Secret Orders Issued To Military Officers - Known as ''The C...





Secret Orders Issued To Military Officers - Known as ''The Castle Document'', leaflet 7 1/2" x 5", one side only, April 1916
''The following precautionary measures have been sanctioned by the Irish Office on the recommendation of the General Officer Commanding the Forces in Ireland ... .'' - As circulated by P.J. Little, ed. New Ireland office 13 Fleet Street, Dublin, 15 April, 1916. An article published in An t-?glac -The Irish Volunteer) on 8 April 1916 called for Volunteer manoeuvres on Easter Sunday 23 April 1916. On Wednesday,15 April 1916, the IRB forged a notice supposedly decoded from a communication emanating from Dublin Castle. It was printed on a hand press by Joseph Plunkett and Rory O'Connor at Larkfield House, Plunkett's home off the Lower Kimmage Road. It excluded punctuation marks and capitalisation due to the poor supply of printing font available to them. Known as the 'Castle Document', apparently ordering the execution of Eoin Mac Neil, arrest of Volunteer leaders and occupation of Dublin by the British Army, it was shown to MacNeill. He was then easily persuaded to give an order to the Irish Volunteers 'to resist any British action.' This was the order that the IRB needed to go ahead with the Rising. On 19 April 1916 Alderman Tom Kelly read the ''Castle Order'' to a meeting of Dublin Corporation. The Nationalist weekly paper, New Ireland, edited by Patrick J. Little (1884-1963), published the text of the document, a single sheet handbill entitled ''Secret Orders issued to Military Officers'' in its issue for Saturday 22 April 1916 (vol. II no. 49), just two days before the Easter Rising began. However MacNeill discovered, sometime around 20 April that the 'Castle Document' was a fake. He put an advertisement in the Irish Independent newspaper which told all volunteers that 'No parades, marches or other movements of the Volunteers will take place.' This cancellation caused the IRB to move back the rebellion one day to Easter Monday - 24 April, 1916. Many rural Volunteers, who had come to town on Sunday only to hear the rebellion was cancelled, returned home. Although all the Rising's leaders now realised that they were doomed, they still went ahead with the plans for rebellion. There are only one or two recorded copies of this important document in public records. Very few can have survived as the printing would appear to have been small and the method of distribution via newspapers aborted. None of the textbook histories actually quote from it but rather paraphrase its content.. In terms of this identification, the only full printing of this was in the last issue of New Ireland before its suppression just prior to the Rising. The only reproduction of the handbill accompanied the Irish Press article of January 4 1937 by Hanna Sheehy Skeffington. Colm ? Lochlainn gave it an incorrect caption title in his short piece on Joseph Mary Plunkett as a printer, published in The Irish Book Lover for March 1954. Charles Townshend wrote in Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion: ''There had been a scare from a leaked Dublin Castle document apparently planning for repressive measures to be taken in the event of introducing conscription. This led to the ramping up of tension and expectation, and seemed to offer an excuse to start the rebellion on Easter Sunday. Eoin MacNeill, of course, countermanded the orders; but as things turned out, he was not fully in control, and the rebellion went ahead, though on a smaller scale, on Easter Monday instead.''
A little browned, but a good copy of a Scarce and Vulnerable Item. (1)

Auction Date: 6th Dec 2022 at 10:15am

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