Diarmuid Breatnach

Go raibh maith agat a Chathaoirligh agus a Choiste Eagraithe as an gcuireadh chun cainte ar son feachtas Shábhála Ó Leagaint Shráid an Mhúraigh. Go raibh maith agaibh freisin, a lucht tacaíochta, as a bheith i láthair agus as bhur néachtanna go dtí seo.

Thank you Chair and Organising Committee for the invitation to speak on behalf of the Save Moore Street From Demolition Group and to supporters of the campaign here today and for their deeds in the past.

The Save Moore Street From Demolition group began in September 2014, founded by a handful of people who had supported other Moore Street campaigners over the years and at times helped with organising events. Our call to do something different was the emergency looming when Chartered Land offered to hand over the houses of the national monument, No.14-17, to Dublin City Council in exchange for the ones owned by them, No.s 24-25. We knew that once O’Reilly got those two, he would have demolished them …. along with the rest of the 1916 Terrace all the way up and including No.18.

Brendan Viv man
Moore Street, November 2014, Vivienne Lee at the weekly campaign table while people sign the petition. Brendan O’Neill, an early supporter, signing.

The Council’s Chief Executive, Owen Keegan, was completely in favour but he had a problem: since this involved disposal of Council assets, the deal could not be agreed by officials but would have to be voted for by a majority of Councillors. So it was put to them and he recommended acceptance. And the SMSFD group was born to fight that.

We put up a table with a petition every Saturday in Moore Street. We lobbied Councillors on line and at Council meetings. We gave out leaflets in Moore St. We set up FB pages and kept them lively every week, slowly building up our support. Down in Moore Street, we interacted with the street traders, small shops and of course with passers-by.

Number of people signing the petition at the Moore Street stall in its early days
Number of people signing the petition at the Moore Street stall in its early days, Robbie Lawlor at the table.

I’d be lying if I said there were not times when we were tempted to stop. Maybe times when only three of us were there and when one of that three was off sick or away, or even two. But others did come by to help us from time to time.

And when we gave the emergency call about the planned demolition of the buildings, when we called the emergency demonstrations for two consecutive days in the street, the response was immediate. And it was active. The people who occupied those buildings saved them from being demolished.

And the campaign that we have now built together will hopefully ensure that the 1916 Terrace will be saved for the benefit of generations to come, both in Ireland and around the world.


The experts employed by the State and the speculators tell us that one building or another in the terrace is not a 1916 building.  But the fact is that there has never been an independent survey of the site.  Can we trust experts employed by speculators who care nothing for history or heritage, whose only concern is making lots of money?  Can we trust experts employed by a State that has cared little throughout its history for heritage, culture or history but has been focused instead throughout on serving the Gombeens in our country and vultures from abroad?

I think we cannot. But regardless of what any expert may say, whether independent or not, no-one can deny that terrace is the site of the GPO garrison. The whole terrace. Sixteen houses. Not four.

Moore Stret December 2014, the weekly campaign stall in its early days -- Brónagh Ní Loing, Diarmuid Breatnach at table with Mel Mac Giobúin talking to an interested passer-by
Moore Stret December 2014, the weekly campaign stall in fourth month — Bróna Ní Loing, Diarmuid Breatnach at table with Mel Mac Giobúin talking to an interested passer-by

Sixteen – something of an important and recurring number in connection with the Rising. The year was 1916. The number of executions was sixteen. And there are sixteen houses.

That whole site is a historic site and by any rational, historically-minded appraisal, not only deserves preservation, but cries out for it. Cries out for preservation, Brothers and Sisters, in the midst of this historic quarter, this small area in the heart of Dublin, with its last remaining street of a whole market area, centuries old, now buried under the ILAC. A small historic quarter with artifacts, points of importance, buildings and sites of importance going back to the Land War, the 1913 Lockout, the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence, the Civil War ….


It is just bricks and mortar,” some of our critics have said. “History is about people, not buildings.” Of course, history is about people. And not just leaders, but the mass of people who, in the midst of their daily struggles to live, to work, to raise families, dare to dream. And where do dreams happen? In the imagination.

And has psychology not taught us the importance of symbols? This building behind me has a symbolism of great potency. The faces of the our martyrs, our flags, the pictures of the starving people of the Great Hunger, the words of speeches and proclamations which we read in little symbols of written words, plaques and monuments …. the very letters on paper, also symbols to convey meaning …. even our spoken words ….

All these symbols give shape and expression to our dreams. Not only the dreams which we experience in our sleep but the great dreams of humanity, the waking and sleeping dream, of freedom, peace, in which to pursue our interests, in which to seek happiness.


These our dreams, our human dreams of progress for mankind, are not shared by all.  They are not shared by Joe O’Brien of Chartered Land.

They are not shared by the board of directors of Irish Life, who buried the rest of the centuries-old market under their architecturally-hideous ILAC shopping centre. And who seek to build further out into Moore Street and upwards and have been granted permission by Dublin City Council Planning Department to do so.

And so we must conclude, must we not, that our dreams are not shared by such senior officials in Dublin City Council as Owen Keegan and others running the Planning Department.

No. They do not share our dreams for the future, nor our respect for what was valuable in our past.

