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I acquired this great image recently, from the Illustrated War News Oct. 20 1915, it shows a group of “Officers of the 2/7th (Robin Hood) Battalion, Sherwood Foresters”.

Less than a year after this photo was taken, the Sherwood Foresters, described here as “fighters for the freedom of Europe”, would find themselves at the heart of the bloodiest battle of the Easter Rising in Dublin. 240 British soldiers were wounded or killed at Mount Street Bridge, where they came under sustained attack from a small band of Volunteers.

I always remember the first hand account of Captain A.A Dickson of the Sherwood Foresters, who wrote of the “baptism of fire” the men encountered at Mount Street Bridge. 25 Northumberland Road was the building from which Volunteer Michael Malone and Volunteer James Grace attacked, inflicting major casualties on the Sherwood Foresters. Dickson would recall:

It was a baptism of fire alright, with flintlocks, shot-guns, and elephant rifles, as well as more orthodox weapons. And 100 casualties in two days’ street fighting was a horrible loss to one battalion: the more so since my one friend from the ranks, commissioned same day, was shot through the head leading a rush on a fortified corner house, first day on active service, and it was my job to write and tell his mother, who thought him still safe in England.”

The house today (Donal Fallon)

If the Sherwood Foresters encountered such resistance, and suffered such heavy casualties in Dublin, surely some the men at the centre of the Battle for Mount Street Bridge feature in the image above?

I consulted Paul O’Brien’s excellent Blood On The Streets for more information. O’Brien has been writing detailed accounts of the battles of various 1916 garrisons, which look at the events in incredible detail which of course just isn’t possible in a broader study of the rebellion. Blood On The Streets (Mercier, 2008) tells the tale of Mount Street Bridge. I consulted it, and the classic Sinn Féin Rebellion Handbook, for an idea of how the men pictured above got on.

From the Sinn Féin rebellion handbook, I learned that two men shown were killed in action, while two were wounded.

L.T P.D Perry, third from the left in the back row, lost his life in the rebellion.
Likewise, Lt. Frederick Dietrichsen would perish.
Captain Hickling, second right in the middle row was wounded.
Also wounded was Lt. Pragnell, sitting on the ground on the left hand side.

Captain Dietrichsen

The story of Captain Dietrichsen was particularly tragic. O’Brien gives some background information on Dietrichsen in his study, noting that he had previously been a barrister in Nottingham. He had sent his wife (who originally hailed from Blackrock) and two children to Dublin “to protect them from the ever-increasing German Zeppelin raids”, yet was taken aback to encounter his family as the Sherwood Foresters marched towards the city. O’Brien notes that: “Captain Dietrichsen dropped out of formation and hugged his family at the side of the road. He was to be one of the first killed in action during the battle of Mount Street.”

The other side of the newspaper page shows men of the Sherwood Foresters in very relaxed post,and notes that “….standing on a pile of fodder, is Nancy, the battalion mascot goat.”

It’s certainly an unusual set of photographs, and I found it fascinating to see the faces of some of the men who were at the heart of the Battle for Mount Street Bridge for the first time. Today, the battle site resembles its ‘1916 form’ much more than many other sites of combat, and 25 Northumberland Road is marked with a small plaque to Volunteer Michael Malone.

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“At first my only reaction was horror that Irishmen could commit such a crime against England. I was sure that that phase had ended with the Boer War in which father had fought, because one of his favourite songs said so:

You used to call us traitors because of agitators,
But you can’t call us traitors now.”

But the English were calling us traitors again, and they seemed to be right”

From Frank O’Connor- An Only Child.

This upcoming series of talks on the 1916 rebellion is interesting in that it is not geographically limited to the capital, but includes events at NUI Galway and Queens University Belfast. The event in Dublin, at Trinity College Dublin, will focus on ‘Imperial Cultures’. I will be on hand to provide a brief walking tour of some key sites to those attending the event. It is free to the public, but you’re requested to register in advance.

If you are attending, or are interested in the rebellion, perhaps these Come Here To Me pieces will be of interest to you:

This 1966 Irish Socialist booklet on the rebellion includes a number of rare articles.

How They Saw The Rising. The words of British Soldiers, Anarchists, Novelists, Poets, Medical Students, Revolutionaries and Daughters.

Sean Connolly plaque launch report. Includes audio and images from the launch of a plaque to Sean Connolly and his siblings, as well as Molly O’ Reilly.

Another perspective on the rebellion, from a Sherwood Forester who witnessed a friend “..shot through the head leading a rush on a fortified corner house”

The Thomas Weafer plaque on O’ Connell Street, so often overlooked.

