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This photograph was taken by a Second Lieutenant Milligan of the Royal Irish Rifles at the very north end of O’Connell Street on April 29, 1916. The man covered by a white sheet on a stretcher is believed to be James Connolly.

First photograph of James Connolly taken before his 1916 execution is published

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This photograph was taken by a Second Lieutenant Milligan of the Royal Irish Rifles at the very north end of O’Connell Street on April 29, 1916. The man covered by a white sheet on a stretcher is believed to be James Connolly.

A new book by Easter Rising historian Mick O’Farrell includes what is believed to be the first ever photo of James Connolly during the 1916 rebellion.

O’Farrell’s publication includes a picture of a man on a stretcher taken on the evening of April 29th, 1916.

The author is convinced that the man, covered in a white sheet and surrounded by six supporters and British soldiers, is Connolly.

One of the last leaders to be executed, Connolly was so wounded that he was unable to stand up to face the firing squad in Kilmainham jail.

His execution sparked massive outrage and public anger which still exists to this day.

According to a report in the Irish Times, the image is the first photograph purporting to be that of Connolly during the Rising.

The report says the photo was taken at the corner of O’Connell Street and Parnell Street.

It first surfaced in an eBay auction 10 years ago when the officer’s box of a Second Lieutenant Milligan of the Royal Irish Rifles was put up for sale.

O’Farrell bid for the lot, including other never before released photographs of the Rising, but lost out to British collector Karl Vines.

He is convinced the photograph is that of Connolly and says it corresponds with various witness accounts of what happened after the rebels surrendered.

The Irish Times adds that the photograph has written on the back: “Sinn Féin officers taken prisoners Saturday 29/4/16”.

O’Farrell told the paper that his interest was piqued because of the presence of so many British soldiers surrounding the man on the stretcher.

He said: “I knew it was somebody significant. I’m definite it was Connolly.”

Historical accounts say that Connolly was carried from the rebel leaders Moore Street headquarters to the British Army headquarters at the National Bank on the corner of O’Connell Street and Parnell Street.

Citizen Army Officer Liam Tannam recalled: “We were then brought to the centre of the road and ordered to march in the direction of the Parnell Monument.

“We were surrounded by 30/50 soldiers with fixed bayonets. Of course, Connolly was being carried by the four men.”
O’Farrell added: “As far as his officers are concerned, they were taking Connolly to treat for surrender terms, but these were rejected and then they were held prisoner.”

The new book also includes an account from Company Sergeant Major S.H Lomas of the Sherwood Foresters.

He recalled that Padraig Pearse whistled as he faced the firing squad.

Lomas wrote: “It was sad to think that these three brave men who met their death so bravely should be fighting for a cause which proved so useless and has been the means of so much bloodshed.” 

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