During the Easter Rising of 1916 many Dublin residents, caught in the middle of the fighting, recorded their experiences in diaries and journals. Herbert Victor Fleming and Nora Marion Fitzpatrick were among those to do so. Fleming, a store manager, and Fitzpatrick, a V.A.D. nurse, were both loyal to England and regarded the Sinn Féin Rebels as traitors and the enemy. Their vivid descriptions of destruction and survival remain captured in their diaries for generations to come.
Image: Page 1 of Nora Marion Fitzpatrick's 1916 Diary
Herbert Fleming’s Diary excerpt:
"All the roads covered with dead and dying horses and wounded people... I then tried to get home but cannot. The bridges into the city held by Rebels."
Fleming’s diary expresses his shock and fear as he struggles to survive as a civilian living in a warzone. On the constant search for food and news, Fleming is forced to leave the confines of his home and risks a volley of bullets each time he goes out. He makes daring trips through Dublin with the hopes of securing a meal for his family and friends. Fleming’s diary reveals the terror of a civilian whose world is turned upside down and into chaos as he worries about the safety of his loved ones and mourns the loss of a dear friend.
Herbert Fleming’s Diary excerpt:
"Rebels evidently trying to escape or get into the city. A boom of cannons up the mountains. City all in darkness except for the flames. As we stood in the road the bullets whining over and in front of our heads. We don't mind them now and you can hear soldiers shooting back."
Nora Fitzpatrick, a Red Cross nurse, quickly offered up her services to those in need. Nora and her sister Jeannie, who was also a nurse, were soon put to work by the military. The two sisters were constantly at work. They took wounded soldiers into their own home, and provided intelligence to the British troops. They spent days without sleeping and bathing, and had little to eat as well. Fitzpatrick’s account describes her interactions with the military, rebels, and civilians alike. Her status as a Red Cross nurse earned her access to places and people that were off limits to ordinary citizens.
Taken together, both Fleming’s and Fitzpatrick’s diaries highlight a number of similar themes. Both diarists battled hunger and extreme danger during the course of the rebellion. Interestingly enough, while the horrors of battle were at first frightening, both authors soon became used to the danger and carnage. Indeed, as Nora Fitzpatrick concluded her account, ‘after the first ‘baptism by fire’, one does not mind the bullets whizzing round.’
Both diaries were donated to Dublin City Library and Archive. Nora Fitzpatrick’s diary (Ms 190) was donated by John Braga, great nephew of Nora and Jeannie [b13389786]. Herbert Fleming’s diary was donated by Joe Connell [b27173239].
page 1 and 53 of Victor Fleming's 1916 diary, and Page 1 and 26 of Nora Fitzpatrick's 1916 diary:
About our Guest Blogger
This blog was put together by Kaitlin Marie Owczarski, undergraduate at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA; History major, class of 2017. Kaitlin interned at the Dublin City Library and Archive through the EUSA internship program.