The Pearse Street Fire Disaster. This article includes some previously unpublished images. Volunteer Robert Malone died in this fire in 1936.

Jennie Wyse Power’s shop on Henry Street is a unique plaque frequently overlooked.

The Teachings Of Patrick Pearse pamphlet from 1966 is interesting. It is the work of A. Raftery.


“James Connolly- Murdered May 12th 1916”

A familiar sight to Dubliners inside Dublin Castle ,a key site of the rebellion, frequently missed by the visiting eye.

The Yiddish election leaflet of James Connolly (1902)

An interesting piece on the Dublin home addresses of James Connolly.

Sackville Street.

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I’ve never heard this song sung, though it is sung to the same air as ‘Who Fears To Speak Of 98’ and ‘Who Fears To Speak Of Easter Week’. I picked it up from the excellent 1913:Jim Larkin and the Dublin Lockout book (1964), the hard work of the Workers Union of Ireland.

“It is appropriate that the Workers Union of Ireland should sponsor such a book as Jim Larkin was its founder and first general secretary as he had been the founder of and the first general secretary of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union”

If you’re wondering about the air, here is a version sung by Brendan Behan in relation to the 1916 rising that has been uploaded onto YouTube.

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“The old guard and the new”, this is a classic Fianna Fail election leaflet encouraging the public to get behind two 1916 veterans (Oscar Traynor and Harry Colley), “stand by De Valera” and to put faith in two newer faces, Eugene Timmons and Charles Haughey. It is a most unusual piece, from the Dublin North East constituency.

Traynor is a well-known figure in Irish political history, in command at the Metropole Hotel during the 1916 Rising. Unusually, he was a soccer-man, and had toured Europe with Belfast Celtic in 1912. The image below is taken from a piece on his time at that club over on the excellent Belfast Celtic historical site.

Traynor (Goalkeeper) with the rest of the Belfast Celtic team in 1912.

Harry Colley had also taken part in the Rising, and the leaflet notes that he was “..left for dead at a Dublin street barricade” during the rebellion.

Ultimately, Charles Haughey would fail to win a seat in 1954, obtaining 1,812 votes. When Haughey did obtain a seat three years later in 1957, it was at the expense of Colley. The rest, as they say, is history.

Click to expand and read:

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A 24 page commemorative magazine published on the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, kindly passed down to me by my uncle Donal.

1916 Easter Week 1966.
This publication is issued by “Irish Socialist” on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Uprising. It has been assembled and edited by Sean Nolan, at 37 Pembroke Lane, Dublin 4, Ireland. 4/66.
Price: One Shilling.

Articles:

Easter Week 1916 – Sean Murray
1916 Re-Examined – A. Raferty
1913 – 1916: Similar Battle Lines – Joseph Deasy
With James Connolly In America – Elizabeth Gurley – Flynn
Some Recollections of James Connolly – Hanna Sheey-Skeffington
1916 Proved Britain Not Invincible – H. Moore & A. Barr
The Connolly Road should lead to… Labour Republican Unity – A.J. Coughlan
I Appointed Myself… ‘War News’ Courier – Donal O’Reilly
Connolly In Belfast – Betty Sinclair
Citizen Army Vetran’s Memories of 1913-1916 and Connolly – John O’Keefe
Scots Socialist on Connolly – Tom Bell
Connolly – Liam MacGabhan
Lenin Supported The Men Of Easter Week – Michael O’Riordan
1916 And Education – A Secondary Teacher
Women and Easter Week – Marion Jeffares

*CLICK ON THE FRONT COVER BELOW TO READ THE FULL MAGAZINE*

1916 - 1966. (Click to read full magazine)

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On my recent walking tour of radical Dublin, one of the places I brought people was to the site of the Irish Farm Produce Company restaurant and shop on Henry Street. It was there that the 1916 Proclamation was signed, and indeed the premises was the ‘radical cafe’ of its time. Interestingly, most of the people on the tour had not noticed the plaque marking the location of the premises before. It truly is an unusual Dublin plaque.

The plaque to Captain Thomas Weafar on the corner of Lower Abbey Street is another prime example of a plaque many Dubliners are unaware of.

Captain Thomas Weafer ( The plaque reads Wafer, however as you will see below Weafer is more commonly found when discussing him) was shot and killed on Wednesday April 26 1916 while occupying the Hibernian Bank on the corner of Lower Abbey Street and Sackville Street. The strategic importance of the building is clear. It allowed Weafer and his men to control access to the street from Amiens Street Station for example, and members of the the GPO Garrison were occupying a number of buildings on each side of Sackville Street.

