The O’Rahilly House housing complex in Thorncastle Street, Ringsend, was built in 1955 and named after Michael Joseph O’Rahilly (1875–1916). Known as The O’Rahilly, he was a founding member of the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and became the only leader of the Easter Rising to die in action. Before he died, he took the time to write a message to his wife on the back of a letter he had received in the GPO from his son, Aodogan. The text reads:
Written after I was shot –
I was shot leading a rush up Moore Street took refuge in a doorway. While I was there I heard the men pointing out where I was and made a bolt for the laneway I am in now.
I got more [than] one bullet I think.
Tons and tons of love dearie to you & to the boys & to Nell & to Anna. It was a good fight anyhow.
Please deliver this to Nannie O’Rahilly, 40 Herbert Park, Dublin.
Good bye Darling.
The letter is reproduced on a memorial plaque on O’Rahilly Parade (formerly Sackville Lane), where O’Rahilly took shelter after being shot. The plaque was unveiled by his family in 2006.
Who was Darling Nancy?
Nancy (Nannie) O’Rahilly, née Brown, was born into a wealthy industrialist’s family in the USA in 1878. She met her future husband, Michael Joseph O’Rahilly, in Dublin. The O’Rahilly’s lived between the USA and Ireland and travelled extensively in Europe before settling in Ireland in 1909. Nannie joined Cumann na mBan in 1914. The O’Rahilly’s oldest two sons were members of Fianna Eireann.
After the Rising, Nancy was active in the Volunteer Dependents’ Fund and the Irish White Cross. She was also on the committee of Cumann na mBan. At this time, Cumann na mBan were fighting both for freedom for Ireland and for women’s rights. During the Civil War, Nancy supported the anti-treaty side. She was arrested by Free State soldiers in 1922 and spent a week in Mountjoy Jail.
She lived the rest of her life at 40 Herbert Park and died in 1961.
Words and photo of O’Rahilly House by Louise Phelan
Photo of 40 Herbert Park by Rachel McNicholl