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Posts Tagged ‘Easter 1916’

As mentioned before, last weekend was a busy one for CHTM! with involvement in the Punky Reggae Party gig on Friday night, the Sounds of Resistance gig on the Saturday night and the latest pub crawl scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Before the pub crawl though, JayCarax had lined up a walking tour of Grangegorman Military Cemetery for us, led by Ray Bateson, author of “They Died by Pearse’s Side,” historian and specialist on those killed in the Easter Rebellion, 1916. We were joined on the tour by comrades from Story Map, the Chasing the Light photography blog, and Irish History Podcast.

Grangegorman Military Cemetery

Grangegorman Military Cemetary lies 2.5 miles from the GPO, but ask any Dubliner about it’s existence and who’s buried there, and you can be guaranteed you’ll get a blank face from the majority of them. Located on Blackhorse Avenue, not far from The Hole in the Wall pub, it is the resting place of British soldiers who died or were killed in action on this island. Whilst, for obvious reasons, a large portion of our interest was given to those who died on Easter Week, there are graves scattered around of those who came/ were sent here to recover from wounds received in the trenches of World War 1 and a long line of graves for those who died in the sinking of the RMS Leinster in 1918.

5th Lancers, 25th April, 1916

Military casualties (not counting police) in the Easter Rebellion were around the 120 mark, with those killed serving a variety of different battalions though most notably, large numbers from the South Staffs and the Sherwood Foresters battalion, killed in the Battle for Mount Street Bridge. Battalion badges are marked on the headstones along with the name of the person buried, their rank and the date of their death whilst a very few have personal inscriptions. Matching the battalions and dates from the gravestones with the known events in Easter week can give us an idea of where these British soldiers met their deaths. The grave above bearing the date 25th April and the soldier’s battalion, the 5th Lancers, suggests for example, he was wounded the ambush of the ammunitions convoy by Ned Daly’s garrison at the Four Courts and died the following day.

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Dev’s residence at the time of the Rising- 34 Munster Street

Day dreaming about winning the lotto and buying a house over the weekend, I came across the above on Daft (considering I have about as much a chance of winning the lotto as buying a house it was about as far fetched as daydreams get.) The house above is 34 Munster Street, Phibsoboro; Dev’s place of residence at the time of the Rising, and yours for just €290, 000. Phibsboro was a hotbed of activity around that period, with Dev, Harry Boland, Dick McKee, 15 year old Fianna member Seán Healy and 18 year old James Kelly amongst it’s residents involved in the fighting during Easter Week. Whilst Dev’s political legacy is “somewhat complicated,” his influence on Irish history is still felt today. If walls could talk…

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This is a nice little land, and what I like most about it is that it’s one of the ‘Sinn Féin Rebellion’ postcards I’d not seen before. Printed in Scotland, it’s from the famous Valentine Company.

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Hidden at the wall by Nassau Street by the (sometimes open) gate to the street above, is this excellent plaque.

Another gem few Dubs, including Trinity students, seem aware of. Of course Trinity College Dublin played a central role in the supression of the rebellion of 1916, with the Sinn Féin Rebellion Handbook (A PDF of which we recently linked to here) noting that

On Saturday, 5th August 1916, in the Provost’s gardens of Trinity College, a presentation from the citizens of Dublin to commemorate the gallant conduct of the Officers Training Corps during the rebellion was made.

“AC Smith (Hexbridge)” is listed among Hussars killed during the rebellion, or as a result of wounds sustained during the Rising.

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“It appears certain that Nationalism has gained a great deal and lost a little by its union with Labour in the Insurrection of Easter Week, and that Labour has lost much and achieved something by its avowal of the National aspirations of the Irish Nation”

-Sean O’ Casey.

Joe Hanley as Fluther Good, in rehearsal for The Plough and the Stars.

There is no night quite as exciting to see a play as on its first night before the general public. Lines have been practiced, outfits adjusted, props moved slightly this way or that way, feedback taken on board. The stage is set by now, and nothing is as telling as the reaction of a sold-out house to a performance.

Based on the reaction tonight, The Plough and the Stars should enjoy a fine run now it is back home where it belongs.

Undoubtedly one of the most controversial plays to emerge from The Abbey, it is no doubt the one that first comes to mind for many when discussing the iconic Theatre. The riots that emerged during its 1926 run at The Abbey are well documented. These disturbances were, among other things, reactions to the sight of a prostitute on stage, the appearance of the Irish flag in a public house and the use of the words of P.H Pearse. For some, the play was seen as dismissive of the ideals of the men of 1916, and the leading Irish progressive figure Hanna Sheehy Skeffington was among those who disrupted the first performance of the play. A great irony was the fact O’ Casey had previously wrote so highly of her husband Francis, the pacifist who was murdered in very suspicious circumstances during the Rising.

In Sheehy-Skeffington, and not in Connolly, fell the first martyr to Irish Socialism, for he linked Ireland not only with the little nations struggling for self-expression, but with the world’s Humanity struggling for a higher life.