Meda Ryan wrote about the experiences of Leslie Price (who went on to marry Tom Barry), in her study of the famous Cork rebel leader entitled Tom Barry: IRA Freedom Fighter.

Receiving no orders, like many Cumann na mBan activists, Leslie headed for the G.P.O

Initially they cooked meals and helped the men in the Hibernian Bank. On Tuesday forenoon the building came under attack from British troops. Leslie was standing beside Capt. Tom Weafer, OC of the Hibernian Garrison, when a bullet whizzed past her and into his stomach. As she was about to attend to him another bullet lodged in the chest of the man who had gone to Capt. Weafer’s aid. She had just time to say a prayer in Weafer’s ear when he died.

From tropicalisland.de, the building on the corner of Lower Abbey Street and O' Connell Street is the old Hibernian Bank premises

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The Hospital today...

...and as it would have looked at the time.

Images of graves below.

Seven men, two members of the Irish Volunteers and five British Army soldiers, are buried side by side in what is literally the back garden of Dr. Steeven’s Hospital.

This is not a graveyard, but as stated above quite literally a garden. The two graves could not be physicially closer, or more symbolically diffferent, than they are.

Of the British Army men, almost all belong to Irish Regiments.

The names of the men are provided in the images below underneath their respective headstones. Of the rebel casualties, one belonged to the Fingal Battalion and one to the 4th Battalion Dublin Brigade. The Fingal Battalion, or ‘North Dublin Battalion’, for the most part fought with Thomas Ashe during the insurrection. His burial here shows that sometimes people ended up in random locations owing to their time of arrival or other commitments, or simply due to the need for reinforcements in parts of the city. The 4th Battalion are associated with the action at the South Dublin Union where they served under Éamonn Ceannt. His Battalion is said to have numbered around 120 men. Volunteer Sean Owens, who belonged to that Battalion, was twenty four years old at the time of the insurrection, and from the Coombe area of Dublin.Interesting information regarding the fight leading to his death can be found in Uncommon Valour by Paul O’ Brien, published by Mercier Press. He is said to have been killed less than two hours into the taking of the South Dublin Union, and is therefore one of the earliest casualties of the Republican side.

Volunteer Peter Wilson, a Swords native, was shot after the surrender of the Mendicity Institution. This group of Volunteers were to hold the position for a number of hours, but managed to hold out until Wednesday. Despite emerging under a white flag, Wilson was shot and killed. He was 40 years old at the time.

By pure chance, the 1916 service medal of Volunteer Owens is currently listed in an upcoming auction at Whytes auction house in Dublin City. It is valued, amazingly, at €15,000 to €20,000.

Lot 165, its description reads:

“1916 Rising Service Medal to Private John Owens, B Company, 4th Battalion, killed in action, South Dublin Union, 24 April. €15,000- €20,000”

The medal of one of our Volunteers below

This amazing photograph below from the gravesite at Steeven’s Hospital is included in the lot, and more information is available here at invaluable.com

Photo of a memorial service in the hospital grounds, from the Irish Press September 1935

Notice that one of the British Army men buried here is a Lancer who died on the 24th of April, 1916. Lancers came under fire on the first day of the rebellion from the Four Courts Garrison and, more famously, the rebel headquarters at the General Post Office. Other Lancers are buried in Grangegorman Cemetery today, where one grave notes that the man was “Killed during the Irish Rebellion”

Three of the men buried here belonged to the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment, which was based at Richmond Barracks, under Lt.Col R L Owens. Their strength at the time of the insurrection was 18 officers and 385 other ranks.

Ceannt photographed with Irish Volunteers

A grave holding two Irish Volunteers sits right next to one holding five British Army soldiers (Four from Irish Regiments)

Easter lillies on the grave of the two Irish Volunteers

We had to rub the British Army headstone down with a wet cloth to be able to read the text, which I think you can see clearly below.

The headstone to the British Army casualties

G.W Barnett
Sherwood Foresters
27th April 1916

O. Bentley
5th Lancers
24th April 1916

M. Carr
3rd Bn. Royal Irish Regiment
24th April 1916

J. Duffy
3rd Bn. Royal Irish Regiment
24th April 1916

T.Treacy
3rd Bn. Royal Irish Regiment
24th April 1916

The text of the Volunteers gravestone. Notice the 'Oglaidh na hÉireann' logo.

Vol. Sean Owens
4th Batt. Dublin Brigade

Vol. Peter Wilson
Fingal Brigade

Want to visit the graves? Dr. Steeven’s Hospital is the building right across the way from Heuston Station.

