PLAIN-CLOTHES POLICE OFFICER SHOT DOWN IN DUBLIN STREET

 

Diarmuid Breatnach

He’s up there if you want him …. on the footpath.”

On 14th April 1920, a man in plainclothes was shot by another, also in plain clothes, in Camden Street, Portobello, on the south side of the city and not far from the centre. A passing motorist rushed the gunshot victim to the nearby Meath Hospital but he died there.

The victim was Det. Constable Harry Kells of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, a man of 41 years of age who lived in No. 7 Pleasant Street, i.e very close to where he was shot. He was married without children.

Funeral party of DMP colleagues of Det. Constable Kells, with the coffin holding his remains.
(Source: irishconstabulary.com)

Many reports say that Kells was a member of the DMP “G” Division, which were known as “the political police” (apparently both within the DMP and outside). However, “McRIC” in the irishconstabulary forum states that this is inaccurate and that the man, although recently promoted to plain clothes work, was rather in “B” Division and investigating a number of burglaries in the city.

From a number of investigations carried out it seems that this question may never be resolved but it is highly likely that Kells was at least in the process of being transferred to “G” Division. However, the reason for his killing is almost certainly much more specific. It seems that Kells had been reviewing identity parades in Mountjoy Jail in attempts to find the killers of British intelligence agent Alan Bell, who had been assassinated on the 27th March. While engaged in this work, he had been identified by Peadar Clancy1, Vice-Commandant of the Dublin Brigade of the IRA, who sent a note about him to Michael Collins, who put the execution order on Kells.

It is worth noting that Republican prisoners in Mountjopy had also been taking part in a hunger-strike at that time in protest at removal of political status while detained without trial. Ironically, 90 prisoners were released on the very day Kells was killed.

Peadar Clancy, who got the word out to Collins about Kells working Identification parades in Mountjoy Jail, Dublin. (Image source: Wikpedia)

 

THE LARGEST RAID EVER CARRIED OUT BY BRITISH TROOPS IN DUBLIN

“Aul Decency”, posting on Dublin Forum.ie on 31st March 2012, drawing on April reports in the Irish Times and New York Times, says that the incident “was the cause of the largest raid ever carried out by British Troops in Dublin.”

According to “Aul Decency”: “Two of those sought in connection with Kells’ killing were Sinn Féin members Michael and William Kavanagh who lived at 5 Pleasant St., who had previously been “fingered” by Kells, and it was thought they would seek refuge among friends in the neighbourhood. The troops swarmed over Camden St from Cuffe street and into Portobello and the homes of the local Jews2. Over 100 people were arrested that day but Kells’ killer was not among them.”

Portobello area map today,  Camden Street is a longish one right between the D8 and D2 legends.   Pleasant St. is off Camden St. to the left, near the top of the image. (Source: Internet)

 

This “fingering” had in fact been carried out after the 1916 Rising when Kells reported that the brothers had been seeing changing into Volunteer uniforms in the house, information which had resulted in at least one of the brothers ending up in Frongoch concentration camp that year and losing his job.

It is enough perhaps to know that Kells was killed by Republicans and the probable reason but we can go a bit further, drawing on The Squad by T. Ryle Dwyer (quoted in irishconstabulary.com) where Paddy Daly of the Squad is quoted about the operation to kill the police officer:

On our way we picked up Hugo MacNeill, a nephew of Eoin MacNeill3 the initial President of the Irish Volunteers. He was not a member of the Squad but he asked to come along.

We divided up into patrols of two4, MacNeill was with Joe Leonard. ODaly said he heard a couple of shots, and saw MacNeill sauntering down Pleasant St. as if nothing had happened.

What was the shooting about? O’Daly asked.

Kells is up there if you want him, MacNeill replied.

Where?O’Daly asked.

On the footpath‘, replied MacNeill.

Det. Constable was the third police officer to be killed in Dublin so far in 1920 in a war between the British occupation forces and the IRA, in which not only police officers but intelligence agents and British soldiers on one side were killed and, on the other, Volunteers, active Republicans, sympathisers and uninvolved civilians. Of course the war was going on in many other parts of Ireland but it is often forgotten that among those areas subject to martial-type law were Dublin County and City, where had been the HQ of the British occupation since 1171: Dublin Castle.

