Thomas MacDonagh.

When the dawn is come, a tragedy in three acts online

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(Sealy, Bryers & Walker)




& COMPANY, Ltd. 1908

Dramatic and all other rights reserved

To M.



Thurlough MacKieran
Hugh MacOscar
r^amonn o'sullivan
Father John Joyce
Alexander Walker
RoRY MacMahon .
Patrick Ryan
Ita MacOscar

Sheela O'Hara
Connor O'Gatry

Irish Soldiers

The Seve?i acting as
Captains of the Irish
hisiirgent Army and
Members of the Council
of Ireland.

Daughter of Hugh, and
Member of the Council
of Ireland.

Member of the Council.

A Ballad-singer, a Spy.

A Spy,

AS Guards.

Hugh MacOscar is an old man ; Thurlough MacKieran,
Alexander Walker, and Ita MacOscar are under thirty
years; Sheela O'Hara and Reamonn O' Sullivan are
somewhat older ; Father Joh7i Joyce, Roiy MacMahon,
Patrick Ryan, and the spies are of m,iddle age.

Period : Fifty years hence, in Ireland, in time of

Scene : The Council Chamber of the Irish A-nyiy.

The action passes in one evermig.



The Council of Ireland in Session: all the members
of Council present except Thurlough and

Hugh (standing to address Council), This,
then, of Thurlough's proposal is our command
from the assembly. We five soldiers here, together
with the two absent, Thurlough and Alexander
Walker, are the Seven, chosen to act as Captains
of the Army, to take supreme command in turn —
a week to each by lot. It is time the lots were
drawn, for we must visit our posts; we must re-
assure our men. Little time to do all, for the daily
council is in an hour. Have you the names written,

Ita (who has been writing). Yes, they are ready.
But now, what of our new Captain, Alexander?
He is not here; the lot may fall on him for the first

Hugh (looking round to consult the others).
What if we leave his name out? He will thus be

Ita. No, there is a more just plan. Here is his
name, written like all the rest. Let it go to the
box with all the rest. If it comes first, then let him
have his choice of weeks, the second first. He will
arrive to-day or to-morrow — soon. If his name be
second he will take command next week. Do you
not think this well ?

Hus^h. I do.

Others. And I. And I.


Ita (throwing the seven papers on the table).
Well, then, see that the papers are alike in all.

Reamonn (taki7ig and scrutinising them). No
need; they are alike.

ha. And we shall draw ?
Sheela. You-, Ita, you.

[Sheela tak^s the papers and puts them in a

bax; then presents the box to Ita, who

turns away her face, draws out a paper and

places it on the table.

Rory (taking the paper and reading). Thur-

lough MacKieran. I'm glad of it. We shall have

a good model to follow in Thurlough.

Father John. A duty already for our General.

[Ita draws out another paper.
Rory. Alexander Walker.

Father John. All the young first. (To
Reamonn.) What if they do rash things, Captain,
before our turns come ?

Reamomi. They have a Council still.
Father John. A reminder of responsibility for
our General.

[Ita draws in order: Father John Joyce,
Hugh Mac Oscar, Patrick Ryan, Rory
MacMahon, Reamonn O'SulUvan. Rea-
monn writes the names as they are an-
Father Johyi. I would Thurlough were here. It
may be well not to adjourn now before he knows this
choice. He still has something new, something of
new worth, to meet occasion. What if we summon

Patrick. No. You will have your Council here
within the hour. I am Camp Master of the day;
but Thurlough had a disposition to make in view
of the coming of the North, and took my duties,
as he can. I do not need him here; he will give
me all guidance now when I go to him. You


others will be with him here to-night in Council.
You do not need him now. This generalship will
change nothing in him.

Hiis^h. Well, let us go, then, to our commands.
You go to Thurlough, Captain Patrick. You will
tell him the issue of the lot. Take him the list of all.
IThey rise to go, but Reamonn, icilh a ges-
ture, retains them. All, except Reamonn
and Patrick, resume their seats. Patrick,
holding in his hand the list received from
Reamonn, stands near the door. Next to
him, Rory standing. Then Reamonn,
with his back towards the door.
Reamonn. Before we part now I wish to take
the occasion to speak on a personal matter, which
concerns the General and me.

Patrick. No, Reamonn, no; that is over. We
all work together now.

