Dublin Remembers 1916

Dublin City’s Second Chief Librarian and the Rising

Paddy StephensonA native of Dublin’s north inner city, ‘Paddy’ Stephenson (known to his family as ‘Paddy Joe’) was educated by the Christian Brothers at the O'Connell School, North Richmond Street.   By late 1911, he sat and achieved second place in the Dublin libraries examination, in line with the system then in place of recruiting the ‘best and brightest’ sixteen year old boys as library assistants.  By January 1912 he began his long and distinguished career in the city’s public libraries, assigned initially to the Thomas Street branch; by 1950 he achieved the top post as the city’s second Chief Librarian, succeeding Róisín Walsh.

Image: Patrick Joseph Stephenson (1895 - 1960). Image courtesy of Jimmy Stephenson, grandson of Paddy Stephenson.

Dublin City’s first Chief Librarian and the Rising

Róisín WalshA native of the Clogher Valley in Co. Tyrone, Róisín Walsh was born into a staunchly nationalist, Catholic family on 24th March 1889.  Walsh was a brilliant linguist and gifted scholar and received the best education then available to females.  She went on to become a teacher (she later switched career to librarian).  By 1914, due to the outbreak of the Great War, she had returned to Ireland from a teaching post in Germany.  From that time she was based in Belfast as a lecturer in Irish and English at St. Mary’s Training College (then a primary school teacher training college for Catholic women).

Image: Róisín Walsh (1889 - 1949)

The Capel Street Librarian and the 1916 Rising

Tommy GayA native of Dublin’s inner city, 'Tommy' Gay was educated at Synge Street CBS. His early life coincided with the political and cultural revival of the late nineteenth century and he became very active in a range of sporting and cultural organisations, including the GAA and the Gaelic League.  A keen sportsman, he was a member of the Croke Gaelic Club where he became an accomplished hurler and was also a founder member of the Dublin Camogie Club.

Right: Thomas E. Gay (1884-1953)

As Gay himself later explained it, these organisations ‘gave impetus and new life to the revolutionary movement’.  He started in the Corporation libraries as a library assistant at the then newly-opened Charleville Mall Library in line with the practice of recruiting 16 year old boys.  By April 1916 he was already a mature 32-year-old man, established in his career as Capel Street Head Librarian and engaged to be married.

Elizabeth O’Farrell and the 1916 Proclamation

1916 ProclamationDublin City Council holds an original 1916 Proclamation which belonged to Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell and was kindly donated by her family.  This Proclamation has been conserved and is now on display in The Story of the Capital exhibition at City Hall. To commemorate the family’s generosity, Dublin City Council held a seminar in the Council Chamber at City Hall on Monday 25 April 2016. We've recorded all three talks so you can listen back here if you missed this special event commemorating one of Ireland's most important documents and a truly remarkable woman.

A Poem for Ireland: The Golden Years of the Emerald Isle

A Poem for Ireland logoThanks to Róisín Finnegan who has given us permission to publish her winning entry in the national competition ‘A poem for Ireland’, which was part of the commemoration events for Ireland 2016. Róisín's poem shows a vivid and mature voice significant in this commemorative year.  We see Róisín Dubh, an ancient figure moving about in modern day Ireland.  There are elements of nostalgic patriotism mixed with modern references in a gentle and natural order which are all the more lovely as they are inspired by a teenager in 2016.

Read the poem in full:

My Area in 1916, Mo Cheantar agus 1916

My Area in 1916This new publication looks at 1916 in central Dublin, an area which formed the backbone of the 1916 Rising. We know that many of the men and women who fought in the 1916 Rising were from the north inner-city area with 287 of those who fought in the GPO alone hailing from this part of the city. The book is a collaboration between six secondary schools in the Dublin Central area and was coordinated by project historian Donal Fallon and Dublin City Public Libraries. It draws on original research by students on the 1916 Rising in their area.

Image: Book cover showing Margaret Skinnider by Shauna Delahunty, Mount Carmel

Dublin City Council and the 1916 Rising

DCC & the 1916 RisingDublin City Council had a strong connection to the 1916 Rising through the involvement of elected members and Dublin Corporation employees, while the City Hall was a garrison building, held by the Irish Citizen Army. A new book, Dublin City Council and the 1916 Rising, published on 9 May, is the first detailed study of the impact of Dublin City Council on the 1916 Rising and in turn its effect on the council. The thirteen essays in this book, researched and written by experts in their field, explore the events and strategies leading into and following the Rising as it concerned the City Council.

The book features biographies of 151 persons who were involved in the Rising and were either employed by the Council at the time, or subsequently. This wide-ranging book is essential for a complete understanding of the Rising.

Dublin Burning: the Easter Rising and its consequences

Sackville Street in ruinsAs part of Dublin Remembers 1916, Dr Brian Hanley presented a lecture series which examined in detail the lead up to the Rising, what really happened over those momentous days and its impact on future generations.
Image: Corner of Sackville Street (O'Connell Street) and Eden Quay. Postcard from the Birth of the Republic Collection at Dublin City Library & Archive.

Dr Brian Hanley is a historian and author. His publications include The IRA : a documentary history 1916-2005 (2015), The lost revolution : the story of the official IRA and the workers' party (2009) and A Guide to Irish Military Heritage (2004).

Monica Roberts' 1916 Diary

Monica RobertsOver Easter weekend we tweeted quotes from Monica Roberts' 1916 Diary, which provides a unique eyewitness account of the Rising including details of how it impacted on daily life (view tweets below).  Monica Roberts was a young woman living in Stillorgan, Co. Dublin. She set up a voluntary organization, ‘The Band of Helpers to the Soldiers’ to provide gifts for Irish troops at the front, particularly those serving with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and the Royal Flying Corps. The Monica Roberts Collection is fully digitised and searchable online at databases.dublincity.ie/monicaroberts

Elsie McDermid's Easter 1916 Letter

Elsie McDermidOver Easter Weekend 2016 we tweeted quotes from Elsie McDermid's 1916 letter to coincide with the 1916 centenary (view the tweets below). Elsie McDermid's letter to her mother provides a unique eye-witness account to the 1916 Rising. Elsie McDermid was a popular English opera singer who visited Dublin to perform in Gilbert and Sullivan shows at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. However, the performances were cancelled as a result of the dramatic outbreak of the Rising on Monday 24th April 1916.

Read more about Elsie McDermid's letter and read the letter in its entirety.