The Irish are synonymous with the consumption of alcohol and having a good time in our pubs and bars but have you ever wondered about the connection between beer and spirits and the foundation of the State. Alcohol, the production, the service or the consumption of alcohol has played a key role in Irish affairs since the iconic and momentous events of The Easter Rising in 1916. Public houses were at the heart of the action unfolding on the streets of
As the rebels secured their headquarters in the GPO a detachment on men were sent to seize buildings in
Abbey Street. They attempted to gain
entry to Mooney’s pub but the manager slammed the door in their faces and not
even a shot at the lock could gain entry. They instead seized The Ship Tavern
which they had been familiar with as it had been a magnet for nationalists. But
the attitude of the rebels towards drink is best served by William Daly,
“In passing, I wish to record with pride that a few of the men I was In company with, although hardened drinkers, were stationed in the Ship Tavern, and had the taking of anything that was there, not touch anything and refused the offerings of the barmen”
As a consequence of the British bombardment during Easter Week, the Ship was completely destroyed.
A group of rebels seized J.T. Davy’s pub at
. Their mission was to delay
reinforcements from the Rathmines Barracks. Once they were in control the next
couple of hours were taken up with securing the premises and setting up sniping
positions. They used whatever they could to barricade the windows including
most of Davy’s family furniture. Portobello Bridge
The British sent some soldiers in the direction of Portobello Bridge three hundred yards from the gates of the barracks but as soon as they got close the rebels opened fire pinning them down in the gardens and the doorways along Rathmines Road. The soldiers eventually made their way to the small wall on the opposite side of the
The police arrived and attempted to keep curious onlookers out of harms way and
the firing continued intermittently caused even lock keeper Joseph Parsons to
peer out his window and watch the commotion. Against the odds Superintendant
Kiernan and Sergeant Crosbie of the Dublin Metropolitan Police kept the ever
increasing crowd back from the frontline action.
Most of the rebels were based on the second floor as the third floor view was obstructed by advertising hoarding along the canal. Gunfire was indiscriminate with the gas lamps on the bridge taking a number of direct hits. Late on Monday evening the Army crouched down in strict military fashion behind the canal walls on the southern side, the first line lying on their stomachs, the second kneeling behind with their commander standing tall behind them directing their fire. A machine gun was wheeled up from the barracks and positioned on the bridge and began almost immediately to pepper the building continuing for nearly two hours.
Hundreds of rounds were fired at the pub until a ceasefire was ordered as soon as the British realised that there was no returning fire coming from the pub. Perhaps they were all wounded or dead. The order was given to enter the building breaking through the glass plate windows on the ground floor. When they entered neither rebel nor corpse was found. With their intimate knowledge of the pub the rebels had broken through the cellar walls into the adjoining buildings and eventually into a nearby lane making good their escape long before the British had opened fire on the building. Their mission had been a success as they held up the British long enough to allow the rebels in the centre city to reinforce their defences and barricades.
On Monday night rebels seized Delahunt’s Pub at
42 Camden Street. The raiding party was
led by Lieutenant Shiels with the aid of George Heuston of E Company 2nd
Battalion who was a barman in Delahunt’s. He was one of the lucky rebels not to
be captured in the aftermath of the Rising. When the British troops attacked
the position Richard O’Carroll was fatally wounded. He had been travelling
along Camden Street
when he was pulled from his motor cycle by a British officer Captain
Bowen-Colthurst and shot. He died nine days later in the .
Further down the street opposite Jacobs Factory was the Swan Pub and it too was seized.
“Orders were also given that we were to burrow through from Jacob's to a public house at the corner facing
Aungier Street. We had two masons in our
party and the burrowing was made easy. Strict instructions were given that no
Volunteer was to take any drink from the public house. And although I am not a
drinking man myself I must say that this order was strictly obeyed.”
Michael Molloy Witness Statement
Around the corner on
Cuffe Street beside the
which had been captured by Michael Mallin, Phillip Little’s pub was seized at
8pm on that Easter Monday by Sergeant James Kelly and some of the retreating
forces from Davy’s Pub and Harcourt Street Railway station. Laurence Nugent’s
Witness Statement College of Surgeons
“They also evacuated Davy's on
Richmond St. and Harcourt St. station as these two posts
were attacked from Portobello Barracks and there were only a few men to defend
them. The early evacuation of Little's public house at the corner Cuffe St. seemed
strange as if it were attacked there was a good line of retreat to the . The Citizen Army men who
occupied these posts were by Wednesday confined to the College of Surgeons .” College of Surgeons
Nearby Bowe’s pub on
William Street was seized by the rebels
and used as a sniping position but was abruptly abandoned leaving the valuable
weapons behind and it was left to member of Cumman NaBan to retrieve them.