Reamonn (turning to Patrick). For that it is
better that I speak. (Turning to the others.) I voted
against the election of Thurlough MacKieran
among the Seven. He said then that he believed
me sincere in doing so, and I was. He has worked
more than we others. He has thought of plans,
and we have adopted them. Father John has called
him the brain of our army, and he has thought for
us all. But he is a poet always, and changes in
moods, and is at times hard to understand. And
he sees too many sides to every question : he thinks
the very enemy's actions — all cruelties and tyran-
nies — can be defended in justice, from their point
of view.

Patrick (zvho has been for a moment looking out
the door, listening, turns and speaks to Rory).
Thurlough is here.

Reamonn. He is a philosopher more than a
simple fighter for a single cause.

[Enter Thurlough, unseen by Reamonn.


Reamonn (continuing uninterrupted). In the
old days, before we brought together armed forces^
I heard him speak to gatherings of the people. In
midst of his appeal for patriotism a voice, a look in
the crowd, made him doubt and pause — he was not
sure. That was my thought and my objection ta
the choice of him. Well, why should I speak thus
now — he is our General now? Only because it is
my trust, my more than trust, that these things will
hinder nothing, if they do not help his signal merit.
It is not my custom thus to explain with apology.
I would not speak my reason to the Assembly.
They would have Thurlough ; scarce a voice with
mine said no ; and when they trust it is well they
trust in full. It is well that I, too, trust in full.
Were I not now to speak my trust to you, you
would not know it in me. For this I speak. And I
speak, too, because, even this away, I deem it
necessary for me who have voted against him
always to pledge obedience and the aid of my
counsel to him and my willing fellowship.

[When Thurlough enters by the open door^
unseen by Reamonn, Patrick silently
hands him the paper which he has re-
ceived from Reamonn. Thurlough holds
up his hand in warning to those who see
him not to interrupt Reamoim. He turns
to peruse the list, but ahnost immediately
looks up in surprise, and listens to
Reamonn, who is too much absorbed in
his thoughts to notice the entrance of the
other. On finishing, Reamonn is led by
the silence of all the rest to look round.
He sees Thurlough, and slowly bows his
head to him.
Thurlough (coming forward, to Reamonn),
Captain, my absence hence, and then my presence


now, have served me graciously. By accident of
entering now in midst of your good speech, by acci-
dent of not breaking in upon your good speech,
I have surprised a kindness — all the more rich for
its thought of secret trust. I crave vour pardon
for my silence now. For your words — though to
me there was no need of them — I thank you, thank
you from my heart. It would be vanity to say
more. (Lookins^ at the paper in his hand, he
pauses ; then addressing the whole Council.) Com-
rades of Council, I am then your General for this
first week. I know my duties and my trust to you
and to our army. I must not keep you longer.
You, Captains, will go now to your duties in the
Camp. (To Ita and Sheela.) You, Councillors,
have your duties, too. I will stay here, busy with
the plans I must submit to you in an hour. The
Councillor Ita will have the issue of the lot an-
nounced in form. (To Patrick.) The Captain Art
O'Connor will tell you all. (All go out except

Thurlough. So, fate has been with me still.
Am I too hasty in these quick counsels? But this
morning I thought of my Greek plan to secure for
myself command sometime — and I am General.
" Busy with my plans," have I said? No need:
my plans are perfect long — since yesterday the new
ones. Yet they depend on the arrival of the
North — and Alexander. I must win him, and with
him two weeks' power. (Looking at the list.) And
third the priest — three weeks. There's time to plan
and carry out my plans. . . . What of that
other plan — the spy ? Thank heaven he did not
trust me and come here. It was a dangerous
thought, and made me think of the monk — a dan-
gerous thought.

[Enter Guard,


Guard. General, there is a man without who
begs and begs to see you.

Thurlough (aside). Could it be he? Here is
the danger in person. (Aloud.) Do you not know
him ?

Guard. Yes, sir, 'tis Connor O'Gatry, the

Thurlough. Oh, Connor? I have little time,
but I will see him. Let him come in.

[Exit Guard.

Thurlough. It is a dangerous thing for me to
look upon this butterfly chance : I may be lured to
chase it. . . . And then — it is a danger.

[Enter Connor O'Gatry, ivhom Thurlough
takes to the side of the room farthest from
the door.

Thurlough. Well, you have come. What is

Cojinor (giving him a letter). You know where
this comes from ?

