Our friendly and excellent guides are available as Step On Guides for any visiting tour or coach operators who may like a unique, entertaining and educational tour of Irish History and the events of Easter Week 1916.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

1917 What was on Easter 1917

One year on from the momentous events of the Easter Rising and Dublin was still recovering, the centre of the city still a bomb site. April 9th was Easter Monday and Dublin was cold, windy with snow and sleet, a far cry from the sunny climate of Easter week. The British authorities had taken no chances and banned all outdoor gathering and processions to ward off trouble. The First World War continued and throughout 1917, Irishmen were still joining up. Many of those arrested after the Rising were still in prison in Britain and Ireland was suffering from rationing, job losses and steep increases in both food and alcohol prices.  Ireland though is changing as the radical nationalism of Sinn Fein begins to replace the moderate Nationalism of Redmond’s Home Rule party.

The main page of the Sunday Independent barely mentioned Ireland and its only reference was to possible nationalisation of the Liquor industry in Britain and Ireland due to wartime conditions. This was also leading to concern as many jobs were being lost at breweries and distilleries especially in Dublin as restrictions on production was imposed. Much of the news columns covered America’s declaration of war on the German Empire on April 6th. The Easter weekend had been a period of religious reflection with many businesses closed for the Holy Week.

The ban on meetings did not apply to indoor events and so the Dublin GAA annual convention went ahead as planned in the Mansion House. There was plenty of sport to occupy the mind but weather conditions reduced the attendance numbers at most events, which was a bonus on the Monday for theatres and cinemas.

The Grand National went ahead at Faiyhouse where Pay Only picked up the first prize of two hundred pounds. Second place despite all their efforts only won twenty pounds. There was whippet racing at Shelbourne Park, hockey in the Phoenix Park, soccer matches in the Leinster Senior League and club GAA matches at Croke Park and Ringsend Park.

The back page of the Freeman’s Journal on Monday along with actions photos of the Louth v Wexford GAA match was the news that the eldest son of British Prime Minister Lloyd George, Major Richard Lloyd George had got married. But as the year anniversary arrived on Easter Monday the theatre and cinemas were busy.

The D’Oyly Carte theatre company whose run at the Gaiety Theatre had been shut down as events unfolded on O’Connell Street and nearby St Stephen’s Green, were once again opening at the Gaiety with their production of The Gondoliers. The Theatre Royal’s acts on Monday night included Miss Marie Loftus, opera singer, George Forde, ventriloquist and Fred Curran, comedian who would become the opening act for Harry Houdini. The Abbey Theatre was performing G B Shaw’s ‘ John Bulls Other Island’ with Fred Donovan playing the role of Father Keegan. The Empire show was headlined by Miss Victoria Monks, while the Tivoli had Cooper and Lait topping the bill with comedian J B Strain. At the Queens the play ‘Under Two Flags’ was being performed.

Cinema was also growing rapidly although many of the cinemas in the centre of the city had been destroyed during the Rising bombardment. The Grafton Picture House
was showing ‘The Majesty of the Law’ accompanied by a performance by a visiting Russian violinist. The Pillar Picture House had Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Pawnshop’. Across Ireland various Chaplin movies were on Easter Monday. At Mullingar you could have caught his film ‘in two parts’ The Fireman while Police was being shown at the Coliseum in Cork City.

On Easter Monday just before midday a crowd gathered outside the ruins of the GPO and a rebel flag was hoisted on a temporary flagpole at the corner of the building. It was lowered to half mast the stroke of one. As the police attempted to arrest those with flags, they were attacked and stones thrown gathered from the rubble of the street. There were a number of baton charges on O’Connell Street and Eden Quay with skirmishes continuing into the afternoon. The newspapers reported that a heaviy snowfall just after 10pm cleared the street of the ‘rowdies’. The only mention in Monday’s paper of any republican activities was a gathering of about a hundred ladies in Glasnevin where they laid wreaths on the graves of Volunteers killing during the Rising.

One strange quirk of the weekend in Dundalk related to the merging of Irish time and London time in October 1916 when Catholic churches in the town advertised Mass in Irish Time while the Protestant services were advertised in the new time leading to confusion in the town.     

Saturday, May 27, 2017

1917 The Banned Movie

British sensitivities were still on heightened alert as 1917 began. In January 1917 a film opened to packed houses in the Rotunda Picture House. ‘Ireland A Nation’ had been shown to and passed in December 1916 by the censor

The film itself had actually first been shown in 1914 and was made by the Gaelic Film Company. A silent movie it told the story of Ireland from the time of the 1798 rebellion, Robert Emmet in 1803 and up to the planned arrival of Home Rule, itself having been put on the back burner in 1914. It used dramatic scenes and screen titles to tell its story.  The film website IMDB described the film as,
‘The story of Ireland and her fight for Home Rule, as seen through the experiences of Father Tom Murphy, a patriot with a price on his head, and the famous Irish leader Robert Emmet.’

The film was produced by Lismore, Co Waterford born Walter McNamara. McNamara who according to the magazine ‘Moving Picture World’ was a vice president of the Gaelic League and one of the founders of the Irish Club in London. He had been educated in Wales before heading to the United States and became involved in the silent movie business.

The movie had its exterior shots filmed on location in Ireland including at Glendalough and the Vale of Avoca in Wicklow. The interior shots were filmed at  Ec-Ko Studios at Kewbridge in England which led to many continuity errors which was perhaps the least of its problems as it was often factually inaccurate as well. It starred Barry O’Brien as Emmet. O’Brien was an actor born in London in 1893, passing away in 1961.  Dominick O’Reilly played the role of Napoleon Bonaparte with supporting cast including Patrick Ennis and Barry Magee. Interviewed by George Blaisdell, McNamara spoke about his time in Ireland making the movie.
“Did I have any difficulties finding locations? Yes in one instance when I tried to find a mud hut and failed. Parnell wiped those out. I did though get some wonderful backgrounds.  We had a fort built by Oliver Cromwell and to this day no real son of the old sod passes it without spitting, that’s the only way they can adequately express his feelings for the builder. Were obstacles placed in my path in the making of Ireland a Nation? Yes indeed by the soldiers. Sometimes we would start a scene with not a soul in sight. It seemed sometimes that in two minutes soldiers would come from everywhere and demand to see a permit. The military tried in every way to handicap us. That’s why we were five months over there. The Nationalist Party gave us unofficial sanction.”

When he arrived in Ireland he was arrested by the British on suspicion of importing arms illegally but these weapons were discovered to be props for his film. McNamara was released but his props were not returned to him.

Even though the censor passed the film, he did so with some cuts to the original. Scenes including the interruption by British soldiers of a hillside Mass being celebrated by a Priest and the execution of Robert Emmet plus some of the intertitles were cut including one that told viewers that ‘a price of £100 dead or alive on the hed of every priest’.

On Wednesday September 23rd 1914 it had its premiere at the 44th Street Theatre in New York and played to big audiences in New York and Chicago despite being panned by most critics.
The tag line for the movie on its release was
‘Made in Ireland by Irish Actors, 116 years of Irish History in 5000ft of film’
Shown twice a day, tickets cost the movie goer either 25c or 50c.

