Behind the Song - Darling Michael - Performed by Niamh Dunne and Seán Óg Graham

This song is dedicated to Nancy O'Rahilly . Nancy (Nannie) Brown was from Philadelphia, USA and Michael Joseph O’Rahilly, known as The O'Rahilly, was from Ballylongford Co Kerry. Nancy met O’Rahilly at a party in North Kerry in 1893 when she was on holidays with her mother and sisters. It was love at first sight; he was 18 years old and she was 16. After her holiday in Ireland she returned to Paris to boarding school and O’Rahilly went to medical school in Dublin. He went to Paris to visit Nancy during the year and after that they corresponded for several years until they met again in 1898 in New York. He proposed to her and they were married 15 April 1899; they spent six months travelling around Europe on honeymoon. They lived in a number of places before subsequently settling in Dublin. 

The Rising was initially cancelled by the leadership of the Volunteers. However, when O’Rahilly heard that the Rising was going ahead in Dublin on Easter Monday, he joined the rebels in the General Post Office (GPO). When he left their home in Dublin to join the Rising, he and Nancy had four young sons and she was pregnant with their fifth. Nancy received a letter every day of Easter Week from her husband in the GPO. These all expressed his deep love for Nancy - Tuesday's note ends, 'Thousands of kisses dearie and lots of love from your own Ua R'.

Five days into the Rising, The O’Rahilly was shot leading a group of volunteers out of the GPO. He later died in a side lane, now known as O’Rahilly Parade. While dying he wrote a final letter of farewell to his beloved Nancy.

'Written after I was shot

Darling Nancy.

I was shot leading a rush up Moore Street & took refuge in a doorway. While I was there I heard the men pointing out where I was & made a bolt for the laneway I am in now. I got more than one bullet I think. Tons and tons of love dearie to you and the boys & to Nell and Anna. It was a good fight anyhow. Please deliver this to Nannie O'Rahilly, 40 Herbert Park, Dublin. Goodbye Darling'. [sic]

After the Rising, Nancy was active in the Volunteers’ Dependents Fund, the Irish White Cross and was on the committee of Cumann na mBan. She continued to live in the family home in Dublin until her death 1961. She was buried with her husband in the Republican Plot, Glasnevin Cemetery.

Performed by Niamh Dunne and Seán Óg Graham
Lyrics by Aideen O'Rahilly
Video: www.shaneserrano.com

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