When The Abbey later refused The Silver Tassie, in 1927, O’ Casey left it behind him. The Abbey has never been able to leave O’ Casey behind it however, and The Plough and the Stars has returned to its stage on numerous occasions. This latest performance, directed by Wayne Jordan, is one I’ve been eagerly awaiting for months.

The characters in the play are not easy to carry. I have seen this play performed in the past in a way that did not quite do justice to the weight of characters like The Covey and Fluther. They’re supposed to be passionate, and nothing if not loud. Joe Hanley could not have got Fluther better, and over a ‘post-play pint’ I heard this view shared by many. Fluther is a loveable character despite all his faults, and produces many wonderful lines in the work. Best to hear them read right. His physical manner on stage also matches the character, and he completely makes the character his own, whether pacing a room or returning from an ‘Easter week shopping raid’.

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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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In the Dublin of the revolutionary period, ‘G Men’ would have been a familiar sight on street corners, never quite as inconspicuous as they sought to be. G Division of the Dublin Metropolitan Police served as the eyes and ears of the intelligence community, tasked with observing political subversives in the city. Their ‘Movement of Extremists’ files record the whereabouts of republicans, socialists and other radicals in the city, noting where they loitered and who they talked to.

One business they would have come to know quite well was found at 21 Henry Street, the location of the Irish Farm Produce Company, a shop and restaurant (specialising in vegetarian cuisine) run by veteran nationalist campaigner Jennie Wyse Power. It was popular with Dublin’s small Indian community (and perhaps even smaller vegetarian community) but owing to its proprietor it also became a rendezvous point for advanced nationalists. A plaque on the site today marks the fact that the drafted 1916 proclamation was signed on the premises days before insurrection.

Amidst the wave of cultural nationalism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, an ‘Irish Ireland’ movement emerged which sought to promote the native language, native games and native culture over that of the neighbouring island; Archbishop Croke (he of Croke Park fame) complained that the Irish were importing from England, “her fashions, her accents, her vicious literature, her music, her dances, and her manifold mannerisms, her games also and her pastimes” among other corrupting influences. But what about what was on our tables? The Irish Farm Produce Company boasted of its “all-Irish produce”, a reminder that even dinner could be a political choice.

Jennie Wyse Power, born in Baltinglass in 1858, moved through the ranks of many important political movements in her lifetime, and had earned the respect of the men and women who frequented her business. Active in the Ladies Land League of the 1880s, which sought to advance the rights of Ireland’s tenant farmers, she was later a founding member of the Sinn Féin political party and close to Countess Markievicz.  While serious about her politics, Wyse Power was also regarded as one of the friendliest faces in Irish nationalism. Sinn Féin Executive member Seamus ua Caomhanaigh remembered that “she always left out the Wyse part of her name. She said there was nothing ‘wise’ about her. She was a remarkably able woman, very brainy, full of fun and a great teller of humorous stories.”

Some of the most watched individuals in the city frequented her restaurant in the years before the Rising, including Major John MacBride, who had fought in the Second Boer War alongside his Irish Brigade. Seán T. O’Kelly, later President of Ireland, remembered holding court there most days in the company of MacBride and Arthur Griffith. Wyse Power’s business remained popular after the Rising too, though unsurprisingly the authorities were still vigilant. P.J Paul, a prominent republican in Waterford, remembered visiting the restaurant while in Dublin, as “most of the Volunteer and Irish-Ireland people went there.” On one occasion during the War of Independence, he was having a meal “when suddenly a number of Auxiliaries rushed into the shop and began turning the place upside down.”

Dublin’s small Indian community, primarily formed from medical students in the city, would be drawn towards Wyse Power’s restaurant too, at a time when there was little in the line of vegetarian offerings in the city. Dublin’s first vegetarian restaurant, The Sunshine (advertised as ‘vegetarian dining rooms’), had opened its doors in the 1860s on Grafton Street, though such endeavours tended to be short-lived. Indian students in the capital during the revolutionary period included V.V Giri, later President of India, who studied under the poet and revolutionary separatist Thomas MacDonagh. As historian Conor Mulvagh has suggested, “in searching for routes of entry for Indian students into Irish radical politics, it is perhaps the dinner table as much as the lecture theatre that provided them with introductions.” The cause of the Indian people received sympathetic coverage in Irish nationalist newspapers, including Arthur Griffith’s Sinn Féin and The Irish Volunteer.

While the female republican body Cumann na mBán flatly rejected the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, Jennie Wyse Power came to support it, which created friction between her and many former comrades. In 1923, her business premises was entered by young men who at first appeared to be ordinary customers, but “as the tea was about to be served the raiders suddenly took petrol bottles from their pockets and announced their intention of setting the house on fire.” Her other business premises, located on Camden Street, had already been attacked by republicans, with “bombs being hurled through the plate glass window.”

Despite her support for the Treaty, Wyse Power later joined the Fianna Fáil party, and elected for the party in the 1934 Seanad elections.  She died in January 1941, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. The plaque on Henry Street today honours the signing of the proclamation on the premises, but in truth there was much more to the story of the Irish Farm Produce Company, and its place in Dublin’s political and culinary history should be noted.

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