A copy was being sent to Ireland for showing in May 1915 but it was on board the Lusitania when it was sunk by a German submarine. The intervention of the Easter Rising prevented another copy arriving and so it was January 8th 1917 before the Irish public got to see the film although with cuts to the original implemented by the censor. Newspaper advertisements called the film "The Greatest Patriotic Picture Ever Screened".  The Rotunda’s 1500 seats were sold out for two consecutive nights but when reports after the first couple of nights that audiences were cheering the death of British forces in the film’s depiction of the 1798 rebellion and roaring ‘up the Republic’ during some scenes, the military authorities banned the film.

The film would not be seen again in Irish cinemas until 1922 when extra scenes of the aftermath of the Rising, the War of Independence and DeValera’s visit to the United States were included.


 ‘A Special Relationship, Britain Comes to Hollywood’ by Anthony Slide
Trinity College Archives
New York Tribune

Thursday, May 25, 2017

1917 Another Potato Famine

A year after the Easter Rising the preoccupation of British newspapers with the Irish question wasn’t the reaction to the rebel executions, the rise of Sinn Fein or the massive amount of arms still in circulation on the island but headlines blazed about the humble potato.

The British were relying on food crops grown within the British Isles as German submarines were having an affect on imported goods and ships were being used for military purposes rather than food transport. The potato harvest in both Ireland and Scotland had been particularly poor in 1916 and the word ‘famine’ was again circulating. The yield in Ireland in 1916 was a quarter of a millions tons less than a year earlier and exporting from Ireland had been interrupted by the events of Easter week. Towards the end of 1916 the British Government prohibited the export of potatoes from Ireland to Britain leading to major shortages in Britain.
The Belfast News wrote,
“From Clare to Donegal and Dublin to Sligo thoughtful men are asking ‘what will happen if the people’s food is sold for export?’ there is only one answer –famine”

The Donegal Vindicator added
“The crisis has found Ireland as unprepared as the war found Great Britain. The potato famine is upon us and so are the exporters. The farmer who sells his potatoes for export today must be restrained by his more sensible neighbours. There is a food crisis.”

By early 1917, the wholesale cost of the spud had mushroomed. A ‘CWT’ (8 stone bag) of potatoes that cost between four and eight schillings in 1916, a year later was costing between eleven and fourteen schillings. Some Irish exporters had been accused of withholding supplies for export to take advantage of the ever increasing wholesale prices. The embargo was lifted on the Irish potato in July 1917 but not before the British Government ordered the Irish farmer to sell his crop for a maximum of £6 10s per ton or 1s per stone down from the reported £14 some farmer had been receiving.    

By March there were prosecutions in Ireland of those appearing to profiteer. Potato sellers Thomas Sheridan and Sons were fined £5 and £2 costs for selling potatoes wholesale to Mary Keating of Arklow for 11s 6d a CWT on March 9th when the maximum at the time was 10s 10d per CWT. There were many such prosecutions during the following six months across the country.

One newspaper editorial in Wales, an area that had been severely affected by the potato shortages wrote,

“Potatoes are not worth buying if they cost more than 4s a cwt. They have been as high as 8s this spring. The potato is of very little value as food. There is not more than   two per cent of nutriment in the potato. Potatoes at 8s a cwt are equivalent in price to oatmeal as 1s per lb which is absurd. We have largely become the victims of the potato habit. In the early part of the nineteenth century potatoes could be had for two or three shillings a cwt. In those times anybody could live for about a shilling a week on potatoes. The root had very little dietetic value; but it was "filling" and cheap at the price. When however the potato begins to cost the price of a genuine food, it is time- its character was exposed. If you have a. good dinner it is all very well to have a few potatoes as "extras" just as you would have a few tomatoes or Brussels sprouts but to regard the potato as an article of diet in itself is rank folly. If the potato were relegated to its proper place the consumption of that fraudulent tuber would decrease and its price would fall accordingly. People acquired the taste for the potato in an age of poverty and they go eating it quite regardless of the fact that its food value is almost nil. The extraordinary prices which potatoes reached in the spring were due to the rebellion in Ireland. They grow huge quantities of potatoes in Ireland but they are not so foolish as to eat them. The Irish labourer has long ago got over his partiality for potatoes. He lives on tea "soda-bread" and American bacon. Liverpool, Fleetwood, .Glasgow and Bristol all receive daily shiploads of potatoes from Ireland. There is never usually more than a week's supply of potatoes in hand in the big towns of England and Scotland. When the Sinn Fein flare-up took place all shipping between this country and Ireland was held up for a couple of weeks, and it was a month before things became normal. In the meantime the grocers in this country were getting desperate for potatoes. Travellers from Manchester and Edinburgh were scouring the wilds of Wales offering any prices for a few sacks of potatoes. The only cure for the high price of potatoes is for people to use less of them. Those who eat meat can do with less potatoes. Puddings are cheaper than potatoes just now. Those who don't use meat should not use potatoes at all. As a food they are useless; their proper function is to serve as an adjunct to meat. Our fathers formed dietetic habits when certain articles of food were cheap. When circumstances alter the habits should alter. The only point in favour of the potato is its cheapness. Once it ceased to be cheap, it ought to be discarded.”

In parts of England especially Lincolnshire,a good potato growing county, there was a different kind of Irish problem when it came to harvesting the potato crop. In 1917 the ‘Irish Need Not Apply’ signs went up at farms, pubs and shops. The local community turned on Irish labourers who would travel across the Irish Sea for seasonal work as local Englishmen serving in the British Army who were conscripted and had been sent to Ireland during and after the Easter Rising were paid one schilling per week but the Irish who had replaced them in the fields and were exempt from conscription in what locals saw as appeasement were being paid between five and seven schillings a week to replace them.

By the end of 1917, the price had stabilised and the threat of famine in both Ireland and Britain had receded but by the end of that year consumers had discovered alternatives to the potato like swede, turnip and parsnip and as the First World War came to a conclusion the potato crisis had abated.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

1917 Ireland's Top Sportsman

In 1917, Wexford won the All Ireland Football Final which Dublin secured the title in Hurling. In soccer Glentoran won the double taking both the League and the Cup, while for a number of months Ireland was the only place in the British Isles to the support the sport of Kings, horse racing but the most famous Irish sportsman in the United States at the time played none of these sports.

Bernard Michael Riley was born in 1891 in Ballinamore, County Leitrim before his family immigrated to the United States. By eighteen years old he was known as ‘Irish Mick’ or ‘The Wild Irish Rose of Skidom’ as Barney as he was now known became the US National Amateur Champion Ski jumper.

The Riley family had settled in Coleraine, Michigan an area of the US where many Scandinavians settled and they brought their tradition of snow sports to the North East of the continent.  And while names like Solberg, Bergensen, Olsen and Jensen dominated the ski slopes in the US, an Irishman would break their stranglehold.

