Last May, I was delighted to attend the Dublin launch of a book entitled 'Essays by an Irish Rebel: revolution, politics and culture' by Liam Ó Briain. A very enjoyable read, the book features twenty-five essays by the Dublin academic and revolutionary Liam Ó Briain (1888-1974), all of which were published in Irish from 1934 to 1968, as well as three appreciations of the author.All have now been edited and translated into English by Eoin Ó Dochartaigh, a retired doctor from Galway who graduated from University College Galway (now NUI Galway) and knew Ó Briain as a family friend.Above: Eoin Ó Dochartaigh speaking at the launch of his edited book 'Essays by an Irish Rebel: revolution, politics and culture', at the Mansion House in May 2019.The launch inspired me to read 'Insurrection Memories 1916', a complimentary volume described by historian Owen Dudley-Edwards as ‘a rich memory of a great man’. This personal account of the Easter Rising was first published in Irish in 1951 as 'Cuimhní Cinn'. In 2014 Fran O’Brien, the author’s grand-niece, translated the work into English and published it as a bilingual volume. Two years later, to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising, Ó Dochartaigh then brought out a new translation. Like 'Essays by an Irish Rebel', this was published by Ardcrú Books in Galway.Above: Undated postcard showing the entrance to St. Stephen's Green Park. Courtesy of Dublin City Library & Archive. [PCV04-90] Access over 40,000 images and postcards in the Dublin City Libraries and Archive Digital Repositary .'Insurrection Memories 1916' is an intimate account of what Liam Ó Briain observed while participating in the Easter Rising. The book begins in 1914, with Ó Briain returning to Ireland after spending three years studying on the continent (mostly Germany). Joining the Irish Volunteers, Ó Briain also became a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood the following year and went on to take part in the Easter Rising. As a member of F. Company of the First Battalion of the Volunteers, Ó Briain had been scheduled to join the Four Courts garrison under the command of Ned Daly. However, after getting waylaid carrying out messages for Eoin MacNeill on the morning of Easter Monday, he found himself instead spontaneously joining the Stephen’s Green garrison with his friend Harry Nicholls.During the Rising Ó Briain impressed Captain Bob de Couer of the Irish Citizen Army enough to be promoted to the rank of Corporal. Afterwards he was among those imprisoned in Wandsworth Common prison in London until late June, and Frongoch Camp in North Wales until Christmas 1916 (which he later described as ‘the best university’ he ever attended). Ó Briain stood as a Sinn Fein candidate in Armagh during the 1918 General Election and was imprisoned in Galway during the War of Independence. A native of Dublin, he would go on to serve as Professor of Romance Languages at University College Galway from 1918 to 1959.Above: Photograph of the College of Surgeons taken after the Easter Rising to show 'where Countess Markievicz surrendered'. Courtesy of Dublin City Library & Archive. [BOR F34-18]Blog Post by: Dr. James Curry, Historian in Residence, North West Area.
This week I have had the great pleasure of visiting Massachusetts and presenting a paper at the annual national meeting of the American Conference for Irish Studies held in Boston. It was my second time attending such a gathering, having also presented a paper on Dublin poet Maeve Cavanagh MacDowell two years ago, when ACIS met in Kansas City, Missouri. This time around I spoke about the life of Dora Maguire, another woman who happened to be profiled in R. M. Fox’s 1935 book of essays Rebel Irishwomen.Whereas the likes of Maud Gonne and Countess Markievicz became legends in their own lifetimes, Dora Maguire (1889-1931) was perhaps the most obscure of Fox’s dozen ‘Rebel Irishwomen’. A friend of the author, she died aged forty-one in February 1931 after years of ill-health. During my paper I spoke about Maguire’s upbringing in England and the north of Ireland, time spent in Blackburn and London during the First World War (when she worked as a nurse and developed suppressed diphtheria and tuberculosis), decision to move to Ireland around the time of the War of Independence, and employment at St. Ultan’s Children’s Hospital in Ranelagh during the 1920s.I then focused at length on her arrest in 1925 over an incident at the Princess Cinema in Rathmines. Evolving into an ardent republican during her adulthood, Maguire was indignant at the time about the screening across Dublin of short films concerning the Prince of Wales’ recent dominion tour of South Africa. Entering the “Prinner” – as the Princess