Citizens in Conflict (series)

Sinead de Valera

The Emerald Ring by Sinead de ValeraJane Flanagan was from Munster Street in Phibsborough. Born in 1878, she remembered as a young girl following the cortege of Charles Stewart Parnell to Glasnevin. Flanagan’s family had moved to Phibsborough from Balbriggan when her father Laurence, a carpenter, had worked on the refurbishment of St. Peter’s Church. While she was working as teacher at St. Francis Xavier’s school near Dorset Street during 1899 Jane joined the Gaelic League. Thereafter she used the first name ‘Sinead.’

The Emerald Ring by Sinead de Valera.

Flanagan joined Inghínidhe na hÉireann, one of the first nationalist women’s organizations. She also acted in Irish language plays and taught the language to beginners, among them Seán T. O’Kelly, Ernest Blythe and Eamon de Valera. She met de Valera in 1909 and they spent that summer at an Irish college in Co. Mayo. They married in January 1910. By 1916 they had three children and were living in Morehampton Road. <--break->

Tipping off de Valera

de ValeraEamon de Valera was one of the republican prisoners who arrived back in Dublin to a tumultuous welcome on 21 June 1917. Already popularly known as one of the most senior veterans of the Rising, he became a nationwide personality when elected as MP for East Clare on 10 July 1917. At this point de Valera was living in Phibsborough, at the family home of his wife Sinead.

Image: "Irish Rebellion, May 1916. Ed. de Valera (Commandant of the Ringsend Area) Sentenced to Death; sentence commuted to Penal Servitude for life." (see larger version)

'Some good angel'

Strike in Lewes JailHarry Boland, a tailor, originally from Phibsborough, but living in Clontarf was 30 years of age in 1917. He had been prominent in the GAA as a member of the Dublin hurling team and county chairman and was a member of the IRB and the Irish Volunteers. During Easter Week he fought in the GPO and was sentenced to ten years in prison for his role in the Rising. Boland spent the early part of his sentence in Dartmoor alongside Eamon de Valera, Thomas Ashe and Eoin MacNeill. In the spring of 1917 the prisoners were moved to Lewes jail in Sussex. There the authorities tried to clamp down on the increasingly confident republicans who refused to do prison work or obey instructions unless they were treated as soldiers. After several confrontations on 5 June the prisoners were dispersed to other locations. Boland was among those sent to Maidstone.

Alfie Byrne MP

Citizens in ConflictCitizens in Conflict #8. In 1916 the Dublin Harbour constituency was represented at Westminster by Alfred (Alfie) Byrne MP.  Dublin Harbour contained Mountjoy Ward, North Dock Ward, Rotunda Ward, (except a portion in the College Green constituency) and the portion of South Dock ward north of a line drawn along the centre of Great Brunswick Street. It also included the portion of Trinity Ward lying north of a line drawn along the centre of Great Brunswick street and the towns of Ringsend and Irishtown as well as sections of Beggar’s Bush. About 8,000 men had the vote in the constituency.

The British Army in Easter Week

Citizens in ConflictCitizens in Conflict #7. On paper there were nearly 3,000 British troops in Dublin on Easter Monday. But in reality the authorities were not prepared for immediate action. On Easter Sunday, only 400 British troops in Dublin were in ‘immediate readiness’ for action; 100 at each main barracks and a guard of six at Dublin Castle. Many officers were at the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse, while the commander of forces in Ireland, Major-General Friend, in London. His deputy Colonel H.V. Cowan, had a total of 2,385 men available, including those at races or on a day’s leave.

Apart from 6th Cavalry Reserve regiment at Marlborough Barracks, every unit in the city was part of an Irish regiment. The 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment was at Richmond Barracks, the 10th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers at the Royal Barracks, 3rd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles at Portobello Barracks. It was the 5th Royal Irish Lancers from Marlborough Barracks shot at in O’Connell Street.

After the Rising: A Nightime Visit

Citizens in ConflictCitizens in Conflict #6. In the hugely successful movie Michael Collins, directed by Neil Jordan, Collin’s man in the police, Ned Broy, gives him access to the secret files of Dublin Castle. Broy did indeed secure access for Collins to secret archives, but this was in Great Brunswick Street police station rather than Dublin Castle. Here's Broy's account from the Bureau of Military History Witness Statements:

‘After the Rising, an enormous mass of Sinn Féin literature was captured by the military and police from meeting places and homes of Volunteers for weeks after the Rising was over. All this literature, maps, etc., were stored in the Brunswick St. Detective Office. When the Volunteers began to reorganise in 1917, I gradually returned to them samples or copies of all documents, maps and publications which had been captured, which were of some help to them in picking up the treads of their organisation again.’

Inghínídhe na hÉireann

Citizens in ConflictCitizens in Conflict #5. One of the most significant radical women's organisations in the pre-1916 period was Inghínídhe na hÉireann, (Daughters of Ireland) founded around 1900. Many of those who would come to prominence in Cumann na mBan, the Irish Citizens Army or in politics more generally had been members of the Inghínídhe. These included Maud Gonne, Helena Molony, Jenny Wyse Power, Máire Nic Shiubhlaigh and Marie Perolz.

3rd Battalion actions during Easter Week 1916

Citizens in ConflictCitizens in Conflict #4. The area in which the 3rd Battalion was to operate was a very large one and far more men were expected to be available then turned out to be the case.

Battalion Commander: Éamon de Valera.

Strength: Approximately 170 officers and men.

Positions Held: Boland’s Bakery, Boland’s Mills, close by, the Dock Milling Company's Premises and adjoining the latter the Railway Locomotive Works, Barrow Street, the Dispensary, Clanwilliam House with its outposts at 25 Northumberland Road, the Parochial Hall, and Carrisbrooke House, Westland Row Railway Station, Railway Level Crossing at Lansdowne Road, builders' yard alongside Clanwilliam House, Horan’s Fort at the corner of Haddington Road and South Lotts Road, the railway line was held at many points between Westland Row Station and the Level Crossing, Guinness' Stores, many other stores and warehouses clustering round the docks and manned by snipers.

From the GPO to the Western Front

Citizens in ConflictCitizens in Conflict #3. In 1914 thousands of Irishmen joined the British Army to fight in the Great War. They were motivated by a variety of reasons, some encouraged by their political leaders, others out of economic necessity. The huge casualties suffered in the first two years of the war greatly dampened enthusiasm for volunteering. By 1916 recruitment was slowing to a trickle and many would assume that the Easter Rising killed it off. But there are at least four intriguing cases of men who fought as Irish Volunteers in 1916 and who then subsequently joined the British forces and fought in the Great War.

The 'GRs'

Citizens in ConflictCitizens in Conflict #2. A controversial incident occurred on Easter Monday at Beggars Bush. The 1st Dublin Battalion Associated Volunteer Training Corps were part-time reservists, many of them middle-aged professionals. The ‘Gorgeous Wrecks’ as they were nicknamed wore civilian clothes and an armband emblazoned ‘GR’ (Georgius Rex).

On Easter Monday they were on exercises in the Wicklow Hills, heard about the rebellion and marched back to depot at Beggar's Bush in two columns. They came under fire on Northumberland Road and suffered four killed and several wounded. A larger column, nearly 100 strong managed to get to the barracks and eventually engage the rebels. It was widely believed that the GRs had either no weapons or rifles with no ammunition. Among Dublin's loyalist population it was asserted that 'They made no demonstration against the rebels, and were shot down without any warning.'