In February 1910 Riley was crowned US National Champion in front of 6,000 spectators setting a world record jump on his way to the title. He defended it successful y the following year and I 1911 even won the prestigious Nor Trophy, a competition set up by and dominated by Norwegians who had like Riley found a new home in the United States. He also picked up the $300 defeating a future Olympic bronze medallist Anders Haugen who competed for the USA despite being born in Telemark, Norway.
The newspapers of the day reported
‘At the Norwegian games he (Riley) was the possessor of enough medals to decorate a German prince, all won by his skills on the skis’

In 1913 Riley turned professional and toured the growing and successful skiing circuit. The First World War would intervene and Riley joined the US Army in 1917 being posted to France when that nation entered the war, serving as a railway engineer in France. Riley entry into the US Army made headlines on the sports pages of late 1917 as his fame as a ski jumper had continued to expand.

After the war he returned to ski jumping and his Irishness was trumpeted in advertising for various metes including the 1924 inaugural event at the Chester Bowl in Duluth, Minnesota, the state that Riley now called home. He won the inaugural event with a jump of 137 feet. He would later exchange holder of the ski jump world record with Anders Haugen at one tournament out jumping the Olympic medallist with a jump of 154 feet only to fall on landing. He would never again hold the record.

Barney Riley died in February 1939 when he suffered a heart attack and died as he was moving his car from his garage at home. In 2011, the ‘Wild Irish Rose of Skidom’ was inducted into the American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame.      

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Carlow 1916?

Carlow as a county has often been ridiculed as the only county never to have won a senior GAA football or Hurling title despite at times having produced excellent club teams at All Ireland club level but statistics from police records in 1916 also show Carlow as a county with a number of other duck eggs. Along with The Kings County (Offaly), Carlow were the only county's where no recorded rebellious activities took place and the only county with no arrests in the aftermath of the Rising.

No doubt the confusion in orders did not help activities in the Barrowsiders county.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sandymount International Airport

On a warm summer afternoon a glance skywards as you lay on Sandymount beach a passenger jet blazes a trail across the sky but in the 1930’s plans were developed for a new International airport for Dublin to be located in Sandymount on the land now occupied by Sean Moore Park and the Irish Glass Bottle site. In the early days of the Free State, international flights left from Kildonan Aerodrome in Finglas but when Aer Lingus was launched in 1936, its first flights departed from Baldonnel. The decision was eventually made that a former RAF airfield at Collinstown would be developed into what is today Dublin Airport.

In 1935 following a Dublin Ports and Docks Board visit to Sydenham Airport (now George Best Airport) in Belfast which was built on reclaimed land, the plan was proposed to build a walled enclosure to reclaim land from the sea from Newgrove Avenue to the Pigeon House and into Irishtown. The report stated that the 15,000 feet wall would enclose 1,400 acres and with reclamation would cost £1.5 million with another £1m needed to build a runway and infrastructure. Its proximity to the tram line into the city centre and the nearby railway station at Sandymount Avenue were cited as important criteria.

In 1936, Mr. J Johnson Mullan of Sandymount Castle in a letter to the Irish Press advocated the plan as an excellent idea and marvelled at the possibility of seeing the lights of an international airport on the foreshore. He recommended that the Dublin Corporation and the DPDB immediately begin work its implementation. The first flight into the completed alternative Dublin Airport was in January 1940 after a three year building project

An aerodrome of sorts in Sandymount was operational during the visit of the aircraft carrier USS John F Kennedy in 1996. With the massive vessel anchored in Dublin Bay, Ciaran Haughey’s Celtic Helicopters operated a sightseeing service for the duration of the visit from what is today the park area nearest the beach on Strand Road. Two helicopters were deployed and hundreds availed of the opportunity to have a helicopter jaunt out over Dublin Bay spotting both the massive ship and most probably their own home from the air. 

At one stage proposals were placed before Dublin County Council for the creation of a heliport on the Poolbeg Extension but were quickly shelved.

In 1998 the then Councillor and later An Tainiste John Gormley complained at a Dublin Corporation meeting that a deal had been struck between the Corporation and Celtic Helicopters to allow Sean Moore Park as a base for commercial flights. The Corporation did admit there was an agreement but that it was only for occasional flights and they did not reveal the financial arrangements that had been made.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sandymount Green Through History

The story of Sandymount begins with an area known as Scallet Hill in the middle ages. The area then was a swampy marsh land surrounded by the Irish Sea on one side and the unbridled River Dodder on the other side. In the late 1700’s Lord Fitzwilliam built an embankment to hold back the sea from Merrion to Sandymount. The course of the Dodder was regulated and the land dried enough to begin building houses. The area was renamed Brickfield and from the 1820’s onwards the development of Sandymount continued apace and is still evolving even today.

The centre piece of Sandymount is the Green. A triangle of recreational green space that was opened to the public in 1900 after Lord Pembroke donated the waste ground hoping that a nice park would allow him to charge higher rents for the many properties he owned in the area. In 1904 an ornate water fountain was erected as a centre piece but it has long since disappeared although the drinking fonts that were also put in can still be seen today.

The statue sculpted by Arthur Power in the Green is that of the great poet William Butler Yeats. His family at one time lived in the Castle at one end of the Green. Yeats himself was born on June 13th 1865 on Sandymount Avenue. Yeats would be romantically involved with Maud Gonne and won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. He passed away in 1939 in Paris France but it was not until September 1948 before his body was repatriated to Sligo and upon his headstone are the lines,
                        Cast a Cold Eye
                        On Life, on Death,
                        Horseman pass by.

The first recorded licensed premises on the Green was in 1834 and a hotel and tavern owned by Anne Tunstall. In 1850 Martin D’Arcy operated a public house at Number 5 Sandymount Green also known as ‘Tippers’.

The advertisement for the sale of White’s notes that Number One had the lease as a pub granted to it on September 29th 1849.
In 1870 there were three public houses on the Green. Apart from D’Arcy’s there was Fox and Hanrahan’s and Peter Kenny’s. Michael Hanrahan was the first man to have a pub located at Number One Sandymount Green and named it the Sandymount Tavern. With his partner Fox they also had a pub located at 72 Upper Dorset Street on Dublin’s North side.

In 1875 Charles McCabe arrived in the Village with his brother Richard who opened a grocer’s shop next door which was numbered as 1a.

In 1880 Daniel Burke became the publican at Number One Sandymount Green. This was one of four pubs he owned in the city. He was also operating on Baggot Street, 2-3 South King Street near where the Gaeity Theatre stands today and at Number 4 Ballsbridge near where Crowe’s Public House now stands.

Much of Burke’s success was probably due to the arrival of the tram system that connected the village with the city centre. Sandymount became a popular tourist attraction with it beaches, open spaces and off course fine public houses.

In the early 1870’s tram tracks were laid from the city centre along Mount Street and through Bath Avenue and onto Sandymount village for a horse drawn tram service that connected the Martello Tower on the Strand Road with Nelson’s Pillar in O’Connell Street. The service began on October 1st 1872. In 1872 the service then began at Gilford Road where horse stables and garages were built. The journey with a two horse tram would travel from the Tower via the Green, Tritonville Road and down London Bridge Road until they passed beneath the railway bridge where a stable hand would be on duty with two extra horses to pull the tram up onto Northumberland Road and then return to Bath Avenue to await the next tram.