December 2014, crowd signing the petition in Moore Street, Brónagh at the table
December 2014, crowd signing the petition in Moore Street, Bróna at the table

An Bord Pleanála has approved the massive shopping centre plan to construct an architectural horror from O’Connell Street across to Moore Street, and from O’Rahilly Parade down to Henry Street, in the course of which they will destroy the 1916 Terrace and enclose a shoebox museum … next to a MacDonalds, perhaps, or a Starbucks …. Constructing a cathedral to Mammon, to the gods of chain stores and eatery franchises ….. So we must conclude that An Bord Pleanála does not share our dreams either.

Lobby of Dublin City Councillors against the 'Land Swap" in Moore Street, 4th October 2014
Lobby of Dublin City Councillors at City Hall 4th October 2014against the ‘Land Swap” in Moore Street, — picket organised by Save Moore Street From Demolition campaign. Signed petition sheets sellotaped together stretched — 2nd and 3rd participants from left are Paddy Cooney and Proinsias Ó Rathaile, of the Save Moore Street campaign.

But does an Bord Pleanála act independently? No it does not, as we well know and as been shown in many planning controversies in the past. It follows the dictates, nods and winks of its political masters, the political class and its nominees in the Dáil. And these do not belong to one political party only, but to several.

And Minister Heather Humphreys, their representative with special responsibility in this case, patently does not share our dreams nor our respect for heritage.

The board of directors of the giant property company Hammerson do not share our dreams either. They dream of big ugly buildings and giant car parks where chain stores and restaurants and franchise eateries can market their goods, depriving shops and goods of any individual regional or national character, making one city’s commercial centre look like any other, from Dublin to Dupont, from Cork to Caracas.

But behind all this array of servile public departments and officials and political representatives, aiding and abetting the clutch of home-grown speculators and foreign vultures, there are the final villains, the whole Irish class of neo-colonial, money-grabbing, huckstering, fumbling-in-a-greasy-til, greedy, incompetent, philistine shower that climbed up upon our backs in 1921 – the Irish gombeen class.


When we have viewed with dismay how little our native ruling class cares for our land, our history, our natural resources, or very PEOPLE ….. some among us have said: “But how can they treat with such disrespect the history and artifacts of the men and women who gave them independence?  Their own ancestors?”  But such commentators are mistaken, brothers and sisters.

The heroes of 1916 are not the political ancestors of the gombeen class – they are ours! A few who fought in 1916 and later became part of the gombeen class from the 1920s onwards, true …. but when they did so, they disowned their forebears.

WE have not disowned the heroes of 1913, nor of 1916, nor of struggles afterwards.

There has not been an independently-minded capitalist class in Ireland since the late 17th Century – and they were nearly all Protestants, of one sect or another. They sought national unity and independence and when they were denied it, rose in rebellion for political, economic and cultural independence in 1798 …. and again in 1803 … But they were defeated and their survivors changed their ideas or left the country.

This class of native capitalists that we have now in the 26 Co.s, mostly of Catholic religious background, grew up under foreign domination. They learned early on to doff the cap to the foreign master, ape him in clothes and manners, speak his language and carry out little deals behind his back.

They learned to be ‘cute hoors’ but they never learned to fight and risk life and limb for a principle. They scramble to get to the top of the dung-heap and crow from there. Or they push and jostle one another to get their snouts in the trough.

They never stood up on their two legs, with back straight and head up, and flew the flag of freedom. They could never stand straight on a gallows and cry “God Save Ireland!” before they were hung, or stand defiantly in front of a prison wall to receive the bullets of their executioners. They never faced the batons of the Dublin Metropolitan Police or the rifles and bayonets of the Royal Irish Constabulary.

And this is why James Connolly, who spent his last days in the building behind me and later in Moore Street, before he was taken away and they made sure to shoot him dead even when they realised that they were going too politically far with the executions …. And by the way the newspaper of Irish Catholic nationalist gombeen man William Martin Murphy, the Irish Independent, called for his execution …..
this is why James Connolly said:
“Only the working class remain as the incorruptible inheritors of the fight for Irish freedom.”

Connolly saw the foreign-dependent and internally corrupt nature of the native capitalist class even before they seized power over his body and the bodies of others who had fought for independence and a just society. And by the way, nor did they stop there – they added hundreds more bodies to ensure they kept the power they had grabbed. And out of our every generation, sent thousands of our youth into exile, rather than build a country that would keep them at home, give them work, housing.


As I come to the end of what I have to say here, early in the centenary year of the 1916 Rising, and I thank you for your patience, I reflect that it appears to be a law of life that for everything we gain, there is a price to be paid.  We have learned that many, oh so many times throughout our history, have we not?

What we are asking for — no demanding — from our rulers, in the case of the campaign for the Moore Street historical quarter, is not much in the grand scheme of their plunder and exploitation.

It is in their power to give it and to pay the political price do so, without bringing down their house of cards.

But if they will not grant it, what then? Well, then we must fight for it. And we too must be ready to pay the price. And I think it is clear that there are many here, and not only here, prepared to pay that price.

And I can do no better than to quote the words of another one who spent his last few days in this building behind me and in the Moore Street 1916 Terrace, who also had some valuable words to say to us. Pádraig Mac Piarais, in his poem The Rebel:

And I say to my people’s masters:


Beware of the thing that is coming,

beware of the risen people, 

Who shall take what ye would not give. 

