Some 1916 connections with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown are explored by Catherine Malone.
In 1916 Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) still wore the mantle of a prosperous Victorian town, with elegant squares, rows of fine terraced houses, mansions and private villas dotted throughout the region. Many of the inhabitants of the houses were successful merchants and entrepreneurs. The more modest homes were those of working class families who were mainly employed in building work or in the local stone quarries. The 1901 Census recorded a large proportion of local men and women were employed as gardeners and domestic servants in the big houses.
As a busy maritime port with major commercial, mail and passenger services the town received a steady flow of visitors. An added attraction was the annual regatta, an event that attracted visitors and yachting enthusiasts from all over the yachting world. This celebrated event was hosted by the Royal St. George, one of the more exclusive yachting clubs that border the harbour.
The population, who were mainly Protestant, were devoted to maintaining the bond with England. Some nationalists were content with the promised Home Rule, already on the statute books, improved economic conditions and reforms that saw some Catholics reaching middle class status. However, a small body of nationalists believed that Home Rule did not go far enough, and the only way to an independent Ireland was through rebellion.
Over 170 people from Dun Laoghaire and environs took part in the Easter Rising. Among them were some of the leaders who were born in or associated with the area prior to 1916.
Padraig Pearse (1879-1916) was born in Dublin. Founder of St. Enda’s School (Scoil Éanna) in Cullenswood House in Ranelagh, a suburb of County Dublin, in 1908. The pupils were taught in both Irish and English. Two years later the school moved to The Hermitage in Rathfarnham, County Dublin, now home to the Pearse Museum. William Pearse, brother of Padraic, along with Thomas MacDonagh and Joseph Plunkett, all prominent in the Rising, were teachers at St. Enda’s.
Pearse was dedicated to the revival of the Irish language and the school became an important centre for the Irish language movement in Dublin. He became an early member of the Irish Volunteer Force where his talent as an orator brought him to the attention of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a secret oath-bound society founded in the U.S.A. He subsequently became a member of the Military Council, the inner circle who planned the Rising.
On Easter Monday 1916, Pearse stood outside the General Post Office, Sackville Street, (now O’Connell Street) Dublin, and read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic to a small gathering, unsure of what was happening. The document, fresh off the press, was signed by six other members of the military force – Thomas J. Clarke, Sean MacDiarmada, James Connelly, Thomas MacDonagh, Eamonn Ceannt and Joseph Plunkett. The long awaited insurrection was now a reality.
Sir Roger Casement (1864-1916) born in Doyle’s Cottage, Sandycove, Co. Dublin. He worked for the British Consular Service where he received an knighthood for his work in the Belgian Congo. He later became disillusioned by the British establishment, and returned to Ireland offering his services to the Irish cause. He travelled to Germany as envoy for Ireland, seeking support and military aid for the forthcoming rebellion.
On 10 April 1916, the German cargo ship, the Aud, left the port of Lubeck with a shipload of rifles bound for Ireland. However, the plan was foiled; as the ship neared Tralee Bay, Co. Kerry, there was no response to the agreed signal of a flashing light. The Aud had no alternative but to leave Irish waters. Casement, travelling by submarine U19, bound for Banna Strand, Co. Kerry, was later arrested and sent to England to await trial. He was found guilty and sentenced to death for high treason. He was excuted on 3 August, 1916.
Eamon De Valera (1882-1975) born in New York, U.S.A. Gaelic scholar and avid supporter of the Irish language movement in Dublin. He was educated at Blackrock College, Co. Dublin, excelling in the subjects of Irish and mathematics He subsequently become professor of mathematics at the Teachers’ Training College, Glasthule, Co. Dublin, where he remained up to 1916.
As a member of the Irish Volunteer Force, he led the Second Battalion at Boland’s Mill, a large bakery overlooking the main road from the port of Dun Laoghaire to the city. This was a strategic position, as over two thousand British troops had set up camp there awaiting orders to march into the city. De Valera, was the last to leave his post following news of surrender. He was reprieved from execution because of his US nationality and went on to become Taoiseach and later President of Ireland.
Countess Markievicz (1868-1927) Born Constance Gore-Booth in London into a family of wealth and title, she and her sister Eva were brought up in the genteel manner appropriate to the upper classes at that time. Constance was popular in both English and Irish society where she was befriended by William B. Yeats and Maud Gonne. Following her marriage to the Polish Count, Casimir Markievicz, she returned to Ireland. Her admiration for Jim Larkin, an Irish patriot, and his passionate oratory in support of the working classes, inspired her interest in nationalism. She became a member of Sinn Fein; in 1909 she co-founded Na Fianna, an Irish boy scout movement which she also funded.
She bought a small cottage in Sandyford, Co. Dublin, at the foot of the Dublin mountains. Here she lived on and off, initially pursuing her hobbies of painting and walking; however, the cottage and surroundings environs became the perfect training camp for the boy scouts, many of whom went on to join the volunteer force that fought at her side during the Rising. Markievicz, was posted as second in command at St. Stephen’s Green Garrison because of her ability with firearms. The garrison saw little action, as the main focus was on Mount St. Bridge and the city centre. After her capture she avoided execution because of her gender. See more about her cottage at https://fiannaeireannhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/wm_2235-jpg/
Patrick Moran (1888-1921) born in Crossna, Co. Roscommon. Patrick Moran lived and worked in Blackrock and Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, prior to the 1916 Rebellion. A labour activist and strong supporter of the nationalist cause, he was sworn into the secret association of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and subsequently became part of the volunteer force stationed at Jacob’s Biscuit Factory during the Rising. Following the orders to surrender, he was arrested by the British and sent to a number of prisons in England, and Wales. Although Moran avoided execution in 1916 he was later tried and sentenced to death by hanging for the alleged shooting of a British soldier. He was executed in March 1921 despite evidence of his innocence.
Major John MacBride (1868-1916) born in Westport, Co Mayo. In the late 1800s MacBride emigrated to South Africa where he became a soldier of note, fighting against the British in the Boar War. On Easter Monday he left his home in Spencer Villas, Glasthule, Co. Dublin to go into the city. He was unaware of the imminence of the Rising until he reached Sackville Street.
Because of his past military experience he volunteered his services and was immediately posted as second in command at Jacob’s Biscuit Factory, Bishop Street, Dublin. Following his capture at the end of the Rising, he was tried and sentenced to death.