On January 14th 1901, the horse was replaced with electricity on William Murphy’s Dublin United Tram Company route. It was one of the few routes served by a single deck tram known as a ‘bogeycar’ due to the low bridge on Bath Avenue.

In those days the routes were not numbered but name plates at the front of the tram indicated its destinations and in order to assist those many who were illiterate at the time in Dublin a green half crescent indicated that it was the tram required for any one travelling the route from Sandymount to the city centre.

The tram service ceased on the route on 31st July 1932. For many years Coras Iompair Eireann, the forerunner of Dublin Bus operated the number 52 bus, a single deck bus that became a one man operation and ran from Lakelands School to Hawkins Street. The number 52 which was then used to service University College Dublin was removed from the route in 1998

Today the Dublin Bus routes Number Two from Parnell Square to the Green and the Number Three from Whitehall to UCD through Sandymount serve as the quickest way to find your creamy pint in Ryan’s. The Number Eighteen arrives at its terminus on the Green from Palmerstown. The DART stations at Lansdowne Road and Sandymount are only minutes away.

In 1890 John Butler a young publican arrived to serve the pints to the growing and affluent suburb. John Butler was a native of Annefield County Cork and died January 18th 1890 just thirty three years old. He is buried in New Drom Cemetery, County Tipperary with a headstone erected by his sons Lawrence and Thomas. Thomas ran a pub at 18 Camden Street where Anseo is presently located. Thomas died two years after his father on March 4th 1892 while Lawrence died March 31st 1904 aged seventy three. Following the death of Thomas the pub was put up for sale.

In 1893 Patrick S Fleming arrived. Fleming saw in the new century and perhaps he was standing at his door when Leopold Bloom passed through Sandymount on June 16th 1904. Bloom’s exploits were magically recounted in James Joyce’s work ‘Ulysess’

Then there was the exciting events surrounding the Easter Rising in 1916. No doubt many of the Irish Volunteers frequented his premises as they used the Sandymount Castle grounds as a training area under their local commander John McBride.

The 1911 Census lists the occupants of Number One Sandymount Green as

Patrick Fleming, 50, Roman Catholic born in Co Limerick and married for 17 years
Kate Fleming, 48, Wife Roman Catholic born in Co Tipperary mother of 4 Children
Mary Fleming, 15 Daughter Roman Catholic born in Co Dublin
Thomas Fleming, 14 Son Roman Catholic born in Co Dublin                          
Francis Fleming, 13 Son Roman Catholic born in Co Dublin
Florence Fleming, 11 Daughter Roman Catholic born in Co Dublin
Patrick McEvoy, 28 Boarder Roman Catholic born in Co Dublin Barman
Edward O'Grady, 26 Boarder Roman Catholic born in Queen's County Barman
John Hughes, 24 Boarder Roman Catholic born Co Roscommon Barman
James Cullen, 23 Boarder Roman Catholic born in Co Kildare Barman
James Hennessy, 18 Boarder Roman Catholic born in Co Tipperary Barman
Alfred Coffey, 18 Boarder Roman Catholic born in Co Meath Barman 
Margaret Connelly, 30 Servant Roman Catholic born in Co Wexford Domestic Servant

The Irish National Census of ten years earlier noted that Fleming’s staff were
Patrick Hedigan aged 26 born in County Limerick
Daniel O’Connell aged 26 from County Limerick
Gerald Barry aged 23 born in County Limerick
William Lawlor aged 18 from County Tipperary
Phillip Ryan aged 17 from County Tipperary

In 1920 Fleming’s friend and publican across the road Sylvester White bought the premises. White had been the landlord in what is today O’Reilly’s on Seafort Avenue and sold to the O’Reilly family arrived in 1922. In the Poor Law Elections the two men are noted as the proposer and second of George Bardon of Prospect Place. Sylvester then forty three years old was ably assisted by his older brother Denis.

In 1925 Joseph Ryan bought the pub and traded successfully through ‘The Emergency’, the Irish term for the Second World War. During the war years 1939-1945 the local air raid siren was located on the roof of the pub. Kevin Mullan remembered the night it sounded in earnest when German bombers flew over Dublin on May 31st 1941 and dropped their deadly bomb load on the North Strand killing twenty eight people and destroying over three hundred houses.

In 1958 through the estate agency Morrissey’s, the pub was sold to Mary Heelan. In 1974 the same agency sold the pub for £172,000 and renamed ‘Fagan’s’.

In 1985 it became known as The Sandymount House and attached was the Le Detour Restaurant and the offices of Diamond Windows Limited. The pub was bought by well known Tipperary born Dublin publican Gus Ryan. In 2008 Gus retired from the business and his son Vincent and his wife Elizabeth became the publicans.

Today Ryan’s on Sandymount Green is a vibrant pub at the heart of the village. 

The Wren…….
If you have never heard of the ‘wren boys’ on St Stephen’s Day in Sandymount, where have you been?
The Wran - The Wran - the king of all birds
On Saint Stephen's Day was caught in the furze
Although he is little his family is great
Come out your honour and give us a trate

Hurrah me boys hurrah

The origins of the Wren Day are based on pagan legend and its true beginnings lost in the fog of history. In modern times, the Wren Boys descend on Sandymount Green on St Stephen’s morning to celebrate and enjoy the festive season. The Guinness Gig Rig, a mobile stage, is on hand to let hundred of performers play and dance to Irish traditional tunes and maybe to give the few bars of a song.

The tradition is marked with those involved dressing up in masks and straw hats and as colourful pieces of clothing as you have in your wardrobe. If you are in the crowd you are known as a mummur. In rural parts of Ireland, the children dress up and go from pub to pub entertaining the customers with music and dance and earning some pocket money along the way. Once the festivities on stage in Sandymount reach there conclusion perhaps on a cold December morn its time to repair to the warm comfort of Ryan’s for a few hot whiskeys and the sharing of the Christmas spirit.

The Good, The Bad and The …….

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Four Corners of Hell


In 2002, The Woods Band released a critically acclaimed album called ‘The Four Corners of Hell’. The title comes from the local name for the junction of Kevin Street, Clanbrassil Street and Patrick Street. It was so named as at one time there was a pub on each of the four corners of that intersection. In fact in 1960, you could start a journey at Harold’s Cross Bridge and walk the mile to Christchurch Cathedral and visit nineteen pubs. If you walked the same ‘Olden Mile’ today the people who preach responsibility in alcohol would be delighted as only five pubs would be entered.

The oldest licence is that belonging to the presently closed Man of Achill that dates back to 1760 or as it was known then as ‘Ye Olde Grinding Young’.  Many great bar names have disappeared over the years since1960, The Bunch of Grapes, Larkin’s, Nash’s, Biddy Mulligan’s and the Tap.

The Four Corners of Hell were Quinn’s at Clanbrassil Street and The Coombe, Kenny’s  on the corner of  Patrick Street and the Coombe, Lowe’s on the corner of Patrick Street and Kevin Street and O’Bierne’s on the opposite corner. Many of the pubs were demolished to make way for progress when in the nineties Clanbrassil Street, named after James Hamilton, Earl of Clanbrassil, was widened to cope with growing volumes of traffic.

