Brought to you by Dublin City Libraries and axis Ballymun, this multi-platform project is a celebration and a recognition of the city libraries and throughout the pandemic, we re-discovered the power of literature, music, art and culture as sources of entertainment and wellbeing.
The 20th Annual Sir John T. Gilbert Lecture - Transcript
The following is a transcript of the twentieth Annual Sir John T. Gilbert 20th commemorative lecture, 'Gentlemen’s daughters in Dublin cloisters: The social world of nuns in early 18th-century Dublin', given by Bernadette Cunningham at Dublin City Library & Archive on 25 January 2017.
The following is the transcript of a talk given by Dublin City Council Historian in Residence Dr. Mary Muldowney and historian Catherine Holmes. It tells the story of the bombing of North Strand on the night of 30/31 May 1941. This special event which marks the 80th anniversary of the bombing was hosted by Charleville Mall Library on 31 May 2021.
O'Connell Street...the story of the street and its buildings - Transcript
The following is the transcript of a talk given by Klaus Unger and Stephen Kane in Rathmines Library on 23 August 2016.AudioWelcome to the Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive Podcast. In this episode, architects Klaus Unger and Stephen Kane present a history of Dublin City's main thoroughfare, O'Connell Street, formerly named Sackville Street. Hear about the unique design features of some of its landmark buildings and the stories behind them and find out more about the influence of the Wide Street Commission, Lord Gardiner, and renowned architects Edward Lovett Pearce, Richard Cassels, James Gandon and Francis Johnston.Recorded in front of a live audience at Rathmines Library on 23 August 2016 as part of the Libraries' Heritage Week Programme.KlausSo ladies and gentlemen, can I just give up a warning notice in a way, we’re not historian, for any historians who are here. We are retired architects. And I recommend a lovely book by David Dixon on Dublin, Making of a Capital City for those who want to take a more detailed view of the development of Dublin. I’m going to give a very brief introductory background to the origins of O’Connell Street as it evolved from the kind of tangle of medieval Dublin, and Stephen’s going to take us through the journey of its development from there on.O’Connell Street has been the occasion of momentous events throughout the 20th century. And we’ve got an aerial view of what we are talking about, principally O’Connell Street and O’Connell Bridge there. And that’s the aerial of the actual architectural conservation area, that features centrally O’Connell Street. But it has as I said been the occasion of momentous events throughout the 20th century, which starts here with Collins funeral in 1922. Then the world heavyweight boxing bout, boxing seems to be a thing nowadays in 1923, which was interesting because this occurred as a result of it being refused in London, England and because it black and white. And the white man, the Irish man in fact won the bout at the time of the day. The next one is the Eucharistic Congress, 1932. Then we’re showing Kennedy’s appearance in 1963. And thereafter, Patrick’s Day events which have occurred every year and every Patrick’s Day, bringing thousands and thousands and thousands of people to O’Connell Street.And apart from the most significant event of the 20th century, which was the Easter Rising, O’Connell Street has enjoyed all kinds of events, such as we’ve shown with these huge crowds of people attending. So the 20th century is a momentous time in the story of O’Connell Street. I have a personal interest in advancing that period, because I was born at the top end of O’Connell Street at the end of the first half of the 20th century. So that puts me very much in the frame.I’m going to start the story with a look at, this is the cover of the Book of Dublin, which is the official handbook published by the Corporation of Dublin in 1929, which said that the main features of modern Dublin may be said to date back to an act of the Irish parliament in 1757, appointing commissioners for making a wide and convenient street from Essex Bridge to the Castle of Dublin. I would like to suggest however, that the evolution of Dublin as a European capital city began perhaps 100 years earlier, when on the 27th of July 1662, the Duke of Ormond landed in Dublin, having been sent by King Charles II to take charge of governance of Ireland. And that this was the day which Maurice Craig in his tome, Dublin 1660 to 1860 refers to the occasion of that date being the day when renaissance came to Ireland.Maurice Craig is a more for whom I had great respect as an architectural historian and just as a kind of a slight digress, he was renowned as an architectural historian, conservative in nature, naturally. But he wrote a wonderful letter to the Taoiseach in 1953, which I valued greatly, because I was engaged in work in Dublin Castle at the time. And he wrote that letter in support of a proposal which had been made by Raymond McGrath, the chief architect in OPW in 1946, and years afterwards, which was the design of a large crescent shaped development at the back of Dublin Castle housing the whole of the Irish civil service, which from memory was going to be built for something less than two million pounds at that time. It was a very brave, wonderful letter and I’m just mentioning this because despite the fact that he was an architectural historian, he was also very much promoting the idea of contemporary design in conjunction with respect for the historical precincts and locations. Needless to say, Maurice’s intervention didn’t work and Raymond’s scheme was never built, except for one part, the Companies Office is the only part of that crescent development that was ever in fact created.Back again to the Duke of Ormond, who having come to Dublin after a number of years in exile on the continent, was concerned to create a peaceful environment for principally the Protestant, and if possible Catholic communities within the pale, and considered as Maurice says in his book, that “the noblest outward sign of peace in life would be the creation of public works”. And so he set about instigating works by the commencement of development of the City Quays, Phoenix Park, and most notably the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham. It’s also worth noting that the population of Dublin at this time in the mid 17th century was less than 10,000 people. And although Dublin was a city with a Royal Charter in the centre of civil and military authority in Ireland, other towns were exercising a bit of competition for primacy, like Armagh, which was the ecclesiastical centre, Drogheda and Kilkenny and so on. The note about the population is interesting because as we’ll see, it jumps enormously in the subsequent years. As Maurice Craig advises in his book, “By 1700 it has gone from less than 10,000 up to 75,000, by 1750 to 150,000 and by 1850 to a quarter of a million”.We have on the screen here Steve’s map, 1610 which shows the kind of layout of Dublin at the time. And just to note over here on the right, is Trinity College. Way over on the right. And Dublin Castle is number 23 there. So that’s Trinity and that’s Dublin Castle here. And if O’Connell Street, which isn’t yet even thought about were there, if you kind of relate it to Trinity College, it will be somewhere over here. So you can see that the whole of the city is over towards its foundation as the Ath Cliath and the Linn Dubh, which was in this area here with the Poddle is westward. And it hasn’t gravitated as it is today towards the east, more east. Just something I think is worth thinking about, if we reflect on the conditions of the times, that’s in the early 1600’s and in the subsequent later centuries, something that I noted I think is rather important, and as an architect, engineer one would consider this important, that the whole life’s condition was pretty grim from our perspective, from the 21st century perspective. And something that I picked up from Muiris de Buitléir’s book which is worth mentioning, that the invention of public sewers systems hadn’t been created until late Victorian times. So if you can imagine what life must have been like for everybody. It was pretty grim. Water was brought into the city from the Dodder, or later on in the 19th century, from the canals. Human waste was accumulating in the yards and streets with presumably open sewers running into the Liffey. And this really resulted in a city up until the late Victorian period which as Muiris states in his book, is a “city of filth and stench, with typhoid and cholera rife”. So that’s the condition in which life existed for most people.The next important step after the Duke of Ormond I think occurs in the 18th century, in 1711 when a decision to reclaim land from the sea in the estuary area over here, east, centre and east, was taken and this resulted in the creation of the North and South Lotts. The beneficiary of much of this reclaimed land was the Earl of Drogheda, that’s the Moore family, Moore Street. And the Earl of Drogheda, he sold lots of this reclaimed land to the most important figure of the development of the 18th century of Dublin who is Luke Gardiner. And I’m just going to read a little extract by Merlo Kelly from this “Portraits of the City” publication, which was a publication of papers presented at an international conference which OPW hosted together with UCD, looking at the cultural significance of place and sense of place and so on.“Dublin underwent considerable change in the late 18th century, comprising of dramatic eastward expansion and the establishment of a complex urban framework, which forms the basis of cityscape today. The former Gardiner estate encompass much of the north city and was developed by a family with grand ambition and foresight. The creation of the north Georgian core involving sophisticated urban design strategies, negotiated land transfers and the collaboration of builders and craftsmen, driven by the Gardiner family and by the Wide Streets Commission. The first Luke Gardiner was a self made man of obscure origins, who began life as a foot man in Leixlip Castle, but in marrying the niece of the second Viscount Mountjoy, became connected to the peerage. He went on to become a member of parliament, Surveyor General of the Customs, Privy Counsellor and Deputy Vice Treasurer of Ireland. He was a successful banker and soon turned his attentions to the acquisition of land for development. Through shrewd investment, he acquired land parcels incrementally, and quickly emerged as a significant player in the development of the north city centre. The gradual process of buying land in stages meant that developments in the estate tended to be disparate and interrupted. Though this disjointed urban condition remained for much of the 18th century, his grandson, the second Luke Gardiner, henceforth referred to as Gardiner, he was the man that they regarded as Gardiner, focused on linking elements within the estate and making sense of the fragmented quality that was associated with the emerging north Georgian city”.The second Gardiner, that’s the grandson was a really important, he seems to have been an incredible guy. He had a wonderful upbringing and childhood. He wasn’t like his father, he didn’t come from humble. The grandfather did all the hard work and his father before him. And he served as a member of parliament for Dublin from 1773 until he was created a Baron in 1789. He was appointed to the Irish Privy Council and Colonel of the Dublin Militia. He was given the title Viscount Mountjoy in 1795. In addition to his role as a private landowner and developer, he was an active member of the Wide Streets Commission at a critical time, when they held responsibility for development within private estates. And I think Stephen this is where I pass the baton over to you.StephenThis is a 1610 map. One bridge over the Liffey, (13.57 inaudible) and south of the Liffey where people lived in medieval conditions. A full century later, this map shows not a big geographical change, but there is significantly development on the north side of the river, where the work done in Ormond’s time was protecting the buildings from the river flooding, and also retaining land towards the east side at Oxmanstown corner with the North Lotts and south of that called the South Lotts, where development was to take place. That map is 1714, and Dublin had changed dramatically, but the population had changed dramatically. 70,000 people now lived in Dublin in 1714. And then 1728, (14.36 inaudible) map and you can see for the first time, O’Connell Street called Drogheda Street is now on the map. This is part of the reclaiming of land which had occurred in the beginning of the 18th century. This land had been transferred to (14.52 inaudible) Desmond from Drogheda to the Moore family and acquired by Gardiner himself.Gardiner was an ambitious man. There was no development by Dublin City Council or Corporations in those times, so these estates took over and they developed properties themselves in parts of Dublin. This was the beginning of the move from the inner city on the west side of Dublin to the east side of Dublin to a renaissance city, attempt to begin that process in Dublin.This is Henrietta Street in Dublin, which has the beginning in 1720’s. And Edward Lovett Pearce, Ireland’s great architect developed this. Gardiner was also involved in the development of Gardiner Street as well, Henrietta Street and Bolton Street, and that part of north central Dublin, effectively. These were the classic houses at the time, the first in Ireland of townhouses and maybe the first, perhaps in most European countries.This is number 9 Henrietta Street, designed by Edward Lovett Pierce, a great beautiful house from the 1720’s. This is Pearce himself, and Pearce was the architect for the Parliament building 1729, which was the first parliament building anywhere in the world which had an upper and lower house built. So Dublin was the first to have a parliament building like this. This was gradually moving again towards east development. There was no parliament building in Dublin. The parliament was now meeting much more often in Dublin than previously. Previously the parliament only met when the Viceroy was here or the Lord Lieutenant was here, they met very irregularly. But suddenly now with the new building things have changed dramatically. And when that happened there was demand for property in this new east part of Dublin.And suddenly we see here from the rough map of 1756, this was the first development of, can you see there Sackville Street. This is the beginning of the development. This started in 1749 and went on for about 20 years. And about 400 houses were built in this part of Sackville Street. This is purely the block form, it’s the beginning of loose development. Gardiner had acquired that property from Henry Street as far as what’s now called Parnell Street. And he ideally wanted to develop the whole lot round as far the river, but he didn’t own the property south of Sackville Street that’s there now. That just shows the block format of Sackville Street. Look at the top of Sackville Street, you’ll see the Rotunda Hospital, designed by Cassels. Cassels was involved with Gardiner in the development of Sackville Street. Here you can see the individual plots of Sackville. The plots would vary in size, there were big houses and small houses. But the depth was 200. The street itself was 150 feet wide and in the centre of the terraced street was a mall. It was initially called Gardiner’s mall. This was an amenity area and outside of that there was a carriageway for access to the houses. It was a private estate, what we have today, gated estates we have in this country these days. It was a very privileged area for the nobility. But the problem for this was that this was now started in 1750’s, parliament was open in 1738. And we see at the bottom of the river, a number of ships are going somewhere and they’re going up towards Customs House. But there’s no bridge connecting the Parliament building, can you see that?KlausAnd there’s nothing from there across.StephenSo if the parliamentarians were going from the house in Upper Sackville Street to get to Parliament, they had to go around to the west of the city, across the bridge at Essex Bridge and then towards the Parliament. This was a long route. Clearly the idea of linking these things together, to create more demand on the east of the city was extremely important for developers like Gardiner.This was the Customs House in 1707, you can see the ships coming up the river towards that old Customs House. And they paid their taxes there. The building itself had problems with foundations, it was in serious condition. And also the big ships couldn’t get up the river easily, so suddenly demand became greater to build the new Customs House, and that meant getting a bridge built linking Sackville Street with the Parliament Building, crucially important for the development in that part of Dublin and making Dublin a renaissance city.This here shows the mall of Upper Sackville Street, and you see this very gracious street. And the thing about this sketch here shows the buildings were of varying heights and varying sizes. It wasn’t a uniform city like say Bath is. It’s very much unique character of Dublin had developed, similar today to a Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square where the heights are very different and at variance with each other. And also the houses are very different in widths and so on. But the overall feeling of grandeur is here amenity. Maurice Craig called this an “elongated square” because it was very, very private. And in the centre of the mall the people who lived there could meet, discuss the gossip and boast about their houses inside. These houses were very important to these people, because they wanted to show off the interiors of the house particularly. Externally they were very ordinary looking in many ways, but inside they were full of beautiful decorative plasterwork, collections of paintings and so on and so on. And part of that was the boast they had with each other on the way to Parliament. And this was this lovely amenity and the very same with the much later houses that were built in Merrion Square and indeed in Fitzwilliam Square.And this is what they looked like. This is Upper Sackville Street. They looked very ordinary looking houses. You can see they were different, there were two bay sizes, there were three bay sizes and there were four bay sizes, depending on the kind of money you had, and what kind of structure you have as well. But if you look at number 42 here towards the middle of the slide, this house was designed by Richard Cassels who was assistant to Lovett Pearce, and ultimately became Surveyor General himself in this country, in the city. And he was the architect for this house here.KlausThat’s this one here.StephenAnd today, it’s the only house that’s still extant in Dublin, number 42 (21.12 inaudible). It looks like a very ordinary house, but collectively the whole thing was much more important than a string of individual houses. And you can see renovations took place round the entrance doorway, the Portland stone and the details round the door itself, the elegance of that. So all the elegance is put at the front door, the impression of importance, the impression of elegance, that’s still there today in Dublin to enjoy.So the first phase of Sackville Street was now completed. And one of the things that Gardiner wanted to do was to have an end and beginning to life. At the top of Sackville Street, if you close off that vista with a Portland window Cassels encouraged them to use the Rotunda to close off Sackville Street. He was against that idea because he wanted to ultimately develop the whole street north ways further on beyond Parnell Street itself. That was his idea, and then link up similarly at (22.11 inaudible) towards the O’Connell Bridge area, Sackville area itself. So ultimately then, Cassels located the building here away from Sackville itself.And then the Wide Streets Commission came along with Atkins in 1777. But these people were extraordinarily important people in Dublin as Klaus said earlier. They had huge powers, huge influence and they also had a considerable amounts of money to spend. They could compulsorily take over properties and they left an extraordinarily great legacy in this city, including Sackville Street. They would have built Dame Street, North Westmoreland Street and so on, these are wonderful streets to have in Dublin. But also they wanted to continue on the Sackville Street. Because Gardiner’s son was now a Commissioner, an important person as well. And so Sackville Street was completed in around the 1770’s. and the bridge was built in late 1780’s. But for the second part of Sackville Street, two architects were involved in the Lower part of Sackville Street. These were White and Gandon. White laid out the street and the complex to unify the street together before the GPO was built and before Nelson’s Pillar was built. And then Gandon designed the elevation studies for the buildings themselves, because they were now going to become shops at ground level. Very different than the Upper part of Sackville Street. And also at this time, the mall that Gardiner had designed and built was taken away and removed completely. And once the street became an important street overall, the amenity value of the street for people to discourse and meet and gossip disappeared because of that. It became a very important street, a very lovely street but something was lacking in that because of the great work that Gardiner had done back towards the middle of the 18th century.And this shows the extent of the street, this is the pillar shown here and also the GPO. It shows