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Dublin Fire Brigade Piper Bernard Mulhall at Liberty Hall

“O branch that withered without age!
Would we could see you where you’re missed
Step airy on the Abbey stage
Play there ‘The Revolutionist’
Or fill with laughter pit and stalls
With Bartley Fallon’s croak and cry
What led you to those castle walls?
We mourn you Sean Connolly”

Lady Gregory.

Another plaque in place, another important part of working class Dublin history marked.

The home of the Connolly siblings, at 58/59 Sean McDermott Street Lower, now boasts a new plaque from the North Inner City Folklore Project. Captain Sean Connolly and his siblings Katie, Joseph, George, Eddie and Mattie all fought with the Irish Citizen Army during the Easter rebellion. The plaque also pays tribute to young Molly O’ Reilly, who raised the green flag over Liberty Hall in 1916.

Among the crowd were historians, trade unionists, activists,relatives of members of the City Hall Garrison and members of the local community. The Dublin Fire Brigade were represented too, due to Joseph and George Connolly serving within its ranks. Joseph was a firefighter at the time of the insurrection. The Fire Brigade can therefore boast something very few others in the city can, in the form of a real connection to the Easter Rising.

Conor McCabe at Dublin Opinion has some more images worth a look over at their blog.

Speeches and audio

James Connolly Heron speaks at the site of the plaque. His speech covers not alone Sean Connolly and his siblings, but the campaign to save 16 Moore Street.

Las Fallon, of the Dublin Fire Brigade Museum, speaks of Joseph and George Connolly.

Dublin Fire Brigade piper plays outside 58/59 Sean McDermott Street Lower.

Wind, coughing, and all the other things nature/people can whip up when you’re trying to record something, but still….

Images

Dublin Fire Brigade members at Liberty Hall

Fittingly, a relative of James Connolly presents a relative of Molly O' Reilly with the green flag to raise.

The raising of the flag

The flag is raised.

Dublin Fire Brigade colour party

Citizen Army uniforms today, spot on right down to the red hand!

Dublin Brigade- Irish Republican Army

Las Fallon, Dublin Fire Brigade, speaks of George and Joseph Connolly.

Banner marking the role of women in the revolutionary years

A poem is read prior to the unveiling

A small selection of the fantastic collection of images from the period on display afterwards

The Starry Plough blows in the wind with the new plaque behind it.

Dublin Fire Brigade trade unionists pay respect. Firefighter Russ McCobb laid this on behalf of Impact workers.

Another snap of the brief talk on the Connolly connection to the Dublin Fire Brigade

The plaque itself

After the ceremony, we decided to visit Glasnevin Cemetery. There, we thought it only fitting to undertake a search for a particular grave with the day that was in it.

The grave was that of Captain Sean Connolly, Irish Citizen Army.

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Citizen Army men and women gathered at Liberty Hall on Easter Sunday for the final mobilisation before the Rising. Here Connolly gave each a last opportunity of drawing back. No one availed themselves of this chance. ‘I never doubted ye!’ Connolly told them, his face shining

R.M Fox- From ‘Dublins Fighting Story’

This may well be of interest to many of our readers.

I inherited the 1916 bug from my father, without a doubt. Even today, only hours before writing this, I was standing on Northumberland Road like a Japanese tourist only moments in Times Square. I’m still amazed that for such a short historical event, there seems to be an endless amount of research and new finds related to Easter Week 1916.

The week is one of personalities. Like Winifred Carney, the suffragette and secretary to James Connolly, who would find her place in Irish history as the ‘Typist with a Webley’. Returning to Northumberland Road, perhaps no man on the republican side was to leave such a deadly mark on the week as Michael Malone, hiding out with a small group of men (and a moveable store dummy too!) in 25 Northumberland Road. Ultimately he and one other man, James Grace, would hold the spot. Who could forget to mention Sean Connolly of the Irish Citizen Army? An Abbey actor of great reknown, who had taken the lead role only a week previously in ‘Under Which Flag?’,a play penned by none other than James Connolly. Siblings of Sean, both male and female, would join him in the insurrection.

Michael Malone, killed in action at 25 Northumberland Road

The week is also one of great tragedy. There is the heartbreaking story of one of the Sherwood Foresters being taken aback to see his own family in Dublin, having fled Britain for fear of Zeppelin raids. He would never make it past 25 Northumberland Road.

Members of the Irish Citizen Army drill.

One must really see the sites to appreciate them. Even today, I learned this to be most true. When you look from Clanwilliam House down the street towards number 25, you get a clear sense of the Volunteers line of fire. Likewise, I can remember as a young lad being taken to see the Royal College of Surgeons and being amazed by the bulletholes still littering the front of the building.

