Continuing their series of short stories on the 1916 Centenary, the Thomas Clarke Society Dungannon tell of chaotic scenes in Coalisland as plans for the Rising are dashed.

On Easter Sunday 23rd April 1916, Billy Kelly and his son Tom headed for Donaghmore to collect the arms for the mobilisation in Coalisland. It included the Howth rifle that Thomas Clarke had personally given him. They arrived at the home of James McElvouge at Tullydraw.

Denis McCullough from Belfast was already there and informed them of MacNeill’s counter orders. He was in support of the cancellation. James, Billy and his son Tom made their way to Coalisland by pony and trap and went to St. Patrick’s Hall. The Tyrone and Belfast contingents of the Volunteers, Cumann na mBan and the IRB were assembled in high expectation of a Rising.

Shortly after arriving, a dispatch rider from Dundalk addressed them. He read aloud the fatal counter orders and told them of the capture of The Aud. There was chaos and confusion. Immediately, McCullough ordered those from Belfast to march to Cookstown and take the train home. In Dublin, as Thomas Clarke was being informed of MacNeill’s treachery, these were the very scenes he feared.

Nora Connolly, daughter of James Connolly, confronted McCullough and demanded they follow Pearse’s orders. As the Belfast contingent left, Nora asked to be taken to Dr. Pat McCartan in Carrickmore. Billy Kelly’s son volunteered to take her.

Séamas Tomney then held a Council of War with the Officers of the Tyrone Brigade. They decided to order the demobilisation of the Brigade and go home to await further orders – but were to retain arms and remain available for mobilisation.