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Features | Sport

Five 1916 Easter Rising volunteers who were also sporting heroes

The UCD hurling team that won the Fitzgibbon Cup in 1915. Éamon Bulfin, the man who raised the tricolour over the GPO on Easter Monday 1916, is fourth from left in the back row wearing what appears to be a goalkeeper’s jersey. Taken from 'The GAA & Revolution in Ireland 1913–1923', edited by Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, published by The Collins Press (2015).
The UCD team that won the Sigerson Cup in 1915 [Taken from ‘The GAA & Revolution in Ireland 1913–1923’, published by The Collins Press]


The man widely credited with raising the Tricolour over the GPO on Easter Monday was Eamon Bulfin, pictured above, fourth from the left in the back row wearing what appears to be a goalkeeper’s jersey. A keen Gaelic footballer and hurler, Bulfin is pictured here with the UCD team that won the Sigerson Cup in 1915, but he also captained the university’s hurling team to the 1915 Fitzgibbon Cup. Additionally, he was commander of the university’s Volunteer company.


Such a big deal is Dick Fitzgerald, he even has a stadium named after him in his native Killarney. The former Kerry Gaelic football captain won back-to-back All-Ireland medals with the Kingdom in 1913 and 1914, while he broke new ground by writing a book titled ‘How to play Gaelic football’. As a volunteer in the 1916 Rising, he was interned in the Frongoch camp in Wales in the aftermath, where he would help to organise Gaelic football tournaments among fellow detainees.


A former goalkeeper, Dublin native Traynor was part of the Belfast Celtic squad which became the first club from Ireland to tour foreign shores and they would win five games out of six in a tournament staged in Prague. He was also a former political prisoner, former government minister and former President of the Football Association of Ireland, while in the 1916 Rising he was identified as a leader in the attempted capture of the Metropole Hotel on O’Connell Street.

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At a time when Irish Olympians were obliged to compete for Britain, or in some cases ‘Great Britain and Ireland’, an Irish Cyclists Association [ICA] team of six represented Ireland at the Stockholm Games in 1912. Michael Walker was the best Irish performer of the six, finishing 67th out of 91 finishers, with 28 cyclists dropping out of the endurance race which was carried out in horrendous conditions. A renowned cyclist by 1916, Walker played a significant role in the Rising by conveying messages around the city, on two wheels, to those in command of the rebellion.


Similarly, Michael’s brother John was also tasked with distributing updates to to rebels around Dublin during the Rising, and he was also a member of the ICA team that represented Ireland in the 1912 Olympics. Walker finished 81st in the endurance race, but although he was just 10 places above last place, he was given a certificate just for finishing, such was the difficulty of the task. Much to their credit, all six Irishmen finished the race, seeing their country finish 11th in the standings.


Jamie Casey

Jamie Casey is Sports Editor of The Irish Post. Follow him on Twitter @jamiecasey37

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One comment on “Five 1916 Easter Rising volunteers who were also sporting heroes”

  1. Boston, USA

    A very good 3 part tv show on 1916 on the Public Broadcasting System PBS here in the USA. It's airing here in Boston tonight.


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