Joseph Rahilly (The O’Rahilly)
For two years, Michael Rahilly who was known as ‘The O’Rahilly’ held the position of Director of Arms for the Irish Volunteers.
He was a founder member of that organisation in 1912 which by 1914 had swollen its ranks to over 150,000 volunteers.
He was originally against the Easter Rising
of 1916, but when he witnessed the zeal of his comrades in going ahead
with the rebellion against the British on that date, he joined in and five
days later was killed in action leading a charge in Moore Street, Dublin
aged 41 years. He fell under a hail of machine gun fire only to die after
24 hours lying untended in the street. He became the only member of the
Provisional Committee of the Irish Volunteers to lose his life in the
fighting of Easter Week 1916. He left behind a wife and five children.
On 5th August 1914, the British
law banning importation of arms was revoked but was re-imposed again on 5th
December. In that interval, many weapons were brought into Ireland. The
trade in Birmingham alone was supplying 800 rifles of .303 calibre
per week. Pistols, revolvers and automatics including Lugers and C96 Broomhandle Mausers were also in evidence.
He had to pay out of his own pocket for his
equipment which included armament - rifle and bayonet.
O’Rahilly organised raids for arms on warehouses, he manufactured
explosives, and invented a single edged socket type bayonet for use with
the numerous single barrelled shotguns that were being seized in private