the width of the street as continuous street from north to south, one continuous whole. But the street has now changed in character, as I’ve said we’ve now become a shopping street. And there’s a gradual disconnect between the Upper and Lower Sackville Street. And then suddenly in 1801 the Act of Union, the speed changed dramatically. Because it meant that people living on the Upper level of Sackville Street sold off and moved elsewhere. But two things happened to make the street I think considerably better. This was the Nelson’s Pillar. After the victory of the British over the French and Nelson’s victories, Dublin people collected money themselves to honour Nelson’s victory. And they built this column, this statue. And they had Francis Johnston, the great architect design it for them and locate for them too. A very important location on the streetscape. And also they had the GPO built in about 1815 or so. This magnificent public building, the first real public building on Sackville Street. And this added to the street enormously. It conferred a special urban quality the street hadn’t got previously. This was dramatic, and the day of importing or locating the portico right over the pavement, impose itself on the street as a gathering point, was a really wonderful idea of Johnston to do that. So it gave the street a civic importance as a street. It lost a lot by removing the mall, but became a different kind of street altogether.And this is what it looked like. You can see it’s a very wide street. There’s no sense of gathering, no sense of community there. No sense of involvement. But there is a sense of this huge big street, impressive street. And if you look closely at this one here you will see that now suddenly the pavement is very, very narrow. The place where you could discourse and chat and talk was very, very small. This street looked great but people need to use the street sensibly. And they were getting impeded now with chariots and horses and all the rest of it. And there’s a guy on a horse here talking to the people on the sidewalk as he’s going along on his horse. And you can see there going all over the place with their horses and carts, all different directions at one time. So there’s a lack of discipline, the street looked well, but discipline was not going well on the street. Just note the paving was close to where they were walking. There was no paving on the street, the main street wasn’t like that all. It was a beaten down dirt track.And this is the GPO today, it’s a very strained building. It’s a lovely, lovely building, very strained. And given the street is imposing civic quality which confers the importance of the street, but inside the building it was very beautifully and heavily decorated. This event took place in 1853, a significant event for O’Connell Street’s future. This was the Great Exhibition of Dublin of 1853. It was located in Leinster Lawn in Dublin. And a million visited this site between March and September of 1853. And they’re mostly from overseas, and these people came with a lot of money to spend. And if people in O’Connell Street were prepared for this invasion of people with money, they were put on their best behaviour and decked out with best possible goods for sale. And this shows O’Connell Street now in 1853. Studying it, there’s a new department store built, probably the first in Europe. The shops are now appearing at ground level, further down the street than before. The street is losing its character somewhat, the height of this department store, much higher than anywhere else, a different scale than everything else too. But somehow, it was acceptable because it’s close, almost opposite the GPO building. But you can see the certain vibrancy, the street is now a commercial street in Dublin. And that changed dramatically and increased dramatically as the 19th century wore on.These are elevations showing the street of early 1850’s, this is Lower Sackville Street. Showing the array of shops is quite amazing which was available in Dublin for these rich people to come to Dublin to spend their money, build an exhibition. All kind of shops, all kind of goods. This is Lower Sackville Street. And you can see in the bottom picture, you can see some of the shop fronts which would have been designed by Gandon, from his early studies back 60 years earlier. Again Lower Sackville Street, full of shops, very commercial street now. Very different from Upper Sackville Street.And this is Upper Sackville Street itself where the change isn’t as dramatic. There are still houses there and still people living there, there’s occasional businesses like a gas fitter here in one house here. But it is predominantly still the same houses, with minor modifications and people living in these houses, back in 1850.This one here is interesting because at the top right hand corner, very right near where the Rotunda Hospital is, there’s a Mr. Geoghegan a live-in draper to her majesty, no less, that’s Queen Victoria. On the bottom part at the far side of the street, was simply very changes still in early 1850’s. That was to change dramatically in the late 19th century in O’Connell Street.This kind of happened before Victoriana took over on O’Connell Street, where individual buildings became much more important than the overall street. This was the Dublin Vet Company restaurant that made bread here. In fact Joyce refers to this in his book Ulysses and he has Bloom looking in the window and gazing inside at people who were having a cup of coffee, a cup of tea inside and commenting what they were eating at as well. This building was destroyed in 1916, it was never replaced. Some say thankfully. And then there were hotels appearing on O’Connell Street too, back in the late 18th century. The whole rise of the commercial part of the street taking over gradually, and domestic housing moving gradually away from O’Connell Street.And then because of the enormous success of the commercial part of O’Connell Street, there were 10,000 carts crossing over the bridge every single day back and forward. 10,000 carts, extraordinary number of carts crossing over the carriages. And that caused a man to build a new bridge over O’Connell Street. Shopkeepers in the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, over the river I should say. And they contacted one guy, Richard Turner of Botanic Gardens fame. It was a single span building, cast iron building. It was designed so that high tide ships and boats could go up underneath the bridge. Very different than the present bridge in O’Connell Street. It was laid on the table of the Corporation about 20 years and they decided eventually not to build it. And they simple just built an extension of the Gandon bridge in about 1880, a bridge made wider and that’s what happened. The bridge became a full bridge back in the 1880’s. And O’Connell Street then had this kind of impact, bring it more and more towards the south side and bringing the ward visually and easier towards the south side. And its connection with Westmoreland Street and its connection with the (31.42 inaudible).Then this happened in 1916. And this city centre was certainly reduced to rubble after the 1916. And there were consequences for the street, serious consequences for the street at that time.This map shows Sackville Street and all the ground totally destroyed. They were bombed and burned down. There was very little left, the west side was particularly badly hit in 1916. The east side was badly disturbed in 1922. But in 1916, this was happening. And the effect of that was quite dramatic, because people who worked in these shops and worked all over Dublin were now out of a job. The people who owned the businesses were now out of business and they weren’t paying any rates to Dublin Corporation. The insurance companies didn’t pay up any money because it was an act of war, and there was chaos for a long time after the 1916 Rising. And Asquith, the Prime Minister came over to Dublin to look at the political situation that was going on in Dublin politically. But I’m sure when he came here at that time, he got an earful from the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, from the Council of the Dublin Corporation about the payment, who’s going to pay for the city? And the Irish Builder magazine, they said that the rebuilding of Sackville Street presented a “unique and unexpected opportunity for Irish architects to the great needs involved”.What Dublin Corporation had on its plate at this time already presented to them was a plan for Dublin. This was the (inaudible 33.36) plan for Dublin. This was a radical plan, and it moved the city now back towards the west again. And you can see that this plan.KlausThis is O’Connell Street there and the whole thing is shifting over, so that this becomes the centre now. This is Dublin Castle here.StephenThis town was based on the (inaudible 34.00) in Paris. It was centralising the Parliament, railway stations and public buildings in the centre, linking north and south together. It was a great plan, and along with visitors from all over the city coming towards the centre. For every space there was a Abercrombie plan. But that plan took a lot of organisation, a lot of time, a lot of money to gather. And the people had no mood for those kind of (34.22 inaudible) approaches to planning. So the Corporation sought powers to help the rebuilding be paid for, and exactly what should be built.This shows them the Abercrombie plan. On the top of O’Connell Street, the Parnell monument. This was what Gardiner had in mind for his development.KlausAs a vista, up here.StephenThe vista closed off for reaching Sackville Street back in the 1750’s of having a vista contained in a public building.KlausThe Gate Theatre here, and this the Rotunda.StephenYou can see this was an Abercrombie idea, but very much based on what Gardiner had proposed. So the Corporation sought powers for an ambitious and prudent plan which all buildings would have to conform. They applied for government grants. But Dublin Castle and Westminster objected to British taxpayers funding the rebuilding of a beautified Sackville Street. And the Dublin Property Owners Association even, they resisted attempts to add any expense to the beautification and rebuilding of O’Connell Street. However, the Westminster parliament passed an act called the Dublin Reconstruction and Emergency Provision Act of 1916. This act compelled all rebuilding to submit to Dublin Corporation elevations and plans and the city architect was empowered to acquire reasonable alterations to proposals if unsuitable to the amenity of the street. The Corporation could loan money for the rebuilding and compel purchasing of sites if required. And 1.8 million pounds was given by Westminster towards the rebuilding. Now that was considerably added to as things went on. Meanwhile the RIAI, which is the Royal Institute of British Architects which we both know, they wrote to the Home Secretary, this is what confuses me. They wrote to the Home Secretary over in Westminster and they were urging builders to observe uniformity, harmony and symmetry for the reconstruction of O’Connell Street.Now the city architect was a man called Horace O’Rourke and he produced a number of drawings and sketches for O’Connell Street. And he wanted O’Connell Street built in a neo classical style. And this is Lower O’Connell Street, which is the most successful part of it. And he laid down guidelines for height restrictions, parapet heights, corners and for set back at roof level, and also that materials would be of brick, would be stone and limestone. This was a most successful elevation. Alas, all streets were not like this. But this is a very successful and very harmonious part of the street in Dublin. And that’s still there today, very much respected and very much enjoyed. And the bottom part may be pretty vulgar, but the top part is a really elegant piece of work. When you see the old bread company’s shop is now gone, you see the road is set back at a distance, but playing the role in a quieter fashion than was happening in the late Victorian period.T. J. Byrne as principal architect in the OPW insisted that all public buildings be rebuilt and refurbished exactly as they were. This was a building, the Metropole, which was rebuilt.That’s now the march from the 70s and it’s now Penneys shop nowadays. But there was a lot of good work done on that reconstruction on O’Connell Street. A lot of it was not demolished again in 1922, but nonetheless the efforts were outstanding.When the GPO was being rebuilt, the footprint for Francis Johnston’s building was considerably added to. It became a much, much bigger building when Johnston designed it himself, with what the government required at that stage. The GPO was open again in 1929 by Cosgrave.And then we come on to the 1990’s. In the 1960’s particularly, O’Connell Street undergone more change. There’s more demand for office building and change was happening rapidly, with the economy getting better and better. And then Nelson’s Pillar was blown up and this image from the early 80’s shows like the highway of travel going across O’Connell Street. It had lost its way with the development in (38.50 inaudible). Even trees seem inappropriate in Dublin at that stage, inappropriate tree planting. You can see here from the 80s, the west side of O’Connell Street, inappropriate (39.01 inaudible) took place and the very top right hand side, an office building there, that was where Gilbey’s shop was. And Gilbey’s was designed by the Dean family, Sir Thomas Dean, and that was demolished in the 1960’s like way from this commercial building. So a lot of damage was done to O’Connell Street and the Corporation to their great credit fought back to examine O’Connell Street again.I think the model the Corporation were using was the model of the Champs Elysee in Paris, that was the approach to having a boulevard again, which would be time for walking, reflection and enjoyment. This is Paris here. That kind of gentleness, time and space, not rushing anywhere anymore. It’s time to enjoy the street and enjoy being there.Again, a further image of Paris, the sense of contentment almost, of being there on the street. It’s like a day out to enjoy being there. It wasn’t the case that O’Connell Street in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.And this is what O’Connell Street, part of the plan the Corporation came up with. They made recommendation, then they were quite narrow to begin with. The widening of the pavements and the central mall be installed in O’Connell Street. Traffic lanes to be reduced to two on both sides. A new Luas station would be built. A plaza built outside the GPO, a civic space effectively. Steps of planting around that plaza and then a suitably new paving. All the monuments, all the pieces of sculpture were all cleaned up and there was a spire, the new competition for a replacement was done and that was constructed as well. And the street was now beginning to fight back, it was becoming a better place. But it’s only the beginning of that fight back with a street that’s so much part of our history and the story of the Irish people.This map here shows the sculpture on O’Connell Street. And if you go down O’Connell Street these days, I’d ask you to take time and reflect and look at these beautiful sculptures we have on O’Connell Street. They are all pre 13 and have been restored. Sculpture comes into its own when things slow down and you can enjoy them and see them better, the great parks have done that effectively in Chapelizod. You slow down and you enjoy the city, enjoy the street and you enjoy being there. And that’s what this attempt by Dublin Corporation are doing, to make it a better place for all of us, and celebrate our Irishness, I suppose as well.So that’s back where we started, and you might want to say a few words.KlausWell just to book end things as we finish off because to reflect again on, go back again to the good Duke of Ormond and his interest in public works and investment in public works. As Stephen has pointed out the Corporation’s very meritorious development of the paving and the tree planting with Ian Ritchie’s spire has helped in considerable measure to improve the character of the street, than the pictures that we saw what it was like in the 80’s. I too had some involvement in the feasibility study looking at the possibility of putting a new national theatre, the Abbey Theatre in O’Connell Street on the site of the Carlton cinema at one time. It’s not going to happen now. But I do feel fairly strongly that the kind of public investment in a public work, in a public venture like that would underwrite the sustainability of the street into the future and allow it then to develop its commercial activities, its entertainment activities and so on, and give a vibrancy, but a vibrancy together with a civic dignity, that I think was portrayed in the 19th century, with the development of the GPO and Nelson’s Pillar at the time.So that would be our view as previous public service architects, that there is scope for public investment in the main street of our capital city. That’s it. (Recording ends here)Thank-you for listening to the Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive Podcast. To hear more, please subscribe on iTunes or SoundCloud. You can also visit our website - dublincitypubliclibraries.ie and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Working on the Railway in Dublin, 1900-1925 - Transcript
The following is the transcript of a talk given by Mary Muldowney in Cabra Library on 25 August 2016.AudioWelcome to the Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive Podcast. In this episode, Mary Muldowney looks at the lives of Dubliners who worked for the Great Southern and Western Railway in the early years of the 21st century. At the time the Great Southern and Western Railway was the largest railway system in Ireland and it was a significant employer in Dublin. Mary looks at working conditions, pay, pension and industrial action, focusing especially on the lives of those who were engaged at the lower levels of the pay scales, men and women who were completely dependent on the railways.Recorded in front of a live audience at Cabra Library on the 25 August 2016 as part of the Libraries' Heritage Week Programme.In 1990 John O’Mahony and R. Lloyd Praeger wrote a guide book and it was entitled ‘The Sunny side of Ireland: How to see it by the Great Southern and Western Railway’. It was published by Thom’s Directories but it is likely that the Great Southern Railway – and I’m going to call them just the Great Southern for convenience – had had a hand in the commission. The style reads almost like an advertisement brochure as you can see from the extract.The carriages which the company provide are of the very latest design – vestibule corridor, trains with dining and breakfast cars, run daily and the speed of the trains will bear comparison with any. The journey Dublin to Cork 165 miles is performed in 4 hours which is not all that much slower than sometimes it takes now. (laughs) To Killarney 189 miles and about 15 minutes more and all the important tourist centres can be reached within a very short time. Comfort of passages is well arranged for. Refreshment rooms are provided at the principle stations and breakfast, luncheon and tea baskets can always be had as well as pillows, rugs and all the modern conveniences of travel. Besides all this the enterprise of the company have provided at Killarney, Parknasilla, Kenmare, Carragh Lake and Waterville hotels which for appearance and luxury, tempered by economy, are the equals of any in Europe.Now the book follows various routes covered by the Great Southern and it outlines many of the sights that can be seen if you take the railway excursions and the brief forays into local history and there are lots of really attractive illustrations.But as is the case for such guide books it makes absolutely no reference at all to the people who worked on the railways to provide the excellent service. The smooth travelling and the wide range of amenities are also outlined in great detail, again with no reference to those who deliver it. So in this talk I’m going to focus on some aspects of the lives of those people who were engaged at the lowest levels of the pay scales, who were completely dependent on the railways for their livelihood at a time of significant economic, political and social upheaval.Now the Great Southern had the largest railway network in Ireland. It began in 1844 as a railway that would connect Dublin with Cashel and it was incorporated the following year. The lines afterwards extended to the city of Cork and various other amalgamations took place in the second half of the 19th century so that by the end of the century the company’s rail network covered a significant area of what is now the Republic and they were a pretty powerful organisation. They were typical of other companies in the railway industry in employing a predominantly male workforce. Women’s employment was confined to catering and cleaning for the most part and that would have been cleaning carriages and the dormitories of drivers. Locomotive cleaning was confined to young boys who would be apprentice locomotive drivers eventually.So women were starting to be hired for clerical work at this time and we’ll say a bit more about this later. But as technology advanced in the early decades of the 20th century typewriters and telephone exchange started to become an integral part of systems like railway networks and it was mainly women who were employed to operate them. Now, according to the 1901 Census the number of women working in the Irish railway industry and related commercial operations was very low indeed. You can see you have a total of more than 11,500 workers only 96 were women and it hadn’t changed all that much by 1911. But although there were now 