Did ye think to conquer the people, 

Or that Law is stronger than Lfe and than men’s desire to be free?

We will try it out with you,

Ye that have harried and held, 

Ye that have bullied and bribed,





Diarmuid Breatnach, who gave the speech, earlier at the march, as it came down through Moore Street into Henry Street, heading for the GPO and the rally. Behind Diarmuid is the entrance to Henry Place, evacuation route of the GPO Garrison in 1916.
Diarmuid Breatnach, who gave the speech, earlier at the march, as it came down through Moore Street into Henry Street, heading for the GPO and the rally. Behind Diarmuid is the entrance to Henry Place, evacuation route of the GPO Garrison in 1916. (Photo: Save Moore Street 2016)


(Created by Bart Hoppenbrouers & Diarmuid Breatnach)

Finian McGrath was an independent Teachta Dála (member of the Irish parliament) but recently joined in coalition with Fine Gael to allow them to form a minority government (with the other major party, Fianna Fáil, abstaining if they did not agree with a FG proposal, thereby ensuring the minority government could not be outvoted.  Recently Finian McGrath was also awarded a Minister’s post.DMcGrath's Medicine bottle

Previously Finian McGrath declared that he was opposed to the water charge — against which there is a huge popular movement — and would not be paying it.  However, when he was told that, as a Minister, he would be expected to give an example and pay it, he decided he would do so.

DMG Medicine label

A Marvelous Medicine Used for Years in the Curing of Rebelliousness of the Spirit, troubling Visions of Utopia and Declarations of Constancy.

As an Unguent

  • Helps dispel painful Resistance and Stiffness of Spine

  • Lubricates Joints, facilitating Climbing, Bowing, Kneeling and Bending over

As a Tonic

  • Eases painful Swallowing of Principles

  • Gives Relief from painful Twinges of Conscience

  • Facilitates Production of necessary Excuses


Two Water Meter Protesters Charged and Remanded in Custody

D. Breatnach

From Irish Collonic News:

Two Water-Privatisation protester activists were charged this week with criminal activities — refused bail as being a danger to the public, they were sent to Mountjoy Jail.

Sean Doyle head crop
Sean Doyle, one of the protesters charged and refused bail

The two, Eamon McGrath and Sean Doyle, both resident at addresses in Wicklow, were part of a group picketing the land of Mr. ‘Rowdy’ Nolan, who is renting his Rathcoole land out to GM Sierra to use as a local depot for the installation of Irish Water meters in the Wicklow area.  Both men are suffering from medical conditions and are reported to be pensioners.

Eamonn McGrath, one of the protesters charged and refused bail
Eamonn McGrath, one of the protesters charged and refused bail

On Monday 9th May, Mr. Nolan was incensed to find some protesters picketing outside his Rathcoole property and that some GM Sierra contractors were not driving through them. In order to demonstrate how things should be done, he backed his four-wheel drive vehicle into one of the protesters, Eamon McGrath, and left him limping away.

According to videos and photos taken at the scene, Mr. Nolan then quickly got out of his vehicle and approached a woman who was videoing him, and appeared to knock her and her phone camera to the ground. Not wasting a second, Mr. Nolan then turned on one of the demonstrators — Mr. Doyle — and seizing him around the head and neck, proceeded to bang his head against the rear of his vehicle.

A number of other protesters then intervened to restrain Mr. Rowdy Nolan, as did a number of Gardaí.

Subsequently, Messrs. McGrath and Doyle were arrested by Gardaí and charged under the BLIPP legislation (“Behaviour Likely to Interfere with Profits and Privatisation”) with “Failing sufficiently quickly to get out of the way of a reversing vehicle” (Mr. McGrath) and “Malicious damage with head to a vehicle” (Mr. Doyle).  They were refused bail and kept overnight in police cells.

Mr. 'Rowdy' Nolan leaving his car after backing into Mr. McGrath and just before his foray into the protesters.
Mr. ‘Rowdy’ Nolan leaving his car after backing into Mr. McGrath and just before his foray into the protesters.

The following day both men were taken to court by Gardaí, where Mr. Doyle had the effrontery to claim that he was not guilty and to make use of the opportunity to make derogatory statements about bankers, property speculators, the Government and to cast aspersions on their management of the country and to suggest it is all being done for the benefit of the rich.

The judge presiding considered the two to be too dangerous to release into the community and remanded them in custody in Mountjoy Jail until Thursday morning, when they were due to appear at Bray Magistrate’s Court.

Protesters claimed that the proceedings at Bray Magistrates’ were barred to members of the public which led to some controversy outside.  Speaking from behind a line of Public Order Unit Gardaí, a Court official, who declined to be named, addressed some people who had been refused admittance: “There is no barring of members of the public”, he said.  “It’s just that after we admitted the 25 members of the Gardaí, there was no room left for anyone else.”  Challenged to deny that refusal of admittance was abusing the civil rights of the accused and of the public, a Garda was heard to say: “You lot and your bloody civil rights!  Where do you think yez are?”  Another Court official responded: “We can’t be letting every Tom, Dick and Harry into court buildings.  We have work to be getting on with.”  A woman in the crowd was heard to respond: “Forget about Tom, Dick and Harry, it’s Joseph and Mary Public you should be letting in!”  The court official did not deign to reply.