Thurlough (looking at the letter unopened).
Have you brought many such — to the other Cap-

Connor. Letters from him to the Captains !
I'd swing out of the nearest tree.

Thurlough. And you trust the General not to
swing you ?

Connor. General, is it ? Oh, aye, for a week —
I heard one of ye was to be. Ah, you're the cute
gentleman ; you lead them all by the nose. Now
you'll be able to do the thing properly, and get

Thurlough (ivho, with a slight gesture of disgust,
has turned aside and opened the letter). Do you
know what is in this?

Connor. If I do not know the very words, sure
I can guess what they may be. Suppose I said
office and command after the treaty on condition of


makinc: the misguided men accept good terms —
would that be a good guess?

Thurlough. An excellent guess. And now, if
I told you that I am going to read this to the
Council, could you guess what we should send
back to your Minister or his agent by way of
answer ?

Connor, O General, General, you won't do
that ! Didn't you give me your word of honour,
and take mine, to keep all between us two — not to
harm me? There wasn't a witness, but there
wasn't need of one.

Thurlough. Well, there, do not clamour. You
must go away now. Think no more of this, and
begone. If after to-night you are caught within
our lines vou die.

Connor {his countenance clearing). And is there
no answer ?

Thurlough (who has been sryiiling to himself,
aside). It is a great chance. (Aloud.) Yes, I
will give you an answer. Tell him that sent you
that I am now General, and demand more — chief
place in office, and the terms I asked before — not
these. If they accept let him sign it thus; then two
days from now let me know their plans, and I will
act accordingly, my reward to depend on success.

Connor. Will you write that down ?

Thurlough. No. I have said before that you
will have no proof to betray me, too. We have
had traitors.

Connor. Then it is all over. I must have your
letter and seal, or that letter back with your name
and seal.

Thurlough (after a pause). You will not be
taken ?

Connor. I taken? Not I.

Thurlough (slowly goes to the table and writes
in the letter he has received). There, I have no


seal. They know my writing well; many a letter
of mine they have seized — (aside) — all meant for
them to seize. (Aloud.) I have changed the terms
and added my name. Be careful and be quick.

Thurlough (accompanies Connor across the
room, and speaks to him as he goes out.) It was
not worth the time I have given to you. (Coming
in.) That rang false, I fear. Yet the guard
knows me, and dare not suspect.

lEnter Guard.

Guard. The Councillor Ita MacOscar has been
waiting, sir.

Thurlough. Oh, tell her to come in. Leave the
door open wide. (Eagerly to Ita as she enters.)
Ita ! To congratulate ourselves on this rare
chance ?

Ita. Rather to warn you, Thurlough. That
man, Reamonn, spoke true. For all our sakes be
cautious, Thurlough. What? You are always
so? Yes, but be ordinary, too. You are a strate-
gist — force a battle this week and you will restore
the confidence of all. I bring you good news,
too. The army of the North is almost here.

Thurlough. The North? (Pauses.) Ita, I
think your counsel comes too late. I am embarked
on a great venture now. There is but little time
to tell you all, and I shall be brief. You know
there are traitors in the camp and spies. I knew
it, and my brain ran, not as O'Sullivan's would, on
gibbetings, but on a deep ruse, to turn them to our
service unwittingly, to our honest use. What if a
captain feigned to sell himself, and so learned all
the plans and fears of the enemy, and so crushed
them at last ?

Ita. For God's sake, Thurlough, do not do
this — do not play with fire — do not. Why can you
not leave now those subtle ways, now you are
General ? Who can trust you in all ? You love


to analyse your thoughts and thoughts of others —
can you love aught else? You love to outwit the
cunning — can you love aught else?

Thurloui^h. You are a woman still, an
emotional woman. You remember how I asked for
women on our Council, pleading your enthusiasm
and martyr-spirit? One thingmore than that I
valued, the woman mind that will not clog with
common mire that men call honesty. . . . And
so they chose you tw^o, you and that good woman —
that woman too dutiful, who could withhold her
heart and all, for duty — you two. . . . So,
where was I in my tale?

Ita. Spies to be outwitted.