143 females, some of those would have been working in the hotels that were mentioned in the guide book and the number of men had increased but as a proportion of the total workforce the male workers had decreased every so slightly if not really significantly.Jobs on the railways were very much prized at the time. Even in the lower paid grades such as permanent weigh men and crossing gate keepers and they were generally secure and quite often they came with accommodation provided. Railway houses were of mixed quality and they usually had to be surrendered when the worker retired. The rationale for this was that wages were considered by the railway companies to be high enough for employees to save for their old age. This policy, however, often resulted in workers – particularly in rural areas – holding on to their jobs until they were very old or even dying in service in order not to lose their homes. The Census returns in both 1901 and 1911 show that the accommodation was frequently of a very poor standard, particularly the cottages associated with crossing gates. This was not necessarily because they had been built to a poor standard but simply that many of the buildings were getting on in age at this stage – they were 40-50 years old – and while they had been built to a good standard maintenance wasn’t very high. So the houses built around the Great Southern Railway networks, particularly the works in Inchicore, are a good example of the kinds of accommodation provided for workers. The houses there were of a very good basic standard. They weren’t luxurious but the tendency to large families could be problematic. Now I was looking at the square which was built for a lot of the fitters and others who were sort of the skilled workers in the railway works in Inchicore at the time and the Sadlier family were fairly typical in that you can see that there were several members of the family at adult level still living in a house that had 5 rooms. It was classified as a second class house by the Census but this simply meant that it had a roof and windows and a front door and it was fairly solid in that it was brick built. It wasn’t likely to blow down. But it didn’t necessarily mean that there was anything wonderful about it. There were seven members of the family present on Census night in both 1901 and 1911. As I said, they are nearly all adults as you can see in the third column there and their ages. So there wouldn’t have been a lot of space available. And the one thing that was innovative still at that point of building around the houses was that green spaces tended to be included in the planning so the square and other similar developments, like the Great Western houses in Phibsborough, they would have all had a green space or park built in as an integral part of the development. The residents of this house, 16 Great Western Square, were also ... that was for the Midland in general, the Midland and Great Western Railway (laughs), and they operated out of Broadstone where the Great Southern operated mainly out of King’s Bridge, what’s now Heuston. But again the houses were of a good standard but the problem was that the families tended to be fairly large. Now, if you’re looking at this one which is from 1911 the Brown family, several of the adult children are described as working as ‘clerks’ and because it was very common for railway companies to employ family members, they were particularly keen to have people who could be vouched for by existing workers, it’s quite likely that they were railway clerks but I can’t swear to it. But certainly the father was a railway guard and he had originally in the 1901 Census the family had been living in Clifden where he was also a railway guard and at that time for the Midland and Great Western too. He may simply have transferred to Dublin because he had been born there and there would have been more opportunity for the children as they grew older.Now despite the company’s claim that workers were well paid enough to allow them to save for their old age, in 1900 the Great Southern implemented a non contributory pension scheme, following the example of the industry in Britain, and it was aimed for people who were very much on the lowest pay grades because I imagine you know underneath all of the claims about adequate preparation for old age was an awareness that the wages were pretty low. So the introduction of the free pension in 1900, as it was called because it was non contributory, was welcomed and there was quite a number of pensions immediately qualified. But in 1908 the state pension, old age pension, was announced and the Great Southern immediately decided that they would cut the occupational pension. They were just going to take it away.So they issued in October 1908 as the Old Age Pension Act had been made law they issued this notice, it was signed by Francis Ormsby who was the Company Secretary at the time. So the heading was ‘Free pensions to servants on the wages staff of the company’. As I say when free pensions to the wage earning staff of the company were sanctioned in the circular 17th of February 1900 the directors reserved to themselves the right to alter or terminate the arrangements then made as per following paragraph. And he quoted:As the allowances to be granted by the company will be provided out of their own funds without contributions from the men, the directors reserved to themselves the right of declining, withdrawing or reducing an allowance in any case as also the power of altering or terminating the arrangement at any time and as they may deem necessary. The recent provision of old Age pensions by the Government charged in the general taxes to which the company and their shareholders both as a corporation and its individuals or large contributors has materially modified the position of men in advanced years and the directors give notice that they hereby terminate the free pension scheme hitherto enforce from 1st of January 1919. This notice does not affect those to whom pensions are at present being paid.But actually of course it did because if you’re getting the occupational pension and you get this thing out of the blue saying that if you qualify for a state old age pension we’re taking away your occupational pensions it would have come as quite a shock to a lot of the older people.Now, William Partridge was the representative for the ITGWU, the Irish Transport and General Workers Union in the Inchicore works and he wrote to the Irish Independent and it was really drawing attention to the fact that existing pension holders, that claim that they wouldn’t be affected was actually just exactly what (laughs) you know ... to put mildly it couldn’t stand up. So he clarified the position from the men’s point of view and just there’s a quote and extract from his rather long letter, that:Upon the publication of the recent order of the Board relative to the stoppage of old age pensions after January next a petition was drafted seeking a modification of that order in so far as not to apply to men having 30 years and upwards. The object of this petition was to safeguard the interest of old and faithful servants who had devoted the best years of their lives to the service of the company and who, for the past 8 years, had been schooled to regard the reception of the free pension as a certainty in the future. To such men the recent order of the board was cruel in the extreme and the petition presented upon their behalf was signed by 860 adult employees engaged at the Inchicore works. Of that number no less than 700 possessed only 29 years service and under and therefore would not be eligible to gain anything by the granting of the rest. In other words it was entirely altruistic on their part to be getting involved in this. The remaining 160 had a service of 30 years and upwards and if they lived and were fortunate in their services to qualify for the pension provided the directors were so kind as to favour the considered petition presented upon their behalf.Now, given that Partridge was a very active trade union official and in them days you got involved in other Republican activity I suspect the tone was rather tongue in cheek. But a lot of letters at that point were written in these very humble terms.Now, he said that the very day we were officially informed that the order of the board relative to the stoppage of the payment of free pensions must stand but that the directors would be prepared to consider individual applications upon their merits. This promise carries no guarantees that a pension will be granted. Thus the door is not slammed it is shut gently but nevertheless closed tightly leaving not one ray of hope for those whose lives were given in the service of the company and now in their old age are disappointed. The board just ignored the petition essentially and department heads were told to compile lists of the pensions who had previously worked in their areas and to give details of their dates of birth. This was to ensure that the company would be aware of every worker who was over 70 years of age and thus entitled to the state old age pension.Now, in December 1908 Ormsby wrote again to all the pensions who had been identified by the department heads and he sent them this circular letter.Sir,Under the Old Age Pension Act which comes into operation on the 1st of January 1909 every person aged 70 and upwards whose yearly income does not exceed 31 pound 10 shillings per annum is entitled to an Old Age Pension from the Government at the rate mentioned in the schedule of the Act. As the company will have to contribute to these Government pensions as rate payers they cannot continue to pay the company’s existing pensions in full and I am directed to say that you should immediately make application for an Old Age Pension from the Government and as soon as you report to me that you have obtained such the board will then consider the question of supplementing the weekly payment which you may receive from the Government. The company will only continue the present pension to you up to the 1st of March 1909 but not after that date and you should therefore take steps at once to secure whatever weekly sum you are entitled to from the Government. Forms of application for Government pensions can be obtained at your local post office.Now, the state Old Age Pension at this point was a maximum of 5 shillings a week so we’re not talking huge amounts of money, even for the time and although the cost of living would have been rather less than it is now it was still a pretty paltry amount and a lot of pensioners had clearly thought when the Old Age Pension came out it would be in addition to their occupational pension so that maybe for once in their lives they might even start to approach a reasonable standard of living. However, what followed Ormsby’s letter was copious correspondence between him and other senior personnel in the Great Southern around the country and various elderly men who were in receipt of the pension from the company who wrote of their distress and concern at the proposal to cut their pensions. By the way, women weren’t getting any pensions, the 143 don’t arise in this case.So not only did the letters from the pensioners illustrate the poverty in which many of the former wage staff of the company were living, but they also shed light on the sense of vulnerability which the company’s decision inflicted on many of them.In February 1909, for example, a gate man, William Byrne, who lived at 50 Arbour Hill, was granted an Old Age Pension of 5 shillings. He wrote to Francis Ormsby because the company was going to withdraw his occupational pension of 6 shillings. He wrote that he was 76 years of age and had no other means of support. The withdrawal of the pension would mean he would be thrown on the mercy of the union or the workhouse for survival as he couldn’t live on 5 shillings a week. There were many other letters in a similar vein and eventually the board decided to cut the free pensions only by the amount of the Old Age Pension granted by the Government so at least the pensioners were no worse off, not any better but it could have been worse.Well, one aspect of the introduction of the Old Age Pension in Ireland was how it revealed the extent of very irregular recording of births.Now this unfortunately is a typically racist cartoon from Punch but it does ... if you can see it’s you know ...Officer investigating Old Age Pension Claims “Well. Mrs Brady, and how old might you be?” Mrs Brady “Sorra wan of me knows, indeed, Sor.”.I’m no good at this kind of thing and it really is awful. But the officer says to think, don’t you know the date of your birth and she says“The date of my birth, is it? Sure there was no such things as dates when I was born!” (laughter)Which is okay for us to laugh at but not the English audience it was aimed at. But, as I said, it does show that people had to prove that they were over 70 in order to get the state pension and they didn’t have birth certs so there lots of mentions in the correspondence from the pensioners of the sorts of documents and other kinds of evidence that they’d have to produce to try and prove to the pensions officer, the local pensions board, that they actually were entitled at 70 years of age.So there were multiple cases of people who weren’t able to prove that so they basically were left to swing unless you could come up with somebody like a local authority figure like a priest or a local policeman who would be prepared to swear for it if you had no other form of documentary evidence.The Act also excluded the dissolute and the occupants of workhouses, presumably on the basis that they were not deserving of the pension because they had not contributed their labour during their lifetimes. Several of the letters from Great Southern pensioners responding to the initial notification of the pension cuts from the company had given their local union or workhouse as their address, proving that their occupational pension was already insufficient to keep them in their old age.Then in the 19th century during the early decades of the company’s existence the employees had remained fairly contented or at least they hadn’t been obviously revolting, although there had been some occasions when men had sought better conditions and wages. The boards policy was to be ruthlessly opposed to any appearance of combination or organisation of unions among the men to rewards those who remained loyal in any conflict and to grant small increases in pay from time to time.During the decade which ended with the outbreak of the First World War the number of passengers carried by the Great Southern increased to over 6 million annually and the yearly freight (21.54 inaudible) to 2 million. In 1913 the company’s income reached 1 million 600 thousand which was significant even for the time. This gave shareholders a fairly healthy dividend but it wasn’t reflected in any increase of wages at the lower levels.So industrial unrest which was widespread in the early days of the 20th century started to have some effect on the Great Southern. In late August 1911The Irish Worker, the newspaper of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, defiantly claimed on behalf of railway workers:In the future we’re not going to have the men crawling into the office of anybody of railway directors. In future, workers would stand up for themselves and take things like union recognition, higher pay and shorter hours as rights.There were two railway strikes as a result in 1911. One was brief and successful and the other longer and ended unfortunately in complete defeat for the strikers. The first was really part of a British strike and it was Irish workers of the North Wall joining a strike by the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants which was an English union. They were joined by the ITGWU but following negotiations in London the strike was settled within 24 hours. The second strike began in September 1911 and railway workers refused to handle goods from a timber yard that had sacked workers for union membership. They were in turn sacked by the Great Southern and this led to an all-out strike along the lines to Limerick, Cork, Waterford and Tuam.Now, economic historian Conor McKay has made quite a study of the 1911 strike and he notes that William Goulding, who was the owner of the Great Southern and the Chairman of the board at the time, had a number of powerful weapons at his disposal. The first was money obviously. Those worked who ‘scabbed’ the strike were paid a £10 bonus which was quite significant. Station masters were given clocks in gratitude for their service throughout the strike. I’m not sure if they would have preferred the £10 but the clock was a prestige thing. Another advantage held by Goulding was his ability to exploit sectarian animosities. Northern Protestant workers were brought south to take the places of the striking workers for the duration of the strike. In the final resort Goulding had the force of the British state to back him up. Thousands of British soldiers – and we can see some of them here – were drafted in to man the lines and stations and to make sure they were not blocked by pickets. One observer thought it looked as if all Ireland was turned into a military camp and actually the picture on the right there was from a German journal because this drew quite a lot of attention in recognition that the workers were being treated very badly and the state forces being used against them. But Goulding just rejected all attempts at arbitration, even those people like the Catholic Archbishop Louis Walsh and the nationalist leader Michael Davitt had come forward and offered to intervene and by late September the workers’ representatives were indeed, contrary to the Irish Workers confident prediction earlier, were crawling to Goulding to beg for reinstatement. The company did take back some workers – those who were identified as quiet and inoffensive and they sacked those identified as militant. The workers in the railway were still recovering from the impact of the 1911 strike when the First World War began in 1914.Now, when the war started in 1914 the Great Southern employed over 9,000 staff or one third of Ireland’s railway workers in total. It was one of Ireland’s largest employers outside just even the railway networks. But unlike the other European powers with mass armies based on compulsory military service the UK which we were part of at the time depending on the small professional army and this was really depleted by the end of 1914 so huge efforts were starting to be made to recruit voluntarily and although it had been asserted at the beginning of the war it would be over by Christmas 1914 it was beginning to be obvious by 1915 that wasn’t the case. And a lot of the efforts weren’t just aimed at persuading workers to enlist but were focused on employers to persuade them to release workers and to make do with less labour. So William Goulding asked for an assurance that the Government would not call upon any railway man who had returned himself as willing to enlist if the company employing him was unable to dispense with his services. An undertaking in this regard has been given to English railway companies in September 1914 and a similar arrangement was made for the Irish railways giving the companies a veto on the enlistment of staff members. At the outbreak of the First World War the railways in Britain were immediately placed under government control but the Irish companies were left free to run their lines until late in 1916 when the Irish Railway Executive Committee was set up and the Great Southern’s General Manager, E. A. Neale was the Chairman but it wasn’t a government body, it was still an independent industry body just reporting back to the government rather than their own shareholders. They were responsible for controlling all the activities of the Irish railway companies and the railways didn’t actually return to the management of the individual owners until August 1921. Now, in Britain as we said the British railways had been negotiating with Lord Kitchener who was the Minister, Home Secretary, for the war and because they were so intent on getting workers out of employment and into the army there was a big focus on recruiting women. Now, that didn’t happen here because we never had conscription but at the same time it opened up a lot of opportunities in railway employment as men were released and particularly the numbers of female clerks who were employed enormously grew in the period of the First World War and many of them didn’t leave afterwards. So it changed the nature of the workforce at least as far as the white collar work was concerned.But the women were really only supposed to be employed for the duration of the war in order to protect the jobs of the men who had enlisted and although women came forward in huge numbers and did anything that was asked of them and showed that there was no need for it to be an all-male industry, it was really made very clear indeed that it was for the duration of the war. In Ireland the only significant change in the nature of employment was the hiring of ticket collectors by the Cork Blackrock and Passage railway and this might not seem terribly significant now but in 1915 it was quite a scandal. In a write up in the National Union of Rail Women’s Journal Railway Review remarked that:The ticket collector is often exposed to the economies of a rough element which passes through the ticket gates and this is the objectionable part of the position unsuitable to the fair sex. In addition to consideration of working hours and the expense involved in providing extra toilet facilities for them the author suggested that attention would also have to be given to the conditions under which the women would have to work and still be properly supervised and safeguarded to make sure that the sexes would not be brought into undesirable