faces and pulled some of the women by the backs of the hair and pulled them down the steps of the prison and loaded them into lorries and took them up to the North Dublin Union it was in May they were taken up there that May it started to snow and some of those women were actually sitting in the yard of the Dublin Union with blankets around them and snow coming down. They were great. I think one or two escaped.”

 

Transcribed from a podcast of an interview with Terry Fagan, local historian, for Come Here To Me.