Ms. Eva Blushyrt, Secretary of the lobbying group SLOBB (Speculators, Land Owners, Businessmen and Bankers), which has been supporting Mr. Nolan, said that it was outrageous that “decent, business people” are being “harried just for making profits any way they can.” Ms. Blushyrt added that “perhaps it is time to consider bringing back hanging for such dangerous enemies of the status quo”. In the meantime she called for “stiff, exemplary prison sentences” for both men.

Another member of SLOBB, who has interests in a central area of north Dublin inner city, alleged that both arrested men had also been campaigning for the preservation of a number of historical buildings there and blocking the development of a badly-needed quarter-mile square shopping mall in the city centre.

Mr. Nolan, with the backing of SLOBB’s legal representation, is reported to be considering legal action against the Gardaí for alleged assault. “They laid hands upon him,” said a representative of SLOBB, “and technically that’s an assault.” Mr. Nolan is said to be furious with the Gardaí and one of his SLOBB supporters was heard to say that “If the Gardaí can’t put manners on the mob with their truncheons, then at least they shouldn’t interfere when members of the public like him do so.”

One of Mr. Nolan’s neighbours commented about him that “He’s just a gentle giant.”  She appeared puzzled as to how he gained the nickname “Rowdy”.

Supporters of the men stated that a number of protests would take place at different locations at 6pm on Thursday evening.  A number of left-wing Councillors and 13 TDs, including a number representing Wicklow constituencies, have signed a statement calling for the release of Messrs. McGrath and Doyle. Ms. Blushyrt became quite angry when informed of this development and called for the public representatives’ disbarment from their elected positions for what she alleged was “blatant interference in the legal system and in its time-honoured role of defending the status quo”.


Diarmuid Breatnach

On Tuesday 10th May a large crowd picketed Leinster House, the Irish Parliament, at short notice to protest the denial of civil rights to three irish Republicans by the Police Service of Northern Ireland who detained, arrested and charged them and by the judiciary who remanded them in custody, denying them bail.

Line of protesters outside Leinster House (Photo from Dublin Anti-Internment Committee)
Section of protesters outside Leinster House (Photo from Dublin Anti-Internment Committee)
Fifteen had been detained by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in harassment of a Republican funeral. Twelve are from the Six Counties and were released after some hours without charge. Three are from Dublin and were
a) charged and
b) refused bail.

The protesters at Leinster House chanted slogans such as “Free, free, the Dublin Three” and “End internment by remand”. A couple of songs were also sung: The Felons of Our Land” and “Take It Down From the Mast”.Long View Dail Picket Dublin 3

The protest was organised by the Irish Prisoners’ Welfare Association and was attended by other Republicans and by members of the Dublin Anti-Internment Committee, as well as by family members of the three men from Dublin.

Shortly after they convened, most of the protesters were approached by the Gardaí Special Branch and had their names and addresses taken by them in what was a clear case of politically-motivated intimidation and abuse of the rights to hold political beliefs, to organise politically and to peacefully demonstrate.  In fact, a similar harassment to that practiced by their brethren in the Six Counties.

Banner of the Dublin Anti-Internment Committee alongside another outside Leinster House
Banner of the Dublin Anti-Internment Committee alongside another outside Leinster House


“On Thursday 5th May the 35th anniversary of the death of hunger striker Bobby Sands Republicans peacefully laid Republican Michael Barr to rest.

“After the funeral the PSNI arrested 15 IRPWA activists and released 12 of them with no charge after being held for a number of hours.
Three of those arrested were charged and refused bail for the sole reason of that they were from the 26 counties.

“Only a few short weeks after the Irish Government commemorated the 1916 rising we now have the situation were British courts in Ireland are locking up Irish citizens for no other reason that they live in the 26 counties.

Car of Special Branch (Irish plainclothes political police) who were watching and filming the protesters from across the road
Car of Special Branch (Irish plainclothes political police) who were watching and filming the protesters from across the road

“The IRPWA calls on the Irish Government to lobby for their immediate release and to make sure those responsible for this blatant abuse of power are held accountable for their actions.
We take this opportunity to remind you of the protest that takes place outside of Leinster House today at 6pm and call for all Republicans to support.

“We would also encourage everyone who is available tomorrow to attend the Belfast High courts at 9.30am and support the 3 men and their families.”


The three Dublin men were finally granted bail Wednesday morning but face further inconvenience, worry and expense in having to attend future court dates in the Six Counties.


Diarmuid Breatnach

On Sunday 8th May a working-class hero was commemorated in the East Wall area in which he lived. Walter Carpenter was a native of Kent, in SE England and came to Ireland to help found the Socialist Party of Ireland 1 with James Connolly in 1909 in Dublin. Among other activities a campaigner around housing issues for the Dublin working class, he reared his sons in socialist belief so that it was no surprise that both Wally (Walter jnr) and Peter joined the Irish Citizen Army and fought in the 1916 Rising. As a result of the repression of the Rising, one son ended up in Frongoch concentration camp in Wales, while the other was in hiding. Later, both brothers also fought against the Free State in the Irish Civil War; Wally was interned and went on hunger strike.

