Michael O’Hanrahan – Thomas MacDonagh’s 2nd in command

Michael O’Hanrahan was one of the rebels who took part in the Easter Rising and was executed by the British.

O’Hanrahan was born in Wexford in 1877. He lived in Calrow for several years before moving to Dublin around the turn of the century.

Several members of his family were involved in republican movements within various groups such as the Irish Volunteers and Cumann na mBan.

Michael O'Hanrahan - Pearse O'Hanrahan talks about his grand uncle’s role in the Easter Rising

He was a writer who published two novels – ‘Swordsman of the Brigade’ and ‘When the Norman Came’.

He believed that Irish culture and the Irish language were greatly important and founded the first Carlow branch of the Gaelic League. He was also a member of the Irish Volunteers from its inception.

During the Easter Rising he fought at the Jacob’s Biscuit Factory and was second in command of Dublin’s 2nd battalion under Thomas MacDonagh.

Michael was executed on 4 May 1916 for the part he played in the Rising.

Now, more than a hundreds years on, his grand-nephew Pearse O’Hanrahan speaks to documentary maker Marcus Howard about the impact that Michael had both on Irish history and his own life.

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He tells Marcus that the Rising was not a spontaneous rebellion but was, in fact, up to 20 years in the making.

Pearse says that Michael was: “employed in a mysterious position. Nobody could ever explain what he was doing. But he was actually the secretary in the building – 2 Dawson Street – where all of the different (Irish republican) organisations met. Everything went through him.”

Pearse also speaks about other prominent relatives with fascinating stories such as Henry (Harry) O’Hanrahan and Eily, Maura and Áine O’Hanrahan.

He says that after reading about Harry that he would describe him as a Scarlet Pimpernel type character – because he is everywhere.

Pearse gives his opinion on how the 1916 leaders deaths were recorded and his anger at the rearrangement of the traditional ceremony at Arbour Hill.

Take a look at the video below.

This video is part of the Easter Rising Stories by Marcus Howard. You can find out more here about Marcus and his interviews with descendants of those who took part in the Easter Rising.

Did one of your relatives take part in the Easter Rising? If you would like to tell your story in our Easter Rising relatives section we would love to hear from you.

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Easter Rising Descendents

This series of interviews with the descendants of the Easter Rising rebels is made with the help of independent Dublin film maker Marcus Howard who has also created an Easter Rising series.

Find out more about Marcus Howard.


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