Jacob’s Biscuit Factory and the 1916 Rising

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Bishop Street Factory[Update, 24 Nov 2015: Due to data protection reasons, information from Jacob's Biscuit Factory employee records which are less than 100 years old, will  be made available to direct family members only.  All requests regarding individual employees should be sent to cityarchives@dublincity.ie in the first instance. The cataloguing project will be completed by the end of December 2015 and we will start processing the email requests in January 2016.]

As part of its varied programme of activities for the Decade of Commemorations, Dublin City Library and Archive is currently in the process of cataloguing the records of Jacob’s Biscuit Factory which was acquired by Dublin City Archives in 2012.  Here is a sneak preview of some of the records which have thus far been identified which relate to the Easter Rising of 1916 and the occupation of the factory:

SEE IMAGE: Advertisement showing Bishop Street Factory,  Undated ©Valeo Foods, DCLA/JAC/09/241

DCLA/JAC/04/1275 Commemorative Jubilee Booklet

Commemorative Jubilee BookletOn the 50th Anniversary of the Rising in 1966, Jacob’s Factory issued Commemorative Jubilee Booklet which recalled the role of the factory in the Rising:

Jacob's factory gained for itself a unique and historical place in the recorded history of Ireland in being selected by the leaders of the 1916 insurrection as a strong point in the line of active rebellion throughout the city of Dublin. The massive, fortress like factory, with its soaring towers was virtually impregnable. What discussions and decisions among the rebellion leaders led to the seizing of the factory may now never be known, but the quick of fate which led to it has stamped forever the names of Jacob in the pattern of Irish history

(Image ©Valeo Foods. Click to view larger version.)

The booklet was part of an effort by the Company to enhance their public image and to make a contribution to the 1916 Celebration:

"As one of the industries most closely linked with the rising I feel, we will be very obvious if we let the occasion go past without making some sort of effort
(1916 Jubilee- A Report DCLA/JAC/08/08)

DCLA/JAC/04/1290:Witness Statement of Henry Fitzgerald

Henry Fitzgerald and Thomas Orr were the watchman and caretaker respectively who were on duty on the morning of Easter Monday, 24th April 1916. A statement within the collection from Fitzgerald provides a valuable insight into what happened during the nine days in which the factory was occupied. Fitzgerald records on 24th April 1916 he "found volunteers and fitters breaking open the door. The officer in charge , whose name I afterwards found to be Lieut. Colbert, placed his hand on my shoulder and stated, as I was watchman, I was the very person he wanted, and I was to consider myself a prisoner".

On Tuesday, April 25th, Fitzgerald noted that he "was asked to allow myself to be sworn in as a member of the Sinn Féin Volunteer. I stated that I was never a member of any organisation, political or otherwise, and that all I wanted was to be released and allowed to go home to my wife".

On Wednesday, April 26th, a fire alarm bell started ringing at 11pm on Wednesday 26th April, and concerned with the amount of flour in the factory that may be destroyed, Fitzgerald made a request to cut the water off and effect repairs. He notes that he was escorted by Lieut. Sean Colbert to No. 5 sprinkler installation, where he turned the water off.

On the final day of occupation Sunday April 30th, Fitzgerald notes "Lieut. Colbert came and shook hands with Mr. Orr and myself and told us peace was proclaimed. I then asked him where I was to go and he answered by telling me “I might go to hell".

When the whole ordeal had ended Fitzgerald notes that he:

"left the factory, having put over the most anxious week I ever spent of my life. I did not change my clothes once during the week. I scarcely touched any food; on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday there seemed to be plenty of everything, but I felt too sick at heart to take much of anything".

DCLA/JAC/01/015 Company Minute Book (1913-1918)

Company Minute BookThe company minute book recorded the impact of the Rising on business and how order was restored post Easter Week.

As the general day to day running of the factory was interrupted by the occupation of the factory, the Directors:

"decided to pay wages for Monday and Tuesday , May 1st & 2nd, to those employees who were unable to resume work on those days or nights. In part compensation for the loss of wages during the rebellion. This does not apply to any who did not conduct themselves satisfactorily". (11 May 1916)

(Image ©Valeo Foods. Click to view larger version.)

In a document later collated by Charles E. Jacob (c. 1937) on events in the history of W. & R. Jacob & Co. Ltd. he notes that the rebels

"did no damage to machinery fittings but made holes in the walls for strategic purposes and a quantity of rifles and ammunition etc. had to be recovered by the military after the surrender. The populace did some looting on the Saturday afternoon but some of our workers took charge and helped restore order". DCLA/JAC/08/13:

JAC/ Employee Records

Margaret Nolan employee recordFactory employees both participated and were effected by the 1916 Rising and there is evidence of this within individual employee files held in the collection. Tragically Margaret Nolan, employee no. 7 was "shot in the head at door of Berkeley Street Chapel, and died in Mater hospital almost immediately on 25th April 1916 during SF Rebellion." 

A note on Winifred E. Jarmain’s file states that the family was "removed to England after the shock of the SF rebellion" [1916] and Robert Cooper, employee no. 705 "did not return after Easter 1916". Margaret O’Connor, employee no. 158 was "brought under Mr. Dawson's notice for wearing the SF button before the rebellion, suspended for one week pending enquiry."(15 May 1916)

(Image ©Valeo Foods. Click to view larger version.)


