The Drafting The Printing

The Drafting The Printing


It is not certain what words were compose by each of the signatories, but the expression of faith, pride in the Irish Nation , the passion for freedom , and social justice, for all Irish citizens independent  from foreign interference and conquest, and the tradition of blood sacrifice are  uppermost. It is believed to be composed in the heroic language of Padraic Pearse but it also shows in parts the trace of change and amendment by Connolly and perhaps MacDonagh in its social influence, asserting the claims of a sovereign people to social justice and the control of the country’s natural resources.

Joseph O Connor in his book “The 1916 Proclaiation” interviewed the wife of Tom Clarke, Kathleen and she states that. “Pearse had been asked to draft the Proclamation on the lines that had been intimate to him and submit it to the Military council”. He did so at a meeting of the Military Council on the Tuesday before the Rising at the house of John and Jenny Wyse-Power at 21 Henry St, where some changes were made and the final wording of the Proclamation was agreed. It was then given to MacDonagh for safe keeping.

Michael J. Molloy, one of the compositors, gave a detailed statement on the printing of the Proclamation to the Bureau of Military History in 1953, No W.S. 716.. Molloy had joined the Volunteers 1913-14 and was attached to “E” Company of the 2nd Battalion Dublin Brigade.

“I was a compositor by trade and one day in the autumn of 1914 a fellow member of my Company, a man by the name of M. J. Keogh who was in the Evening Mail Office at the time and who was known to be a personal friend to James Connolly, came to me and said, Would you take a job? I asked him did it have anything to do with compositing. He said yes, and that James Connolly was starting a paper “The Irish Republic” (The Worker’s Republic) and would I go and take charge as compositor in the printing office of Liberty Hall. I agreed, and an appointment with James Connolly was arranged. He asked me was I prepared to take the job that Keogh had mentioned to me, adding that there was an element of risk attached to it. What he meant was that his place would be subject to raids by Dublin Castle Authorities and that I might find myself in difficulties. I said to Connolly, Certainly, I will take up the job. “As you are an experienced man” he said “you will take charge of the office and you will be in my employment”. When the office got going following my interview with Connolly it was staffed by W. F. O’Brien, Compositor, Chris Brady, Machine man and an additional helper for piece-work by the name of Joe Newman.

The Countess Markievicz and Helena Molony ran a Baby Clothing Stores on Eden Quay and it was known as “The Co-Operative Stores”. At the back of this shop you could get direct to the room where the printing in Liberty Hall was carried on. Several times the Co-Operative Stores were raided by plain-clothes detectives. While the reason given for raids on these stores was to search for pamphlets and literature regarded as illegal and seditious the main purpose was to try to locate the exact position of Connolly’s printing press. They were not successful in this because the search party never got past the Countess Markievicz who prevented them at the point of the gun from entering Liberty Hall through her premises. Liberty Hall at that time had 99 rooms and men of the Citizen Army were always there on guard.

On Good Friday Connolly sent for William O Brien Christ Brady and myself. He said he wanted us to turn out a Bill for Easter Sunday that would be in the nature of a Proclamation, but that we would have to get suitable type for it and he would bear the expenses. He said, “when you have the type ready let me know”. I knew that to meet Connolly’s requirements I would have to get a [Double Great Primer] and it would take two sets of cases, upper and lower, for the purpose. I visited a few places and I was not successful. On going to the third place, which chanced to be West’s of Capel Street, I told him what I wanted. He told me to go upstairs and see Graham, the man in charge of the case room and to tell him what I wanted. I told Graham that Mr. West had sent me up and that I was to get all the [Double Great Primer] that he had, giving Mr. West and Mr. Graham a promise that should anything happen [to] the type the firm would be compensated. Graham at first put many objections in my way and I told him if he did not give it voluntarily it would be taken. Eventually he agreed. He brought it downstairs and put it on the hand-cart which was being pushed by a member of the Citizen Army nick-named “Dazzler”. On returning to Liberty Hall I notified Connolly of my success. He summoned the three of us again to his office and then he told us that he would require us on Sunday morning at9 o’clock. I told him that I was warned to mobilise with my Company on that morning and he said, “Tell your Captain that you are engaged by me and that I will take responsibility for you”. “We arrived on Easter Sunday morning at the appointed time. While I had no clear idea of coming events I knew that something of importance was going to happen that day”.


