Kitty O’Doherty: I had myself a regular arsenal under the floor in my sitting-room

On the Wednesday or Thursday night before it, I and a number of members of Cumann na mBan were in the Library of 25, Parnell Square, holding a final meeting. A knock came to the door. I bad my back to the door. Whoever answered the knock said: “Mrs. O’Doherty!” I went out. There were two men outside – Seamus O’Connor and Micheal O’Hanrahan. […] I said: “What is it?” Seamus O’Connor – he was timid too – said: “There is a job to be done”. I was very used to hearing that. I said: “What is that?” He was very excited, and told me, hurriedly, about guns that were in O’Shea’s in Arran Road, Drumcondra. He Said: “You must get them. We want you to save them”. […] Maire Ni Suibhalaigh and my sister-in-law, Rose O’Doherty, were in the house. They told Rose; but they came to 25, Parnell Square just the same, and asked me to save the guns. I turned round immediately, and went back into the room. I asked the girls to volunteer. I said: “I want volunteers. There is a job to be done”. Nobody said a word. After a little while I looked round at them. I said to Brighid Foley: “Brighid Foley, do you refuse to come?” So Brighid came, and Effie Taaffe too. I would like to explain the position leading up to my being asked to save the guns. Information about everything practically used to come out from the Castle. We had our own men in there, who were helping the movement, as well as earning their own living, by working there. Any raids that were threatened, any bits of information from the country, or any telegrams – all these things were made known. They were brought to the Castle, and then our friends in the Castle passed them on to us, thus proving that this bit of information came out from there regarding Sean O’Shea and the arms. Arms were being got into the country in any and every possible way. Sean O’Shea, who is still alive – secretary to the N.A.I.D.A. – lived that time in Arran Road, Drumcondra. He was connected with the Irish Cutlery Company on the Quays. I don’t know whether he was actually a member of the Volunteers, or not. He was very sympathetic. He was getting in small arms, under cover of a War Permit, which he had for the purpose of getting in stuff for his firm. This day that these two men called for me, the boxes of stuff came in to the North Wall. for Sean O’Shea, and, although they were marked, “War Permit”, somebody opened them, and ‘phoned to the Castle that Sean O’Shea’s stuff contained small arms. Actually, the word, “bayonets”, was [said] to me too, but I could not say, not having seen them. When our man in the Castle was told, he immediately sent out word to Seamus O’Connor’s office [..] Seamus O’Connor knew that O’Shea’s house would be raided, and that the stuff from the previous day had gone on to the house. I had myself a regular arsenal under the floor in my sitting-room. I can give you plenty of proof. It was my husband, course, who really was responsible, but he was away travelling, and I was in charge. I had dozens of bandoliers. I know nothing about firearms. I never claim to do what I did not do. I had these bandoliers, with bullets stuck in them – .303. They were either bought from British soldiers, coming home while the war was on, or got by some other means. Then I had some of the Howth Rifles, which were not very good, as they were too heavy. Also, I had the matrix of the proclamation, which was printed by poor Dick McKee, aided by my husband. I had it stored away safely, with my husband’s knowledge, and with the permission of Gill’s. Dick McKee was working in Gill’s. In order to get it printed, Dick McKee and Mr. Keohane connived with my husband to steal the keys of the printing press at Gill’s. They went down there one night, stayed the night, and printed thousands of these notices, which were headed, “Your King and Country Needs You”. The heading of the notices was similar to that on many notices issued by the British authorities, but in the body of the notices they had drawn up something ridiculing the British. I had the matrix of that, and I was raided, but it was not taken, because the raiders were misled by the heading. When Brighid Foley, Effie Taaffe and I left Parnell Square and came across to Findlater’s Church, on our way to O’Shea’s house, – it was only a short distance – I told them what it was all about. Brighid Foley said she knew Mrs. 0’Shea. We saw a horse and jaunting car there, and we hired it. Johnny Lalor was the name of the driver. I engaged him to drive the two American delegates afterwards. He lived in Fontenoy Street. We sat up on the side seats, and he was in the dickie. I said; “Stop at the foot of Arran Road. I don’t want to make any noise. Someone is sick. There is a new baby there. It is just past St. Patrick’s Training College”. We arrived