association.Now the poor dear. (laughter) And this is written by a union man, anyway. In the Irish railway companies women were employed as caretakers in premises that were used as dormitories for drivers and maintenance staff who needed overnight accommodation away from their homes. I couldn’t find any evidence in the files that anyone was concerned that they might be undesirable associations in their work but you never know. Certainly women upholsterers who were employed in production and repair of the carriage furnishings were released from their training in what was called the sewing class 5 minutes earlier than their male colleagues in order to keep them separate socially. Another group of women worked as crossing gate keepers and their conditions were pretty dreadful and the pay low but they were generally given use of the gatekeeper’s house and this group of women seems to be the only one that actually combined both single and married women and widows where the clerical work was for single women and the cleaning work was for widows, often to provide them with an income if their husbands had died.One exception to containment of women in clerical and so-called traditional women’s work in catering, cleaning and sewing was Mrs Margaret McKenna who was the Great Southern Station Mistress in Kilfenora County Kerry, although she doesn’t really seem to have benefitted significantly from her post of responsibility. In 1915 her salary was £45 per year which was roughly similar to the earnings of a lady clerk with several years experience. Margaret had been appointed in 1904 when she was 41 years of age but her terms and conditions would have included the free occupancy of the station house and I imagine that was intended to balance the relatively low pay. She was a Catholic widow living with her three sons but the family members were all from Dublin so when I looked in the 1901 Census I found that her husband was still alive at this stage and he was the Station Master in Lucan which would have been a reasonably prestigious station. So it’s likely that because he had died between the two censuses that this is where she needed to be given a job but the files unfortunately didn’t say why they felt they had to move her from Kerry and why she couldn’t have just taken over the job in Lucan. I can guess but I’m not supposed to speculate as a historian (laughs).But the houses, again in Kilfenora the house is described as a second class building and there were only two rooms for the family to live in whereas the Lucan one had been bigger, there were five rooms, so that may have had something to do with it, that it was a better house. But another significant thing is that by the 1911 Census Margaret is living with her sons and her two daughters are in-mates of the Presentation Convent Orphanage in Dundrum and Tipperary, presumably because she simply couldn’t afford to keep all of them on her meagre pay. Others, Kate and Jane I think, no, the young Margaret, don’t appear in the 1911 Census and I couldn’t find them anywhere at all suggests that they may have gotten married in the meantime or maybe they emigrated but they don’t turn up in the British records either. However, Margaret records show that she left the company in January 1922 when she would have been just short of her 60th birthday but there is nothing at all about her circumstances and she wouldn’t have been entitled to a pension because it hadn’t been sorted at that point and she wouldn’t have been entitled to the Old Age Pension either so presumably she found more lucrative employment. Anyway, unfortunately I don’t know where the story went.But there were no national pay scales applicable to the industry at that time and each grade within each railway company had its own rates of pay. So if you were engaged at a minimum rate men were commonly awarded an annual increment, although the scale was usually reached within 5 years. Temporary staff would only receive a minimum wage with no increments and of course because of the deal done between the British Government and by consequence the Irish railway companies with the National Union of Railway men women were hired as temporary workers so they weren’t getting any increments or anything else.Peter Rigney has shown how the records of the Great Southern helped throw some light on the movement of troops into Dublin in Easter week in 1916 and also the British Army’s response to events in the provinces. The general manager at the Great Southern at the time made a report to the board on the 5th of May. It is headed:The Sinn Fein InsurrectionHe said:I beg to report for the information of the directors that on 12.25 on Easter Monday 24th of April the military authorities telephoned the superintendent of the line to stop all traffic and to prepare military specials for The Curragh immediately. Empty specials left King’s Bridge at 1.17pm, 1.45pm, 2.06pm and 2.26pm returning at once with troops, the last arriving at 5.30pm. 3,000 men were thus conveyed to the city.So obviously the railway was playing a crucial part in the almost immediate reaction to what was going on in Dublin on Easter Monday. He went on to say that:The military on arriving took possession of the station (this was King’s Bridge) and arranged for its defence. Some of the window screens etc., were broken to enable the troops to fire from them. We were next ordered to stop all trains then proceeding to Dublin, the last conveying passengers being the 9.45am from Cork.Rigby points out that the 1916 Rising was envisaged by the Volunteers originally as conventional military engagement and this meant that large bodies of troops would be confronting each other and in this scenario the railway network would play a central role, they’d have to you know in helping to mass troops to set piece battles. And in April a crucial tactic in the anti conscription campaign – 1918 sorry – was a general strike, including the stoppage of all work on the railway network. So it was still recognised that as the form of transport that was keeping the country either moving or not it would allow you to control it, the railway network was absolutely crucial.Now the slides here, you can’t see them very well, but they are just really to show the impact of some of the workers. The letter, the typed one here, is in relation to a group of men who had been sacked for not turning up for work during Easter week and some of them had pleaded that it wasn’t their fault, they couldn’t travel, they couldn’t get passed the soldiers but it was quite clear that others had been busy doing other things themselves and had been involved in the fighting and certainly there were several Irish Citizen Army men working on the railways, they were not getting their jobs back. The Secretary at the time, Crawford, said that yes they would give jobs back to some of the men and he names them specifically but there would have been demotions for them and they had to apply for them and everybody else was basically being told we don’t want to know you anymore. The other letter is interesting because it’s written by one of the women on behalf of the women who clean the stations and saying because they couldn’t get to work during Easter week 1916 they’d lost a week’s wages which would have been pretty drastic for them and pleading extreme hardship and the company did agree to pay them the week back because it wasn’t a political dimension obviously from that point of view.But in the 1921 War of Independence it was mainly a gorilla war so the railways weren’t as important. The struggle didn’t have all that much material effect on the Great Southern but though there were lots of temporary interruptions to traffic, mainly because of military orders or by refusals of employees to work trains carrying troops or armaments and that lacking of military equipment was an extremely important weapon on the side of the Irish independence fighters, so large sections of the railway were shut for long and short periods. There were hundreds of incidents of damage to company property during the civil war which followed the War of Independence. So by about November 1922 about a third of the system had ceased to operate and there were multiplications of malicious damage to the track, stations and the trains themselves. But following the ending of the civil war the new Irish Government gave priority to maintaining the railways as transport hub and they set up a Railway Defence and Maintenance Corp which was engaged in patrolling the lines and repairing damage. So throughout the conflict the company’s employees had kept some sort of service operating although sometimes in conditions of danger to themselves and their families but then you know everybody was in conditions of danger to themselves and their families at the time.So eventually the tax payer paid for restoring material underlay to the railways but no compensation was ever received for the loss of travel although they did try to claim for it. By this stage the situation of the Great Southern was so serious financially with expenses up and receipts down that the company notified the Government of its intention to suspend all operation of the railway network. But the Government took the view that railways were essential for the life of the country and they wouldn’t permit the proposed closure so the directors decided to maintain the services as best they could until the fighting should cease and the long task of restoration could be undertaken.The Government also made it a policy to bring about the fusion of all the railways in the Free State into one company. They threatened legislation to enforce a merger if it wasn’t brought about voluntarily. Consultations failed and in April 1924 a Bill was introduced and became an Act with very little delay. Under its terms the larger companies were to amalgamate first and then absorb the smaller railways. Most of debate in the Dáil actually, as it went through the various stages, concerned who would be shareholders in the company. There was very little about the terms and conditions of those whose livelihoods were going to be in play. At the second reading of the Bill, however, Tom Johnson, the Labour deputy, expressed his anger at what he believed was the wrong focus of these negotiations. He said:The railways in Ireland should be directed towards furthering the development of Ireland, rather than that Ireland should be an instrument for furthering development of railways and that railway policy should be subordinated to national policy and development. It has been pointed out in the past many times that railway policy has been directed to convey commodities and passengers for as long distance as possible to England and conveying commodities from England for as long distance as possible to increase the revenue of the railways and the effect of this policy has been to develop this importation and exportation not because of its advantage to Ireland because it would be of advantage to the railway companies, both in Ireland and England.And as I said (laughs) there was really no reference to the people who would be delivering all of this service one way or the other, regardless of the management.But in the Spring of 1925 the mergers had gone through. We now had the Great Southern Railways and a number of parliamentary questions were asked of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Patrick McGilligan – who was overseeing the change, and they indicate that the merger of the railway companies into the Great Southern Railway was causing hardship for employees of the Great Southern and other companies. John Lyons T.D. claimed that 217 men from the Midland and Great Western Railway had already been dismissed at this point and a further 32 were under notice of dismissal on the 4th of April 1925. The Minister replied that all those who had qualified would receive the compensation provided for in the Railways Act. If they registered at an employment exchange their names would be submitted for any suitable employment. He stressed that the efficient running of the railway company was a matter for the company and he would not interfere. I’ll refrain from commenting on similarities to similar ministers 100 years later. Anyway (laughs), Liam Davin who actually was a Station Master by profession before he was elected before the Dáil wondered how many railway employees had already been made redundant and if the minister was aware that the GSR was adopting the practice of calling upon the men to retire without, in many cases, mentioning compensation at all and in others merely asking the employee the amount of compensatory claims and generally replacing the onus of claiming calculation of compensation on the employees and whether he was aware that the railway company is bound to advise each redundant employee of the compensation to which he is entitled. Now the Act had a third schedule that set out the rates of compensation which were not generous but were fixed and should at least have provided a minimum payment. The minister not surprisingly responded that the procedures were laid out in the Act and he was sure the company was following them and of course it wasn’t his place to interfere. So the question of intimidation by the company was raised again over subsequent months suggesting that concerns were being raised nationally as the TDs asking the questions were coming from all over the country and it wasn’t because the Great Southern Railway was now the one body it was all about them. Further questions related to the adequacy of the compensation payments and of course a few months later it was beginning to seem that they weren’t adequate and again the minister stated he had no control over anything to do with the Great South Railway, even though in the Act it said that he did.The issue of a new pension scheme for employees of the GSR, the Great Southern Railway, was raised but it actually wasn’t until 1934 that this was finally resolved and this was only after lengthy hearings of the railway tribunal. It took 2 years of hearings before it was finally settled and they followed the pattern of British railway industry.So the first 25 years of the 20th century were turbulent ones for the people of Dublin and the rest of Ireland. Despite the glowing portrait of elegant and leisurely travel evoked by the guide book that I quoted at the beginning of this talk the reality for most of the people delivering the service was low pay, long hours and consciousness that their work was not particularly valued by their employers. There is an extract here from the rules and regulations for the guidance of the officers and men in the service of the Great Southern and Western Railway Company published in 1915. It’s indicative of the attitude of the senior management to the position of the ordinary workers at the time and basically it is saying:No servant when on duty or in uniform is allowed to enter a station refreshment room or any other refreshment room under the control of the company, except by permission of the Station Master or person in charge of the station.I was getting very wound up about this in discussing it with somebody who said “Well, sure you know they wouldn’t have been let go in and be drinking during the day” but it is only what was considered the servants, in other words the lower grades that were being excluded because of course you could trust officers (laughs), you know the white collar workers.So the Great Southern and Western Railway was by no means a bad employer really by the standards of early 20th century Ireland. However, the workplace apartheid that categorised white collar employees and skilled workers, such as locomotive drivers as officers while all the others were mere servants, did create a mindset that facilitated the poor treatment of already vulnerable people and that was still evident very much in 1925 when a new era was supposedly dawning.Thank you. (Applause)Thank-you for listening to the Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive Podcast. To hear more, please subscribe on iTunes or SoundCloud. You can also visit our website - dublincitypubliclibraries.ie and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
On Raglan Road - Irish Love Songs and their Inspiration - Transcript
The following is the transcript of a talk given by Gerry Hanberry on the 23 August 2016 in the Central Library, Ilac Centre, Dublin 1.AudioWelcome to the Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive Podcast. In this episode, writer and poet Gerard Hanberry reveals the inspiration behind well-known Irish songs and ballads. Learn the often surprising, sometimes bittersweet but always absorbing stories of the real women who inspired some of the world’s finest love songs. Recorded in front of a live audience at the Central Library on 23 August 2016 as part of the Libraries' Heritage Week Programme.ModeratorWelcome to the Central Library and this afternoon we have Gerard Hanberry and he is a Renaissance man, author, poet, musician and he is going to be looking at his latest book today on 14 love songs, famous Irish love songs, and the women that inspired them. His book ‘On Raglan Road’ will be out in September I think, isn’t it Gerry?GerardThe end of September yeah.ModeratorThe end of September and it will be on Amazon and in all of the book shops. So without any further ado I’m sure you are dying to get going, can I introduce Gerard Hanberry. (Applause)GerardThanks very much.So that’s the cover of the forthcoming book ‘On Raglan Road’, as you know called after the famous song, ‘Great Irish Love Songs and the Women who Inspired Them’. This book brings together, might introduce my various activities. I tend to have a very kind of compartmentalised world. I’m involved in poetry. I have four collections published and I’m also involved in music. I’m involved in writing. So this book sort of intersects all three I think, the lyrics and there’s a man, Kevin Maguire, I just want to name check him because he gave me a lot of help in researching.Some of the high points in the book would include the song ‘The Galway Girl’:I took a stroll on the old long walkOf a day -I-ay-I-ayI met a little girl ... or I met a pretty girlIs this fiction or fantasy? Well the reality is it is true. There is a Galway girl and I was lucky enough to be able to trace her and we’ll see her coming up now shortly.And the real story behind Nancy Spain as well is very interesting. It’s not at all what you would imagine. I often think of the people standing up and Christy Moore singing ‘I love you Nancy Spain’ and their hands on their heart, when they hear the real story (laughter) I’m afraid another Irish myth will be shattered. (laughter)What I really enjoyed about putting the book together was speaking with the composers and the artists and the recording artists and all of that. But very often little asides came out as well as their generosity and their honesty in revealing who the actual females were and in some cases they wouldn’t reveal it and told me ‘I don’t really want to be in the book. I don’t really want to go back there’ for understandable reasons given their current relationships maybe. So some people declined. But there were a few little nice stories on the side.One of them was Mundy telling me as a young man of 19 and the girl that inspired his very first song which was used in the film ‘Romeo and Juliet’, the song is called ‘To You I Bestow’ and it was the night following her farewell party, she had to go back to the United States, she was an American here for a few years and he fell madly in love with her. But he was in bed and as he said in this freezing cold house and the words came to him in the middle of the night and he didn’t want to get out of bed but he remembered Bob Dylan had said in some interview that very often your words will come in that moment between half sleep and half wake and no matter what happens you have to write them down. So he told me how he got out of bed in this freezing cold house in the middle of winter and found a biro and wrote the words on the back of a Golden Pages phone book (laughter). Yeah and that became his very first hit which set him on the road to success. It was featured in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, as I say, and that album went on to sell 11 million copies. So if he hadn’t got out of bed that cold ... if he hadn’t and said ‘Ah, I’ll think of it in the morning’ but you won’t think of it in the morning.So those little asides I really enjoyed hearing and one of the most famous songs in the whole world today is a song called ‘You Raise me Up’ and I’ll have a little surprise towards the end of the talk, hearing the actual story of how that came about and the inspiration for that. I had another song by the same author ‘Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears’ about the same woman who came through Ellis Island but unfortunately we were cut down to 14 songs, 14 chapters, so that didn’t get through on this occasion and Mick Hanly’s great song ‘Past the Point of Rescue’.That’s the contents. It begins back in the 1600s with an old ... you’ve often heard the cliché the 40 verses, well this has over 40 verses, Una Bhán, it’s an old Gaelic song from the 1600s, it tells of the love affair between Thomas Lauder Costello and a McDermott girl. It’s a sort of a Romeo and Juliet story and it goes on and it goes on and it goes on and goes on (laughs). But it’s a fabulous...The next chapter is ‘Danny Boy’, then ‘Down by the Sally Gardens’, ‘Gortnamona’ Percy French’s great love song set to music in the 1950s, he wrote the lyrics. And then ‘On Raglan Road’ itself, the song that inspired me to write the book. ‘Nancy Spain’ by Barney Rush. ‘Sarah’, the story of Phil Lynott and his love for his daughter expressed in song, the tragic story of Phil Lynott. I was listening to a local radio station during the Easter 1916 commemorations and the radio presenter came on and said “Now