That morning the Military Council was meeting in an upper room at Liberty Hall in Beresford Place confusion, anger, frustration, and uncertainty rained, as Eoin Mac Neill’s ( Chief of staff of the Volunteers) issued a final countermanding order and had it published in the Sunday Independent that morning, effectively calling off the Rising. The Military Council although dismayed by Mac Neill’s order were not discouraged but had no alternative but to accept that the countermanding of manoeuvres on that day meant that the planned nationwide Rising could now not take place, and it was agreed that a postponement of 24 hours was required.

Connolly accompanied by MacDonagh handed the Proclamation over to the three printers. Connolly then proceeded to have the men arrested to safe guard their interests, if Liberty Hall was raided by the authorities the men could claim “work under duress”.


Molloy continues “Connolly opened the conversation by saying that “We are going ahead with it”. Then he said, the whole thing is called off. I said “What” and he said Bulmer Hobson and Mac Neill have cried the mobilisation off. He repeated “We are going ahead”. He added that the job we were going to do that morning was for Easter Monday morning and that it was to print a Proclamation of the Irish Republic. He said, “This must take place; we must rise. If not fathers and sons will be tracked by the British and there will be wholesale massacre.” Continuing he said “If we are able to hold the Capital for 48 hours we would, in fact, be in a position to declare ourselves a Republic.’ He then gave us the manuscript of the Proclamation. He read it for us and asked us was the copy clear enough.  At that time there were no signatures on the manuscript. But he said it will be signed another time and if you care to witness the signatures you can remain here. Not long after that Joseph Plunkett came in from a cab and he was in very bad health, he had to be helped into the office. Within half an hour the manuscript of the Proclamation had been duly signed by the signatories concerned. I cannot say who actually wrote the Proclamation. I was not familiar with the hand-writing”.


Both O’Briain and Brady the other two members of the printing staff say that the “copy” did not carry the signatures – but merely the names of the signatories. All three members of the printing staff were familiar with the handwriting of Connolly and none of them suggest that the body of the text was in his handwriting. The handwriting was described by the two compositors to have been written in a very clear bold script. Such a description would answer to Pearse or Ceannt’s hand,  but certainly not MacDonagh’s. Bouch notes that O’Briain “depending on his memory after 19 years, it impressed on him as being similar to Pearse’s beautiful upright script”.


While the Proclamation was being signed we were busy transferring the cases of the type required from the case-room which was in the basement of Liberty Hall to a small room at the back of the Co-Operative Stores on Eden Quay, the idea being that there was an Easter Sunday night commemoration concert in the hall of Liberty Hall. To get from the original case-room to the machine-room we would have to pass through the hall while the concert was on and this would have given rise to suspicion. No one was allowed to contact us in Liberty Hall as we were under a guard of the Citizen Army who were posted on the fanlight over the door entrance to the Co-Operative Stores, also the door leading from the Concert Hall into the Machine Room and also at a rear entrance. At about 11 a.m. we set to work. As the compositors took to the challenge on setting out different paragraphs of the Proclamation with what was an unknown mixed bag of Type Set it was realised that there would not be enough Type Set to complete the document, and the only option was to print it in two separate halves. Even at that the compositors had to manufacture a “C” from an “O” in REPUBLIC, an “E” from an F in THE and substitute a different type “e” as they ran out

We could not go any further for the moment. So we sent up a message to Connolly that we would have to print the Proclamation in two halves. And the answer was, “Go ahead”. The upper part of the Proclamation down as far as the end of the third paragraph “and of its exaltation among the nations was set out and printed first. We then ran off, I think, 1,000 prints. We then took the form off the machine and made arrangements for the setting up of the second half which would complete the Proclamation”.

From “The Republic is entitled to,” to the end and the signatories. As the Proclamation was printed in two halves the distance between the two sections is not always the same. Another hindering factor was that the paper purchased by Connolly from the Saggart Paper Mill was quite thin and not always square.

The setting skill of the Compositors was matched by the mechanical skill of Brady who kept the old troublesome Otley Wharfdale printing, while requiring constant attention, and time consuming repairs. He found it impossible to achieve even inking of the rollers resulting in smudging and faint printing in areas and the line spacing were constantly coming through the print as can be seen in some originals. The printing was completed by 1am on Easter Monday

On Easter Monday Molloy was mobilised with his company and spent the week defending Jacobs Factory on Bishops Street from a block of houses in Fumley Lane.