Lining Up Outside SOCC
Assembling to march outside the Sean O’Casey Community Centre

Jailed for opposing British Royal visit to Dublin

Rising to be Secretary of the Dublin Branch of the SPI in 1911, Walter Carpenter was jailed for a month for the production while speaking on a public platform of Connolly’s leaflet attacking the Royal visit that same year. Soon afterwards he was an organiser for the newly-formed Irish & Transport Workers’ Union. During the Lockout, he was sent by Connolly to Britain to rally the support of trade unionists for the struggle of the Dublin workers and was apparently an effective speaker there. That same year Walter Carpenter was elected General Secretary of the Tailors, Machinists and Pressers’ trade union, generally known as “the Jewish Union” due to the preponderance of its members being from that background.

Two sections march
United in purpose but fragmented in marching

Walter also became active in municipal politics, striving to make Dublin City Council meet its housing regulation responsibilities in the terrible housing conditions of the city of that time. There were many other sides to this campaigner too, which a read of Ellen Galvin’s pamphlet will reveal.

The East Wall History Group had earlier had a plaque erected on the wall of the house where he had lived, No.8 Caledon Road and organised an event around its unveiling on Sunday. The event began with a gathering at the Sean O’Casey Community Centre in East Wall, where an introduction to the event and to Walter Carpenter’s importance in the revolutionary and radical social history of Ireland was given by Joe Mooney, one of the organisers of the event. As well as local historians, socialists and Republicans, the event was attended by his surviving grandson, great-grandchildren and partners and their children. Also present was Ellen Galvin, who wrote a booklet on his life which was launched after the unveiling, back in the Sean O’Casey Centre.

Joe Mooney with a few preliminary words about Walter Carpenter and the history of the area
Joe Mooney with a few preliminary words about Walter Carpenter and the history of the area

Misfortune struck the event before it had even begun, with the news that Christy O’Brien, the piper who was to lead a march to the unveiling, had his pipes stolen from his car that very morning. Christy gives his service as a piper to many commemorative events, funerals etc. and, with the announcement of the misfortune, Joe Mooney also called for the spreading of the news in order to aid the recovery of the instrument. A set of bagpipes will cost thousands to buy or have made but it would be a rare musician or pawnshop that would negotiate for a stolen set (one which furthermore might be recognised at a musical event in the future).
(see also https://www.facebook.com/eastwallhistory/photos/a.593335330735681.1073741828.580261572043057/1042532349149308/?type=3&theater)

March to plaque past previous addresses of Irish resistance fighters

The march set off from the Sean O’Casey Centre without the piper, led by supporters carrying the banner of the East Wall History Group, a Tricolour and a Starry Plough (original green and gold version). Walking alongside were two Gárdaí and one wit commented that not only were descendants of the Irish Citizen Army present but also of the Dublin Metropolitan Police! 2

Caitríona Ní Casaidthe presiding over the plaque unveiling
Caitríona Ní Casaidthe presiding over the plaque unveiling
Deputy Dublin Mayor Cieran Perry in the march -- he also spoke at the unveiling.
Deputy Dublin Mayor Cieran Perry in the march — he also spoke at the unveiling.

Joe Mooney had told the crowd before the march began that they would pass a number of locations where fighters for Irish and working-class freedom had lived. These were: St Marys Road, Tim O’Neill at No.8 and father and daughter Patrick Kavanagh and May Kavanagh at No.24. Christy Byrne lived at No.45 and his brother Joseph Byrne was from Boland’s Cottages off Church Road, where also Christopher Carberry lived on Myrtle Terrace on Church Rd. All these were Irish Volunteers, while May was in Cumann na mBan. In Northcourt Avenue (now demolished, roughly where the Catholic Church stands), Patrick & William Chaney were in the Irish Citizen Army and in Hawthorn Terrace lived James Fox (Irish Volunteer) and Willie Halpin (ICA).

Joe added that at the junction of St. Mary’s Road and Church Street, the local Irish Volunteers had mustered to participate in the Rising, 100 years ago and also reminded the gathering that that very day, the 8th of May, was the centenary of the executions by British firing squad of Michael Mallin of the Irish Citizen Army and of Irish Volunteers Eamonn Ceannt, Sean Heuston and Con Colbert.

Eamon Carpenter, 94, grandson of Walter Carpenter (Photo D.Breatnach)
Eamon Carpenter, 94, grandson of Walter Carpenter (Photo D.Breatnach)

Upon reaching No. 8 Caledon Road, the former home of Walter Carpenter, Caitríona Ní Chasaide of the East Wall History Group introduced Eamon Carpenter, 94 years of age and a grandson of Walter Carpenter, who addressed the crowd in thanks and also about the life of his grandfather.

“The struggles of the past are not merely for commemoration”

Next Caitríona introduced the Deputy Mayor of Dublin, Cieran Perry, who pointed out the parallels between the dire housing situation in the early part of the last century, which Walter Carpenter had campaigned against, and the housing crisis in Dublin today. He castigated the officials of Dublin City Council who, despite the votes of elected Left Councillors, refused to use all the land available to them on a number of sites to build social housing and were instead preparing it for private development with a only fraction for social housing. For as little as 5% of the €4 billion of Minister Kelly’s oft-repeated proposed finance for social housing. i.e. €200 million, Dublin City Council could build over 1,300 homes. The struggles of the past are not merely for commemoration, Cieran went on to say, but are for celebration and for continuation, as he concluded to applause.