we’re going to play the song ‘Grace’ that was a big hit for Jim McCann in the 1980s written by Joseph Plunkett an hour or two before his execution in Kilmainham jail and I was saying to myself had he nothing better to do (laughter) than write a song a couple of hours before he was led out which of course the radio presenter had it all upside down. The song was written in the mid 80s by Sean and Frank O’Meara who were ... and still are ... songwriters. In fact Sean is the Head of the Advertising Authority at the moment and the song ‘Grace’ was written in response, as he told me, ‘The Fields of Athenry’ had been a great hit in the early 80s and I said to myself ‘Surely, I could find some historical story to match ‘The Fields of Athenry’ and it took him months and months searching his mind but then he remembered a story he had been told in school about this girl who married one of the signatories of the Proclamation just hours before he was to be executed in Kilmainham. So he wrote the song in the mid 80s ‘Grace’. ‘Passed the Point of Rescue’ Mick Hanly’s great song of love, ‘The Voyage’ Johnny Duhan. Frank and Walters ‘After all’, a great 90s song. ‘Galway Girl’, Steve Earle. ‘To You I Bestow’ by Mundy and ‘You Raise me Up’ by Brendan Graham.Okay, so I think what I’ll do is I’ll read the introduction to the book just so as you get a feel for it and then I’ll skip down and I’ll read a little bit of the chapter on Patrick Kavanagh. So the book opens with an introduction and this is the introduction:It is evening and friends have gathered. Conversation and conviviality abound. Eventually somebody requests a song. A reluctant member of the company known to have ‘a voice’ is identified and pressed to sing, hush descends, the singer grows in confidence as the spell takes hold. Some listeners close their eyes while others hold hands and sway to the melody. The song might tell of unrequited love or of loss and pain due to death or emigration or another lover. The singer’s head is bowed now and the song concludes. A moment of poignant silence and then the warm praise. The bard, the poet, the musician, those people have always been held in very high esteem in Ireland. Back in the old days of the Gaelic Order the poet or the file was a powerful individual and each chieftain had his own bard. Writing in 1596 the English poet and Government official Edmund Spenser said poets in Ireland were, and I quote:“Held in so high request and estimation amongst them, that none dare to displease them for fear of running into reproach through their offence, and to be made infamous in the mouths of all men”.Many of us have tapped our feet to the Chieftains as the band performed an ancient tune by Turlough O’Carolan, the blind 17th century harp, and wondered who was it that could have inspired him to write such a beautiful melody. Audiences still listen enthralled by Christy Moore as sings of ‘Nancy Spain’, a woman whose name continues to haunt the composer no matter where he wonders. How often have we taken to the dance floor at the sound of the opening notes of ‘Galway Girl’ and wondered who the beautiful enchantress could have been. A girl he said he met as he took ‘stroll on the old long walk of a day -I-ay-I-ay’ with her hair of black and her eyes of blue. Maybe we’ve rocked to Thin Lizzy and wondered about Sarah who according to the song changed Phil Lynott’s world and who exactly was the beauty first seen by the poet Kavanagh ‘On Raglan Road ... whose dark hair weave a snare that I might one day rue’ and, by the way, since I started writing this the amount of women who claim to have been (laughs) the inspiration for Raglan Road is amazing really. And people thought Kavanagh lived a quiet, sheltered life (laughter) but quite obviously not as quiet and as sheltered as we thought.Anyway, this book tells the story of all of those wonderful women, of great beauty and charm, who inspired poets and composers to write some of the world’s finest love songs. It also provides information about the lives of the writers and explores the circumstances under which these beautiful songs and poems came to be composed. So even though the book begins with the old Irish love song Una Bhán there, which was sung by Joe Heaney and (10.14 inaudible).I’m going to start by talking about Kavanagh ‘On Raglan Road’ because that’s the title of the book. So again I’ll just read a few pages from that chapter. So the chapter ‘On Raglan Road’ which is chapter 5 begins like this:It has to be one of the great iconic images of Irish folk music. Luke Kelly, his eyes shut tight, chin up, head thrown back. There he is. And that flaming tangle of curly red hair so instantly recognisable. In some still photographs he has his 5 string banjos strung around his neck and you just know he is delivering ‘On Raglan Road’ from deep in his heart. Hearing Luke perform this moving song of unrequited love is a powerful and emotional experience. Sadly Luke died in January 1984 at the age of 44 from a brain tumour but his voice lives on and so on. His masterful interpretation of ‘On Raglan Road’ partly stems from the fact that he was personally invited to sing the song by the composer, the poet Patrick Kavanagh. They met in 1964 by accident in The Bailey pub, a well known Dublin public house, and Kavanagh told Luke that he had a song for him and even sang him a few verses. But it was 20 years before meeting Luke Kelly in the Bailey that Kavanagh appeared in the offices of the Dublin based newspaper The Catholic Standard and produced a sheet of brown lined paper from his pocket on which was written the lyrics of ‘On Raglan Road’. Kavanagh was a columnist with The Catholic Standard at the time and his friend Benedict Kiely who also worked on the paper was able to recall in an interview years later that the lyrics were scribbled in pencil and the spelling was not very accurate (laughter). Typical Kavanagh, yeah. Patrick wanted to know if the verses could be sung to the tune of ‘The Dawning of the Day’. So the two friends raised their croaking voices in a terrifying cacophony (laughter) and sure enough the rhythm and lines fitted perfectly with the old Irish air and that was in the mid 1940s. ‘The Dawning of the Day’ is a very apt tune for Kavanagh’s poem because the original Gaelic lyric, known as ‘Fáinne Geal an Lae’, is a good example of what’s known as an Aisling or a vision poem. So I go on and I talk about what an Aisling is. He was bewitched by her beauty and tries to court her with gentle words but she rejects him and it goes on like that. Kavanagh’s poem ‘On Raglan Road’ can be seen as a loose reworking of the old song ‘Fáinne Geal an Lae’ which is an old Aisling. I’m jumping through paragraphs now. And in Kavanagh’s version the poet sees a beautiful girl on Raglan Road and falls in love with her. He knows that it’s impossible and that grief is as inevitable as the falling leaves in autumn but he is helpless because he has become enchanted. He tries his best to win her using all his artistic talents but in the end she rejects him and he fears that she may have taken his inspiration with her as she departs down ‘a quiet street where old ghosts meet’. Then I go in and I explain where the old air came from, the ‘Fáinne Geal an Lae’ was originally composed in a more complex form by the Sligo born harpist Thomas Connellan in the 17th century and the lyrics ‘Fáinne Geal an Lae’ were first published by teacher and writer Edward Walsh in his collection ‘Irish Popular Songs’ in 1847. But it’s really Patrick Weston Joyce who published a much simpler version of the song known as ‘The Dawning of the Day’ in his collection of Irish airs in 1873 and it’s this version that we all know and some of us were tortured going to school (hums the tune) on the tin whistle. Yeah so that’s the version, Patrick Weston Joyce’s version.I go on then and I talk about Kavanagh and a bit about his background. He was born in Inniskeen. Most of you know the story anyway so I won’t read it out, born in Mucker and I think it’s a fabulous name (laughs) for a place in which Kavanagh would have been born yeah, 1904. A townland called Mucker. He was the son of a small farmer and a cobbler and most of you know that story so. He left school at 13 and went on to help his father with the land and (laughs) there is a great quote from his father, he was useless of course. Kavanagh was useless at farming and at most things really except poetry and obviously talking to girls as well as we find out (laughs) but there’s a great quote from his father “You’ve broken every implement on the farm except for the crow bar and you’ve bent that” (laughter), so that about sums it up on his ability. So he walked off down to Dublin, all the way from Mucker down to Dublin, and got to know to know some of the literati. He went back and read as much as he could and eventually made his breakthrough and came to Dublin. He left home. He tried London for 5 months before settling in Dublin but he soon became disillusioned with the poetry world and the Dublin arts community. In 1942 his long poem ‘The Great Hunger’ was published in The Horizon magazine and so on. There followed a difficult period for Kavanagh as he tried to make a precarious living as a columnist and writing bits and pieces up around Dublin. This was the first time he first saw the woman that would inspire him writing an ode. He was working on pros manuscript that would later be published in 1948, Tarry Flynn, a semi-autographical novel and it was banned for a while actually following publication so it must be good. (laughter)So who was this beautiful enchantress? Here is Kavanagh anyway in his middle years I suppose. A fabulous photograph I think because it captures Kavanagh’s rural background, you know the little cottage and there’s something scholarly about him all the same and yet the fabulous rustic ... So this guy was 40 or 41. The girl was Hilda Moriarty and when Patrick first set eyes on her she was a young student from County Kerry studying Medicine at University College Dublin. She was 22 years of age at the time and is said to have been “one of the two most beautiful women in Dublin”. I don’t know who said that now but it’s a great quote. The other being Kathleen Ryan, star of the film ‘Odd Man Out’. The year was 1944 and the poet was living at 19 Raglan Road boarding house run by Mrs Kenny, he was paying 10 shillings a week. He had arrived in the capital from his farm in Monaghan 5 years previous. He befriended the girl, brought her to tea, they met a lot. Hilda was interested in him because he was a well known poet about town, a published poet, and she was very interested in writing and that. She also felt he needed some encouragement at the time, he was a bit down, and she was doing Medicine because her father told her basically. Her father was a doctor down in Kerry. Now, Hilda was not in the least bit interested in having a romantic relationship with the much older man with his dishevelled appearance and his harsh Monaghan accent but Patrick saw things differently and he was badly in need of some excitement in his life at this time too. He had recently lost his job as a columnist in The Irish Press and so on. In an interview, RTE 1987, Hilda, who was still alive at the time, explains how she thought Patrick was quite old “at least in my eyes at that time he seemed quite old”. She tells how she abraded him about Terry Flynn and writing about cabbage and turnips and potatoes and Kavanagh replied that he was a peasant poet and Hilda told him that he should write something else and she explains in the interview that this was the origin of writing good. The young student and the older poet continued to meet regularly during 1944 and into the following year. This is why she looked like. They met in the Country Shop up in Stephen’s Green and in cafes in Grafton Street and deep down Kavanagh knew the relationship was doomed to failure and he afterwards wrote that “falling in love is more a suicide than an accidental death” (laughter). But he was struck by cupid’s arrow and he couldn’t help himself. He followed her down to Dingle one Christmas, made an eejit of himself down there (laughter) and of course wasn’t invited to the doctor’s house. A total disaster. But he got an article in a newspaper about it anyway so he got something out of it.Now, just a few points, in 1945 he brought Hilda with him on a visit to Dunsany Castle down in County Meath. He wanted to meet Lord Dunsany. He thought he would get him to become his patron. He had other ideas as well bringing Hilda. But if his intentions were to turn both the Lord and his young companion into succumbing to his wishes then the day was a complete failure. But, he took Hilda for a walk through the castle grounds and there he saw bluebells growing beneath the trees and later Kavanagh wrote a poem on unrequited love inspired by the flowers and by his day out with Hilda in County Meath. The untitled poem is now known as ‘Bluebells’ and it is sometimes known by its first line “The bluebells are withered now under the beech trees” and the importance of it is it prefigures ‘On Raglan Road’. It’s not as good a poem at all as ‘On Raglan Road’ but it contains the idea that love is about a season like spring and that the use of nature imagery and the various specific locations. So the poem ‘Bluebells’ is linked to the later and superior poem ‘On Raglan Road’ and we can see the poetic mind working towards something finer that will emerge when he comes to write his great song of unrequited love. As the months began to pass after this Hilda began to find Kavanagh bothersome, to put it mildly. He would show up ... I suppose nowadays we’d kind of call him a bit of a stalker maybe (laughter) but she’d be having coffee with her student friends in Bewleys or wherever it was and he would be over here looking over. So she tried to shake him off a bit. There is a letter in the National Library – this is really good – which was sent by Kavanagh to Hilda dated 31st of May 1945. It’s exactly what you would expect him to write. It’s written shortly after their trip to Dunsany Castle. It’s not a very diplomatic statement, nor is it an example of a perfect love letter. It is, however, exactly what one might expect from the modern poet in his floundering attempts to come to terms with his emotional situation and his disappointment. He was beginning to realise that this wasn’t going to work out as he had planned. So he wrote her a letter – a few lines from it.“I am no longer mad about you (laughter) although I do like you very, very much. I like you because of your enchanting selfishness” (laughter) and he goes on. “Your friendship, our love or whatever it was, was so curious and so different. There has never been and never will be another woman who can be the same to me as you have been. (laughs) I think it’s a perfect Kavanagh letter, you know putting his two big feet into it and yet redeeming himself sort of at the end.She wanted to make a complete break with him of course but his mother died and that held her back from making the break. But in 1946 she met Donogh O’Malley, a newly qualified Engineer from Limerick, and much to Patrick’s distress they began seeing each other regularly. Kavanagh even accompanied them on numerous dates. (laughter) Donogh was confident that Kavanagh was not a rival. (laughter) He was now putting the finishing touches to the poem that would eventually become ‘On Raglan Road’ and it was published in The Irish Press in October 1946. It was called ‘Dark Haired Miriam Ran Away’, that was the original name of ‘On Raglan Road’. It was accompanied by a photograph of the poet which was very unusual at the time. The poem became very popular in Dublin and it was sung at parties and that to the tune of ‘On Raglan Road’ after it was published in the paper in 1946. It would be in the 60s before he produced it to the ballad here. Anyway, ‘Dark Haired Miriam’, who was Miriam? Well his brother Peter claimed that Miriam was his girlfriend (laughter) and that Patrick had stolen the name of his girlfriend and that was, again, quite in keeping with Kavanagh’s style. In ‘47 Hilda married Donogh O’Malley and they settled down in Limerick. She was now a qualified doctor and Donogh, as you know, went on to become a famous politician, he became Minister for Education and he is forever known as the man who introduced free secondary education into Ireland and free bus travel as well which changed the face of Ireland in a way.I’ll just skip to the end. That was the end of the relationship and the song became a hit in the 60s and indeed it remains Kavanagh’s most famous song. Donogh died suddenly in March 1968 following a heart attack after delivering a bi-election speech at Six Mile Bridge and Hilda ran for election but she didn’t get it. It was very acrimonious. Des O’Malley got it and it was a very acrimonious election. Patrick married his long term companion, Katherine Barry Moloney, a niece of Kevin Barry, in 1967. They had been seeing each other and were partners for many years but sadly he married in April and he died that November and Hilda sent a wreath to his funeral and she lived on into the 80s. So that’s a potted ... a very quick version of ...Now, I want to jump forward to this is Brendan Graham. A major figure in world song writing, I mean one of the major figures, and we’re lucky in Ireland to have him. If ever a man should be honoured in his home country it’s Brendan Graham – author, composer, lyricist. If he were in England he’d be Sir (laughs) or knighted or whatever. If you know Brendan, ‘Rock and Roll kids’, does that ring a bell, yeah? ‘The Voice’ and of course ‘You Raise Me Up’, a huge hit for Josh Groban in the US and around the world, Westlife as well yeah and played at all these historic moments. I could go on and on. It’s an amazing, amazing song. It is the most popular song in the world today, ‘You Raise me Up’. The facts and figures, I won’t bore you with them, they’re in the book but sold in its millions. Million! And used at historic moments – Olympics, Super Bowl. It’s currently being used by Hillary Clinton for her election promotion video. You all know the song yeah. Now, it is possible to appreciate and interpret ‘You Raise Me Up’ in many different forms, in different ways. The lyricist, Brendan Graham, regards his song as and I quote ... by the way, I want to thank Brendan Graham, he was so generous and honest and forthcoming and thoughtful about his inspiration for the song. A signpost that people will read through their own particular frame of reference and according to their own particular needs. He is happy if the song serves to elevate the milk of human kindness and he is not interested in determining how the lyric should be perceived. What gives the song its power and what makes it universally popular is the fact that the listener is permitted to bring his or her own meaning to the worldview in the line ‘You Raise Me Up’. So you bring your own meaning to the ‘You’. For some, the ‘You’ might be a loving and supportive partner and therefore it’s a love song. But for others it could be a song of praise and thanks for a parent or a teacher or a mentor and it’s been used for all these. It might be addressed to a sibling or a grandparent or a coach or a preacher. Others will interpret it as a sort of hymn of praise or a divine being. The listeners make their own meaning. As someone said to him ‘it’s a cross between a hit and a hymn’. (laughter) I think it’s a valid description of the song, it is too. Brendan wrote the lyrics and he accepts all of those interpretations. I quote him “I was aware of the ambiguity I created in the way I used the word ‘You’ in the lyric” he explains “but it is not simply a device to make the song universal, Brendan expands on his thinking behind the famous line ‘You Raise me Up’. If I am raised up ‘to be more than I can be’ it is the person I love who loves me and through that person it is also something greater, an embodiment of the spiritual energy of the universe and the greater unknown”. I think it’s a fabulous way of putting it – those are Brendan’s own words. When pressed further, for the first time ever, in this book Brendan explains his source of inspiration for the song. He was reflecting his own views that we are all ‘one with the moment’ – to borrow a line for another of his songs. He first became aware of this idea by doing research for his novel. Brendan is also a best-selling novelist, as if he hadn’t enough success to contend with, he is also an author as well as a composer, a lyricist. This novel, ‘The Whitest Flower’, he was researching this among the indigenous people of South Australia’s Coorong. These Aboriginal people “see humans and animals, plants and the land, as a conjoined part of one great whole” to quote Brendan, therefore they have a great respect for life and for the environment, for the sacredness of things. This is all tied in with their idea of ancestors who still live in the sun and the moon and the sky and in the rivers and lakes and in the billabongs and in the very shape of the earth. Brendan sees a parallel between the beliefs of Aboriginal people and Philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson’s notion of the super soul, that we are part of all the creation. Some people that the ‘You’ in the line ‘You Raise Me Up’ refers to their God but as Brendan points out it doesn’t matter who you call God because it is the same God and if you are preaching to the creator but yet one with him or her or “the force that through the green fuse drives” as Dylan Thomas put it then the ‘You’ of everything is the same, it is at once both human and divine because we are all part of the divine. Now that’s a bit deep for me to expound in a lecture but if you’re reading the book you can read back over that and it makes really profound and very good sense. He wasn’t using the ‘You’ in the singular sense rather it was a plural or split