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Micheál Ó hAnnrachain/Michael O’Hanrahan and the Carlow Workman’s Club

TCD MS 11523 f 1r
TCD MS 11523 f 1r

The minute book of the Carlow Workman’s Club 1889-1925 (TCD MS 11523) has recently been donated to the Library of Trinity College Dublin.

The minute book has a significant connection with Micheál Ó hAnnrachain /Michael O’Hanrahan, who was executed following his part in the 1916 Easter Rising. His brother Henry, (‘Harry’) was also condemned to death in 1916 but had his sentence commuted to penal servitude. Both men were founding members of the Carlow Workman’s Club, as was their brother Edward (‘Ted’); their father Richard, a veteran of the 1867 Fenian Rising, was an ordinary club member. This newly-available historical resource will provide researchers with a new insight into the social and cultural activities of men in a thriving rural market county town during the Gaelic Revival and revolutionary period.

Probably one of the most revealing entries is the account of the Special Committee meeting which took place on 19 February 1901, illuminating the Ó hAnnrachain viewpoint prior to 1916. The matter under discussion was the proposed admission of a member of the local militia to the club.

TCD MS 11523 f 51v
TCD MS 11523 f 51v

Mr M Hanrahan informed the meeting that in the event of Mr J Hopkins being admitted as a new member, he would resign his seat in the committee and membership of the club, ultimately a vote was taken and the amendment was declared carried 6 to 4. Mr M Hanrahan tendered his resignation and after some complimentary remarks by The Chairman Mr Hanrahan withdrew.

 Ó hAnnrachain never did return to the club he founded, and within weeks his brothers and father had resigned from the club as well. The O’Hanrahan family moved to Dublin in 1902-03.

Image of Michael O'Hanrahan from Elsie Mahaffy's diary TCD MS 2074 f 71v
Michael O’Hanrahan from TCD MS 2074 f 71v

Ó hAnnrachain was instrumental in the Rising as the principal administrator and quartermaster general at the Irish Volunteer Headquarters at 2 Dawson Street, Dublin. The office in question is just a couple of hundred yards away from where the minute book now resides at Trinity College Library. In his only published short story, ‘Patches’, published in 1914 in the Catholic Bulletin, Ó hAnnrachain cites a prayer from a medieval Irish language manuscript also kept in the Library, TCD MS 1346.

Recently, the grandnephews of Micheál Ó hAnnrachain, Harry and Pearse O’Hanrahan, visited the Department of Early Printed Books at the Library to view College holdings that relate to their patriotic ancestor. The Library has recently digitised Ó hAnnrachain’s posthumously published lecture to Cumann na mBan entitled ‘Irish Heroines’ which was delivered in the Winter of 1915-1916. It was published by his sisters in 1917. This was the first time that the relatives had seen this important publication.

Paul Horan with Harry and Pearse O'Hanrahan in the Library's Early Printed Books Reading Room
Paul Horan with Harry and Pearse O’Hanrahan in the Library’s Early Printed Books Reading Room

Paul Horan

Assistant Professor of Nursing at The School of Nursing & Midwifery,Trinity College Dublin and keen historian of Carlow