Some Literary and Historical Associations

On the 16 June 1904, James Joyce wrote his famous Bloomsday letter to Nora Barnacle from a house at 60 Shelbourne Road. There is also a reference in his book “Dubliners” to the organist, Miss Gormley of Haddington Road Church.

The poet and literary journalist Patrick Kavanagh lived for some time at 63 Pembroke Road. One of his poems “On Raglan Road” is set in the parish. His funeral was from St.Mary’s Church.

Frank O’Connor (1903 – 1966) author lived in the parish for a time. Among his works is a biography of Michael Collins “The Big Fellow”.

Michael Collins (1890 – 1922), revolutionary, Commander-in-Chief of the Irish National Army and later a government minister, had a study in the house of Miss Hoey, 5 Mespil Road, from where he carried out intelligence work.

Eoin McNeill (1867 – 1944) who was the First Professor of Early Irish History at University College Dublin was also Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Volunteers in 1916 and later Minister for Education, lived at 19 Herbert Park.

The O’Rahilly (1875 – 1916) head of an ancient Kerry Clan and leading Irish Scholar who fought in the G.P.O. during the Easter Rising and was shot dead while trying to escape, lived at 40 Herbert Park.

Percy French (1854 – 1947) the distinguished watercolourist and song writer lived for some time at 35 Mespil Road.

James Larkin (1876 – 1947) the Labour Leader lived for some time at 41 Wellington Road.

The Easter Rising in the Parish

During the Easter Rising of 1916 the parish was the scene of many incidents.

On Easter Monday morning, the 3rd Battalion under Commandant de Valera was mobilised. It consisted of 130 men. A headquarters was established in Boland’s Bakery on Grand Canal Street.

Outposts were established in other buildings in the area. Snipers were set up on Haddington Road Railway Bridge and on high mill buildings and railway sheds on Barrow Street. From these vantage points Beggar’s Bush Barracks was attacked. On Monday afternoon a Veteran Corps under the command of Frank Browning, who was a civil servant and lived at 17 Herbert Park next door to Eoin McNeill, returning to Beggar’s Bush Barracks from manoeuvres were attacked, five were killed and seven injured. The Corps sought shelter in the barracks and assisted the small garrison and its defence.

Carrisbrook House, which predated the office block of the same name at the junction of Lansdowne and Pembroke Road, was occupied, but it was abandoned as no safe escape route was available. An eye witness account described how three men carrying rifles left the house and walked down Lansdowne Road where they received a blessing from passing priests and proceeded along the railway line to join their comrades. On the following Wednesday intelligence reached the headquarters that thousands of British troops had arrived from England and were marching into Dublin. A section of the Sherwood Foresters encamped at the Botanic Gardens, where Jurys Hotel now stands. They were fired on by snipers. Believing it to come from Carrisbrook House they returned the fire. Eventually they continued along Northumberland Road, checking each garden scrupulously.

The Volunteers meanwhile, had occupied buildings around Mount Street Bridge: Clanwilliam House on the north side, St. Stephen’s School and the Parochial Hall opposite the south side, and No. 25 Northumberland Road, its junction with Haddington Road.

As the army reached No. 25 they came under heavy automatic fire. Two volunteers, Michael Malone and James Grace held No. 25 for five hours. The house was continually bombed and windows swept with rifle fire. The British Army were ill-equipped and had to send for grenades and guncotton. A detachment of troops sent to attack form the rear came under fire from Clanwilliam House and the railway, and suffered heavy losses. Eventually the front door of No. 25 was bombed and the army rushed the occupants. Malone was killed and Grace hid in the kitchen and escaped. He was captured the following day while escaping from a garden shed.

The soldiers advanced towards the bridge. The volunteers in St. Stephen’s School had withdrawn. The men in the Parochial Hall continued their cross fire, assisted by the snipers on the nearby railway line, on the roof of the locomotive shed, and another tall building on Grand Canal Quay. Eventually the men in the Parochial Hall withdrew six hours after the battle started. They were captured in the laneway behind.

The battle for control of Mount Street Bridge continued. The group of seven men in Clanwilliam House together with their colleagues prevented the British Army reaching the city and forced them to retreat several times. The battle ensued for nine hours during which time the British, with battalions charging in successive waves, had 234 men killed or wounded. A parishioner, Mr. Charles Hyland, of No. 3 Percy Place, was killed when he went to assist the wounded soldiers who were calling out for help. Clanwilliam House was bombed and three of the seven defenders were killed. The rest evacuated the burning building. Some snipers prevented the troops crossing the bridge until morning. The Sherwood Foresters who fought at Mount Street Bridge were under orders to reach Trinity College at all cost, but in the morning there were ordered not to Trinity but to Royal Hospital Kilmainham. On route they were again attacked in a similar manner near Rialto Bridge and suffered further heavy losses.

On 3rd May 1916 – the day Pearse, Clarke and McDonagh were executed – a further incident took place in the parish. – Rev. Dr. F. J. Watters S.M. of the Catholic University School, Lower Leeson Street was shot while leaving the presbytery of St. Mary’s Church. He died on 8th May in St. Vincent’s Nursing Home and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery where a Celtic cross was erected by his Marist Confreres.

The Volunteers who died in the parish are commemorated by a monument at Mount Street Bridge while a wall plaque in memory of Michael Malone has been erected in 25 Northumberland Road by Oglaigh na hEireann.

There is also a monument at the corner of Elgin Road and Herbert Park, for the Officers and Men of the Third Battalion Dublin Brigade, Oglaigh na hEireann, who died for Ireland in 1916 and since. It was unveiled by Eamon de Valera, President of Ireland on 13th May 1973, his last public duty before leaving office.





Copyright St. Mary’s Haddington Road Parish 2011