meaning, it is the people around me who raise me up but because they’re also part of the divine and the one the ‘You’ is also ... so as I say he’s one of Ireland’s leading song writers, a top lyricist and I won’t go through all the awards and all about his life.Let me just go on a little bit about the song. ‘You Raise Me Up’ was originally an instrumental called ‘Silent Story’. It was composed by a Norwegian called Rolf Løvland of the Irish/Norwegian duo Secret Garden. Some of you might remember that from the 1995 Eurovision Song Contest winner ‘Nocturne’. Now, Rolf Løvland later came to believe that his musical composition was somehow incomplete, it needed a lyric, but it had to be the correct lyric, one that was in total harmony with the music that he composed. So you’re familiar with the music (hums a tune), so there were no words to it. So Rolf let the tune sit for a good while. Sometime later Rolf Løvland’s musical partner, a girl called Fionnuala Sherry, the Irish violinist with the band, came across Brendan’s novel ‘The White Flower’ and was impressed by what she read. The book tells the story of Ellen O’Malley, survivor of the Irish Famine and so on and she was inspired by the book and she somehow saw a link between the book and the story and the music that her musical partner had written. Fionnuala passed the book onto Rolf and he was deeply moved by Brendan’s writing. He saw a tenuous connection between the music he had written and his composition which was then called ‘Silent Story’. In May of 2001 Fionnuala Sherry called Brendan and asked if he would be interested in meeting with Rolf and herself and have a listen to his composition side of the story with a view to writing a lyric to match the air. They knew each other, having been introduced at the Eurovision in ’95 when the Secret Garden won. Brendan was now working full-time as a novelist having secured a lucrative publishing deal but when he found out they were actually in Dublin at the time and staying close by he agreed. Then Rolf and Fionnuala were confident that if anybody could hear the story in the music that Rolf was trying to tell in the melody it would be brilliant. Brendan listened to a demo of Fionnuala playing the tune and he said very little. He then went home and he set to work. I’ll show you what he did. By the way, the song became a huge hit all around the world, particularly in the USA for Josh Groban ‘You Raise Me Up’. That’s Josh Groban here. There is the ...You raise me up, so I can stand on mountainsYou raise me up to walk on stormy seasI am strong when I am on your shouldersYou raise me up to more than I can beYeah. Now, just to go back. They were confident that Brendan could do it. He listened to the demo. He then went home and he set to work. The first thing he did was to brainstorm his ideas and jot them down on a scrap of paper. (audience gasp) And there is the scrap of paper. So that’s the very first moment that ‘You Raise Me Up’ appeared in the world, yes, and those original ideas on that sheet of paper turned up recently among his bits and pieces and he very generously sent me a copy which I can use in the book. The title and most of the chorus you can see kind of emerges here and the title and most of the chorus emerged first, that same night, and Brendan called Rolf and Fionnuala over to his house. He had the lyric written on a sheet of paper, Rolf saw the words ‘You raise me up so I can stand on mountains, you raise me up’ and he immediately said ‘Yes, these are the words, that’s the song’.So just the women behind ‘You Raise Me Up’ are Fionnuala Sherry who saw the link and maybe a fictional woman called Ellen O’Malley in the novel, yeah, and the world wouldn’t have what is, without doubt, at the moment probably the best known, probably the best-selling song as well.Now, as I told you I had a surprise for you, if Brendan doesn’t mind me pointing them out, Brendan is with us today and there he is. (Applause) He’s now embarrassed.Brendan GrahamI only came because I thought you might do a Paddy Kavanagh on me. (laughter)GerardI’m sorry for putting you in the spotlight Brendan. He is not a man who likes the spotlight in any manner or means.Now, how are we doing for time? Not too bad. All I can do now is go down through the images here and talk about them, yes.Let me see the next image here, yes, ‘Grace’, the story of ‘Grace’, everybody knows this, yeah, yeah. And in fact I’ve been giving talks around Galway libraries on ‘Grace’ for the 1916 thing but it’s such a fabulous story behind the song. I mean the song is a romanticised version of it. (Sings)Oh Grace just hold me in your arms and let this moment lingerWell, she arrived at the jail at 6 o’clock, having purchased an engagement ring herself in Grafton Street and went up and waited until 11.00. Near midnight she was brought in to the little church there. She was brought in to the little church in Kilmainham and Joseph Plunkett was brought down the steps in handcuffs and they weren’t allowed to speak or touch. They could respond to the service, to the Mass. She had recently converted to Catholicism. After the ceremony he was handcuffed again and taken immediately away. The place was full of soldiers and she was taken away by the local priest who had officiated. She was lodged in the house, the local bell ringer’s house of that church. That was about 1.30am. She went to bed. About an hour later a car arrived for her. The Governor of the jail had sent for her again. She was brought back to the prison and she was allowed 10 minutes with him in his cell. The cell was full of soldiers and officers, packed tight. A sergeant was put standing at the door with a stopwatch to time the 10 minutes to the second. Again, they weren’t allowed touch but they were allowed speak but as she said later ‘we who had so little time to speak in our last 10 minutes couldn’t find anything to talk about at all’. So he spoke about Pearse and the others who had been executed the previous morning and then she was ushered away and 3 hours later he was brought out and executed. This photograph was taken a few weeks afterwards by a journalist who came over to interview her. Now she was a prickly enough character. It’s a very interesting story but I just don’t have time to tell it but notice she’s wearing a wrist watch, yeah, the height of fashion at the time. So why is she holding a cat? She wants the watch of course (laughter), yeah. And the journalist was very surprised that a person didn’t appear around the corner. That was taken out in Plunkett’s Mansion in Widows Weeds, she became the height of fashion. But the story is fantastic.AudienceI’d like to say something if I may?GerardYeah?AudienceI think I’ve a few Christmas presents now sorted out.GerardOh thanks. (laughter) Yeah. That’s great. In a painting with William Orpen, the painter, painted in 1906 – the height of fashion, yes. Again, she’s a very fashionable person.AudienceDid she ever re-marry?GerardNever re-married. Never re-married, no. Got very involved in the anti-treaty, ended up in Kilmainham herself for a year or so. She was an artist. That’s her cartoons. She was a cartoonist, a caricaturist and no she lived a sad life enough. Yes?AudienceWhy were they allowed marry in the first place?GerardWhy were they allowed to marry? Yeah that’s a very ...AudienceWhy them above everybody else?GerardYeah that’s a very interesting question. First of all, why did she call back an hour later? It wasn’t because the Governor got sorry for her or anything. It was because she was now his next of kin legally and they were allowed to marry ... it’s tricky enough. They had planned to marry on the Easter Sunday of the Rising in a double wedding with Joseph’s sister and of course he couldn’t turn up because he was planning the Rising the following day but the bands had been read and everything had been ready to go ahead on Easter Sunday with their marriage and he had written to her saying ‘We could get marry by proxy?’ and there’s another ... I had to be delicate about this in the book ... when she went to the priest, the words, the phrase, she used was ‘We have to get married’ (laughter). Now we in Ireland there’s (laughter) connotations around that phrase, yes, and in fact rumours abounded for years around that whole issue and when the Plunkett girl who did go ahead and got married that Easter Sunday came to write her memoirs which were in the National Library up until the end of the 1990s when they were published in a book, in a biography, edited by Ní Bhrolcháin in the early 2000s she clearly states that Grace was pregnant and had a miscarriage and it wouldn’t be worth mentioning at all, it would only be rumour and hearsay and not worth mentioning, except for the fact that she is very specific about it and that it was in her memoirs and now is published in the public domain. But I was kind of delicate around it in the book saying that she was the only person ever who said that you know. So all these feed into the reasons.The story of Grace is one of the highlights of the book. When she was incarcerated herself she painted a ... she was an artist. This is her cell and if you visit the prison now, Kilmainham, you can visit her cell. Sadly, it’s exactly as she painted it but it was touched up in the early 60s but (laughs) it was touched up to such a degree that, for example, she didn’t ... different colours are used and it still gives us a rough idea but it’s a more romanticised version than the one she actually painted herself on the wall.Now, skipping on, ‘Danny Boy’, right. I’m going to go through the remaining 10 songs (laughs) in 5 minutes, right. ‘Danny Boy’, the story of ‘Danny Boy’ is really, really amazing. It spans centuries and continents and has been the subject of much debate and all of that. You divide it into the tune and the lyrics and the old tune could go back to Rory Dall O'Cahan, a blind harper in the early 1600s picked up in Limavady. I’m really shortening this story now by a Jane Ross. The story is she heard it being played by a fiddler. She lived her and he played at the market across the road and she wrote down the music. Sent it to Petrie, the great Irish collector of songs in his Irish love songs and therefore the tune was committed to paper at last. But, there is a big difference really between the original Gaelic tune that is supposed to be the ancestor of what we now called ‘The Derry Air’ as played by and as written by blind Rory or Rory Dall O'Cahan and the tune that Jane Ross wrote down and sent to Petrie that he put down in his book. The title ‘The Derry Air’ or ‘The Londonderry Air’ only appeared in 1894 when the poet Katharine Tynan set the words of her poem Irish Love Song ‘Would God I were the tender apple blossom’, set that to the melody, the melody that she found in Petrie’s book. But, anyway the melody was fairly well known and that’s Jane Ross of Limavady who sent that melody that we know as ‘The Derry Air’ to Petrie who put it in his book and then it was taken and used by various artists. It’s a very convoluted story but it’s a very interesting story because ... and just skipping forward, the next woman behind the story of ‘Danny Boy’ is Margaret Weatherly was the wife of the London doctor Edward Weatherly who in 1899 abandoned his practice and left England to find his fortune in San Francisco and later in Colorado in the Gold Rush. She heard the tune being played, this Margaret Weatherly, and she knew that he husband’s brother, Frederick Weatherly, back in England, in Bristol, who was a lawyer but he was also a fabulous songwriter and lyricist, so she sent him the music. So the music went across with the fiddlers from Ireland or maybe from Australia and this woman heard it in Colorado and sent it back to her brother and it was Frederick Weatherly ... he had never heard the tune ‘The Londonderry Air’ before but it so happened that he had the lyrics of a song called ‘Danny Boy’ already written and it required just a few alterations to make it fit perfectly, the melody that he’d received from his sister-in-law. After the song and the air had been accepted by a publisher Frederick found that it had also been used by a person who grades and so on. So the song ‘Danny Boy’ ... but here is the interesting thing and I kind of like picking holes in myths, the air that this woman, Jane Ross, wrote down is too polished. It isn’t really a Gaelic air, it’s ... even though it has some links to the old blind harper’s tune it’s too polished. But she was not a composer so somebody somewhere polished it up and this was fairly known practice at the time, that people who could read music and play the piano in the big house front room as it were would sort of polish up Irish traditional tunes and make them a little bit more classically orientated. But Jane Ross never admitted where she got the tune but somebody had to have worked on it and this is what I say, a bit of digging and I found this. Her talent was as a collector and a composer and the melody supplied to Petrie is of such high quality and of sentiment that it could only have been composed by someone of fine talent who had been classically trained but who was also familiar with the latest musical fashions of the time and Jane Ross was not these. By a strange coincidence one person who possessed these exact credentials did exist and lived in Limavady at that exact time and only a stone’s throw from where Jane Ross lived. His name was Edward Frederick Christian Ritter. He was a Prussian born musician who was employed as a music tutor to the two daughters of the wealthy Alexander family. They were landed gentry who lived on the outskirts of Limavady. The Alexanders and the Ross family knew each other well and they belonged to the same social stratum. The music teacher, Edward Ritter, was from a well known musical family. He arrived from Alsace-Lorraine around 1848 and most certainly would have known Jane Ross in the small town. Now, Ritter (laughs) fell in love with the daughter that he was teaching the music to, the youngest Alexander daughter, and the pair eloped in 1850. They married in Middlesex in August 1850 and they saved for Australia where he made his fortune. So could it have been this man who polished up the tune that Jane Ross had found up in the mountains? Actually it was her brother that found it up in the mountains and the story of taking it up from the blind fiddler and sending it on to Petrie. She sent it on to Petrie but it makes all the sense in the world that she didn’t want to say where she got it because of the scandal involved at the time with your man running off with the daughter. (laughter) Now, that’s my story and that’s the woman behind it and that’s the house in Limavady where she is now accredited to live. It’s a much more complicated story than that, I have just tipped the top of the iceberg. But that’s Frederick Weatherly who wrote the lyrics of ‘Danny Boy’ and loads of other lyrics (sings) ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem’, he wrote that s as well.Now, I’ll just go quickly through in the last 3 minutes.Johnny Duhan, the great song ‘The Voyage’, yes everybody loves that song. It’s one of his great songs. He told me who the woman was, and the whole story of it, it makes fantastic reading. It’s a pure love song and a real love story. There they are. They’re married. They are husband and wife. They live together still (laughter) which is very unusual in the love songs in this book I might add, they’re mostly either break-ups or unrequited love. So the story of Johnny Duhan and ‘The Voyage’ is a fabulous story and Maureen, his wife, who has supported them all she became a Principal, a National School Teacher, and Johnny eventually made good as we all know. (laughter)The story of ‘Nancy Spain’, that’s Barney Rush, the man who wrote ‘Nancy Spain’. It wasn’t Christy Moore, it was Barney Rush. He died 2014 sadly. He wrote also ‘The craic was 90 in the Isle of Man’, his two great songs. ‘Nancy Spain’, the real ‘Nancy Spain’, that’s her. ‘Nancy Spain’ was a woman journalist in England, upper class, famous in the 1960s for her feminist and lesbian risings. So ‘Nancy Spain’ was an English lesbian journalist (laughter). I told you I would surprise you. (laughter) That’s her. He took her name. He thought it was a perfect name for an Irish ballad. He wrote the ballad when he was on 18. Yes, he thought the name ‘Nancy Spain’ was fabulous. It was in all the tabloids at the time. She was killed in an air crash going to Aintree to cover the Grand National and he knew nothing about her but the headlines. And imagine his poetic sensibility at 18 to know that that name would resonate forever. But the real ‘Nancy Spain’ there she is. ‘Nancy Spain’ could be used in our next gay pride march.Now, Phil Lynott, a beautiful painting by Fitzpatrick, Jim Fitzpatrick, yes, of the tragic Philip in his garden with Caroline, Sarah and Cathy. So the book tells the sad story of Phil Lynott’s life and his brief happy and unhappy marriage to Caroline, Crowther’s daughter, the comedian, Leslie Crowther, yeah, and Sarah the daughter. His grandmother was also called Sarah. He wrote two songs ‘Sarah’ – one was on the second album ‘Shades of a Blue Orphanage’ and the Sarah in that song is his grandmother. He was sent by his mother from England as a boy to live with his grandparents because his mother couldn’t support him. She had become pregnant and she kept him with her for a few years but eventually the pressure of having a black child in England at the time, just in the post war era, it was too much. So the whole story of Phil Lynott is one of those great rise and fall stories. It’s really tragic and an enormous amount of skeletons in the Lynott closet and back in Galway where I come from a great sculptor there, Macdaragh Lambe, recently discovered he was actually Phil Lynott’s son through DNA and all of that. Everybody had been telling him for years he looked so much like him. He got tested and it turned out he was and his mother Philomena, a very nice woman, I mean a lady, but she admits herself she may have been rather naive at the time she had Philip, and held on to him, but she had two other children as well and she gave them up for adoption. But they recently found her. So the chapter on Sarah is very interesting. There they are on their wedding day – that’s baby Sarah now:When you came in my life you changed my worldMy SarahYeah. So that was just before they jetted off to Buenos Aires on their honeymoon and Leslie Crowther (laughs) you know he was English and I don’t know how he felt about having his daughter marry a black Irish man but his quotes are jokingly recorded at the wedding. But Philip’s mother is still alive and a gracious woman and I met her a few times, she says he was the kindness, most gracious man ever. But if you hear some of the quotes from his wedding speech, you know ‘he asked me for my daughter’s hand and I said “Why not? Haven’t you had everything else?” and so on (laughter) but he was a comedian so. There I am talking to Philomena and looking at Philips book of poetry. That’s him as a young fella in Crumlin growing up. That’s his grave, sadly, he ended there in 1986, 4th of January he died.The story of Sally Gardens, everybody thinks it’s about Maud Gonne, it’s not. It’s inspired by two other ladies. That’s the Una Bhán where the both of them were buried out in the island in Lough Key and two trees grew up out of the graves and intertwined and I just happened to come upon a fine photograph in a photographic exhibition and got the rights to publish it because I thought it told the story perfect and it goes with the chapter.Now, that’s the ‘Galway Girl’ in real life. Her name was Joyce Redmond and she is from Howth. (laughter) Another myth shattered but she lives in Galway and her parents, her mother at least, was from the Aran Islands and she lives in Galway now and is a musician and was fond of the arts and it’s one of the great selling points of the book. Don’t tell anyone, you’re sworn to secrecy that this is the ‘Galway Girl’. Percy French, the sad story of Percy French in Gortnamona, his wife Ettie died after ... she was only ... he married her at 19, he was in his 30s. He loved her deeply. They got on really well. But she died in childbirth when she was 20. (audience gasp) So all his humorous songs, all his fabulously witty songs and all that, but he’s also extraordinarily poignantly sad lyrics you know:Now if you go through the woods of Gortnamona,You hear the raindrops creeping through the blackthorn tree.But oh! it is the tears I am weeping, weeping, weeping,For the loved one that is sleeping far away from me.And it’s Ettie. Ettie Armitage-Jones whom he married and she died in childbirth and that’s who Gortnamona is about. So she’s the woman behind that.Mick Hanly told me the story of ‘Past the Point of Rescue’, one of the great songs and exactly who it was, his first wife he married. She was 18, he was 28. Then he took off on a mad world tour playing music thinking the marriage would work out. I’m afraid, as I said, one of the few happy marriages was back ... who was it? Johnny Duhan, yeah, yeah.The Frank and Walters, I just don’t have time to go into it. Mundy, as I told you, the story of the inspiration for his book and saying goodbye to the girl and writing the lyrics in the middle of the night and the ‘Raglan Road’ and that’s it. (laughs)(Applause) Thank-you for listening to the Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive Podcast. To hear more, please subscribe on iTunes or SoundCloud. You can also visit our website - dublincitypubliclibraries.ie and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
May and James's Love Letters during the Rising - Transcript
The following is the transcript of the talk given in Rathmines Library on 25 August 2016 by Tessa Finn on the extraordinary exchange of love letters between her grandparents which took place during the turbulent year of the Rising.