at our destination. I had half-a-crown in my pocket, which I gave to the driver. If he had asked for more, I would have had to get it from the others. It was only a short run away. We proceeded to O’Shea’s house,which was on the right-hand side of Arran Road. We had no conversation. My two companions were kind of glum, and I was not so full of courage myself. I knocked. Mrs. O’Shea answered the door. I said: “We have come for the guns”. She was very agitated. I said: “Where are the guns?” She said that they were out in Fleming’s van. Fleming’s had a grocery and pub just at the Tolka Bridge. Dot and Kitty Fleming were in the Cumann na mBan, and their brothers, Eamon and Michael, were in the Volunteers. I asked Mrs. O’Shea: “Where is the Fleming’s van?” She said: “Out the road”. I said: “The Fleming’s van could not be out now, because the shop would be closed”. She did not ask us in, or anything. She was really windy. We left Arran Road, and came out to the Drumcondra Road. The first two we met were Maire Ni Suibhalaigh and Rose O’Doherty, who is now Mrs. Pa Murray. They said they had come to help me. I said: “If we are all going to be walking around together, we will attract attention.” They said: “There are others. There are men trying to help you”. I Said to Maire Ni Suibhalaigh – I knew her intimately; we were good friends – “Maire, you come with me”. I left Brighid Foley, Effie Taaffe and Rose O’Dobeity, and I took Maire with me. Fleming’s shop was second from the corner of Botanic Road. When we arrived there, the shop was closed. There was a big policeman standing outside. I Knocked. Someone said: “Who is there?” I said: “A customer. I want a pound of tea”. Michael Fleming opened the door. I said: “I came for the guns”. He damned, and damned. He was not a bit nice at all. He called his brother, Eamon. He took Maire and myself out through the kitchen. We did not go out straight through the shop. We were brought across a cobblestone yard. It was a horse stable; there was spring van there with two big parcels of guns. He opened a door on to Botanic Avenue. This was the only entrance for a car. It was not built up, as it is now. He shoved us out into the street. Maire said to me: “Glory be to God, Kitty, this will kill you”. When we came to Botanic Avenue – we had gone about two hundred yards only – three man stepped up behind us. They were Diarmuid O’Hegarty, Gearoid O’Sullivan and Fionn Lynch, and they were living, at that time, at 44, Mountjoy Street. I went there often. Gearoid O’Sullivan was a teacher in St. Peter’s Schools. When the three stepped up, Diarmuid O’Hegarty, who always talked with a strong accent, gave me his gun, and said: “Walk in front. If anything happens, walk back to me”. They carried our two parcels. I walked just a little bit ahead of them. We passed one policeman at Botanic Gates. We came into Botanic Road at a point, almost but not quite past Botanic Gates. This Policeman was standing there, and never even looked at us. Maire was walking with one of the three man; the four of them were chatting away; and I was in front by myself. It was after ten o’clock when we got to Flemings, and there was no delay there. It was going on for eleven o’clock when we arrived, at the Canal Bridge, where they halted, and coughed for me. They told me: “You go ahead, and open your back gate”. I went on towards my home. We lived at 32, Connaught Street. Actually, our home was always being watched, from the top and the bottom of the street. I went in. Effie Taaffe was there, with Rose. I said: “Turn out the lights in the front of the house”. I went out to the back gate, and opened it. Maire and the three men had come up the back lane. There was an exit at the upper end. They came into the house, through the kitchen, up the stairs, and in to the drawing-room. We put on a light. I said to Rose: “We must get these men something to eat. They are going to stay, in case we were followed”. There were 110 guns in the parcels. They were small arms. Sean MacDermott gave one of them to me which I still have. It is a small revolver – all nickel. Rose said: “We had better give them a bottle of stout”. She went downstairs. Then she called me, and said: “There are only two bottles of stout”. There was a third from which the cork had previously popped off. On this occasion, there were only two fresh bottles of stout for three men, and there was some frightful sweet-cake. I said to Rose: “I never could pull a cork”. She said she would pull the corks. We gave Fionn Lynch a glass of stout, which had no top on it. We thought it might sicken him, but it didn’t. These three men stayed for several hours. They counted the arms. There were 110. Then we put the arms into the “glory-hole” under the stairs, where the gas meter and shelves are.

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