 

SOURCES:

 

http://www.dublinforum.net/forum/showthread.php?t=2110&page=3

http://irishconstabulary.com/topic/1477#.WO6mGEvb-_s

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_Irish_War_of_Independence

http://www.irishmedals.org/r-i-c-d-m-p-k-i-a-.html

1Peadar Clancy was one of two Volunteers and one civilian who were tortured by RIC Auxiliaries in Dublin Castle and killed on November 21, 1920 (Bloody Sunday).

2Portobello had a Jewish quarter at that time. Some of the residents are reputed to have been active in the resistance movement and a number had been on strike or locked out in 1913.

3He who had on Easter Saturday 1916 issued the cancellation order for the Rising.

4According to testimonies by Squad members, working in two groups of two was standard procedure. Typically each pair would take one side of the road. Once the assassination was carried out, the two who had not done the killing would cover the escape of the two who had.

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FIVE USA VISITORS IN ONE DAY

Diarmuid Breatnach

On Sunday in Dublin on my travels I conversed (about more than directions) on three different occasions with visitors from the United States and found a wide range of attitudes.

BOSTON, LARKIN AND THE COPS

The first of these was with an elderly couple outside Kilmainham Gaol Museum. The man had “Boston” displayed on his T-shirt and I started talking about Dennis Lehane’s novel “The Given Day”, which is set in Boston and which I had just finished reading. They had read it, really liked it and told me it was the first of a trilogy to which I responded that I would certainly be looking for the follow-ups.

Jim Larkin's "mug shots" when charged with "criminal anarchism" in New York 1919 (he served time in Sing Sing penitentiary). (Photo sourced Internet)

Jim Larkin’s “mug shots” when charged with “criminal anarchism” in New York 1919 (he served time in Sing Sing penitentiary).
(Photo sourced Internet)

I talked about Lehane’s slant towards the cops as opposed to the revolutionaries and how of course my slant would be the other way but that in any case Lehane had not done his research on Larkin, who figures in the novel with other revolutionaries and radicals. Lehane refers to Larkin’s “gin-breath” but Big Jim was well known as a teetotaler, which I explained to them.

Then I talked a bit about the Irish Citizen Army that Larkin had founded with James Connolly and others, how they grew up out of the 1913 Lockout/ Strike and that Larkin had served time in Sing Sing prison later as a punishment for his revolutionary oratory in the USA.

I didn’t get the feeling that I and the two Bostonians were in agreement with my revolutionary sympathies but certainly did when it came to the workers fighting the Lockout in 1913. We parted amicably as they went off to enjoy some more of their holiday.

(Photo sourced Internet)

(Photo sourced Internet)

The Jim Larkin monument in O'Connell Street today/ El monumento de Jim Larkin in la Calle O'Connell hoy en día

The Jim Larkin monument in O’Connell Street today (Photo: D.Breatnach)

Encounter No.2 took place in Cornucopia, into which I had dropped for a cup of coffee.

I took my ‘Americano’ to a vacant table. The one next to me became vacant for awhile and was then occupied by an elderly lady who left her handbag open next to me. I advised her that was an unwise thing to do in Dublin and she remarked. in US accent upon the Leonard Peltier badge that I had been unconsciously wearing all day, so we talked about his case for awhile. She didn’t seem sympathetic to the FBI and expressed horror at the treatment of Peltier, now approaching his 40th year in prison for an act of which he was unjustly convicted.

The lady asked me for advice about literary events in Dublin and as she was, sadly, leaving the day before Culture Night, all I could suggest was a visit to Books Upstairs, where someone might be able to advise her. After I jotted down the address and a rough map for her, I left.

THE DEVIL AND THE TRUMPETTES

It was my intention to attend later that evening the Song Central session, on their first night back after their summer break. Song Central is a monthly gathering of singers and listeners upstairs in Chaplin’s pub, across from the Screen cinema. But I needed to eat first and so headed for a burrito in Pablo Picante, a small place serving Mexican food in Temple Bar (well, at the western end of Fleet Street).

Sitting eating my burrito and facing out into the street, I noticed passers-by pointing at the window and laughing. I could have become paranoid except it was clear that they were pointing to an image painted on the window further to my left. Then a late 30s or early 40s couple who in their style looked kind of to the Left maybe laughed at the image and took photos. The female whipped out a lipstick and wrote something over the painting, then had the man take a photo of her next to what she had written.