One of Dublin’s major tourist areas is around St. Patrick’s and Christchurch Cathedrals and the terminus of the Viking Splash Tours. Patrick Street in 1960 boasted six pubs now there is none. In 1960 J.A. Maguire’s, The Tap was located at 12-13 Patrick Street on the corner of Dillon Place. Number 21was Michael Ryan’s on the corner of Hanover Lane. Number 25 was A. Brennan’s later known as Birchall’s between Hanover Lane and Dean Street while at 36 was  T. McDonalds and finally down to the Corner of Hell with Kenny’s (Once known as Pat McManus’s) facing Lowe’s the last pub to disappear in 2005 when then called Nash’s and owned by the famous English Channel swimmer Pat Nash it was demolished.

Patrick Street is not the only street in the area to see all its pubs disappear. Bride Street in 1960 had John Corry’s at Number 33, The Sinnott Brothers and 85, the Napper Tandy. P. McColgan’s, Mrs O’Bierne’s and Thomas Kenny’s pub at the corner of Golden Lane all now demolished and banished from the landscape. No smoking ban will affect them.

With Farrell’s pub currently closed, New Street is also devoid of pubs when it once boasted The White Horse Bar, the New Inn and O’Bierne’s on Hells Corner.

1960                                                    2005   
Upper Clanbrassil Street
No. 1 Patrick Doyle                             Leonard’s Corner Café
            (Once Known as Christy Carr’s)
No 29 Cyril McDermott                       McKenna’s
            (Once known as The Fiddlers Green)
No. 30 The Poplars                              CLOSED
No. 35 Carroll Brothers                        The Harold House
Lower Clanbrassil Street      
No. 30 William J Barrett                       GONE
No. 56 Thomas Keogh                        The 57 Headline
No. 67 T MacDonagh’s                       GONE
            (Also known as Biddy Mulligan’s & Pearse Bar.)
No. 91 J Fitzpatrick                              GONE
            (Once known as The Bunch of Grapes)
No. 108Larkin Brothers                       GONE
No. 116                                               McAuleys
New Street    
                                                            No. 35 James Kavanagh                       Farrell’s
                                                                        (Once known as Donlon’s)
                                                            No. 45 Pat McAuleys                           GONE
                                                                        (Once known as The White Horse Bar)
                                                            No. 65 The New Inn                            GONE
                                                            No. 1   O’Bierne’s                               GONE
Patrick Street                                    
No. 12 J.A. Maguire                            GONE
                                                                        (Once known as Dunne’s)
                                                            No. 21 Michael Ryan’s                        GONE
                                                            No. 25 A. Brennan’s                            GONE
                                                            No. 36 T. McDonald                            GONE
                                                                        (Once known as Donnelly’s)
                                                            No. 49 Pat McManus                           GONE
                                                            No. 50 JD Quinn’s                               GONE
                                                                        (Also known as Lowe’s & Nash’s)
Dean Street                                       
No. 7 W. Lowe’s                                 GONE
Bride Street               
                                                            No. 33 John Corry                               GONE
                                                            No. 85 Sinnott Brothers                        GONE
                                                                        (Once known as Finnegan’s)
                                                            No. 87 Thomas Kenny                         GONE
                                                            No. 101 Sean O’Connor’s                   GONE
                                                                        (Once known as The Napper Tandy)
                                                            No. 102 P. McColgan’s                       GONE
                                                            No. 104 Mrs A O’Bierne’s                  GONE

Gone but not forgotten.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The History of Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium

Over the years I have written a  number of historical articles on the area I live in and these next couple of weeks will have a small selection of those articles.

The History of Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium.

Every Saturday night between 8pm and 10pm the place to be in Dublin is greyhound racing at Shelbourne Park. Located on South Lotts Road which itself dates back to 1721, the stadium has become a mecca of sports and gambling. But while today those guests sitting in the park’s excellent restaurant see it associated solely as a greyhound venue, it has a very colourful sporting past.

Just like its Northside cousin Croke Park, the stadium originally began life as a soccer ground. Originally a derelict site, it became the home of Shelbourne FC pre-season in 1913. A trial match took place on August 16th when Shelbourne played a Leinster League select eleven. At that time Shelbourne played in the all-Ireland Irish Football league and their first league match was a one all draw with fellow Dubliners Bohemians. The ground was operated by the Shelbourne Sports Company Limited and many various fund raising activities took place in the first couple of years to pay for and extend the facilities at the ground. In March 1914 the club played Manchester United while on May 23rd a fifteen mile challenge race was run featuring Irish international running sensations Charlie Harris and Paddy Fagan. A track around the pitch was used for Wednesday trotting and whippet racing. Trotting on a Friday would cost one schilling admission while to enter your pony cost £1 but there was a prize of £30 if you got through the qualifying rounds.

Over the following decades Shelbourne’s home venue was also used by the Football Association of Ireland following the establishment of the Irish Free State and the split from the IFA in Belfast, as home of both semi finals and finals of the FAI Cup including an enthralling final in April 1929 between Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians. Shelbourne remained at the ground until the 1948/49 season when Shelbourne’s last match against Waterford ended just like their first in a draw.

In September 1921 the then titled President of Ireland Eamon DeValera officially opened a Fete that featured seven a side Gaelic football tournament. Billed as the ‘best of outdoor and indoor attractions’ the indoor featured Irish dancing Feis, a Ceili and a cinema.

As a greyhound venue it was Ireland’s second after the opening of Celtic Park in Belfast. Greyhound racing began on May 14th 1927 in front of ten thousand spectators packed into the venue. The National Greyhound Racing Company Limited, the forerunner of Bord Na gCon and the Irish Greyhound Board was the brainchild of Kerry native Jerry Collins, Paddy O’Donoghue, Patsy McAlinden and Jim Clarke.

But the early days of greyhound racing was not without its difficulties. A riot broke out in September 1927 when two dogs Galbally Lass and Skeango racing in the semi final of the Civic Cup stopped mid race and savaged each other. The crowd expected a blue flag denoting a ‘non race’ but to their dismay the 6-4 favourite Gone For Sure was declared the winner. The ‘mob in the cheap enclosure invaded the ground trampling wire and person and attacking the judges box’. Police from nearby Irishtown police station restored order.
Hockey arrived in March 1924 when Ireland beat England in a 3.15pm tip off to win the triple crown, a year later 1/6 would gain you admittance to the Ireland v Scotland encounter.

In 1934 another new sport arrived when thousands arrived by ferry from Britain to watch the inaugural Perpetual Challenge Cup match between Warrington and Wigan in rugby league. The match was sponsored by the Hospital’s Trust and Wigan overcame their opponent thirty two points to nineteen. Alas despite its proposed annual status, this was the only rugby league match played at the south Dublin venue.

On July 9th 1937 promoter Joe McAllister organised a boxing tournament featuring flyweight contender Jim Warnock. Warnock won his bout but lost a belt eliminator to Peter Kane two weeks later in a fight held at the home of Liverpool, Anfield.

