Aspects of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown at the time of the 1916 Rising
By Catherine Malone
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org – DLR Heritage & Genealogy Centre
In 1916, Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire Rathdown), 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 larger houses were successful merchants and entrepreneurs. The more modest homes were those of working class families, mainly employed in building work or in the local stone quarries.
The 1901 Census records a large proportion of local men and woman 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 Kingstown Regatta, an annual event that attracted visitors and yachting enthusiasts from all over the world. This celebrated event was hosted by the Royal St. George, then, one of the more exclusive yachting clubs, bordering the harbour.
The population, at this time, were mainly unionist, devoted to
maintaining the bond with Great Britain. Some nationalists were content with the promised Home Rule, already on the statute books. They were satisfied with 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 1916. Among them were many prominent leaders, who were born or associated with the area prior to 1916-
Padraig Pearse (1879-1916) born in Dublin. Founder of St Enda’s
School (Scoil Enna) in Renelagh, a suburb of Dublin, in 1908. The pupils were taught in both Irish and English. Two years later the school moved to Rathfarnham, County Dublin, now the Pearse Museum.
William Pearse, brother of Padraig, along with Thomas MacDonagh and Joseph Plunkett, all leaders in the Rising, were teachers at St. Enda’s… 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, many of whom were unaware 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 Doyle’s Cottage, Sandycove, Co. Dublin. Casement worked for the British Consular Service, where he received an knighthood for his work in the Belgian Congo. He later became disillusioned with 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 10th April 1916, the German cargo ship “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 Captain of the “Aud”, Karl Spindler, had no alternative but to leave Irish waters. Later the arms ship was cornered by British sloops, small warships on patrol, and escorted to Queenstown, now Cobh, in Co. Cork. Casement, later travelling by submarine U19, bound for Banna Strand, Co. Kerry, was arrested and sent to England to await trial. He was found guilty and sentenced to death for high treason. He was executed on 3 August 1916.
Eamonn DeValera (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 became 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 to set up camp nearby, while awaiting orders to march into the city. DeValera was the last to leave his post following news of surrender. He was reprieved from execution because of his US
nationality. De Valera , later served Taoiseach (Prime Minister), and subsequently President of Ireland.
Countess Markieviez (1868-1927) born Constance Gore-Booth in
London, into a family of wealth and title, both she and her sister Eva were brought up in the genteel manner appropriate to the upper classes at the time. Constance was popular in both English and Irish society where she was befriended by William Butler Yeats, and Maud Gonne. Following her marriage to the polish Count, Casimir Markieviez, 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 Féin in 1909. Markievicz co-founded Na Fianna, an Irish boy scout movement, which she also funded…
Constance 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 surrounding area was to become the perfect training camp for the boy scouts, many of whom went on to join the volunteer forces, that fought by her side during the Rising. On Easter Monday 1916, Markieviez was posted as second in command at St. Stephen’s Green Garrison, mainly because of
her ability with firearms. The garrison saw little action as the main focus was on Mount Street Bridge and the city centre. Following capture, she avoided execution because of her gender.
Patrick Moran (1888-1921), born in Crossna, Co. Roscommon. 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.
On Easter Monday 1916, MacBride left his home in Spensor Villas,
Glasthule, Co. Dublin, to attend a meeting of Irish volunteers, at St Stephen’s Green. He had no previous connections with the volunteer force, but knew their Commander Thomas MacDonagh, whom he had fought alongside in the Boar War 1901. Due to his wartime experience, he was posted second in command at Jacob’s biscuit factory. The garrison saw little action, but following orders to surrender, MacBride was captured, tried, and sentenced to death. During interrogation, MacBride claimed that he came upon the skirmishes in Dublin by accident. Most likely, an attempt to save his comrade Thomas MacDonagh.
Note: Photos, illustrations and memorials covering all conflicts, available at above address.