W&R Jacob book coverThe cataloguing project is due for completion by the end of 2015. The full collection list will then be available online and researchers will be able to access the original records in our Reading Room.

Further recommended reading is Séamus Ó Maitiú ‘s excellent book W&R Jacob - Celebrating 150 Years of Irish Biscuit Making (Dublin, 2001).

About our Guest Blogger

This article was prepared by Lisa McCarthy, Eneclann, Project Contract Archivist.



Hi Do you have any mention of Lilly Ann Kempson in your records, she was jailed for 14 days for her part in the strike in Jacobs in 1913

Sorry to say, we have searched the records catalogued to date and have found no mention of Lilly Ann Kempson in either the Company Minute Book or HR Records from 1913.

Hello, do you have any mention of Cecilia Rose Conroy (my grandmother) in the employee records etc. She was an employee there and was also part of the Jacobs Garrison during Easter week and is on the roll of honour, and received a medal. Thanks, Fiona

My Grandfather, James Pender was also part of the Jacob's Garrison,his Son Michael
(my Uncle) is still very much alive. If you have any information, I would be grateful, thanks.

Do you have a record of Mary Shackleford also known as Molly Kelly. I would love to know any information you may have.

Many thanks for your enquiry. Please see http://www.dublincity.ie/comment/1880#comment-1880

Re. Information from employee records

Many thanks for your enquiries regarding the Jacob’s Biscuit Factory Employee records. Due to data protection reasons, information from employee records which are less than 100 years old, will  be made available to direct family members only.  All requests regarding individual employees should be sent to cityarchives@dublincity.ie in the first instance.

The cataloguing project will be completed by the end of December 2015 and we will  start processing the email requests in January 2016.

A fasinating project!

Look forward to when all the cataloguing is complete.
Great to see the library archive so active these days.
Keep up the good work. Liam

Dear Friend, my grandfather Denis Byrne fought with the ICA in Easter 1916 (at St.Stephens Green, Littles Public House and at Jacobs until surrender). At the time he was living with his family in Bishop street. Following the WOI Denis married Mary Stapleton and the family lived in the Iveagh Flats. I believe he also worked at Jacobs until his death in 1940. I would be most grateful if you were able to identify any records of his employment.

Also, how might we obtain copies of the 1966 Jubilee booklet?

Very many thanks and warm wishes


who took over the biscuit factory???

Looking forward to seeing posts about Jacobs.

Both parents worked in Jacobs. Nolan and Harold families have a long association with the company. Looking forward to gathering any information available from the archive.

Hi do you have any record of my uncle John Joyce or Christy Joyce ?

Re. Information from employee records

Many thanks for your enquiry. Due to data protection reasons, information from employee records which are less than 100 years old, will  be made available to direct family members only.  All requests regarding individual employees should be sent to cityarchives@dublincity.ie in the first instance.

Hi no they weren't employees they fought in Jacobs factory in 1916 I have the records of it I was just wondering did u have any other information ?? I know John was a quartermaster so he supplied all the rebels with their weapons but that's all we know ?

We do not hold any records on those who fought at the Jacobs Garrison. The best source of information of the actions of those involved with Jacobs Garrison is the Witness Statements of the Bureau of Military History. See www.militaryarchives.ie

Con Colbert was not in Jacob's - he was in Marrowbone Lane.

You are right of course. It should be Sean Colbert not Con Colbert. Many thanks for spotting this and taking the time to let us know, best regards, Gillian

Hi, do you have the names of Margaret Nolan's parents , the lady who was shot in the head at Berkeley Street Chapel in 1916, thanks..

Thanks for your interesting query regarding parents of Margaret Nolan. This information is frequently recorded on the Jacobs personnel records but we have double-checked the original Margaret Nolan file and this information is blank. However as can be seen from the digital image online the year of birth (1888) and her address is recorded, so it should be possible to find out her parent's names using various genealogical resources such as 1901 and 1911 Online Census and www.familysearch.org. You are welcome to call to our reading room if you would like to carry out further research. Please bring photo id with you on your first visit.

Can anyone tell me if Jacobs Mill was ever connected to the railway. Had it a Siding and if so where was it located. Thanks.

My great aunt Christina Crosbie her address was 1 Red Cow Lane Dublin. Worked at Jacobs. In the time of the "1913 Lockout" and during and after "Easter uprising" do you have any records of her?

We're doing some research on this and will contact you directly via your email address.

Hi , Do you have any information on George Henry Holmes 1866-1916 he worked in the Jacobs factory as a clerk in Dublin.

Thanks for the enquiry regarding George Henry Holmes.  Please email your enquiry to cityarchives@dublincity.ie and a member of staff will carry out search for you. View full details on our procedures for accessing employee records:  Jacob's Biscuit Factory Archives.

Do you have any record of James Hamilton my grandad who worked at the factory as a bakers Foreman I have a presentation medal given to him in 1948 for 45yrs service.
His wife Cristina may of also worked there

do you have any information about eamon de valera's role in the easter rising

Hi Lucia, Absolutely, we have loads of information on that topic.
Your best place to start might be to check what books are available in your local library. You can find books on Eamon de Valera in Dublin City Libraries here;

Do you have any records of my Great Grandmother Rosanna Leonard or Rosanna Carroll who worked at the factory around 1914??

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