1916 Proclamation.


Born in Dublin in 1892, Thomas Brady, settled in Navan while still quite young and became an improver in the hair dressing business before opening his own establishment in Market Square and then Ludlow Street. Residing in Emmet Terrace he married  Elizabeth Duignan of Navan and they had  children, Herbert, Thomas, Bernard, William, Elizabeth, Rita, Josephine, Rosaleen  and Vera. Thomas died suddenly in February 1939 while his widow died in 1955. They  were buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Navan. Thomas’s brother, Christopher, was the printer of the 1916 Proclamation.

Thomas and Christopher were sons of Peter and Elizabeth Brady. Peter was a printer with Alex Thom and Co. who produced an annual directory. Christopher was born in 1888 and lived at Little Mary Street, Inn’s Quay lived at Cabra.

Christopher Brady joined the IRB circle in North Frederick Street, in 1915. Patrick Daly, a compositor and member of the IRB introduced Brady to James Connolly. Brady became the  printer in Liberty Hall from 1915 working on the ITGWU weekly newspaper ‘The Workers Republic’ and other union material. Papers such as Spark, Honesty and The Gael were suppressed by the British authorities. Connolly trusted him but kept his identity secret. Brady carried despatches from Connolly to Thomas Clarke’s shop. Connolly introduced Brady to Pearse.

On Good Friday the police decided to raid Liberty Hall and confiscate copies of The Gael. Brady saw the raiders arrive and went upstairs to inform Connolly and Markievicz. Connolly came down, a loaded gun in his hand, and told the police “Drop these papers or I will drop you.” Countess Markievicz left the building using the front door, went around the corner and came in behind the police officers. The police went away empty handed.

Christopher Brady was sent to Emmet Hall, Inchicore, to contact Michael Mallin, Connolly’s second-in-command to tell him of the raid and to ask him to mobilise the Citizen Army.

On Good Friday Connolly asked Brady and compositors; Michael Molloy and William O’Brien; to come to Liberty Hall at 9.00a.m. on Easter Sunday morning for an unspecified but confidential job.

When the three men arrived they were taken upstairs and introduced to Thomas McDonagh who read the text of the Proclamation to them and asked their opinion to which Brady replied; “I consider it a great honour to print such a great document.”  When Brady  read the document he “fully understood that it was a document proclaiming an Irish Republic and that it meant war.” McDonagh asked Connolly if the men were sworn in but Connolly replied that he would vouch for their secrecy. Thomas McDonagh then said “If we can hold out in this fight in order that Ireland’s voice may be heard at the Peace Conference and you boys will not be forgotten.”

Printing supplies were in short supply. Brady and his two workmates set out to print the proclamation on an old printing machine and a shortage of type “ so great that wrong fonts were used and I had to make a new letter by converting an “F” into an “E” from sealing wax to make up the supply.  He describes the difficulties they faced in printing the document. They had to print the document in two halves as they hadn’t got enough type and had to customise the letter ‘E’. The printing machine was a very old machine and Brady had an enormous amount of trouble keeping it going. The paper was of poor quality, thin and tearing easily. The paper was produced by Swift Brook Paper Mill at Saggart, Co. Dublin. The first proof was ready by 9.00 p.m. on Sunday night and given to Connolly to check. He made one change – the name – “Eamon” was spelled incorrectly. The men printed 2,500 copies of the Proclamation which were divided into two bundles. The Proclamation was parcelled up and delivered to Helena Molony. An original copy of the Proclamation is now in the National Museum and it is autographed by Christopher Brady, Michael Molloy and William O’Brien.

Such was the secrecy surrounding the printing that Mattie and Joe Connolly stood guard in the machine room while Brady printed the document. Even Countess Markievicz was not allowed to enter the room to get her coat. She was allowed in when the printing was finished and she rushed up to Connolly with a telegram and said “I will shoot McNeill” to which Connolly replied “You are not to hurt a hair on McNeill’s head. If anything happens top McNeill I will hold you responsible.” McNeill had issued countermanding orders to stop the rising.

Connolly ordered Brady to pick up any loose copies and burn them.  Brady left Liberty Hall between one and two on Easter Monday morning. He took no part in the actual rising itself. Brady spent Easter Monday night in a tent at Howth: “I had a tent there I used on odd nights to throw off suspicion on me and as part of earlier precautions against British spies.” The following day he walked back into the city and as he approached his home on Little Mary Street a couple of “shawlies” warned him that the British Military were on the way. Brady’s father was arrested.

Brady went on the run and stayed on the run for six months as he was a wanted man for having printed the Proclamation. After the Rising Nellie Gifford asked Brady to call to Count Plunkett’ s house to repair a printing press but British soldiers had arrived just before and broken up the machine. Later Joe Stanley employed Brady as a printer.

In 1922 Brady became a printer at the Bank of Ireland, College Green, a position he held for thirty six years. A small brass shooter  used to lock the type on the press used to print the Proclamation was donated by Brady to the 1916 exhibition in 1935. The shooter was inscribed “C. Brady. “


Brady applied for a 1916 pension but was denied as he had taken no active service in the Rising. He appealed directly to the Taoiseach in 1968.

Brady was interviewed for the RTÉ Television project ‘Portraits 1916’ on 6 November 1965.

Brady moved to Annamoe Drive, Cabra and then to Mount Carmel Road and then in retirement lived with his son in Roebuck Park, Dundrum and lost his sight in old age. Brady spent his last days in Roebuck castle under the care of the Little sisters of the Poor where he died in December 1974 aged 86 years. His remains were interred in Glasnevin Cemetery.