Curiosity had me now and after they wandered off, I went outside and saw that the painting on the window was a caricature of US Presidential candidate Donald Trump and underneath it the artist had written in big letters “DIABLO”. Of course, that would be because Trump wants to build a wall along the border with Mexico due to the negative impact he accuses Mexican migrants of having on the US, which Trump wants to “make great again”.  And he has also impugned a US Judge’s ability to rule impartially on his case, due to the judge’s Mexican heritage.

The painting in the window of the Pablo Picante burrito restaurant in Fleet St. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

The painting in the window of the Pablo Picante burrito restaurant in Fleet St.
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

The woman had scrawled something along the lines of “He’s not, we love him” with a heart sign on a part of the painting – clearly far from being Lefties!

I went back inside, got a serviette, came outside and rubbed off her comment, then back inside to continue my assault on the burrito.

Not long after, I was not a little surprised to see the woman and the man standing outside again. She noticed the removal of her comment and commenced to write again. I went to the counter to tell the staff what was going on and returned to find the woman inside, leaning on my jacket on the window shelf and working on rubbing out the painting from the inside!

My challenge on what did she think she was doing elicited the response that Donald Trump was going to be (or might be?) their next President and that the painting was disrespectful. I stood between her and the painting, telling her that we have free speech in this country (which is not strictly true but as the nearest weapon I could reach ….) and just kept repeating it. Then the guy came in and told me I had “no idea”. He kept repeating that and I kept repeating the “free speech” stuff, alert in case he took his case into the physical arena (and he looked fit, too). I also wondered what I would do if instead, it was the woman who attacked me. But they left soon afterwards.

Soon after, a member of staff (Mexican, presumably) went outside and rubbed off her comment, returning with a wry smile.

SINGING THE USA

At the Song Central session later that evening, post-burrito and post Trumpettes, the theme happened to be about the USA, songs from there or about travelling there etc, it being the anniversary of the “9/11” attack on the Twin Towers. If I’d remembered about the theme, I’d have learned the Allende song recorded by Moving Hearts, or brushed up on the lyrics of “Hey Ronnie Reagan” by Christie Moore. Because “9/11” ( in 1973) is also the anniversary of the CIA-instigated military coup in Chile, which over time claimed the lives of 32,000 people.

Interestingly, most of the song contributions during the night that referred to the USA (and most of them did, though people are not obliged to follow the theme), were critical of the US state, whether because of its endemic racism towards blacks and Latinos or its genocide towards the First People, or because of its wars. One song I felt pretty sure would be sung – and it was — was about the firemen on 9/11 running up the stairs of the doomed building while occupants ran down – a powerful song about the heroism of a section of public service emergency workers.

Luckily I could remember some US song material and sang “The Ludlow Massacre” and “How Can I Keep From Singing”, both composed in the US: one written by a revolutionary and the other adapted in the US by a progressive singer.

I had set out that day without remembering the significance of the date for the USA and yet throughout the day had a significant level of engagement with people from the US and, at the end of the day, with the terrible event itself.

End.

Postscript:

On Tuesday, while taking a photo of the Trump caricature in the window to accompany this piece, another US couple began to talk to me.  The man opened with: “The man IS a devil” (referring to Trump).  

I remarked that Trump was not going to get elected but his role would be to make Clinton look good, then she could carry on bombing and invading countries if she got elected, no problem.

The woman told me they didn’t like Clinton either.  They were from Boston and the man and his father before him had been union organisers.  He was complained about the weakness of the unions nowadays.  

We talked about cops breaking strikes in the USA in the 1930s and how the cops themselves went on strike in Boston during that period.  He talked about what the cops are like nowadays against pickets and demonstrations, militarised ….

MARCH FOR MOORE STREET CONSERVATION FOLLOWS FOOTSTEPS OF 1916 RISING

The march called to save “the Revolutionary Quarter” of Moore Street followed the footsteps of the GPO garrison on Easter Monday but, upon reaching the GPO, continued on along the that week’s Saturday surrender route up to the Rotunda.  Wheeling left then, the march proceeded on to the junction with Moore Street, where the British Army had their barricade and machine gun on Friday Easter Week — the cause, along with the sniper in the Rotunda tower, of many deaths and injuries in Moore Street.  The march wheeled left again into Moore Street and proceeded to the rally outside the GPO, where speakers were to address them and artists to perform.

from Save Moore Street 2016 campaign

https://www.facebook.com/SaveMooreStreet2016/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1260539983971351

The Save Moore Street 2016 campaigners and supporters gathered well over an hour before the advertised time outside Liberty Hall where their wardrobe department was busy outfitting people while a steward organised people for photo shoots, leafleting and kept the crowd informed.