This tour is one I’ve been told often enough to get myself along to. Carried out by the authors of one of my favourite studies of the week, for €12 you’re promised about two hours worth of a wander around some of the keysites of the 1916 Rising.

Of coure, one can not take everything in in two hours, for instance some of the Sackville Street lancers who fell under fire are buried at Grangegorman cemetry. The Rising has left us with historical sites all over Dublin worthy of visiting.

As a city centre tour however, the reputation of this one is one that, to me, renders Saturday morning worthy of an alarm clock.

….if you know me at all, that’s a huge achievement.

Saturday 20th February 2010
Meeting at 10 am at the International Bar, 23 Wicklow Street.
€12

Facebook page for the 1916 Walking Tours

Eamon Ceannt, Commandant of the 4th Battalion of the Irish Volunteers at the South Dublin Union, 1916

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The Cover Of Paul O' Brien's latest work, Uncommon Valour

I’m currently looking forward to the launch of the latest 1916 work from Paul O’ Brien this Thursday at Kilmainham Jail, not least having flicked through the book today in the NUI Maynooth bookshop.

For a one week insurrection, I am constantly amazed at the amount of material published on the 1916 Rising. Hitting fever-pitch in 2006, things have continued at a steady pace since. Much more than ‘broad sweep’ accounts however, it is the particular and specific studies that are of interest to me.

Blood On The Streets became one of my favourite 1916 studies. The battle of Mount Street Bridge was, to say the least, bloody brutal. Wednesday the 26th of April was one of the most eventful days of the insurrection, with the shelling of Liberty Hall (completely empty bar one cleaner)commencing that morning. The rebels were holding up reasonably well across the city, despite a severe disadvantage with regards numbers. Sean Heuston’s efforts at the Mendicity Institute on Ushers Quay being a perfect example of a small band of rebels keeping large government forces at bay. That day however will be remembered as the day when four battalions of the Sherwood Foresters (Many of whom believed themselves to be on French soil at first) would encounter hell by Mount Street Bridge, not least from the (initial) 4 volunteers at home in 25 Northumberland Road. A far superior number of Sherwood Foresters, attempting to advance towards Trinity College, were ultimately stalled for days by a tiny band of rebels.

General Sir John Maxwell himself noted that:

“Four officers were killed and fourteen wounded and of the other ranks, 216 were killed and wounded”

Paul O’ Brien’s account of the battle is a comprehensive and long overdue one, where the reader feels they themselves are there in Clanwilliam House, or 25 Northumberland Road. Such is the effect of somebody focusing on such a key event in itself, rather than giving it a passing role in a broader study.

Eamonn Ceannt, from the National Library of Ireland online.

Hopefully, this account of the South Dublin Union garrison will be more of the same. One of the most interesting sites from during the week, not just in terms of the action that occured there- but the characters involved. Commandant Eamonn Ceannt was in charge of the 4th Batallion on the day, with Cathal Brugha and W.T Cosgrave next in line. It’s miraculous Cathal Brugha emerged from the battle here at all in truth, and it was here that Nurse Margaretta Keogh was to become the first female casualty of the week

The priceless 1916 Rebellion Handbook observed that

“The rebels took up suitable sniping positions at Dolphin’s Barn, Marrowbone lane, Watling street, Kingsbridge, Kilmainham, Rialto and Inchicore, while a party which seized Messrs Roe’s malting stores near Mount Brown also gave trouble”

The account of the assembly of the 4th Batallion, as noted in Dublins Fighting Story, provides fascinating insight into the chaos and disorganised nature of the rebellion at first. The Batallion had a roll call of about 1,000 Volunteers before the Rising. Where were they on the day?

There is an amazing tale of when Cathal Brugha -boasting twenty five wounds (Of which five were after cutting through arteries) and feared dead by many of his comrades- burst into song. Ceannt rushed to see the sight of Brugha slouched against a wall with his pistol to his shoulder still.

“The two heroes laid aside their weapons. The commandant came on bended knee the moment he saw the dreadful condition of his comrade- lying in a pool of his own blood four square feet in extent- embraced him, pressed him to his heart in a very passion of affection and tenderness. They exchanged greetings, very briefly, and the fond eyes of the commandant were flooded with tears”

In the end, the British would focus their attention on the General Post Office and the Four Courts, and the South Dublin Union garrison would ultimately not hear of the surrender until Sunday. Two miles west of the headquarters of the Provisional Government, Ceannt and his men – severely outnumbered by government forces from the nearby Richmond Barracks- would hold out for the length of the insurrection.

An individual study of such a key flashpoint of the 1916 Rising is most welcome. I look forward to obtaining my copy! If you’re there on Thursday say hello.

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