Elizabeth O’Farrell, The woman with the white flag - Transcript
The following is a transcript of "Elizabeth O’Farrell, The woman with the white flag" a talk by Ian Kelly, grand-nephew of Elizabeth O’Farrell, at Dublin City Hall on Monday, 25 April 2016.AudioWelcome to the Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive Podcast. In this episode Ian Kelly talks about his great-aunt Elizabeth O'Farrell, her role in the 1916 Rising, her work as a midwife in Holles Street and her legacy. Listen to 'The Tricolour Ribbon' sung by Antoinette Heery, to Ian reading Liam Mac Uistín's poem "We saw a vision", and to Divisional Librarian Anne-Marie Kelly performing her original vignette 'Elizabeth Looks Back'. Part of a seminar held in Dublin City Hall on 25 April 2016.Firstly, on behalf of all our family, I’d like to say many thanks to Dr Mary Clark from Dublin City Library and Archives for organising and inviting us, all of the family of Elizabeth O’Farrell, here to this fantastic venue today. I’d also like to thank the Lord Mayor of Dublin Críona Ní Dhálaigh for receiving us here at the City Hall on behalf of the people of Dublin and finally I’d like to thank Elizabeth D'Arcy for the magnificent work on restoring and conserving the Proclamation donated by our family. So thank you very much one and all. (Applause)Just regarding the Proclamation, I think it’s the most important words that were ever put to paper in Irish history. When Pádraig Pearse wrote this with the help of Connolly and made it so inclusive for everybody it was so far reaching, ahead of its time, and even at that time. It’s a magnificent piece of work and it’s great to hear that this Proclamation that we have for the people of Dublin will last forever. So hopefully future generations will read it and take on board what it says and especially in the last few years, the way country is moving forward now. Rather than looking back all the time I think a Proclamation will always be ahead of its time so and it’s interesting to note, I just copped this in the last few days while reading it and studying it that Ireland to me always was feminine, she’s regarded as ‘she’ and its mentioned 12 times in the Proclamation, the word ‘she’ and ‘her’. So Pearse was obviously well aware of the inclusiveness and the fact that women were equal and obviously if not more important than men. We really only sit in the background maybe, the women run the show. So this confirms that and it was highlighted by Yeats in his play ‘Cathleen Ní Houlihan’ which he wrote in 1902 and staged in the Abbey and this, again, was before the Rising so they obviously knew, this Gaelic Movement, that women had a really important role to play coming forward in the Rising. And they are just the few words I wanted to say about the Proclamation. We are absolutely delighted that this was found and restored and we always knew our family would have given away things all the time. They would have given ... Joseph Plunkett’s suit was given away. The stuff – you touched on it earlier Mary – people didn’t hold onto things. They weren’t materialistic like today but it was great that it is there and it’s preserved for all time.So moving on to the main act today which is Elizabeth O’Farrell. Firstly, I’d like to introduce Antoinette Heery who is a friend of mine. Not unlike most people in Ireland and in Dublin, Antoinette would have a connection as her grand uncle James Heery was in the GPO with Elizabeth during the week of the Rising. So Antoinette is going to sing us a song now and it’s a song that would have been heard in our home McGuinness Square which was Elizabeth’s sister’s house and most Sunday nights we would gather there and this song was mostly sung in the house and it’s called ‘The Tri-coloured Ribbon’.Antoinette Heery: And please join in the chorus if you know it. I’m sure a lot of you do. (Singing) (Applause)Thanks Antoinette, that was fantastic. So I’m just going to move on to the story of my Great Aunt, Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell whom we all know was the woman in this iconic photograph with the leader of the Rising, Padraig Pearse, at the moment of surrender to General Lowe, Commander of the British Forces in Ireland. I am often asked how she came to be in this position. Well, I want to share with you the life behind this woman.So Elizabeth was born in City Quay in Dublin on the 5th of the eleventh, 1883. Her father was Christopher Farrell and her mother was Margaret Farrell née Kenna. She had one sister Bridget who was our grandmother. She was christened Elizabeth Farrell without the ‘O’ which was purposely dropped. This was quite common at the time as a way of avoiding ethnic description in a country that was rife with it. This was her father’s second marriage. His first wife was a Mary Connolly and he became a widower when Mary died. Mary was from Lower Mount Street and Margaret was from City Quay so he kept his courtships to the local area. (laughter) He didn’t marry anybody from Ringsend. (laughter) Sorry Ann. (laughter)So Elizabeth in her formative years attended school at the Sisters of Mercy on Townsend Street along with her best friend, Julia Grennan, and Julia would have been known to all of us in our family as our Aunt Sheila. She was the Aunt Sheila. Sheila was from nearby Lombard Street and would remain Elizabeth’s best friend throughout her lifetime and the two of them quickly became inseparable as they both developed a love of the Irish language and Irish culture from quite a young age and in fact they were listed as fluent Irish speakers on the Census of 1911 which was highly unusual. They both became members of the Gaelic League and Inghinidhe na hÉireann which they joined in 1906 and that had been founded by Maud Gonne, and the attempt of this organisation was to help promote all things Irish – as in Irish products, the language and the culture – and at the heart of the Movement was also Irish independence and a right of women and children which years later were also at the core of this Proclamation we see here today.Her father, Christopher, died in 1907 when she was still relatively young and out of necessity she took a job in Armstrong Printers on Amien Street. So at this stage of her life, along with Sheila and many members of her family – including both my grandmothers – she became very Republican in her thinking. Many years later she said that her Republicanism was already in her soul at the age of 16. I really believe this was fostered by an era where there was no TV, no internet and probably more importantly no pubs open on Sundays so that meant that people could gather – families could gather – together, sing songs, tell stories and talk about, more importantly, politics and freedom. All of these feelings of Republicanism and rebellion were fuelled by the poverty and deprivation in Dublin that was particularly prevalent among the Catholic lower or classes and at that time Dublin was the second city of the Empire but was also widely acknowledged as the biggest slum in Europe. So the only way out for most local boys and men was down to the Docks or join the British Army. So it was around this time, 1913, that the Irish Volunteers were founded as a direct counter to the UVF that had been formed in the North to fight Home Rule.So Elizabeth joined Cumann na mBan on its foundation in 1914. Initially 250 women joined the Movement and they came from all sections of society with no discrimination but had one common goal and that was Irish freedom. They actually considered themselves to be the women’s section of the Irish Volunteers. Their agenda was to fight alongside the men in the struggle for freedom and during a Rising, if and when it came about. So like all women in the Movement, Elizabeth would have been trained in the use of fire arms, transport of weapons, dispatches to the Volunteers and nursing and this training was overseen by Countess Markievicz and the great doctor, Dr Kathleen Lynn. Cumann na mBan was also heavily influenced by the Suffragette Movement in its desire to further the rights of women to vote, hold political sway and improve social conditions for the underprivileged and especially for the children of that time. So this would manifest itself later in the wording of the Proclamation. In this respect, their biggest ally among the future leaders of the Rising was James Connolly, given that the backdrop to this was the devastating effect that the 1913 lockout had on the working classes. It also must be remembered that the generation of the time still had first hand family experience of the Great Famine and all its awful consequences as well as a view, a strong view, that the ruling British were to blame. All of this led to an immense cultural, socialist and patriotic revival which already had led to the formation of many bodies like the GAA, the Gaelic League and the Trade Union Movement. (Music) Thanks Shay. (Applause) Go raibh maith agat Shay.So now to the Rising. So in the build up to 1916 Europe was in turmoil and without doubt the British focus was elsewhere as they fought a devastating and horrific war on the European western front. In fact the events of the Great War and the total disregard for human life, particularly for the foot soldiers, probably influenced the subsequent decision to execute the leaders of the Rising. At this time Home Rule agenda was gathering pace leading to tensions between the southern Catholics and the northern Protestants and it’s possible to believe Home Rule could come about and it could have led to a civil war in Ireland. So even though there wasn’t a general ground swell of support from the general population the rebel leaders believed that this was the right time to strike for freedom and in the build up to hostilities it must be remembered that communication methods were still pretty basic and given the number of informers that had always been the bane of the Movement this was quite dangerous.So on the eve of the Rising Elizabeth was dispatched by Eoin MacNeill who was originally asked by the IRB to lead the forming of the Irish Volunteers and she was ordered to Galway to inform the Volunteers that the Rising was cancelled and little did she know that Pearse himself had countermanded these orders and was intent on proceeding with the Rising. So when she got back to Dublin and realised what was happening she headed straight to the GPO along with the other women Volunteers and she set about nursing and feeding the soldiers. So later in the week as the fighting intensified Pearse ordered all the women to vacate the building except for Elizabeth and two others – Winifred Carney and Julia Grennan. In fact, they actually refused to leave the building, the GPO, and he couldn’t persuade them otherwise so they remained there until it became futile as the GPO was in ruins and the order was given to evacuate the building. So they then left the side of the building onto Henry Street with Connolly on a stretcher and under heavy gunfire, with the remaining Volunteers, they made their way down the laneways to 16 Moore Street. So they witnessed some horrific things, sights, actually on that journey down the laneways. For instance, there was a young girl called Bridget McKane, she was aged 15, and she was shot dead at her home on Moore Street and she was killed by a bullet that pierced her forehead which had already passed through her father’s shoulder and right lung and Padraig Pearse himself, on hearing what happened, said ‘My God I’m sorry this happened, what can we do?’ and it was also on this journey that The O’Rahilly lost his life.So under siege and after another 3 people bearing white flags coming down the laneway of Moore Lane Pearse decided enough was enough. So in number 16 Moore Street when they broke through all the buildings, and people would be very familiar now with it, they called it mouse-holing through the different buildings and they decided to hold the Council of War there. So the women were actually set aside to the other room with Julia, Winifred and Elizabeth and the Rising was then going to be called off and this is probably one of the most significant parts of the week. It probably is the most significant part.So Pearse knew all along himself that the Rising was going to be, in his own words, ‘a glorious failure’ and he needed a trusted Volunteer to approach the British position and offer a conditional surrender. So the trusted Volunteer was Elizabeth and it’s remarkable because he didn’t pick any of the other Volunteers – the male Volunteers – he went straight for Elizabeth and I think he was making a massive statement to the British that he wanted a woman alongside of him to do this. So Elizabeth, at 12.45 on Saturday the 29th of April, under heavy fire she approached the British position waving a white handkerchief and with a great deal of good fortune made it to the commanding officer. So this commanding officer was at the bottom of Moore Street and behind him was all guns pointed down Moore Street, actually where The O’Rahilly was killed. So they were still firing as she was making her way up that street so she was quite brave to do what she done, like it was amazing how she actually made it up to the barricade and then the officer at the barricade he was flabbergasted that a woman should be in this position and announcing herself as a Volunteer which in no uncertain terms she did announce herself as a Volunteer. And at first they assumed she was a spy and they removed her Red Cross Insignia and detained her around 2.25pm that afternoon and they said to her ‘Go back to Pearse and tell him there will be no terms and that only an unconditional surrender would be accepted’ and she was also instructed that Pearse was to come with her to the position at the corner of Moore Street and Parnell Street to surrender to General Lowe. She followed the instructions and at 3.30pm General Lowe received Commandant Pearse and Elizabeth at the designated point leading to this now immortal picture we see here which, for the purpose of newspaper reporting, was unfortunately doctored to remove part of her image. At this time General Lowe asked that Elizabeth be the one who delivered Pearse’s surrender orders to the various rebel garrisons around the city and she being Pearse’s comrade, for want of a better word, she asked him would that be okay with him and he said yes he agreed that it would be.So in the hours after surrender Elizabeth continued her role as a dispatcher delivering those surrender orders to the rebel garrisons. So she made her way around a lot of the city still in danger of being shot because a lot of confusion was going on and how she survived it is a miracle. So all the deliveries went off and she finally needed to get to Boland’s Mills where de Valera was the officer in charge and on the way she came under heavy fire and I live in the area where this shooting took place, it’s on Grand Canal Bridge, and I work between Grand Canal Bridge and my house – I walk it every day – and on this way to Boland’s Mills a man just beside her was running alongside her and he was shot in the back, a fatal injury to himself. So indeed it is a miracle that she survived. So when she got to de Valera of course he refused to take the order unless it came from Commandant MacDonagh and it’s no surprise that he wouldn’t take the order from a woman you see. So she had to track (laughter) ... so we all know the story there. So she had to go back to town and return with MacDonagh’s orders. In fact she didn’t get back down with the orders. MacDonagh delivered the orders back to de Valera himself and I think that instilled, in later life, when talking with the family she had a high disregard for de Valera. She didn’t put him up on the pedestal that people thought of de Valera and she obviously had a lot of her own reasons for that you know.So after all the dispatches were delivered and the Volunteers had surrendered she was subsequently removed to Kilmainham Jail where despite previous assurances by General Lowe she was strip searched, had all her possessions taken from her and was treated as a prisoner in the true sense of the word. So when she protested she was told by a British officer ‘Don’t be silly, sure we know for a fact that you shot 6 British soldiers’. So it’s remarkable that the General and his commanding officers recognised her bravery and the role that she had played even though she was clearly a committed Volunteer and as a result the General kept his word and she was released from Kilmainham Jail and all her possessions were returned. So when we were growing up and you’d talk about what actually happened among the family it was agreed that General Lowe actually was a gentleman. So in terms of the bigger picture of the rebels and the war itself, everybody liked to behave properly in the situation they found themselves in. So even, for instance, when I heard yesterday that the guys who took the tram into town he paid for 52 tickets, he didn’t just hijack the tram and left it an IOU (laughter) so they were very careful ... say even if they took food from a shop they’d leave an IOU in the shop so everybody got fixed up later on. So it’s remarkable how they went about their business and behaved properly.And as a footnote to this release from Kilmainham Jail she actually had in her possession £13 in gold coins which was given to her by a young Volunteer and