Cinema was known to locals – on 6th August 1925 with an inkpot hidden on her person, Maguire stood up and hurled her makeshift missile over the heads of the theatre orchestra as soon as the offending picture was shown, causing considerable damage to the screen and generating newspaper headlines.Surviving foyer plaque from the Princess Cinema, the scene of Dora Maguire's arrest in August 1925. Known locally as "The Prinner", the cinema closed its doors in 1960 and was demolished in 1982 (Photograph courtesy of Carol Dunne, Dublin City Libraries).This incident is the focus of The Spirit of Dora Maguire, an historical comic strip by Dublin artist Aidan J Collins. Some artwork from this creation, which came about in 2018 following a talk I gave in Dublin on Maguire’s life the previous year, can be seen below:Blueprint still from an animated video by Aidan J Collins. This is based on one of the panels from his 2018 historical comic strip The Spirit of Dora Maguire (Courtesy of Aidan J Collins).On Monday 20th May 2019 I will be teaming up with Maeve Casserly (Historian in Residence, South East Area) for a joint talk about Dora Maguire and St. Ultan’s Children’s Hospital at Rathmines Public Library. The event starts at 6:30pm and all are welcome to attend.Dr. James Curry, Historian in Residence, North West Area.Dublin City Council Historians in Residence are available to meet groups and schools, give talks, walks etc, run history book clubs and advise on historical research.
John O'Grady was a member of A Company, 3rd Battalion, Dublin Brigade of the Irish Volunteers. He was the only volunteer from the Jacob's Factory Garrison killed in action during the 1916 Rising.Last year we were honoured to welcome Dermot Hogan, a relative of John O'Grady to our Reading Room, and he kindly showed us some of the 1916 memorabilia carefully preserved by the family for over 100 years. Pictured below is the 1916 medal awarded to John by the President of Ireland. The 1916 Medal is awarded to persons with recognised military service during the 1916 Rising. The medal is bronze and it depicts the death scene of Cú Chulainn, surrounded by a circle of flames. The reverse is inscribed "Seachtain na Cásca 1916 John O'Grady". John's brother Charles was also a Volunteer and was involved in fighting in the South Dublin Union. Returning to the family residence on Nicholas Place following the Rising Charles met with a neighbour who sympathised with him on the death of his brother. Until that moment Charles had not been aware of his brother's fate.Here Dermot tells the story of the night of 29 April 1916 when John O’Grady died.There is a memorial to John O'Grady in St James Graveyard where he is buried. The old St James' Church is now the Pearse Lyons Distillery.Image: John O'Grady's wife Josephine O'Grady (née Gray) and mother Ellen O'Grady at his grave at St James' Church, Thomas Street. Photo: Dermot Hogan. Further readingMurphy, Sean J. 1916 Rebel John J O'Grady Buried in St James's Graveyard, Dublin. https://ucd.academia.edu/SeanMurphy.Jacob's Biscuit Factory and the 1916 Rising. Lisa McCarthy, Eneclann, Project Contract Archivist.
On 1 October 1916, just five months after the Rising, Ireland relinquished its individual time zone and adopted Greenwich Mean Time. With the introduction of daylight saving and the end of summertime that year Dublin’s time was aligned to that of London.Right: Time (Ireland) Act 1916 (click to view larger image)For 36 years Ireland’s time was set on the longitude of Dunsink Observatory, and was 25 minutes 21 seconds later than Greenwich. This had implications for trade and commerce, as well as communications and travel. Up to the late 19th century time was not standardised and each area set its own clocks. The Time Act of 1880 established Greenwich Mean Time for Great Britain and Dublin Mean Time for Ireland.The Time (Ireland) Act 1916, which came into effect on the night of 30 September 1 October as all clocks were put back 35 minutes, streamlined the time zones, and Ireland adopted Western European Time, set on the Greenwich meridian. Many in the nationalist movement saw this as a further erosion of Ireland’s ability to make decisions for itself. However, after Independence, the question of the time zone was not revisited. With this act Ireland was brought into the standardised time zones which were effective across Europe.About The Reading RoomThe Reading Room is located on the first floor, Dublin City Library and Archive, 138-144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2. It is open from 10am to 8pm Monday to Thursday and from 10am to 5pm on Friday and Saturday, and does not close for lunch. A Research Card is available, please enquire at the Issue Desk.