Thurlouorh, One came here to me. You must
not know his name, Dame Councillor, or you are
in the plot. Through him the agent of the English
Minister offers me command and office — they will
make me British Minister here if I win them
peace. Oh, there are fools on earth ! Office and
command for my soul's life ! At first I chose the
cautious, sent him away — but only to the door;
then yielded. If they are fool enough to think they
can buy me, me of all men here, with all their
offers — why they are fool enough to walk into my
snare; and I will spread it wide. Two days hence
they come in strong array — mere show to over-awe
our Council, so that I win you all to take these
terms. Two days hence I crush them.

Ita. Oh, take care — if you can still prevent mis-
chance. That man spoke a true word of you to-
day. You are sure of nothing — nothing. What
if this spy were his spy — he has such ?

Thurlouo^h. No, not for me. His mind is too
blunt to suspect me thus. . . . He thinks me
sure of nothing. . . . And yet, I think his
mind is subtler than he knows. . . . Strange
how one thought can poison a wiiole mind ! He


knows me sure of nothing in his creed, and cannot
understand a sincere doubt.

Ita. Father John knows your mind on these

Thurlough. Ah, who knows that? For
Reamonn O'SulHvan spoke truth once more in
that. I have stopt short and asked myself in
doubt — What of it all? Is it a passing show?
What does it matter if I go in green, or blue, or
purple? That's not the kingdom, though. So for
your creeds. I cannot go inside, shut myself in,
and see but this and this, and feel that I am sure.
Let this not make you sad : I may grow old and
harden to one thought, and harden to one creed —
who knows ?

Ita. Well, I will pray for success, for your
success in this as in the rest. What if my prayers
have helped you still? But, Thurlough, there is
yet one way. Why not avow this ruse of yours to
the Council now as to me ? They have adopted
ere this plans of yours that seemed as strange at

Thurlough {pointing to one side of the table and
standing at the other). There is the Council, and
here I, my hands crossed on my breast thus
humbly, my head bowed. " Captains and Coun-
cillors of the Irish realm, your General would crave
your judgment. I have been closeted with an
English spy. I have let him return to the English
lines — as he knows how, with what he knows. This
spy would not dare approach another of you : me
he accosts familiarly, thinks me a traitor. And I
have played the part and stipulated rewards."
And so, and so. Now you can see the eyes of
O'Sullivan, old Patrick Ryan looking for thought
to him, your father's blanching face, Father John's
troubled gaze, the doubt of all, and the one ques-
tion still in every brain — " He pledges trust to us


and trust to them — can we trust him?" They'll
think of Art O'Neill a month ago hanged by the
enemy through a traitor's guile. (Thoughtfully.)
Would any here understand? Would Sheela?
And then the voice of Reamonn — " You had your
Council, why have we not known at first?" No,
they cannot understand — till I can give them
victory with my tale.

Ita. God grant that sequel !

Thurlough. I must go now. I burn to see the
Captain Alexander. We shall return to Council
here together. {He takes a step toivards the door,
then turns back.) Do you think the Council could
understand me in it all? You are convinced of
wisdom in mv silence ?


Ita (stands for a few minutes silent and thought-
ful; she sighs and turns to the open door). That
was a strange thing he told me yesterday of the
monk's warning. Savonarola in his day was such
a one as Thurlough. . . . Oh, the death he
died ! . . . Strange thoughts for this practical
time !

[Enter Reamonn O' Sullivan.

Ita. Captain, the army of the North is here.

Reamonn. I know it. Where is the General?

Ita. Did not the guard tell you? He went but
now to visit the Captain Alexander.

Reamonn. I have what I deem better tidings
than the coming of the North. Rome has at last

Ita. Good tidings? What? The Pope will
bless our cause?

Reamonn. No. Never so good as that; but
will stand neutral. Now, the revolted priests
escape the censure that we feared. And that is all.
But it is much. We may expect the waverers
now ,



Ita, If the priests here had wavered you would
not have won even this poor thing.

Reamonn. Nay, nay, it was our trust in this
that armed them.

Ita. Well, the North is come in force, and this
way, too, if Rome is now made straight.

Reamonn. All our ways are not yet straight.
God save us still from traitors. If you are
not prepared for stern judgments in Council
now, resign to-night. We cannot look back now.
{Turning hack from the door.) I may be long
absent. Do not delay Council for my return. I
will be with you when I can.

[He goes out.

Ita. All the sky darkens now that looked so fair.




Ita alone, then enter Father John and Hugh.

Father John. Your eyes tell, Ita, your poor
esteem of the good news ; for such it seems to me,
the day of breezes that might have been a storm.