By the time the march set off from Liberty Hall it had gathered many, quite a few in period costume and some others joined it along the way. Many had come already dressed in period costume or were decked out by the wardrobe department of the Save Moore Street 2016 campaign and a solid group of them marched behind the new campaign banner.

Longish View March Abbey St Xroads DB megaphone

Section of march crossing to west side O’Connell Street in foreground; section of march in background passing Wynne’s Hotel in Lower Abbey Street. (Photo: )

Others marched behind the original Save Moore Street (from demolition) 2016 banner while others carried banners of some organisations supporting the march: the Cabra 1916 Society, O’Hanrahan Car1ow 1916 Society, Dublin Says No, Munster Anti-Internment Committee, Republican Sinn Féin, Dublin IRSP …..

Led by two people with megaphones and, at times, spontaneously, they shouted: “Save Moore Street from demolition!”

With reference to the Chartered Land and now Hammerson’s huge shopping centre plan for the area, the marchers shouted:

Do we need another shopping centre? No! Do we need our heritage? Yes! Do we need our street market? Yes!” Also, “What do we want? Hammerson out! When do we want it? Now!”

Other slogans included: “Our history! Our heritage! Our street! Our Rising!”

Moor St March passing 1916 Bus Tour.jpeg

Amy and Josh youth supporters flank a march steward as the march passes one of the many kinds of 1916 tours being run in the city this year. (Photo: B.Hoppenbrouwers)

Amy Alan Josh leading OConnell StUp Lower Abbey Street the marchers went, in the footsteps of the GPO Garrison on that Easter Monday morning, past Wynne’s Hotel where Cumann na mBan had been formed in 1913, past the former Hibernia Bank on the corner of Abbey and O’Connell Street, where Volunteers fought and where Irish Volunteer Captain Thomas Weafer, from Enniscorthy was killed and his body consumed by the flames caused along the street by British shelling.

Turning into O’Connell Street, the marchers passed the location of Bloody Sunday 1913 when, after Jim Larkin defied a court ban to speak, the Dublin Metropolitan Police ran riot beating Lockout strikers and onlookers down to the ground with their truncheons.

COUNCILLORS, TDs, PROMINENT CAMPAIGNERS, ARTISTS AND HISTORIANS MARCHING

A number of elected representatives supported the march: seen in the crowd were Dublin City Councillors Cieran Perry, Pat Dunne, Anthony Conaghy and former Mayor Críona Ní Dhálaigh, also TDs Joan Collins and Maureen O’Sullivan.

OSullivan Johnsons Ballagh Cooney

Section of the march in upper O’Connell Street, heading northwards, showing prominent supporters TD Maureen O’Sullivan in foreground and Robert Ballagh in middle section, flanked by Patrick Cooney, one of the founders of the 1916 relatives’ campaign Save Moore Street.

Among the artistic and dramatic sector whose participation was noted were artist and activist Robert Ballagh, drama director Frank Allen (who also organised the first Arms Around Moore Street event in 2009 — and has the T-shirt to prove it!), Brendan O’Neill — also an actor and long-time campaigner — and actor Ger O’Leary.

Relatives of prominent fighters in 1916 also participated and Jim Connolly Heron, great-grandson of James Connolly and among the earliest campaigners for Moore Street and Donna Cooney, great-grandniece of Elizabeth O’Farrell, who went out into the killing zone to organise the surrender, were both noted marching. Patrick Cooney, also of the specific 1916 relatives’ group that brought the legal challenge to the High Court marched along too and spoke from the platform at the rally. Gabriel Brady, grand-nephew of the printer of the 1916 Proclamation, Christopher Brady, was there too, as was Eoin Mac Lochlainn, a relative of the Pearse brothers and a relative of Seán Mac Diarmada was also present and in fact helped carry one of the SMS2016 banners.

A number of historians walked among the marchers, including Ruan O’Donnell, Dónal Fallon, Ray Bateson, Hugo McGuinness, along with local history activists such as Joe Mooney (of East Wall History Group) and Terry Fagan (of North Dublin Inner City Folklore Project). Ciarán Murphy, joint blogger and joint author with Dónal Fallon of the Come Here To Me publication marched along too. From the non-history world of academia, Paul Horan, lecturer of Trinity College (and who wrote the letter published in the Irish Independent on July 2nd denouncing the Minister of Heritage appealing the Barrett High Court judgement that the whole Moore Street quarter is a national monument) marched in period costume too.