Annie O’Brien takes up the story,
“Word came in from a sniping post, a publichouse called Bowe's at the corner of
William St. and Coppinger Row and that
the two snipers at that post had evacuated it, leaving their arms behind them,
and they sent word to Dawson St.
to have their arms collected and put into safe keeping. The two of us went to
the post and found the house locked up. We went to the house next door where we
found a friendly man who showed us up to the skylight which we got through and
on to the roof of the publichouse. Its skylight was a bit small and only my
sister, who was small, was able to get through. She went down and opened the
door of the publichouse for the rest of us. We had to search the whole of the
house for the arms and at last we found the two loaded rifles in an
Once the rebel garrison had secured their headquarters at the GPO on
the poor of the city slums on the Northside of the city began to riot and loot.
Padraig Pearse attempted to stop this and sent out a patrol to expel the
looters. Two men crossed onto North
Earl Street and ‘banished’ a number of
troublemakers but as they made their way back towards their HQ they heard
noises from inside Meagher’s pub. They looked in but initially saw the premises
as deserted. As they were walking out they could hear roaring and shouting
coming from the direction of the cellar. The went behind the counter and
noticed the trap door to the cellar open and candle light coming from the
cellar. One of the Volunteers took the first steps down into the cellar and saw
three women known as ‘shawlies’ drunk out of their heads. They were drinking
the wine from saucers. He roared at them ‘in the name of the
you need to leave this pub and go home to your families’. There was a moment of
silence followed by a barrage of verbal abuse and a shower of bottles. The
rattled rebel scarpered back up the steps and he and his colleague returned to
the safety of the GPO. They reported the events to Pearse who asked them why
they had not followed orders and ejected the women, Irish Republic
‘We would rather fight the British guns than tackle those three auld ones’.
On the Northside of the city O’Reilly’s now The Tap pub on
North King Street
was seized by the rebels to slow the progress of the British troops from the
Royal Barracks. There was an intensive battle for the building with the British
sustaining many casualties.
The British Army seized Egan’s public house in
Smithfield which they used
as a firing position to attack Church
Street and North King Street massacre. The soldiers spent
considerable time breaking through the wall of the houses and by the time they
reached the rebel’s position the rebels had gone. In their frustration at not
catching the rebels the soldiers turned their anger on the residents of North King Street.
Fifteen men and boys were either shot or bayoneted to death. Included amongst
the fatalities was Patrick Bealen, who had been employed as manager at Mary
O'Rourke's licensed house, 177
North King street, Dublin, and James Healy employed at the
nearby Jameson's Distillery. Their bullet riddled bodies had both been
disinterred on 10th May in the cellar of O’Rourke’s pub at 177 North King Street by the sanitary
Lambe’s public house on
now Meagher’s of Ballybough was seized by rebels attempting to halt the advance
of British troops from a training camp on
towards the centre of the city. They held the pub until they were ordered to
fall back to the GPO. Bull Island
One of the few battles outside
Dublin was Enniscorthy which was seized by
the Rebels. The Athenaeum theatre was made the Republicans’ headquarters, over
which they flew the green, white and orange tricolour. All the public houses in
the town were closed down and as Father Patrick Murphy, a priest who publicly
blessed the rebels, recalled,
“During the four days of Republican rule, not a single person was under the influence of drink”.
According to Volunteer Thomas Doyle of Enniscorthy
“There was an order given that no publicans were to supply anyone with drink. That evening two men were caught in Loftus Porter's publichouse in Templeshannon. Mike Murphy (Toby) and Bernard Neill were arrested and the keys of the publichouse taken from the owner. His shop was locked up and the keys brought to headquarters.
Some of the pubs completely destroyed or severely damaged as a result of fire from both sides included Mooney’s, McGreevy’s and Moore’s on Eden Quay, J Humphrey’s and Fee’s on Moore Street, Farrell’s of Malboro Street, on Ushers Kavanagh’s and on Lower Bridgefoot Street the famous Brazen Head
“Smart and others used home-made grenades to set the public house on fire, in the hope that this would end this activity, which it apparently did. The pub was burnt out, with the Dublin Fire Brigade arriving too late to do anything about it.”
The Oval on
Street was destroyed by the end of the week. The
pub had been purchased in 1902 by John Egan and after a major refurbishment
reopened in 1903. It was very popular with both the local journalists and with
rebels in the lead up to the Rising. The pub remained closed for six years.
Today there are other Rising sites that have been turned into pubs including the Schoolhouse on
Mount Street which was at the heart of
the battle of the nearby Bridge and a battlefield that saw the largest British
casualties and The Grand Central on O’Connell
Street which was the location of the rebels radio
station during the Rising.