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Saturday, 1 August 2015

1 August 1915: The funeral of Jeremiah O’Donovon Rossa on this day. He was one the last of the old Fenians who had been exiled to America in the 19th century. He had died in New York some weeks previously and his body was returned to Dublin for burial. It was decided by the Irish Volunteers to mark his importance to the movement for Ireland’s Independence by a large turnout at his funeral in Glasnevin Cemetary Dublin.

Padraig Pearse was to give the graveside oration and rouse the People to continue the long tradition of resistance to British rule over Ireland. This he did with great effect. His speech was delivered in Gaelic so his audience was limited but all agreed he delivered it with fire and passion and it marked him out as a man with serious Leadership potential.

The public funeral yesterday, as a pageant , was remarkably well organised and was carried through without a hitch, with the single exception of about a quarter of an hour’s delay in the time of starting.

This was scarcely to be avoided having regard to the large number of excursion trains which arrived at all the stations in the city conveying contingents who wish to be present at the funeral, and the marshalling of these visitors involved a great deal of labour and responsibility on the officials in charge.

The major portion of this duty devolved on the officers of the Irish Volunteers, whose headquarters are at 2 Dawson Street.

Thomas MacDonagh acted as Commandant-General, Mr (Edward) Daly was in charge of the military bodies, which included the Irish Volunteers, the National Volunteers and a section of the Dublin Citizen Army...

The procession, in marching four deep at a slow pace, took a little over fifty minutes to pass the corner of Dame Street into George’s Street and there was no delay in marshalling any of the contingents.

A conservative estimate of those who actually took part in the procession gives the numbers as exceeding 6,000 and there must have been at least ten times this number lining the streets.

The proceedings throughout were orderly and peaceable...
Pearse concluded his great oration with the immortal words:

The Defenders of this Realm have worked well in secret and in the open. They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! — they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.
Nine months later Padraig Pearse himself was dead - executed by the British for being the Leader of the Easter 1916 Rising in Dublin.