In 1950 a new sport arrived, the thrill of the speedway. Motor bikes were speeding around the course in a sport that was now attracting both spectators and American riders eager to earn a living. The sport initially stayed four years at Shelbourne Park promoted by Ronnie Green. It returned in 1961 for a season and a further two years in 1970/1971. Although mostly made up of American riders The Shelbourne Tigers captained by seventeen year old Ronnie Moore matched many of the big teams from across the Irish Sea drawing thousands to the south side venue.

In recent years greyhound racing has shared its space in Shelbourne Park with show jumping. The ‘Jumping In The City’ event organised by the Irish Greyhound Board as a way of utilising their venues in Limerick, Cork and Dublin on days when their stadia were empty. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Reis's Chambers, The 1916 Rising, the Execution of Francis Hynes and Charles Reis - Part Two


James Caffrey, the second in charge of the protection party stated that there was no one in the billiards room when they got there which would have been the correct procedure as the jury were to have no contact with other members of the public while they were on the jury. George Strong reported that there was one man in the billiard room apart from Mr. Martin but then Jury member Edward Hamilton stated that when they walked into the billiard room there were two members of the public but that they left as the group walked in but that two more men entered shortly after. These men were Major Wynne and Doctor James Cusack and that Charles Reis introduced Major Wynne to the others. Reis and Wynne then played a game of billiards while more drink was ordered. With the order was placed an order for cigars but after lighting one up, Reis seemed unhappy with the quality and rang the service bell and complained. The porter fetched more cigars but shortly after Reis rang the bell again but when the porter arrived Reis said firstly that he had not rang the bell and that his complaint did not matter now and the porter was sent off much to the quiet amusement of some of the other men in the room.

Shortly before 9.30p.m. James Campbell returned and inquired of his son who had a drink in his hand, if all was fine and after satisfying himself there he went up to the dining room and checked with the other guards on the rooms floor and left again. As Campbell was arriving night porter Robert Ennis was coming on duty. He found it strange and questioned Campbell junior whether members of the public should be socialising with members of an active Jury. Campbell said that his boss and his father were upstairs and he had said that it was fine. At 11p.m. waiter Patrick Tobin delivered another round of drink to the billiard room with drink now being ordered for the non hotel guests. The drinks list for the billiard room was as follows
William Barrett              2 Glasses of Sherry
Charles Reis                 2 Glasses of Brandy and Soda
William Wardropp        2 Half Glasses of Whiskey
William Gibson             2 Glasses of Beer

The Billiard Room, Imperial Hotel

 Charles Reis is by now showing the effects of the alcohol he has consumed in what was by now a very long eventful day. He leaves the room without intervention and sits on a seat in the hall of the hotel opposite the constable on duty outside the door of the billiard room George Strong but he is approached by the Hall Porter Francis Brady who explains to the juror that it is against hotel policy to smoke in the hallways that there are rooms including the billiard room provided for smoking. Reis tells Brady to mind his own business and
            ‘you would do best to keep your eyes shut’

The protection detail also continued to drink as they were served supper.
George Strong              A pint of Ale
James Caffrey               A pint of Ale
James Donnelly             A pint of Ale
Robert Young               A pint of Ale
Michael Carey              A pint of Ale

                                                               Friday August 11th 1882
Green Street Court House, Dublin

After a coroner’s inquest by Mr. John Frost in Ennis and an investigation by Captain Hamilton RM, Francis Hynes was charged with the murder of John Doolaghty. He would be tried under new legislation enacted by the House of Commons, The Prevention of Crime Act that allowed for major criminal cases to be transferred from the court jurisdiction of the crime to a special court in Green Street, Dublin. The British authorities believed that in the climate in the rural parts of Ireland and the nationalist fervor being whipped up that they would get a better chance of an impartial jury in Dublin away from the country courts. The Nationalist and Catholic leaders rallied against the legislation and believed that Juries were being loaded as they called it that only Protestants were being selected to try the cases giving the Crown a better chance of conviction on limited evidence. It was here on Friday 11th August 1882 that the trial of Francis Hynes began in front of Mr. Justice James Anthony Lawson. This new legal system would see nine trials completed in ten days within the courts. Two hundred business men and merchants with property and assets in excess of fifty pounds were called and forty nine of them were assigned to this murder trial. Of twenty challenges to jury members allowed to the defense they only used up eleven. They prosecution then used their unlimited amount of challenges to object to twenty six more potential jurors until there were twelve men sitting in the jury box. They were then escorted to a room at the back of the court room and a jury foreman was elected. All except Charles Reis, a Scottish born Grafton Street jeweler were Church of Ireland, Methodist or Presbyterian. Reis was Jewish.

The Attorney-General of Ireland, Mr. Peter O’Brien MP, Queens Council, and Mr. Sullivan, instructed by Mr. Murphy, the Crown Solicitor for the County Clare, prosecuted the case against Hynes. Mr. McDermott QC, and Mr. John Roche, instructed by Messrs Walton and Frost solicitors of Ennis, defended for the accused. Much of the case hinged on the testimony of Hugh McTernan and a dying man’s declaration. The defense brought up the timing issue and the Prosecution organised a runner by the name of Fitzmaurice to run the distance between the crime scene across the fields and along the stream to Hassett’s Pub to show that he had time to get to the pub after committing the crime. There was no gun found matching the weapon that killed the farmer. The three men in the bar swore that they were with Francis Hynes struggled under cross examination admitting that they were under the influence of drink and the prosecution claimed that this influence would not allow them to accurate about the timings. Much of the defensive evidence challenged by the prosecution brought a smile to the Judges face who seemed intent on hindering the defense case at every opportunity.  There was a sense of sympathy illicited for the dead man when he was described in court as having a large family and that he was sixty years old and was attacked by the much younger athletic Francis Hynes. The fact was that John Doolaghty was only forty four when he was killed and in excellent physical health. There was no weapon found that matched the gunshot used. There were no witnesses to the crime. There was doubt about the dying declaration whether Mr. Doolaghty was in any condition to make an identification and if he did was he just naming someone he knew he had trouble with on the assumption that it was Francis Hynes. The gunman would have leapt quickly from his hiding place and startled Doolaghty on the quiet road and he fired instantly hitting Doolaghty in the eyes almost certainly blinding him. It was a summer’s day and the sun was in Doolaghty’s face as he walked home also hindering his identification of a suspect. With the RM giving evidence of a dying declaration and the arrest of Francis Hynes, the investigation stopped.

                                             Third Floor of the Imperial Hotel, Sackville St.