Ita. Not for that was I thoughtful, Father.
It is, indeed, good news, not being bad — good,
too, for Thurlough's reason.

Hugh (hastily). Yes, yes, it is the same now.
Bury the past and hope for what's to come.

Ita. That's clergy that held back till now.

Hugh. And laity, more culpable, not having
that heavy fear.

Ita. Yes, I despise them.

Father John. Nay, Ita, surely something un-
usual troubles you. You are so calm, so good a
head in Council — and now ! Never despise your
downcast countrymen, whose hearts are not as
brave as yours.

Hugh. 'Tis but a little maiden after all !

Ita. No, Father, no. I feel upon my heart, not
very brave, a weight like nothing but injustice,
imminent. (Aside.) It needs no prophecy.

[Enter Sheela. The action here is slow; they
are busy with papers and the like.

Father John (after a pause). It is the hour for
Council. It is strange that the others delay.


Ita. The Captain Reamonn charged me not to
await him.

Sheela. Patrick is this evening Camp Master,
and cannot come.

[Enter Rory,
Rory. As I came by the camp of the North the
General was called out to receive another message
from the enemy.

Hugh. I honour Thurlough, and I know his
worth. I know his loyalty and steadfastness, and
wisdom, too. It may be now akin to treason, just
now, to speak of him but as of a king ; yet, yet I
wish the lot had fallen first on one more slow, more
reverent — not of tact, for who more tactful ? — but
of a cold restraint to treat and treat again. Thur-
lough is sudden, and catches at things in the air.
Ita. Is it not he that sets things in the air?
Hugh. Ah, but it does no ill to know their
terms, though they be such as we may never take.
It would be well to know their terms. But Thur-
lough, after three words spoken, may send the
envoy back.

Rory. And well done, too, if the conditions be
as the last ones were.

Sheela. And you forget. Captains, that Thur- ■
lough will remember you, the Council. He has not
failed in duty. Nor does he fail in dignity. He is
General, and will not go himself — at first. Why,
here he comes, with the new Captain.

lEnter Thurlough and Alexander. Alexander
greets the members of Council. Thur-
lough speaks for a moment aside with
Hugh and Father John.
Thurlough (turning to the others). An envoy
from the enemy delayed us. Let us begin the
Council with his business.

[.4// take their places at the table.
Thurlough (standing). This news from Rome,


received through the Captain Reamonn, hangs
with this matter. And the news — I speak as one —
is the best news. Rome will do nothing. I be-
sought the Assembly to make no appeal, here to do
Ireland's work in Irish land. And so we shall do
now, the Church untouched.

Hugh. Let us leave the Church untouched.

Thiirlough. We shall do so; but first, since this
thing bears on all the rest, let us consider if our
attitude be changed at all by this. If we had done
my wish, made no appeal, we should not here have
wearied these two months as we have wearied, wait-
ing and knowing nothing. Some feared a curse,
and feared the ruin of our cause here or of their
Church here; some feared a blessing, thinking
such would rob our state of its merit of self-trust,
the spring of all our rising. Rome bids us trust
ourselves, her deed so bids us, and the enemy
knows that this is his defeat — the Roman news
reached him ere it reached us — and so these terms.
Still, to keep something, he will yield as much
who march to all. In brief, the basis of treaty
offered to us is this — full freedom in our land, with
our own laws and governance, under the foreign
crown, with a joint council of their state and

Hugh. It is all we ask.

Thurlough. But there is more. We may not
war on any; they guard our trade. We may not
tax their goods. We subsidise their navy.
(Throi^'ing papers on table.) Here are the terms,
almost the same as those our fathers won — your
fathers, Alexander — nearly two hundred years ago,
and lost by fraud.

Hugh. In God's name let us take them lest we
get no others.

Thurlough. It is not well to claim the name of
God for one side or the other. Thev offered terms


before we armed; if we had taken them in any
name we had not now got these.

Hugh. Ah, this is not the same. Thurlough,
no General now, but my dear friend, young,
passionate, too good for this poor state, do not
speak now against our peace. You are very
young. I, who' am old, remember the hard times
when men dared not to look for this. I then was
young and fought for this. It is enough. Not
for empty words — nation within an empire, king-
dom, republic — not for these may our poor men
fight on. It is enough.

Thurlough. Father, the father of our army and

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