Formally named as Byrne (the family later changed their surname to O'Byrne, a practice not uncommon at that time), James O'Byrne was from Lower Mayor Street in Dublin's North Wall area.Young James was recruited to the city libraries as a 'boy' library assistant in 1913 and from that time was assigned to the Charleville Mall, North Strand library. He was 20 years old by Easter Week 1916.Image: James O’Byrne, AKA James Byrne (1896 to 1947)As he didn’t provide a witness statement to the Bureau of Military History owing to his untimely death in 1947, details of O'Byrne's Easter week activities are sparse. He was attached to the second Battalion, 'F' Company of the Irish Volunteers Dublin Brigade, a small company which was under the command of Captain Frank Henderson and 1st Lieutenant Oscar Traynor. O’Byrne attended Fr Matthew Park in Fairview on Thursday evenings for drilling and on Sundays for rifle practice. In Easter week, he was engaged in combat across a number of sites - at Fairview, the Metropole Hotel, Eason's, the GPO, Moore Street and Henry Place. After the surrender, he was arrested and interned first in Knutsford and later Frongoch Prison from where he was released in July 1916.O'Byrne had been working since 1913 under well-known Gaelic Leaguer Patrick J. ('Paddy') Fennelly, Charleville Mall Head Librarian, who had been appointed there in 1907. According to local historian Hugo McGuinness, 'The IRB had infiltrated most of the GAA Clubs in the Fairview/Clontarf/North Dock area by 1910 and practically controlled the Gaelic language clubs'. Fennelly was clearly sympathetic to the Volunteers during the Rising. According to Volunteer Harry Colley, about midnight on Easter Monday, Fennelly, who lived in nearby Cadogan Road, brought him out tea and sandwiches to where he was manning a barricade at Fairview corner (now Edge’s corner), near Annesley Bridge.As the Charleville Mall librarian was responsible for the management and staffing of the Clontarf public library - which was housed in the Clontarf Town Hall - both Fennelly and O’Byrne clearly also had a lot of direct contact with Mick McGinn, the Fenian caretaker of the Town Hall in the years leading up to the Rising. It would seem reasonable to speculate that this must have helped McGinn to provide a cover for the IRB Supreme Council meetings frequently held in the Town Hall, which played a key part in facilitating the planning of the Rising.After the surrender, O’Byrne was arrested and interned first in Knutsford and later Frongoch Prison from where he was released 'about' 21 July 1916.He rejoined his company following his release from Frongoch and was subsequently active in the War of Independence, where he was engaged in armed patrols, raids for arms and was mobilised for the attempted rescue of Kevin Barry. By 1923, O'Byrne had to resign his library job in order to join the National Army, rising to the rank of Captain. After some time he was finally reinstated in his library job after his demobilisation in 1924, and went on to become Head Librarian at Kevin Street library by 1946.Tragically, he collapsed and died at his place of work on 13 November 1947, aged only 51 years. He never married.About our Guest BloggerEvelyn Conway is Librarian at Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive.The above is based on an essay in the book 'Dublin City Council and the 1916 Rising', published by Dublin City Council, March 2016. Evelyn is one of a number of contributors of essays exploring events of the Rising and biographies of persons involved and either employed by the Council at the time, or subsequently. Read this recent blog post for more.Part of a series looking at Dublin City Public Libraries staff and the 1916 Rising. See also:Tommy Gay: The Capel Street Librarian and the 1916 RisingRóisin Walsh: Dublin City’s first Chief Librarian and the RisingPaddy Stephenson: Dublin City Council's second Chief Librarian and the RisingJames Thomas Dowling: Dublin's County Librarian and the RisingThe Clontarf Town Hall Caretaker and the Rising
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 DiaryHerbert 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 BloggerThis 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.
