This is – or at least ought to be – the most famous dining table in Ireland. It’s nothing fancy: just a few honest unvarnished planks of wood, bearing all the grooves, scratches, chalk-marks and patina of time.
But what a time it was.
On the evening of Easter Sunday, 23 April 1916, as copies of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic rolled off a crocked Wharfedale printing press in Liberty Hall, the printer Chris Brady and his compositors Willie O’Brien and Michael Molloy laid out the proofs of the Proclamations on this very table.
If that’s not enough to make these pieces of wood the Rising’s equivalent of a holy relic, the following morning the rebel leaders used the same table for breakfast before marching off to the city centre and into history. I’ve no info about the meal itself, nor which particular leaders were involved, but if you’ve any details please share.
And if you want to see the table, it’s in the 1916 exhibition in the Riding School at the National Museum in Collins Barracks, Dublin.
The Come Here To Me blog recently undertook research on breakfasts during the revolutionary period (1916-23). They found that the word “breakfast” occurs 286 times in the Witness Statements of the Bureau of Military History.
Their blog post includes details of the Pearse brothers’ Easter Monday breakfast – “their last ever home-cooked meal” – in an account by Mairead Ni Cheallaigh (Mairead O’Kelly, a member of Cumann na mBan whose brother was future Irish President Sean T. O’Ceallaigh).
The meal consisted of a tureen of bacon and eggs, another tureen of mutton chops, and a whole loaf of bread. The two brothers ate the lot.