My Dearest Mother,
The time is short, and much that I would like to say must go unsaid. But you will understand; in such moments heart speaks to heart. At 3.30 this morning we (Dick Barrett, Rory O’Connor, Joe McKelvey and I) were informed that we were to be executed as reprisal. Welcome be the will of God, for Ireland is in His keeping despite foreign monarchs and Treaties. Though unworthy of the greatest human honour that can be paid an Irishman or woman, I go to join Tone and Emmet, the Fenians, Tom Clarke, Connolly, Pearse, Kevin Barry, and Childers. My last thoughts will be on God and Ireland and you.
You must not grieve, Mother darling. Once before, you thought you have given me to Ireland. The reality has now come. You will bear this as you have borne all the afflictions the cause of Ireland brought you nobly and bravely. It is a sore trial for you but that great courageous soul of yours will rejoice, for I die for the truth. Life is only for a little while, and we shall be reunited hereafter.
I would write to Barney separately, but alas! He is not at home. That he will be brave I know; that he will persevere until the wrong is righted, and the shadow of shame is lifted from our country, I do not doubt. May God bless and protect him and give him the courage, fortitude and wisdom necessary to adhere to truth and honour and principle. Through you I send to him my fondest love.
Through you I also send another message. It is this: Let no thought of revenge or reprisal animate Republicans because of our deaths. We die for truth. Vindication will come, the mists will be cleared away, and brothers in blood will before long be brothers once more against the oppression of our country and Imperialist England… In this belief I die happy, forgiving all, as I hope myself to be forgiven.
The path the people of Ireland must tread is straight and broad and true, though narrow. Only by following it can they be men. It is a hard road, but it is the road Our Saviour followed – the road of Sacrifice. The Republic lives; our deaths make that a certainty.
I had hoped that someday I might rest in some quiet place – beside grandfather and grandmother in Castletown, not amidst the worldly pomp of Glasnevin; but if it is to be the prison clay, it is all the sweeter, for many of our best lie here.
I send my love to Aunts Maggie, Julia, Jane and Annie, all my cousins in Wexford, Dublin, Clare and Armagh.
Tell Patsy, also. I send my love, and Father Feeney and Father McGuinness.
Go to Mrs. Pearse. She will comfort you. I intended writing to Mrs. Woods and family, but time prevents me doing so. Give my love to them all.
I have had the chaplain to see me. It is sad, but I cannot agree to accept the Bishops’ Pastoral. My conscience is quite clear, thank God. With the old Gaels, I believe that those who die for Ireland have no need for prayer.
God bless, protect and comfort you.
Your loving son,