A native of Omagh, Co. Tyrone, ‘Mick’ McGinn was an ‘old’ Fenian who had been a Tyrone IRB leader since the 1870s and had spent a lot of his life in British jails. McGinn was a close personal friend of Thomas Clarke, who was seven years his junior. Indeed, Clarke had joined the Tyrone IRB in 1878 at the request of both leading Fenian John Daly and Michael McGinn. By the late 1890s McGinn was the Fenian Head Centre for Co. Tyrone, based at Dergmoney House in Omagh. Image: Michael McGinn 1851-1916, from a photograph of the O'Donovan Rossa Funeral Committee 1915.By 1897, as deputy leader of the Ulster Executive of the 1798 Centenary Committee, McGinn became very active in promoting the establishment of ’98 centenary clubs across Ulster. This activity ultimately led to McGinn’s denunciation by the local Catholic clergy – who were traditionally hostile to the Fenians- which led to him losing his job as a baker, forcing him to leave his native county and small family farm. By late 1897 he relocated to Dublin with his wife (Catherine ‘Kate’ McGinn, née Love) and young son, Conway, where he was assigned to the Central Executive of the 1798 Centenary Committee.By late 1901, McGinn, through the influence of his Fenian contacts in Dublin Corporation, secured the job as Caretaker at the Clontarf Town Hall and lived with his family (by now the McGinns had three young children) on the premises. The Town Hall had come within the Corporation’s remit following boundary changes in 1901 which resulted in the absorption of the former Township of Clontarf into the city. The Corporation’s Public Libraries Committee set about converting a section of the Town Hall into a library which opened in early 1902, and part of McGinn’s duties were to tend to the Reading Room. The library was managed and staffed from the nearby Charleville Mall library on the North Strand.As a close personal friend of both Thomas Clarke (who was godfather to his second son Rommy) and Seán MacDiarmada, McGinn was very firmly aligned with key members of the IRB in the years leading up to the Rising. Thomas Clarke had returned to Dublin from the United States in 1907, setting up his tobacconist shop at 75 Parnell Street (which acted as a front for his IRB activities), and he and McGinn had renewed their close contact.McGinn had a specific ‘committee’ room which he made available and so provided a haven for IRB Supreme Council meetings which were frequently held at the Clontarf Town Hall. It was here that the IRB Supreme Council famously held their last vital meeting before the Rising on 16 January 1916, at which the IRB ‘being a democratic body, voted to change its decision on the Rising in 1916 from one in principle to one in fact’.McGinn’s seniority in advanced nationalism is strongly evident in his activities in the lead up to the Rising; In July 1915 he was identified as a senior member of the IRB by the Dublin Metropolitan Police. His importance is also testified to by his membership of the O’Donovan Rossa funeral Committee at this time.Kate McGinn was also closely associated with the leaders of Easter week and was recalled as ‘acting as hostess to every young fighter who came to Dublin’ with the McGinn family home becoming known as a ‘centre of resurgent nationalism’.McGinn was already 65 years old by Easter Week 1916 and had fallen gravely ill with a condition that was then diagnosed as ‘creeping paralysis’. He was therefore bedridden and unable to take any part in the events of Easter week. However, both of his sons participated; Conway saw action at various locations including the Imperial Hotel in O’Connell Street and his younger son Rommy, being only 16, played a smaller role. As recounted by Rommy’s son Brian ‘My father being then just 16 was involved in some skirmishes along the North Strand but most of the time he carried information to his father and cared for him with his Mother Kate.’Despite not participating in the rebellion, Mick McGinn was nonetheless arrested from his sick bed and held for a short time after the Rising, but was later released on health grounds. He died shortly after on 28 July 1916.By the end of 1916, Rommy McGinn had been taken on as a permanent library assistant at Charleville Mall library. Kate McGinn retained her employment as caretaker/housekeeper at the Clontarf Town Hall until it was sold in 1925.About our Guest BloggerEvelyn Conway is Librarian at Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive.The above is based on an essay in the book 'Dublin City Council and the 1916 Rising', published by Dublin City Council, March 2016. Evelyn is one of a number of contributors of essays exploring events of the Rising and biographies of persons involved and either employed by the Council at the time, or subsequently. Read this recent blog post for more.Part of a series looking at Dublin City Public Libraries staff and the 1916 Rising. See also:Tommy Gay: The Capel Street Librarian and the 1916 RisingRóisin Walsh: Dublin City’s first Chief Librarian and the RisingPaddy Stephenson: Dublin City Council's second Chief Librarian and the RisingJames Thomas Dowling: Dublin's County Librarian and the RisingJames O'Byrne: The Kevin Street Librarian and the Rising