Caitríona then called on James Carpenter to unveil the plaque, which he did, to loud applause.Walter Carpenter plaque

After relatives and others had taken photos and been photographed in turn by the plaque and/or beside James Carpenter, Joe Mooney called on Diarmuid Breatnach to sing The Felons Of Our Land. Joe explained that Walter Carpenter had been fond of singing that son, that in the course of their participation in the struggle he and his son had also been felons, as had Larkin and many others. Joe also informed the gathering that Sean O’Casey related that during his childhood, there had been a tram conductor who had been fond of singing patriotic songs, including the Felons Of Our Land, of which Casey’s mother had disapproved. It had been an revelation for O’Casey that one could be a Protestant and an Irish patriot too.

Diarmuid, dressed in approximation of period clothing, stepped forward and sang the four verses, of which the final lines are:

Diarmuid Breatnach singing "Felons of Our Land" outside former home of Walter Carpenter. (Photo East Wall History Group)
Diarmuid Breatnach singing “Felons of Our Land” outside former home of Walter Carpenter.
(Photo East Wall History Group)

Let cowards sneer and tyrants frown
O! little do we care–
A felon’s cap’s the noblest crown
An Irish head can wear.
And every Gael in Innisfail
(Who scorns the serf’s vile brand)
From Lee to Boyne would gladly join
The felons of our land.

The crowd then marched back to the Sean O’Casey Centre to attend the launch of the booklet on Carpenter’s life.

Launch of book on Walter Carpenter by his granddaughter and grandson of his comrade

On the stage in the Centre’s theatre, were seated the author of the booklet, Ellen Galvin, alongside Michael O’Brien of O’Brien Press.

Ellen Galvin on stage at the Sean O'Casey Community Centre theatre and Michael O'Brien launching the book about Walter Carpenter. (Photo D.Breatnach)
Ellen Galvin on stage at the Sean O’Casey Community Centre theatre and Michael O’Brien launching the book about Walter Carpenter. (Photo D.Breatnach)

Michael O’Brien, addressing the audience, said he had wondered what qualification he might have to launch the book but on investigation discovered that he had not a few connections. His own grandfather, who was Jewish, had been a founder member of the Tailors, Machinists and Pressers’ Union, of which Carpenter had been the General Secretary until his retirement and so they must have known one another at least fairly well.

Also, Bill O’Brien’s father, Thomas, had been a communist and was active with Walter Carpenter in the Republican Congress in the 1930s. Walter Carpenter and Thomas O’Brien had both also been active in the Bacon Shops’ Strike of the early 1930s. Thomas O’Brien had been jailed during that strike along with Jack Nalty and Dinny Coady, both of whom had East Wall connections; subsequently Thomas went to fight Franco and fascism in Spain, where Nalty and Coady were both killed.

Joe Mooney called on Tommy Seery to sing The Bold Labour Men, a song about the 1913 Lockout written by a local man, which he did to strong applause. (Tommy is a member of the East Wall PEG Drama and Variety Group, in which he acts and also often sings – a recent performance, from which Tommy was unfortunately absent due to illness, may be seen here https://rebelbreeze.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/from-lockout-to-revolution-performance-of-east-wall-peg-drama-variety-group/).

Tommy Seery singing "The Bold Labour Men" about the 1913 Lockout (Photo D.Breatnach)
Tommy Seery singing “The Bold Labour Men” about the 1913 Lockout (Photo D.Breatnach)

Ellen Galvin spoke about Walter Carpenter’s life and his dedication to the advance of the working class and the struggle for justice.  Walter had been a supporter of equality for all, including gender, a man who read much and widely, who apparently learned Irish and campaigned for allotments for rent on Council-owned land while it was unused for housing.  He was against the consumption of alcohol but sympathised with people driven to its use by terrible housing conditions.

Joe then called on Diarmuid Breatnach to sing Be Moderate, written by James Connolly, to illustrate what it was that people like Connolly and those of the Irish Citizen Army fought for and for which some had given their lives. Diarmuid took the stage and explained that the song had been published in New York in 1910, the same year that he had returned to Ireland from the USA. There had been no indication of an air to accompany the lyrics, as a result of which it has been sung to a number of airs. Diarmuid heard it sung in London by an English communist to the air of a Nation Once Again 3 and at least one good thing about this is that it provides a chorus, with which he encouraged the audience to join in. He then sang the song, of which the final lines are:

For workers long, with sighs and tears,
To their oppressors knelt.
But never yet, to aught save fears,
Did heart of tyrant melt.
We need not kneel, our cause is high
Of true hearts 4 there’s no dearth
And our victorious rallying cry
Shall be “We want the Earth!”

Many in the audience joined in on the chorus:
We only want the Earth, 
We only want the Earth,
And our demands most moderate are:
We only want the Earth!

