No Other Law

"We have declared for an Irish Republic.
We will live by no other law."

General Liam Lynch,
Irish Republican Army.

Letters Awaiting Execution

P. H. Pearse

Arbour Hill Barracks,
1st May 1916.

Dearest Mother,

You will, I know, have been longing to hear from me. I don't know how much you have heard since the last note I sent you from the G.P.O.

On Friday evening the post office was set on fire, and we had to abandon it. We dashed into Moore Street, and remained in the houses in Moore Street until Saturday afternoon. We then found that we were surrounded by troops, and that we had practically no food. We decided, in order to avoid further slaughter of the civil population and in the hope of saving the lives of our followers, to ask the General commanding the British forces to discuss terms. He replied that he would receive me only if I surrendered unconditionally, and this I did.

I was taken to the Headquarters of the British Command in Ireland, and there I wrote and signed an order to our men to lay down their arms. All this I did in accordance with the decision of the members of our Provisional Government who were with us in Moore Street. My own opinion was in favour of one more desperate sally before opening negotiations but I yielded to the majority, and I think now the majority were right, as the sally would have resulted only in losing the lives of perhaps fifty or one hundred of our men, and we should have had to surrender in the long run, as we were without food.

I was brought here on Saturday evening and later on all the men with us in Moore Street were brought here. Those in the other parts of the city have, I understand, been taken to other barracks and prisons. All here are safe and well. Willie and all the St Enda's boys are here. I have not seen them since Saturday, but I believe that they are all well, and that they are not now in any danger. Our hope and belief is that the Government will spare the lives of all our followers but we do not expect that they will spare the lives of the leaders. We are ready to die and we shall die cheerfully and proudly. Personally I do not hope or even desire to live. But I do hope and desire and believe that the lives of all our followers will be saved, including the lives dear to you and me (my own excepted), and this will be a great consolation to me when dying.

You must not grieve for all this. We have preserved Ireland's honour and our own. Our deeds of last week are the most splendid in Ireland's history. People will say hard things of us now, but we shall be remembered by posterity and blessed by unborn generations. You too will be blessed because you were my mother.

If you would like to see me, I think you will be allowed to visit me, by applying to the Headquarters Irish Command, near the Park. I shall, I hope, have another opportunity of writing to you.

Love to W. W., M. B., Miss Byrne, and to your own dear self.


P.S. I understand that the German expedition on which I was counting actually set sail but was defeated by the British.

Kilmainham Prison
3rd May 1916

My Dearest Mother,

I have been hoping up to now that it would be possible for me to see you again, but it does not seem possible. Goodbye, dear, dear mother. Through you I say goodbye to Wow-Wow, M.B., Willie, Miss Byrne, Miceal, Cousin Maggie and everyone at St Enda’s. I hope and believe that Willie and the St Enda's boys will be safe.

I have written two papers about financial affairs and one about my books, which I want you to get. With them are a few poems which I want added to the poems of mine in MS in the large bookcase. You asked me to write a little poem which would seem to be said by you about me. I have written it, and one copy is at Arbour Hill Barracks with the other papers, and Father Aloysius is taking charge of another copy of it.

I have just received Holy Communion. I am happy except for the great grief of parting from you. This is the death I should have asked for if God had given me the choice of all deaths — to die a soldier’s death for Ireland and for freedom.

We have done right. People will say hard things of us now, but later on they will praise us. Do not grieve for all this but think of it as a sacrifice which God asked of me and of you.

Good-bye again, dear, dear mother. May God bless you for your great love for me and for your great faith, and may he remember all that you have so bravely suffered. I hope soon to see Papa, and in a little while we shall all be together again. Wow-Wow, Willie, Mary Brigid, and [Mother?]. Good-bye. I have not words to [tell?] my love of you, and how my heart yearns to you all. I will call to you in my heart at the last moment.

Your son Pat.