Margaret Walsh who was in charge of the bar that evening closed it for the night much to the annoyance of the jury members still in the billiard room and they begin to voice loudly their annoyance. After being refused more drink Charles Reis asked for a deck of cards but he was told that none were available. Fifteen minutes later the last of the men would leave the billiard room and make their way up the two flights of stairs to the bedrooms. William Gibson and William Wardropp were the first to make their way up to the bedroom where they would be sharing number eighteen. As the remaining four men made their way up, James Campbell Junior met Mr. Barrett and said                                                                                         
‘Mr. Foreman will you see these men to bed before you turn in’                                            ‘
Yes sir off course I will’ he replied.                                                                                   
As was normal practice in Hotels in 1882, the jurors had placed their boots outside their room doors for the hotel staff to clean during the night and Reis and Maconchy ran up and down the hall kicking the boots outside the doors and mixing up the rooms that the boots should be located outside.                                                                                       
The men were in loud jovial humour laughing and joking as they went to their various bedrooms. Reis then in search of a single room as he refused to stay in a double room opened the room door of William O’Brien but after striking a match to light his way realized his mistake and left the room. He also opened the door of Gibson and Wardropp but apologized and left the room quickly banging the door on his way out. William O’Brien rang the bell for the night porter and he made a complaint about the noise in the hallway. Margaret Walsh was making her way to her room at the stairwell at opposite end of the hallway when she was spotted by some men in the hallway who ran at her ‘menacingly’. She immediately made her way quickly to her room and locked the door. Reis began to roar on the corridor for someone to bring him a pair of slippers and Elizabeth Carberry complained that someone had been banging loudly on her door to gain entrance but she refused to get out of bed.                              

When no response was forthcoming Reis moved to the edge of the stairs and shouted louder to get the attention of the staff. Having heard the commotion waiter Patrick Tobin made his way to the floor and found Reis and Barrett in the hallway. When he reached the corridor his colleague Elizabeth Ennis, a housekeeper was already attempting to placate Mr. Reis. She had been to the floor delivering a mattress for one of the constables who would be sleeping in the corridor to make sure that the Jury would not be disturbed or interfered with. Patrick Tobin attempted to persuade Reis to retire to bed but Reis asked for a deck of cards and his slippers. Having found a room he returned to the hall in his stocking feet and with a candle in one hand offering light to a dimly lit passageway, Reis knocked over a table with an empty basin for washing and the basin crashed to the floor. Reis picked it up but it fell again cursing rather loudly at the fallen object but Constable Donnelly moved in and picked it up and put it out of reach so that it would not fall again. Shortly after one o’clock in the morning there was silence.

                             7 a.m. September 11th 1882, Limerick Gaol,  Condemned  Cell

A large crowd begins to gather outside the walls of Limerick Gaol in the cold early morning where Francis Hynes awaited his fate knowing that all calls for clemency had been ignored by the Lord Lieutenant. As the crowds began to gather in the early morning air a large group of policemen under Sub Inspector Henry Wilton and troops of the 70th Regiment arrived and began to patrol the outer precincts of the prison. Another fifteen constables under the command of Constable Kavanagh protected the approach roads to the prison. In the early hours of Saturday morning about 1.45a.m., the executioner William Marwood had arrived in the city and met by a large detail of constables and taken to the prison where he stayed making arrangements for the Monday morning execution. The crowd, unlike the rowdy days of the public execution, were mute and all that could be heard were prayers for the young Francis Hynes.   
William Marwood (1820 – 1883) was appointed executioner in 1872 and referred to his work as a science stating that, 
'having studied my profession that a man dies at my hands with as little pain as I give myself by touching the back of my hand with my finger.’ 
He was a small man just five feet seven and many who attended his executions commented on his restless eyes.   

                              9a.m. August 12th 1882 The Dining Room of the Imperial Hotel

 The jury were awoken by the hotel staff and were all present in the dining room for breakfast at nine a.m. After breakfast had been consumed the William Barrett locked the dining room door and the discussion of the merits of the case began in earnest. While the door was locked the protection detail had their chance to have breakfast but while the jury members had just tea and iced water with their food, the Bailiffs and Constables took a different approach on their last hour in the Imperial Hotel Along with their breakfasts came
John Williams               A Glass of grog*
George Strong              A Glass of Whiskey
Robert Young               A Glass of Whiskey
(Grog was a naval term for Rum)

One commentator after being informed of the amount of alcohol consumed in the Imperial Hotel noted
‘If the published accounts in more than one paper of the amount of alcoholic liquors that jury consumed are correct' and the jurors were not drunk, then' they must be the most seasoned' liquor drinkers in the whole world’

 7 a.m. September 11th 1882, Limerick Gaol, Condemned  Cell
While awaiting his final fate Francis Hynes wrote a poem about his impending demise     
’Within my prison cell I sit penning down those saddening lines,
My age is scarcely twenty-four, and my name is Francie Hynes.
For the awful crime of murder, I am condemned to die,
But I will meet the scaffold without a sob or sigh.
I know that tears of sympathy from many an eye shall fall,
But one request I have to ask of friends and brothers all,
Let no man call me murderer of friends I humbly crave,
When I am cold and silent within my prison grave.
A Dublin Orange jury on that Memorial Day, mad drunk and blind with fury,
they swore my life away,
But I’m prepared to meet my fate, no tear will dim mine eye,
I never injured any man,
I swear by God on high.
My friends, they sought for my reprieve, but eloquence could not avail,
They will hang me in the morning in Limerick County Jail.
I give my blessing to my friends who beside me stood,
There’s no more hope, they’re thirsting for my blood.
My mother who watched me in my tender years,
Oh, joy she’s gone before me,
Her form, it now appears as if in childhood’s happy day,
she did me fondly clasp,
Little she thought she reared me for the hangman’s grasp.
But I’m prepared to meet my fate,
No danger will I falter
For innocence will triumph o’er bloody hitch and halter,
                                And when the star of peace will shine again as in the good old times,                            
Let Irishmen remember the fate of Francie Hynes

Hynes had got up according to the prison staff at five in the morning and donned a borrowed tweed suit. He ate a hearty breakfast and was then greeted by the prison chaplain Reverend James McCoy who celebrated mass in his cell. At 7.30a.m. the Sherriff of County Clare entered his cell and informed Hynes that the appointed hour had arrived. Five minutes later Marwood appeared at the door of the cell and pinioned the prisoner. At a quarter passed eight the procession to the gallows formed with two priests leading the way Reverend McCoy and local curate Reverend McNamara. Following behind them was Hynes with a warder on either side responding to the prayers of the clergymen in front of him.  Behind them followed the Governor Mr. Edgar and deputy Governor of the prison. They moved out into the courtyard where the scaffold had been erected. Hynes ascended the couple of steps and saw the treacherous rope hanging from the crossbeam.  Hynes stood calmly on the trap door and the rope was placed around his neck. He then pulled a white cap over the condemned man’s face and tried his legs together. Hynes clasped a crucifix in the middle of his tied hands.

The resident of the Imperial Hotel, William O’Brien was no ordinary guest.                    
                          ‘Home was a back bedroom on the top floor of a Dublin hotel’ 
the Imperial hotel since his release from prison a year earlier on compassionate grounds following the death of his mother. He had been in Kilmainham prison with Charles Stewart Parnell and John Dillon. William O’Brien was born in Mallow County Cork in 1852 and became a journalist after failing to graduate from legal studies in University. After initially working for the Cork Daily Herald he moved to Dublin and joined the staff of the Nationalist Freeman Journal. In 1878 he met Charles Parnell at a Home Rule meeting and despite an offer of £600 a year to staff at the journal he joined Parnell’s United Irishman paper as editor earning £400 per annum. After his release from prison he drafted ‘The Land War No Rent Manifesto’ and was a vociferous supporter of the actions of the peasants and evicted tenants. The introduction of the Coersion Act in the aftermath of the Phoenix Park murders pitted O’Brien directly against those in charge in Ireland. He commented that the British authorities were                                                                                ‘scouring the country for suspects, manufacturing a hideous race of informers by offering rewards for evidence regardless of its character, trying victims of the delatores by ruthlessly packed juries of ‘loyal Protestants’ in Dublin. Convicting by hook or crook.’

