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Markets republican Charlie Monahan was first casualty of Easter Rising preparations

A headstone to Charlie Monahan, who died during preparations for the Easter Rising
John Monaghan

AS Easter Rising commemorations get underway this weekend, today also marks the anniversary of the death of the first republican from the north who died during preparations for the rebellion.

Belfast man Charles Monahan (37) died on the night of April 21 1916 after the car he was in plunged into the River Laune, near Killorglin in Co Kerry.

Monahan, who grew up in Riley Place in the Markets and attended the Christian Brothers Oxford Street primary school, was killed along with fellow republicans Con Keating (22) and 30-year-old Daniel Sheehan.

The deaths were a major setback to the preparations for the Rising, as the group were set to destroy the wireless station at Caherciveen on the Kerry coast, before using the stolen equipment to guide Roger Casement's boat of arms safely into shore.

A memorial to Monahan was erected on the Mountpottinger Road in the Short Strand in 2006, while there is also a memorial to the trio at the site of their deaths in Ballykissane Pier.

Monahan was later buried in the same grave as Sheehan in Killorglin.

Belfast man Dr Michael Maguire began to research Monahan's life and death after investigating the lives of Sheehan and Keating as part of a PhD thesis.

Dr Maguire said: "In the dark and foggy night, Thomas McInerney (the driver who survived) took the wrong road out of Killorglin.

"According to the account McInerney provided to Patrick Begley, in whose cottage he took refuge after the accident, he became concerned that they were travelling on the wrong road and suggested they should stop.

"His passengers objected to this delay, and one pointed a gun at him, saying 'what class of man are you?'" added Dr Maguire.

After shouting a warning and applying the brakes as he approached the water, McInerney opened the door and jumped out before the car plunged into the river.

According to Colm O'Lochlainn, who was in another car, the mission was aborted when he and another volunteer Denis Daly, who both later made their way back to Dublin, were stopped at a check point and learnt that soldiers were guarding the Caherciveen base.

 

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