THE SURRENDER ROUTE

Passing the General Post Office, the marchers continued along the route of the GPO/ Moore Street Garrison as they surrendered on the Saturday of Easter Week, up to the Gresham, where they laid down their weapons and on to the Rotunda, in the garden of which many had been kept for two days without food or water, while detectives of G Division from Dublin Castle came down to identify prisoners for execution. On the way the marchers passed the Parnell Monument, where British officers had displayed the battle-damaged “Irish Republic” flag upside down as a trophy for a photographer.

On this Saturday in 2016, volunteers (some in costume) accompanied the marchers along the route, handing out leaflets, which were eagerly taken by onlookers, while others – all in costume — collected donations along the way, distributing stickers in exchange. Well in excess of five hundred leaflets were distributed in the period of the short march.

SILENCE IN MOORE STREET

Minute Silence Moore St 9 July2016 T Byrne

The march stopped in Moore Street for a minute’s silence. (The building to the left is a section of the ILAC shopping centre; to the right may be seen a section of the hoarding in front of five buildings in the ‘1916 Terrace’ and the banner illegally placed on four of those houses (declared a ‘national monument’ since 2007) by the Department of Arts, Gaeltacht and Heritage.

Turning into and a little along Moore Street, the marchers were called to stop for a minute’s silence out of respect for the Irish Volunteers, Citizen Army and civilians who had been shot down in that street by British Army guns, for the six who had been shot by firing squad after they surrendered and for those who had risked their lives in an uprising against the biggest empire the world has ever seen.

All sound in the street died: marchers, street traders, bystanders, shoppers — all stood silent in a street which would otherwise be filled with the noise of a street market and busy shopping thoroughfare on a Saturday afternoon.

At the conclusion of the minute’s silence, the march recommenced, calling its demands with renewed vigour, out into Henry Street, right to O’Connell Street to form up for the rally by the stage in front of the GPO.

SPEAKERS AND PERFORMERS

The rapper Temper-Mental MissElayneous (Elaine Harrington) from Finglas was the first on the stage and performed her “Fakes and Manners” and “Buachaillí Dána” raps but continuous problems with the sound amplification at this stage of the rally meant much of what she was saying could not reach the audience (fortunately this was amended later).

Elayne Harrington torso stage

Rapper Temper-Mental MissElayneous (Elayne Harrington) from Finglas performing with bodhrán

Niamh McDonald, chairing the rally, welcomed the crowd and said that the campaign to save the Moore Street quarter was at a crossroads; developments had brought Irish property developers and the State into opposition to the appropriate conservation of the quarter but also now foreign vulture capitalists. “Save Moore Street 2016 will do what it takes to defend this historic quarter” she said, reiterating three basic demands of the campaign:

  • That a full independent expert assessment be carried out of the battlefield area

  • that all construction or remedial work be accessible to expert independent monitoring and

  • that the whole process by transparent to the public.

It was time for the campaign now to take the fight to the speculators and the next in a series of monthly events would be a demonstration against Hammerson themselves, McDonald told the rally.

Niamh Speaking, DB, Donal Fallon

Niamh McDonald, chairing the rally and speaking on behalf of Save Moore Street 2016 addressing the rally as one of the march stewards (in period costume) holds the megaphone for her. (Photo: )

The first speaker was then announced, historian and author Ruan O’Donnell, who reminded the rally that the Government of the time had been prepared to demolish Kilmainham Jail. The site had languished until volunteers took up the work of restoring it as a museum and now it is so successful that one has to queue to gain access to it.

Ruan O'Donnell speaking

Ruan O’Donnell, historian, lecturer and author addressing the rally. (Photo: )

O’Donnell castigated the attitude and thinking of successive Irish governments and pointed out that the GPO and Moore Street are sites of crucial importance in the struggle of the Irish people for nationhood.

O’Donnell’s speech, as did McDonald’s, received cheering and applause a number of times during their course as well as at the end.

Dónal Fallon, also author and historian, then stepped up to address the rally and also denounced the Gombeen state that had followed the struggle for independence, in which property speculators grew fat while the people suffer in a housing crisis.

Donal Fallon speaking

Donal Fallon, blogger, author & historian addressing the rally. (Photo: )

He reminded the rally of the struggle to save the Viking archaelogical site at Wood Quay and how, with Dublin City Council building over it, the writer and author of Strumpet City, James Plunkett, had said that Dublin had “shamed itself before the world.” Fallon said that Dublin needs to redeem itself and will do so in the struggle to save the Moore Street quarter.