James Thomas Dowling: Dublin’s County Librarian and the Rising
A native of Dublin’s north inner city, ‘Tom’ Dowling was recruited in 1915, aged sixteen, to the Dublin Corporation Libraries as a junior library assistant, having achieved second place in the Libraries examination. His first assignment was to Capel Street library under Tommy Gay, who by that time was Capel Street Head Librarian. Dowling later transferred to the Dublin county libraries and by 1931 had progressed to the top post of Chief Librarian for Dublin County, a role in which he served with distinction until his death in office in 1966.Image: James Thomas Dowling (1899 to 1966)Dowling recalled that it was ‘about’ September 1915 (then aged only 16 years) when he was enrolled in ‘C’ Company, of the 1st Battalion of the Irish Volunteers’ Dublin Brigade, based at 41 Parnell Square. Prior to the Rising, he attended weekly arms drills, lectures and parades at that venue. He was armed by his company 1st Lieutenant Joe McGuinness who provided him with a shotgun, revolver and ammunition.On Holy Thursday, 20 April 1916, Dowling got his first indication that a Rising was imminent, when the company was mobilised and addressed by Commandant Edward Daly, who ordered them to ‘hold themselves in readiness for further orders as they would soon have an opportunity to put their arms drills and military exercises into operation.’While making his way to mobilise with his company at Blackhall Place on Easter Monday at 11am, Dowling was stopped at Mary’s Lane by Lieutenant Diarmuid O’Hegarty, who ordered him to join his unit who were in the process of erecting barricades in the immediate vicinity at Mary’s Lane, Church Street and Bow Lane. Dowling remained there under fire for the entire week, retreating with the remainder of the First Battalion into the Four Courts on the following Saturday.He was then detained overnight at the Rotunda Gardens, and later Richmond Barracks where he was held for a week. He was released on 5 May due to his youth.Dowling subsequently rejoined his company and was also highly active throughout the War of Independence, carrying out a range of activities, participating in ambushes at Granby Row and Lower Dorset Street corner, as well as armed guards and patrols and anti-conscription duties. As he went out of Dublin on holiday about a week before the outbreak of the Civil War in June 1922, he did not play any part in it.In an obituary notice following Dowling’s death on 8 December 1966, fellow librarian Dermot Foley described him as exceedingly modest and reserved. Dowling was ‘the least likely of us all ever to be remembered for a vigorous or noisy action’, and it ‘was not easy to associate this gentle man with the eager boy who saw active service as a volunteer in the Easter Rising’. Foley further recounted Dowling’s involvement in the ‘cloak-and-dagger adventures of the War of Independence, when Tommy Gay, his librarian, operated a centre for military intelligence from the upstairs office of the library [in Capel Street], and found willing accomplices in young Tom and the rest of his staff’A few weeks prior to his death, Dowling occasionally drove around by the Church Street area ‘to look once again at the high wall he scrambled along for dear life when his unit was at last blasted out of its positions in North King Street’. This, Foley stated, was the ‘one touch of justifiable pride’ he ever saw Dowling allow himself.About our Guest BloggerEvelyn Conway is Librarian at Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive.The above is based on an essay in the book 'Dublin City Council and the 1916 Rising', published by Dublin City Council, March 2016. Evelyn is one of a number of contributors of essays exploring events of the Rising and biographies of persons involved and either employed by the Council at the time, or subsequently. Read this recent blog post for more.Part of a series looking at Dublin City Public Libraries staff and the 1916 Rising. See also:Tommy Gay: The Capel Street Librarian and the 1916 RisingRóisin Walsh: Dublin City’s first Chief Librarian and the RisingPaddy Stephenson: Dublin City Council's second Chief Librarian and the RisingMichael McGinn: The Clontarf Town Hall Caretaker and the RisingJames O'Byrne: The Kevin Street Librarian and the Rising
Dublin City’s Second Chief Librarian and the Rising