Eamon Carpenter delivered an impromptu tribute to Ellen Galvin, who he told the audience had lost her mother at the age of 13 years of age, from which time she had taken over the mother’s role for her younger siblings, ensuring the were fed, dressed and cared for. This tribute was warmly applauded while Ellen seemed embarrassed but also pleased.

This was another successful commemoration of the revolutionary history and, in particular, of the working class history of their area by the East Wall History Group. It is of great importance that the working class be appraised of their own history as distinct from the dominant historical narratives and that their revolutionary traditions be remembered, not as something dead and in the past but as part of a continuum of struggle for the emancipation of the class.

If there is a weakness in a number of such commemorations it is the lack of participation by local adolescent youth in these events – which may also imply a lack of engagement by this age-group. Nevertheless, should they go searching at some future date for the information and their connection to the history of place and class, they will find a treasure trove waiting for them in the work of this History Group.

Children & Parents left plaque

The East Wall History Group may be contacted or viewed on FB at https://www.facebook.com/eastwallhistory/?fref=ts

Mother & 2 Daughters

Local Photographer Exhibition SOCC


 There exists today an organisation called the Socialist Party of Ireland (which often organises under the banner of the Anti-Austerity Alliance) but it is not directly descended from the party founded in Ireland in 1909; rather it is closer to being an offshoot of the Socialist Party of England and Wales, with which it has close fraternal relations.

The Dublin Metropolitan Police gained particular notoriety for the violence against organised workers on behalf of Dublin employers, especially during the 1913 Lockout, during which they killed a number of workers with their truncheons. In later years, the force became a Dublin police force under the Free State, which was later subsumed into the Garda Síochána, a fact not generally known.

3  Written by Thomas Davis, first published in The Nation, Dublin, 1844.

4  “of true men there’s no dearth” in the original


Heather Humhpreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Heather Humhpreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (now of Arts, Regional Development & Rural Affairs)

Diarmuid Breatnach


Dear Minister Humphreys,

In response to your request that we sort out letters from the public supportive of your work addressed to you or to this Department and forward them to you, I attach them in Appendix below. I apologise for the delay but we have had to deal with quite a volume of correspondence in order to find letters of that nature.

With regard to your request that we categorise and enumerate the letters of a critical nature from the public, that has been easier in some respects but due to volume has unfortunately taken longer; nevertheless here follows the relevant report up to midday yesterday:

Letters disapproving by category and amount:

  • Criticising your plan on Moore Street (to save four buildings and demolish some others): 73
  • Questioning your appointment as Minister for a Department with responsibilities for the Gaeltacht: 9
  • Questioning your appointment of McHugh (non-Irish-speaker) as Minister for the Gaeltacht: 11
  • Questioning your fitness to be a Minister for Heritage: 67
  • Questioning your fitness to be a Minister for Arts: 8
  • Raising two or more of above issues in the same letter: 51
  • Total number of critical letters: 103 (There were in addition a score of critical letters which, while containing comments of a highly personal nature, were difficult to ascribe to a specific category within the ‘critical’ band although they were certainly critical).

May I respectfully enquire whether there has been any progress with the recruitment of additional clerical support, even if on a temporary basis?


Ima Clarke

Secretarial and Statistical Support,
Department of Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht.

Letters approving
of Ministerial Action

Dear Heather,

Don’t let history stand in the way of more shopping centres.
We support you!

Mary Browne-Envelop.

Dear Heather,
History, who needs it! Money makes the world go around – we must grab it while we can.

Phyllis Stein.

Dear Heather,

You should bring out the Army and shoot these campaigners down like our forefathers did in 1922.

Hugh Javarice.


Dear Minister,

It’s not 1916 we should be commemorating but 1922. By God, we showed those Republicans then, didn’t we?

Eva Blushyrt.


Dear Heather,

Please don’t listen to the mob. We agree with you: shopping centres – the more the merrier – are more important than heritage.

Charles Gombeenson.


Dear Minister,

Please continue clearing history to make way for more shopping centres.

Cecilia Showneen.


Dear Heather,

Hold the line! Who runs this country, property speculators and bankers or the common mob?!

Rowena Fumblytill.


Diarmuid Breatnach

Many people know about the Battle of Mount Street and how 15 men fought a force of Sherwood Forresters 1,600 strong and, with the support of some rifle fire from the coastal railway line (and at very long range, from Jacobs Factory), kept them from crossing the Grand Canal for five hours. But what if the British soldiers had been landed at the Dublin docks instead? In fact, why did the British prefer to land them in Dun Laoghaire, seven miles away?

British Soldiers on roof of the Customs House, almost certainly after the 1916 Rising (source Internet)
British Soldiers on roof of the Customs House, almost certainly after the 1916 Rising (source Internet)


It has been historian Hugo McGuinness’ contention for some time that it was the resistance that British troops encountered around the docks and at Ballybough at the beginning of the Rising, coupled with a history of the workers’ resistance of the 1913 Lockout, that convinced the British that it would be a very bad idea to attempt to land troops in the Dublin docks. Hence the choice of Dún Laoghaire and bringing them from there into Dublin along the coast road. From there, unless they took a considerably roundabout route, they would pass by either the Volunteers in Bolands’ Mill or their comrades at the Mount Street and Northumberland Road outposts. And so, the Battle of Mount Street Bridge.