Patrick Cooney (of the relatives’ group that took the High Court challenge against the Minister of Heritage) was then introduced and spoke of the recent Appeal Court appearance where the Minister’s team had been castigated by a Judge who insisted they had to specify against which part of Judge Barrett’s judgement they were appealing – her Department could not take a blanket position and say that they were against it all (SMS2016 comment: indeed, part of the judgement was that the banner erected on Nos.14-17 had been erected illegally, and the Minister has already stated that work would commence to remove it and to fill in the holes the builders put into the face of those buildings in order to fix the banner there). Cooney welcomed the announcement that the appeal would not be heard until December 2017, saying that this would give time for more pressure and perhaps a change of government.

Cooney also spoke of the long struggle to have the importance of the site acknowledged and to save it from property speculators and in passing also paid tribute to those who had occupied the building in January of this year.

Sean Doyle speaking

Sean Doyle, in period costume, addressing the rally. (Photo: )

Last to speak was Seán Doyle, speaking on behalf of the Save Moore Street 2016 campaign. Seán questioned whether we were worthy of the inheritance which had been bestowed upon us.

Referring to speculators and their facilitators, Doyle concluded by saying that “men in suits can be more dangerous than men in armour”.

All those speeches were enthusiastically applauded.

By this time the technical problems of the sound amplification had been overcome with the assistance of a member of the audience and Paul O’Toole stepped up to the microphone. He recalled that the best stage he had ever performed upon had been a couple of pallets drawn up in front of No.16 Moore Street in order to play at a rallying event there.

Paul O'Toole performing

Paul O’Toole playing and singing during the rally. (Photo: )

He then sang and played “The Foggy Dew” and “The Cry of the Morning”, followed by his own composition “We Will Not Lie Down”. The event could not end without Temper-Mental MissElayneous being given an opportunity to perform with the sound amplification in full working order and she launched into her “Fakes and Manners” rap.

The crowd having applauded the performers, everyone was thanked for contributing to the event, banners were rolled up and costumes packed back into cases.  Some people stood around chatting while the lorry that had provided the stage pulled out into the traffic, one of the organisers gave a radio interview to Newstalk and MissElayneous, on a roll now, performed for a small audience and video camera with the GPO as a background.

Across the road, outside the GPO, to which it relocated after some of its activists went to participate in the march, having earlier completed its 94th Saturday on Moore Street through which it has collected more than 50,000 signatures in support of Moore Street, the Save Moore Street From Demolition campaign table was also wrapping up.

And, despite threatening sky and pessimistic forecasts – it hadn’t rained once.

end

SPEECH BY SAVE MOORE STREET FROM DEMOLITION REPRESENTATIVE AT RALLY AFTER MARCH 30th JANUARY 2016

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.

TERRACE AND SITE

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 ….

BRICKS AND MORTAR

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.

SPECULATORS

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.

CAPITALIST 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.

THE CENTENARY & IDEALS

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,

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,

tyrants,

hypocrites,

liars!

End.

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)

WORKING CLASS HERO IS COMMEMORATED IN THE EAST WALL AREA WHERE HE LIVED

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

CONTACTS
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

FOOTNOTES

 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

THE 1916 RISING — THE FIGHT IN THE DUBLIN DOCKS

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)

THE FIGHTING IN THE NORTHSIDE DOCKLANDS

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.

 

THE RECENT PRESENTATION

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.

 

end

FROM LOCKOUT TO REVOLUTION — PERFORMANCE OF EAST WALL PEG DRAMA & VARIETY GROUP

“From the Lockout to Revolution”, performance of the East Wall PEG Drama & Variety Group at City Hall on April 9th 2016. This was part of a program of events organised in conjunction with the Cabra 1916 Rising Committee and Dublin City Council.

 

At the outset of the Easter Rising, City Hall was occupied by a detachment of the Irish Citizen Army and was the location of fierce fighting until the insurgents were forced to surrender.  Their commanding officer and another three fighters were killed there.

( Video produced and edited by Eoin McDonnell )

East Wall PEG Drama & Variety Group performers: Rebecca Dillon, Mary Colmey, Monica Horan, Paul Horan, Colm Meehan, Séamus Murphy, Tréasa Woods, with Diarmuid Breatnach.