A 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.Stephenson was first drawn into the nationalist movement shortly after leaving school in 1910, becoming active in the Gaelic League at the Archbishop McHale branch in Dorset Street. By early 1914 he had joined D Company of the Irish Volunteers' Dublin Brigade 1st Battalion, based in Blackhall Street and led by his former school friend, Captain Seán Heuston. Stephenson soon proved himself to be a trusted and courageous Volunteer and was promoted by Heuston in late 1915 to company quartermaster. In this role he had responsibility for procuring, transporting and storing the unit's arms and ammunition.None of the rank and file Volunteers in D company knew for certain that a Rising would take place on Easter Sunday 1916, but some suspected that action was likely due to increased activity in the lead up to Holy week. Stephenson, with a group which included Seán McLoughlin of na Fianna Éireann and Heuston spent Easter Sunday night on guard duty at Battalion HQ, where ammunition and explosives were being stored.Early on Monday morning, about 8am, Stephenson and McLoughlin were among a small group sent by bicycle from Liberty Hall to deliver urgent mobilisation orders around the city. Later in the morning they mobilised with some of their Company (no more than 13 turned out) at the assembly point at St George’s church, Temple Street, where, led by Heuston, they paraded ‘in speculative silence’, stopping ‘at ease’ en route at Liberty Hall. Marching four abreast they continued on to what turned out to be their final destination at the Mendicity Institution in Usher’s Island, which they reached at around midday. Their uncertainty was abruptly ended when they were ordered to seize the building. Heuston had been ordered to hold the building for three hours only to hinder the movement of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers at the nearby Royal Barracks (now Collins Barracks) towards the city, giving the Volunteers at the Four Courts time to consolidate their positions. In the event, the tiny Mendicity garrison managed to hold the building for just over two days. Reinforcements had arrived on Tuesday, but by Wednesday morning, with supplies of food nearly exhausted, Stephenson and McLoughlin were selected to make the hazardous journey back to the GPO, to brief Connolly and return with all speed with food supplies.As the Mendicity fell in their absence, the deeply despondent men joined the defence of the Four Courts garrison. By Thursday, the resourceful duo made their way back to the GPO, where they were ordered by Connolly to take over the Irish Independent offices in Middle Abbey Street. On Friday morning they retreated to the GPO until the evacuation to Moore Street on Friday evening (when, then unknown to Stephenson, his father Patrick, aged 50, was shot dead shortly after 6pm by British troops when he accidentally broke curfew). It is evident that Stephenson's leadership abilities manifested themselves as Connolly ordered him to take charge of a number of men at the 'White House' facing Moore Lane, from where he returned to Moore Street for the general surrender on Saturday afternoon.Taken to Richmond Barracks, he was later deported to England and interned at Knutsford and later at Frongoch prison camp in Wales. He was released by September 1916.Stephenson was reinstated in his library job and rejoined D company on his release from prison but transferred to Fianna Éireann (1917–19) on its reorganisation, becoming adjutant of the Fianna Dublin Brigade, later rising to adjutant general of the Fianna Éireann headquarters staff. By then a young married man (1917) with a child (from 1918) and holding down a full-time job at Thomas Street library, he gave all his spare time to the national cause. His wide-ranging activities, which included field operations, raids for arms and the anti-conscription campaign, brought him into clashes with the RIC and DMP.He re-joined D Company in 1919, remaining active until late 1921, from which time he was engaged mainly in arms procurement. Refusing to fight his fellow countrymen, he did not take part in the civil war.A man of wide-ranging cultural and literary interests, Paddy Stephenson also made a significant contribution to the Irish library movement. He served as Dublin city’s second Chief Librarian with distinction for ten years until his sudden and untimely death in 1960, just days before retirement.About our Guest BloggerEvelyn Conway is Librarian at Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive.The above is based on a essay in the book 'Dublin City Council and the 1916 Rising', published by Dublin City Council, March 2016. Evelyn is one of a number of contributors of essays exploring events of the Rising and biographies of persons involved and either employed by the Council at the time, or subsequently. Read this recent blog post for more.Part of a series looking at Dublin City Public Libraries staff and the 1916 Rising. See also: Tommy Gay: The Capel Street Librarian and the 1916 RisingRóisín Walsh: Dublin City’s first Chief Librarian and the RisingJames Thomas Dowling: Dublin's County Librarian and the RisingMichael McGinn: The Clontarf Town Hall Caretaker and the RisingJames O'Byrne: The Kevin Street Librarian and the Rising