At the start  of the 1916 Rising on the outskirts of the northside Dublin area of Ballybough, the Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army mobilised to prevent British troops approaching from the Musketry School in Fairview or from any other units approaching from that direction. For a number of recent years, the East Wall History Group and historian Hugo McGuinness have been working to acquaint people with the history of the 1916 resistance in this area.  See map of Annesley Bridge area today here: https://www.google.ie/maps/place/Annesley+Bridge,+Dublin/@53.3609037,-6.2409037,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x48670e5ee8f4dad1:0x9d9ebc34b28e0aa4

In 2014, the “1916 Rising: Battle at Annesley Bridge” walking tour organised by the East Wall History Group was a huge success. Led by Hugo McGuinness as guide, it was estimated that almost 200 people took part.

As the East Wall History Group commented in an introduction to eight videos they have put up from the walking tour ( http://eastwallforall.ie/?p=2376 ):

The events at Annesley Bridge in 1916 generally receive only a small mention in the history of the Rising. In fact, there was fierce fighting at the time, not only at the bridge but throughout the surrounding areas. There were a great number of casualties, including civilians, though an exact figure has been difficult to compile. Our walking tour, for the first time, attempted to tell the whole story – from the radicalisation of the local residents in the years previous, to the events on Easter Week 1916 and how sporadic sniper battles continued after the Rising had ‘officially’ ended.

That there was a military engagement at Annesley Bridge was known but it has been generally thought of as a minor skirmish. Hugo McGuinness’s original research along with compilation and examination of references has uncovered a much more important story, one containing a number of armed engagements – and with far-reaching consequences.



On 28th April, a full hall in the Gibson Hotel of mostly North Wall residents received a presentation from historian Hugo McGuinness on “The 1916 Rising: The Fight in the Docklands”, a talk organised by the East Wall History Group. Using an electronic slideshow of photos and maps to illustrate his talk, Hugo took the audience through an amazing story of Irish resistance courage, tragedy, comedy, bungling and initiative, with lots of little vignettes.

Front view of most of the audience at the talk
Front view of most of the audience at the talk (source D.Breatnach)

Of particular impressiveness was the group of Volunteers who ran down a street to engage a detachment of British soldiers from the Musketry School at Dollymount who were heading down East Wall Road towards the docks. The detachment of British soldiers had slipped out of an engagement with a blocking force facing Annesley Bridge. A small group of Volunteers ran down North Dock Road to cut them off and engaged them, stopping their progress. Then there was the Volunteer who put a British machine gun out of action with one shot when he hit the water-cooling mechanism.

Hugo McGuinness speaking beside screen
Hugo McGuinness speaking beside screen  (Photo: D.Breatnach)

(source Internet)

Hugo’s audience were told of the Irish sniper in the docks whom the British nicknamed the ‘trade unionist’ – he took up position around 8am and always finished at 5pm. There was the floating gun platform in the Liffey, not just the Helga. There were no feeding arrangements made for the soldiers sent into Dublin so they looted homes and warehouses.

Many local people were interned in a large goods shed.  Many houses were strafed by machine guns and a number of civilians shot dead – one man later put an empty picture frame on the wall in his hall to surround a pattern of bullet-holes there. A member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police was killed by British troops and his colleague pallbearers were held up for hours at a checkpoint manned by the Dublin Fusiliers – some residual hostility from the Lockout perhaps? Martial law here meant that if you were seen in the area, you were warned and, if seen again, you were shot! If you did not respond to a military challenge you would also be shot. Nevertheless, children hung around the troops and gathered intelligence for the insurgents – but one was killed too.

Just before concluding, Hugo mentioned the research of another historian (whose name I did not catch), showing a rise later in 1916 and in subsequent years of names give to children following some of the better-known participants in the Rising and also a rise in personal names in Irish.

Long Audience back
(source D.Breatnach)

As is often the case with those who are passionate about their subject, Hugo’s presentation was a little overlong, in my opinion and he had to rush the end. The projector threw the bottom part of the image frames, which often contained a separate photo or map, too low, so that one had to stand to see them over the heads of those in front. Those are the only two faults I felt in what was an engaging and engaged presentation of well-researched material about a fascinating but understated part of the history of the 1916 Rising, with a working class and lower middle class flavouring sprinkled throughout.

After the talk, a number of the audience joined the organisers in the bar of the Gibson Hotel where history continued to be discussed. In the foyer to the bar/restaurant, a small exhibition of panels entitled “Casualties and Prisoners” had been set up.

Part of the "Casualties and Prisoners" panel exhibition in the Gibson Hotel
Part of the “Casualties and Prisoners” panel exhibition in the Gibson Hotel (source D.Breatnach)
Part Exhibition 1916 Prisoners
(source D.Breatnach)
Christina Caffrey
(source D.Breatnach)

Inside the bar, the surroundings were plush and out of synch with the area. Although the bar was only moderately busy, the service was very slow; later we were harassed to leave as the bar was closing, although we had been served pints only ten minutes earlier. There was no arguing from the group but a number remarked that they would not be drinking there again.

The refreshments element apart, for which no responsibility lies with the group, this was another very successful event among a number organised by the East Wall History Group. Rumour has it Hugo may have a book coming out soon – I can hardly wait.