CLOSE QUARTER COMBAT BY A 1916 RISING DOUBLE ACT

Diarmuid Breatnach

Derek Molyneux and Darren Kelly are a great 1916 Rising history double act. Taking turns at the narrative, bouncing one off the other at times, sometimes one correcting the other, interrupting one another and on occasion comically resenting the

Darren Kelly and Derek Molyneux presenting their talk at the Cobblestone

Darren Kelly and Derek Molyneux presenting their talk at the Cobblestone

interruption. They are great entertainment. But they are also very knowledgeable on the history of the 1916 Rising and on comparative military history, as well as being passionate about the subject.

They are joint authors of “When the Clock Struck in 1916” by Collins Press (2015) and were the guest speakers presenting a talk on “Close Quarter Combat in the Easter Rising” in the back room of the Cobblestone on Saturday (07/11/2015). The talk was one of a series organised by the Sean Heuston 1916 Society.
Poster for the event

Poster for the event

Their lively and engaging narrative focused more on the insurgent participants and their feelings and on some of the main locations of the fighting than on the leaders. They also speculated on some of the thoughts of the British soldiers engaged in the fighting and quoted from a few of their officers. Contrary to some historical narratives, the duo emphasised the good military sense of the planning and the locations chosen for fortification, as well as the effective fields of fire created. Criticisms of some failures, for example to occupy Trinity College, they ascribed to the confusion occasioned by Mac Neill’s countermanding order canceling “parades, marches or other movements” scheduled for Sunday, which resulted in a serious depletion of numbers turning out to challenge the Empire on Easter Monday.

Front cover of their book launched this year

Front cover of their book launched earlier this year

Their points were well made and although in my opinion did not completely refute some of the criticisms, in terms of fields of fire as illustrated their points were interesting and convincing.
The talk was a little overlong in my opinion and the subsequent discussion in question-and-answer time cut short accordingly, as the room had to be cleared for a music group event. However, some of the audience and the speakers carried on an interesting discussion in the bar, a discussion that broke up into smaller groups and ranged far and wide for hours afterwards.
An interesting and enjoyable talk I would recommend highly – even without the bar follow-up.
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