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Easter Monday 1916 – Part 3

Part 3

union
Despite the glorious weather, of a fine Easter Monday. Not every citizen of Dublin had the opportunity to revel in the day.

For, on the south side of the city, in- patients and staff of the South Dublin Union were to spend that fateful day, under siege and witnessing some of the most brutal fighting of the Rising.

The South Dublin Union, by 1916, was a place of refuge & safety for the destitute, infirm, elderly and insane. A workhouse and hospital, it housed the most vulnerable in society.

But as a strategic position, the rebels lay claim to the sprawling grounds and buildings. Despite the fact that there were over 3,000 vulnerable patients housed within its walls, it was to be the scene of one of the most vicious battles of the Rising.

The rising had come as somewhat as a surprise to the British Army and the British troops who were sent to quash the rebellion at the Union, were ill-equipped for the might of the rebels, many only had Bayonets & not all of their guns were loaded, but by god rebel rifles were fully stocked up, and they were ready for every eventuality.

What ensued was a running battle involving, vicious close contact, hand to hand fighting.

To sum up the extent of the viciousness of the fighting, one rebel is said to have become “Mentally Deranged” after witnessing the death of one of his comrades, his derangement, of such seriousness, he was disarmed immediately and kept safely under watch for the rest of the week.

A British Soldier, who after witnessing the brutal reality of this particular battle decided he would not participate in any form of heroics and managed to smuggle himself out of the building in a coffin containing his dead comrade. He was lucky to escape.

But for the patients and staff, there was no escape, especially not for Nurse Margaret Keogh who was to become the first civilian death of the Easter Rising.

Despite the hospital & workhouse being occupied by rebels and a full-scale battle taking place, Nurse Keogh knew she had to stay and face this sudden brutality, for she was a nurse and duty came first, she decided she would stay where she was, even in the face of grave danger, she would stay to tend to the injured and dying.

And when she saw a wounded rebel, collapsed at the door of the hospital, without a second thought for her own safety, driven by her sense of duty, she dashed outside to the man, as she reached him, she leaned over, a shot rang out, she suddenly slumped forward… having been shot by a British Sniper, she was killed instantly.

She was to be the first civilian to die, but many more civilian deaths would follow over the course of the following few days and nights and their stories are as equally as horrific as they are gallant and brave.

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Easter Monday 1916 -Part 2

Part 2

looted

Easter Monday Afternoon, and the scene is set. Several key buildings across the city have been seized by rebels, within hours of the first shots being fired, looting across the city had begun.

Rebels were instructed by their commanding chiefs to procure provisions such as food and blankets, and other necessities that would be needed for their siege of the city.

And as law and order began to diminish the rebels looted and ransacked their way through the city, being joined by some civilians who saw an opportunity to alleviate their own impoverished circumstances by taking advantage of this sudden fight for freedom and equality that, if successful would hope to quell such abject poverty across the city and beyond.

As for the children who stood watching in awe as running gun battles took place before them and looting began, the temptation proved to be too much when a cry came out from the crowd that they were raiding Noblett’s, the famous sweet shop that all Dublin children knew and dreamt of.

A stampede of little feet ensued, driven by sweet tooth’s & visions of unsolicited shelves of sweets, as the children of Dublin, caught up in the excitement of the day, rushed to the shop, stripping it bare of every sweet imaginable.

The feeling of excitement, the great fun of their wildest dreams coming true, children of all ages realizing that in this Aladdin’s cave crammed with all their favourite sweeties, there was no one to stop them taking full advantage, little understanding or knowing the dangers that lurked, as the authorities battled to regain civil obedience.

Of course, the authorities needed to restore some sense of civil order and looters were fired upon indiscriminately, irrespective of circumstance, gender, age or size.  Many were innocent civilians, caught in the crossfire, going about their daily business who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time

By the end of that first day of the rising 15 civilians had been fatally wounded, 9 of those were children, killed in the crossfire, as innocent childhood curiosity led them to their tragic fates.

Meanwhile across the city, other battles raged on………


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Easter Monday 1916 – Part 1

Easter Monday
24 April 1916
Part 1

pro

The sound of a city stirring, distant bird song can be heard, blue crystal clear skies as the sun rises to shine brightly upon a city that by the end of the day would become the center stage for a bloody and brutal series of events.

It was Dublin, it was 1916, it was the beginning of the Easter Rising.

The day, for many, started with spring-optimism, the glorious weather lifting the spirits of the citizens of Dublin as they set about their daily routines. People poured on to the streets, drinking in the sights and sounds of their city on a warm spring day, sharing friendly conversation with neighbours and friends as children played in the streets and market traders plied their goods of fruit & flowers to passing customers.

Little boys became cowboys and Indians, playing with pretend guns made from sticks, little girls danced and twirled, with teddy bears and dolls in their arms as they imitated motherly love and affection towards their pretend babies.

Young couples basked in the early spring heat, gentlemen strolled along in polite conversation with their companions, and soldiers made merry enjoying the day, as they headed to Fairyhouse to watch the Irish Grand National, which would spookily see a horse named “Civil War” come in at 4th place.

But, elsewhere, across the city, something was brewing.

Silent rumours had begun to be muttered, whispers telling tales of, men in uniform, congregating and marching. Whispers of gunfire on Stephens Green, whispers of well-known and important buildings being stormed by hundreds of armed men.

And as wild tales swept across the city, a group of armed rebels marched along Sackville Street storming in to the GPO, evacuating the building of customers and staff, their presence confirming the whispers of rumours, leading to scenes of bewilderment from passersby

A crowd began to gather as Padraig Pearse emerged from the building, clutching the carefully constructed Proclamation of the Irish Provisional Government.
Confusion and bemusement began to sweep through the crowd as this man spoke of the Ownership of Ireland and Equal Rights for all.

Some thought it must be a rehearsal for a big theatre play, others jeered, shouting obscenities and threw stones, the natural curiosity of children, rooting them to the spot as they gazed at the spectacle before them, little realizing that this was to mark the start of a violent and bloodied uprising that would, by the end of that week, leave hundreds dead and a city in ruins.