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There was a fearful incident at Galway railway station on the evening September 8 1920. A larger crowd than usual waited for the Dublin train. The big story of the day was the Terrance McSweeney hunger strike in Brixton prison. The young Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Cork was in his second month without food. The people of Ireland, and the Irish across the world, were totally focused on this drama. McSweeney died on October 25 after 74 days. The Dublin papers that evening would have had the latest health reports.
Early in 1916, Pádraic Pearse visited Athenry to discuss plans for the Rising. He wanted the Volunteers to hold the county at the River Suck at Ballinasloe, to capture Galway city, and then, if possible, to march on Dublin. There were several variations of this strategy, but whichever plan was finally agreed, its success depended on the Volunteers receiving modern weaponry. Up to then the men had been rehearsing with shotguns, and sticks. Pearse assured them that small arms, including assault rifles and machine guns, were on their way. They would arrive in Gort, and be distributed from there.