Kilmainham Gaol text Collection title

William O’Dea

Biography

William O’Dea was due to be married on Easter Monday, 1916, but instead mobilised and was part of a small group that seized the Mendicity Institute at the beginning of the Easter Rising. Under the command of Sean Heuston, this post was held under heavy British fire until Wednesday, 26th April, after which O’Dea was placed in Kilmainham Gaol and court-martialled. He was sentenced to death on 8th May, but this was commuted to three years penal servitude. Whilst standing on the deck of the ship that was to deport the prisoners to England, O’Dea spotted his fiancée on the quayside and convinced a British army officer to give her his wedding ring, which he had held in his pocket up till then. O’Dea was subsequently interned in Portland, Lewes and Pentonville prisons until June 1917.


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