Posts Tagged ‘Eamonn Ceannt’

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

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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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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