this was this young man’s wedding fund and he was in lodgings and he took the money, the gold with him – the gold coins, to the Rising on Easter Monday rather than leave it in the lodgings he actually gave it to Elizabeth to mind for him. So in many ways they were simpler times and this is the way the people behaved which was amazing.So I want to move on now to the famous airbrushed iconic photograph and there are many theories as to why this photograph doesn’t show her more clearly but two in particular are most believable. Firstly, is Elizabeth’s own account when she stated that she wanted to get out of the way as not to detract from Pearse at that historic moment. And the second accounts for the airbrushing which is believed happened so that Irish men fighting in World War I wouldn’t be stirred against the British by photographs of Irish women fighting for Irish freedom at home. I think there is so much speculation on the photograph I would actually go with the latter but we might never know the reason. She wasn’t a very extroverted person. She was very introverted but I do believe the way she was positioned and the way she was airbrushed was done by the British not to show her in her true light as a rebel as well as a Volunteer. So post Rising as they say the rest is history. The execution of the leaders became the most potent weapon in driving public opinion in the formation of a Republic. So this was Maxwell, we’d all be well aware, there was two Generals, there was General Lowe and then he was replaced by General Maxwell. Maxwell came over from Britain and had experience all over Asia etc., as a General so he would be the type of guy who would have ... when I think of the young Volunteers that crossed Mount Street Bridge, the Sherwood Foresters, he sent them over the bridge because they were large in numbers and Malone and Darcy who were positioned on Northumberland Road, there was only two of them and they picked off 200 young soldiers and these young soldiers though they were in France but it just gives you an insight into the way this Empire worked with their young foot soldiers. They were willing to sacrifice 200 young lads over the bridge, they get shot, 30 of them are killed and their bodies, I’ve heard from a funeral director in town – is Nichols Funeral Directors – they say that in their records that they actually placed the bodies in the laneway behind Northumberland Road and the bodies were then taken by the undertakers to Glasnevin and as well they were also placed in a massive grave. So there was no real regard for ... they were cannon fodder basically.So getting back to Elizabeth and the Women’s Movement, nothing changed as they continued as before with their struggle for freedom. The revolution had to begin again after the Rising and sadly this was a different revolution and in Elizabeth’s eyes and in most of the women’s – I’d say 100 per cent of the woman in Cumann na mBan – the focus now was Anti Treaty. So in reality these strong willed women were ‘never going back to the kitchen sink’ as Elizabeth herself was quoted as saying, the war wasn’t over. But in fairness to them, they had won major victories for the poor and for women’s rights. So, for example, in 1921 women won the right to vote in Ireland a full 7 years before their British counterparts which was an amazing achievement. It’s small if we look at it nowadays but at that time it was an amazing achievement.So Elizabeth herself then returned to normal life, if you could say it was normal life. She still was very active in the background during the War of Independence and post Treaty. But she had a lifelong ambition to have an education and become a Midwife. So in early 1921 she started her training in Holles Street Hospital and she passed her basic exams with a 69 per cent score and was described by the matron as ‘a fair nurse with a fair education’, right, so that was quite funny at the time. I suppose matrons being matrons that’s the way they were. But before I move on regarding the matron, I just want to go back to Holles Street itself, the hospital, the family – we were invited to Holles Street there just 3 weeks ago by the Master who is great to see is a woman, Rhona Mahony. She is the first lady Master of the hospital and we were allowed ... I was allowed access to the records in the hospital of what happened in Easter week and one young girl came in to have her baby but she had been shot in the leg and it’s recorded during the week but in fact a healthy baby was delivered. But in the middle of the women giving birth during the week there was also the Rising going on all around the area – whether it be Mount Street, Grand Canal Street, the back of Holles Street. And I just came across something there, this lady would have been neighbour of Elizabeth’s and she is from a place called Grant’s Row which is actually, again, just around the corner from us. So she explained. Margaret Jordan* was her name. She was from Grant’s Row near Holles Street. She has given an account of the British Army attack in the family home and shooting her father and brother. This was within 15/20 feet of the hospital. So the father died in Holles Street Hospital because he was taken in there and her brother never recovered and died 2 years later and she was 12 years of age and she had witnessed the removal of 100 bodies from Holles Street Hospital by the British and they were also taken and buried in a mass grave in Glasnevin. So as a 12 year old this had a huge influence on her, for want of a better word, but she actually ended up herself becoming a member of Cumann na mBan on witnessing this. So the activity around the local area was incredible, what was going on.So getting back to Elizabeth’s subsequent idea of becoming a Midwife. She as I said, she passed her score with a 69% score. And I say the Matron herself, getting back to the Matron, I don’t think she has a plaque named in her honour, and a nurse of the year award, which Elizabeth has in recognition of her decades of devoted service to the hospital. And for that matter, Elizabeth this month coming in May, has her face with Kathleen Lynn on a stamp. So even to this day she’s still delivering, right. (Applause)So she lived in 37 Lower Mount Street, is where she set up residence with Julia Grennan, her Aunt Sheila and they lived there and Julia was a dressmaker. She went back to her dressmaking days and worked away. And Elizabeth became one of the major midwives in Dublin, not just in the area. She actually delivered babies in the locality and also delivered all the babies in my own family, and they’re all here today. And Moya being the eldest girl, and Brid being the youngest, or sorry the last baby that Elizabeth delivered is Brid and she’s here today. (Applause)So throughout this time, Elizabeth never lost her devotion to republicanism and in the 50’s after the border campaign went wrong and Sean South was killed, she delivered a speech where I thought was on College Green, but in fact it was outside the GPO because a gentleman just pointed that out to me on the way in here today, Simon’s brother. This man down here. He was actually present when Elizabeth gave one of her last speeches and it was a massive crowd outside the GPO. And she wasn’t one for turning as Thatcher said later on. But she wasn’t one for turning at all. She believed in the 32 county, which she stood alongside Pearse for. And as well as that, I’m noticing nowadays that we’re living in a society where we’re all equal, which is fantastic. And a lot of people don’t know that Elizabeth was actually engaged to be married to a chap called Eamonn Kelly. And Eamonn was intent on moving to Chile to mine for silver. But when push came to shove Elizabeth couldn’t leave Ireland with unfinished business. So to every extent her marriage was to the cause.Recently, I also met, you meet some amazing people when you’re on this journey, it’s great. We were invited up to Arbour Hill and I met a lady by the name of Nuala Fitzgerald at a commemoration in Arbour Hill. And she’s the Niece of Michael Malone, who I would have mentioned earlier on from Northumberland Road. And she’s also a Niece of Leo Fitzgerald, who are famous in a way from the area, the local area where we come from. And this lady was also a great friend of Elizabeth and Sheila, and I would know this, and she was one of the last people to see Elizabeth before she died. Elizabeth went out to Enniskerry to visit Nuala and her husband and on this trip she took ill. In those days as well it was quite simple, Nuala got the husband to go down and get the bus man to drive the bus up to her house, collect Elizabeth and bring her back into town. But they got as far as Loughlinstown, she was dying at the time, and they got as far as Loughlinstown and Sheila actually remarked to them in Loughlinstown Hospital that she wanted her brought back into the city, through Bray into Patrick Dunn’s. So she reminded the man who was driving the ambulance of who Elizabeth was, because Sheila was, if I could just go on to her for a second. She had a more outgoing personality, she was the more jollier of the two. Elizabeth would have been quite stern, would have been non-dramatic, where Sheila in other words she could talk for Ireland, so basically that’s what she could do. So they made their way back into town and Elizabeth, she died on the 25th of June 1957, and is buried in the republican plot in Glasnevin Cemetery, alongside Julia Grennan. And her great friend Eamonn Mac Thomais gave the oratory at her graveside and Eamonn Mac Thomais would have been a fellow republican, and his son became one of the historians, just recently in the last number of years, Shane Mac Thomais, and he tragically died just recently as well. And he’s actually buried with Eamonn beside Elizabeth and they loved Elizabeth through Eamonn, you could sense that often when I met them.So the Elizabeth O’Farrell Foundation was set up in Holles Street and a medal is awarded to the student nurse of the year each year. And in fact it’s going to be awarded again this year and I think Maria or Frances is going to attend the hospital. They want people in the family to acknowledge this and award the medal to the student of the year this year. And also within Holles Street, if you’re familiar with Holles Street Hospital, when you go in the door of Holles Street Hospital you see a plaque and that was designed by an architect artist called Gary Trimble. These would have been friends of Elizabeth’s originally, hence they lived in Mount Street, and this plaque was unveiled on the 50th anniversary of the Rising in 1966. And our Mother Una is the face that was used for Elizabeth, such was her likeness. So when I go into Holles Street and my daughter just recently had a baby there, I can see my Mother there on the wall so, that’s good you know. And my Grandson is called Padraig, I thought she called him another name, it’s a long story but that was just quite unintentional so it’s great to see that there’s still a great presence there. And I must say that the people in the hospital actually really recognise the women who were involved, Kathleen Lynn, Elizabeth O’Farrell, Stopford Price, all of these amazing women. It’s great to see that their story is being told now and it’s coming to the fore, which is fantastic. And I just spotted here, this lady over here is called Mary Murray. So in 2006 a chap called Donal O’Kelly and a lady called Barbara Ni Caoimh approached me about the story of Elizabeth O’Farrell, and he wanted to stage a play in Kilmainham Jail. And so the play was to run for a week and the last play that was held in Kilmainham Jail was actually by the Volunteers back in the day, the put on the odd show if they were allowed. So Mary played Elizabeth O’Farrell in the play and she done such a remarkable job the likeness that my sister Moya thought Mary was Elizabeth, she in fact she was, so it was fantastic.So the Proclamation which Elizabeth had in her possession in the GPO which is on display here today was originally donated to a republican museum Mary tells me in south Frederick Street and in 1966 I’m told by my sisters it was leant in trust by our family to the people of Dublin. And it’s fantastic to see that it’s restored and it’s amazing that it’ll be there and we’re happy that it’s with the people of Ireland and the people of Dublin because there’s few artefacts around that you can honestly say that you can be proud of. And I think we’re all proud of the Proclamation in itself, it’s remarkable. So Elizabeth herself, I think her life’s ambition can be summed up in the conversation she had with my Grandmother in the mid ‘50s. Now my Grandmother’s name was Bridget. And I have to really state this, she is the only sister that Elizabeth had. There was two sisters, Bridget and Bridget herself was a strong republican. And Bridget had all the babies. So Bridget was the woman who got married and Elizabeth stayed single. So our Grandmother was also a remarkable woman, and was also a great woman for delivering babies as well. And actually my Mother was also handy at delivering babies too. So they didn’t need to go to hospitals or anything like that. So they took a trip out to Sandymount Strand and I think the way they thought in those days that my Grandmother would have predeceased Elizabeth. But in fact Elizabeth died before Bridget. So one of the days they had off which was very unusual, the place you would go to if you lived in our area was up to Sandymount Strand. So they sat on the beach in Sandymount Strand and looking back on life, how lucky were we said my Grandmother to Elizabeth. And you were very lucky Bridget, you had all your children around you, but I didn’t get what I wanted. And that was a 32 county Ireland. So on that note I’d just like to dedicate this poem, it’s called “We saw a vision” by Liam Mac Uistin and I think it’s very appropriate because I think it nails exactly what the Proclamation is all about and the vision for the country and what it will do for future generations. So he wrote this for the 50th anniversary in 1966 and it’s on display up in the Garden of Remembrance. So it’s “We saw a vision”."In the darkness of despair we saw a vision.We lit the light of hope and it was not extinguished.In the dessert of discouragement we saw a vision.We planted a tree of valour and it blossomed.In the winter of bondage we saw a vision,We melted the snow of lethargyAnd a river of resurrection flowed from it.We sent our vision aswim like a swan on the river,The vision becomes a reality.Winter becomes summer, bondage becomes freedomAnd this we left you as your inheritance.Oh generation of freedom, remember usThe generation of the vision."(Applause)Mary Clark: And we’re just going to finish now with another poem about Elizabeth O’Farrell and this here is my colleague Anne Marie Kelly, who is a self confessed Elizabeth O’Farrell groupie, I think perhaps even more so after today. But Anne Marie is also a divisional librarian with Dublin City Libraries and she has been one of the people who has delivered the wonderful 1916 programme that was done by the libraries. So there you are, Anne Marie, whenever you’re ready.Anne-Marie Kelly: Thanks Mary. I don’t know if I’ll match Liam Mac Uistin’s poem now, I think it’s a bit more bawdy. The title of this poem sketch is "Elizabeth looks back""Drastic and all that this may seem,But I think the women of Dublin should stop having childerYou see, I know they’re jaded with itBut not half as jaded as us midwives,Although if they stopped having childer, I’d be without a job I supposeAnd that would be bad, but worse still the country would be without future rebels.And of course it’s in the deliverin’ of rebels that was, is and always will be the aim of this midwife.And who are you says you in all that’s good and holy to be telling us what this country needs?Well sorry, I should have said the name’s Elizabeth O’Farrell, of City Quay.Some say history airbrushed me,A printer, a rebel, a midwife am I,A woman who looked General Lowe in the eye,You see I was there that week in the GPO, a proud Cumann member who fought the foe.MacNeill, he really set the cat among the pigeons with the decision, a decision and an unholy revision.And no luck for Casement and the ammo, and you see that did make the fight a tale of woe,Yet still we struggled against the Empire.You see we were dreaming of a world beyond this quagmire.Well by the end of the week the city was in chassis, the fire brigade, they’d saved it for the masses.The rebels’ names were mud for upsetting the applecart.And sure what cared we, weren’t we doing our part.Pearse surrendered with me in tow,And sometimes you can see my feet below.Rebel woman in the photo who helped permission was rubbed out.Did somebody say rubbed out?Yes, says I, rubbed out when the struggle was won."(Applause)(Recording ends here) *In the audio recording Ian Kelly refers to Margaret Hennessy. Margaret's great-nephew Diarmuid Gannon subsequently got in touch to correctly identify the girl in question as Margaret Morrissey (nee Jordan). This transcript was corrected on October 8th 2018.Thank-you for listening to the Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive Podcast. To hear more, please subscribe on iTunes or SoundCloud. You can also visit our website - dublincitypubliclibraries.ie and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.