Dublin City’s first Chief Librarian and the Rising
A 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)A committed Republican, Walsh was closely associated with James Connolly’s two daughters, Nora and Ina, who were then based in Belfast; she promptly joined the Belfast Cumann na mBan on its foundation by Nora Connolly in 1915. Under the influence of Nora Connolly the Belfast Cumann na mBan was noted for its “assertive” nature in that the women, unusually, underwent regular practice in rifle marksmanship, with many becoming quite skilled.Prior to the Rising, Róisín and her sister Bridget became friends with the charismatic Seán MacDiarmada on his travels as an IRB organiser around Ulster. Both women were in close contact with him prior to the Rising, with Róisín helping him with correspondence to the United States while Bridget provided the covering address for letters to MacDiarmada from John Devoy, the Clan na nGael leader in the United States.One of the key IRB members in Co. Tyrone was none other than the Clogher parish priest, Fr. James O’Daly who was one of two “militantly nationalist clerics” who were considered “vital in promoting the spread of revolutionary nationalism in Co. Tyrone” (the other was Father Coyle of Fintona). Both clerics were, in turn, closely associated with the Tyrone doctor Patrick McCartan, who was a member of the IRB Supreme Council and a “mainspring of the Irish Volunteer movement in Co. Tyrone.”At home in Clogher in Easter week, Walsh received advance knowledge of the Rising on Good Friday from Fr. O’ Daly. Due to the confusion that followed MacNeill’s countermanding order on Easter Sunday, the Northern Volunteers’ mobilisation in Tyrone was short lived and they dispersed. In Clogher, the Walsh family awaited news from Nora and Ina Connolly. The sisters had returned to Dublin on Easter Sunday to report to the Military Council on the situation in Ulster, and had subsequently been sent back to carry dispatches from Pearse for the Tyrone men to commence hostilities. The Walsh family, collectively and in close collaboration with Fr. O’Daly, the Connolly sisters and Archie Heron (Irish Volunteers, Belfast Brigade) played an active role in the concerted but ill-fated attempt to implement Pearse’s orders and bring about a remobilisation.They carried out a range of activities, including providing a safe house for the Connolly sisters. Walsh’s younger siblings, her sister Teresa (Teasie), along with Ina Connolly, and her brother Joseph carried despatches around the county throughout the week. On the Wednesday of Easter week, Róisín, her youngest brother Tom and Teasie helped to smuggle ammunition and supplies in a pony trap to the Volunteers Clogher Company which had assembled on Tuesday in the at Ballymacan on the orders of Fr. O'Daly.Róisín Walsh left her lecturing post in Belfast in 1919 and returned to Clogher, where in 1921 she took up a position as a Rate Collector with Tyrone County Council. In 1922, she was dismissed from this post following her refusal to sign a mandatory declaration of allegiance to the King and the Northern Ireland Government. She was forced to move to Dublin in late 1922 to avoid arrest and prosecution following an RUC raid on her family home in Lisnamaghery, in which alleged seditious literature was found and an exclusion order was issued against her. The following year the Walsh family relocated to Cypress Grove Farm and House in Templeogue, Dublin.By 1931, the Corporation Public Libraries Committee (who had begun employing females from the 1920s) was seeking to recruit graduate with librarianship diplomas. Walsh held an honours BA from UCD and a library Associateship of the UK Library Association. Her outstanding credentials secured her the historic appointment of Dublin city’s first chief librarian, a post in which she served with great distinction until her untimely death in office in 1949, aged just 60 years.About our Guest BloggerEvelyn Conway is Librarian at Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive.The above is based on a essay in the book 'Dublin City Council and the 1916 Rising', published by Dublin City Council, March 2016. Evelyn is one of a number of contributors of essays exploring events of the Rising and biographies of persons involved and either employed by the Council at the time, or subsequently. Read this recent blog post for more.Part of a series looking at Dublin City Public Libraries staff and the 1916 Rising. See also:Tommy Gay: The Capel Street Librarian and the 1916 RisingPaddy Stephenson: Dublin City's Second Chief Librarian and The RisingJames Thomas Dowling: Dublin's County Librarian and the RisingMichael McGinn: The Clontarf Town Hall Caretaker and the RisingJames O'Byrne: The Kevin Street Librarian and the Rising