18 May 2018

Brugha's bulwark

On the Irish side Cathal Brugha passed into folklore as the contemporary embodiment of the legendary hero Cuchulain who tied himself to a tree stump during battle so that he would not fall from his wounds. Cuchulain's enemies only approached him when a raven perched on his shoulder, indicating that he was dead. Brugha, a Vice-Commandant whom a former colleague later described as being as brave and as stupid as a bull, received twenty-five wounds. He was defending a barricade erected to guard the Nurses' Home where the Volunteers' leader Eamonn Kent along with William Cosgrave, who later became an Irish Prime Minister, and a small group of rebels were located. He gave his watch to a subordinate to be given to his wife - if the Volunteer ever got out alive.

Then, his own life apparently forfeit, he turned to defend the barricade alone for as long as he could. Inside the Nurses' Home the Volunteers were dispirited and weary. It appeared that the end had come and while waiting for a final attack that they did not expect to survive, they joined Kent in saying a decade of the Rosary. Then from outside the Home they heard Brugha singing God Save Ireland. He had dragged himself into a position with his back to a wall where he could command the barricade and was challenging the British to come over it. Reinvigorated, the rebels shook off their depression, remanned the barricade and kept the British at bay. Incredibly, Brugha survived the Rising - to die six years later in a civil war at the hands of forces commanded by a government which included William Cosgrave.

- Tim Pat Coogan, 1916: The Easter Rising, London, 2001, p.117-8.

See also:
ComedyThe Irish police force, 30 November 2014
ComedyEvery Irish wedding ever, 26 March 2014
Blog: Ireland, 5 June 2010

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