Having just been released from prison and a number of libel suits pending against his editorials in the United Irishman, O’Brien thought it would be better to write his letter of complaint to like minded editor Edmund Gray at the Freeman Journal. William O’Brien had unsuccessfully run in the General Election twice in Ennis, the home of Francis Hynes who also had attended a number of Parnell rallies. On both occasions he had lost narrowly in 1879 by just six votes.

Ireland in 1882 was a hotbed of unrest, violence and various nationalist factions with independence as their ultimate aspiration. On May 4th 1882, Liberal party British Prime Minister William Gladstone appointed John Poyntz Spenser known as the ‘Red Earl’ on account of his distinctive red beard as the Queen Victoria’s representative in Ireland, the Lord Lieutenant. Earl Spenser and his newly appointed Chief Secretary Lord Frederick Cavendish traveled to Ireland the next day to be greeted by the Permanent Under secretary in Ireland Thomas Henry Burke. On May 6th after only one day in Ireland Cavendish who was related through marriage to Gladstone and Burke went for a walk through The Phoenix Park from the Lord Lieutenants residence the Vice Regal Lodge. As they walked they were attacked by members of a Fenian breakaway organization called the Invincibles and were both stabbed to death. On the day of Lord Cavendish’s funeral the legislation was rushed through the House of Commons in attempt to arrest the violence that was menacing Ireland. The Act would allow extra measures for the police in search and seizure and allow for the holding of trials without juries although this was never used but the legislation was used to load empanneled juries. Although Parnell came out against the murders which made him popular in both Ireland and Britain, the brother of the slain Cavendish, Lord Harrington who had also been a member of Gladstone’s cabinet split from the British Liberal party over the introduction of Parnell’s much cherished Home Rule Bill and voted it down on two occasions. William O’Brien also came out against the murders but the resultant legislation caused him more anxiety the way in which the Irish poor tenant Catholic population were being treated.   

After the Lord Lieutenant, the Chief secretary and the Under secretary in Ireland, the affairs of the nation were put before the Privy Council, a sort of cabinet with the Chief Secretary as Prime Minter to the Lord Lieutenant. One of the members of Earl Spenser’s Privy Council was Mr. Justice James Anthony Lawson. Justice Lawson was the second highest rank judge in Ireland after the Lord Chief Justice Michael Morris.

Saturday August 12th 1882, Special Commission Court, Green Street, Dublin

The Jury and their escorts were taken by carriage back to the Green Street Courthouse and once again sat in the wooden jury box watching Mr. Justice Lawson open proceeding with the prisoner Francis Hynes in the dock. The foreman of the Jury requests that the Reverend Loughnane be called to the stand to give evidence with regard to how much of the act of contrition given to the dying John Doolaghty was able to follow. Neither the prosecution nor the defense had called the clergyman to the stand to give evidence and neither had James Lynch been called to the stand to give credence or disprove the prosecutions alleged motive for the murder. After the Reverend had completed his evidence, the jury went to consider their verdict. Less than an hour later the jury foreman was on his feet and when Justice Lawson asked for the verdict                  ‘Guilty’ came the reply.

 8.10a.m. September 11th 1882, The Courtyard of Limerick Gaol

The bolt was drawn quickly and the body of Francis Hynes fell through the trap door. A master of the long rope technique, the prison doctor quickly pronounced the prisoner dead and the sentence of the court had been carried out. Outside the walls the prayers of a crowd of now over two thousand people continued and a black flag was slowly hoisted on one of the flag poles indicating that the execution had been carried out. William Marwood remarked after that “I never executed a finer man, nor a man with so much nerve. He walked to his doom with the utmost composure and I cannot but admire him”. Marwood quickly left Limerick being escorted from the Gaol to the railway station and boarding a train for Dublin.

August 16th 1882 Green Street Courthouse The Sentencing of Edmund Grey

William O’Brien wrote a letter to the editor of the Freeman Journal newspaper Edmund Gray a former Mayor of Dublin and currently High Sherriff and therefore ultimately responsible for the actions of juries in his jurisdiction. William O’Brien was a guest in the hotel that night and wrote of the jury’s drunken behaviour and cast doubts on the legitimacy of the verdict and therefore the sentence of death. The Freeman Journal in publishing the letter brought a swift reaction from the legal system and Edmund Gray now found himself before Mr. Justice Lawson on a charge of contempt. No jury was summoned for the trial of Mr. Gray. The jury foreman was brought before the court and he swore that there was no drunken behaviour at the hotel by the jurors. Gray also a Member of Parliament pleaded his case but it fell on deaf ears. Mr. Justice Lawson took a dim view of his publishing the letter and the editorial comment that went with it saying that Catholics had been rigorously excluded which was against the law and the direction of the legal powers in London. . Mr. Justice Lawson sentenced Mr. Gray MP to three months imprisonment in Richmond, and to pay a fine of £500; also at the end of the three months, to give bail for his good behavior - himself in £5,000, and two sureties in £2,500 each.

 December 12th 1882 Ennis Court House. Compensation

 For the loss of her husband Eliza and her seven children sought compensation of three thousand pounds under the Crimes Act. At a sitting before Mr. Monaghan QC she said that after the conviction and execution she was shunned and boycotted by neighbours and shopkeepers making it almost impossible to live in her native Clare even her son was unable to get work. The Crimes Act was compensation given with the payment recouped from the local rate payers hoping that this would dissuade someone from committing a crime. There was no report if she received the entire three thousand pounds but when she used some of that money to pay for the family’s passage to a new life in Australia on March 3rd 1883 arriving in Dunedin New Zealand on June 2nd 1883. The Mercury newspaper in Hobart reported that she had received £154 from an appeal in the Mail newspaper and a further £50 from a Clifford Lloyd.

Some years later a Royal Irish Constable who was stationed in Ennis at the time believed that Francis Hynes was innocent. He recounted a different tale to the one that was both related in court and in the newspapers of the day. He stated that instead of lying by the roadside, or in the schoolhouse or being brought home immediately that John Doolaghty was taken by car to the local hospital. He was visited there by the local RIC Inspector Colonel Turner and it was he who identified Hynes as the killer by asking Doolaghty to squeeze his hand as he mentioned a number of suspects. There were other suspects including Francis Hynes brother but that Francis faced the hangman to save his married brother and allow his young family he have a father. Another suspect was a worker at the railway station in Ennis who had a run in with another member of the Doolaghty family.

Another prime suspect was a harness maker from Ennis who it was rumoured was paid five pounds to kill the farmer as part of the intimidation that was associated with the Land League. Immediately following the murder, this man fled the country to the United States. An anonymous letter also appeared in the Freeman Journal which is printed below with intimate details of the crime.