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.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

1916 & The Academy Awards

The Academy Award nominated 1959 movie 'On The Beach' was adapted from a novel by Nevil Shute. The movie starred Eva Gardner and Gregory Peck. Shute had been born in Ealing, London in 1899 and as a young man followed his father Arthur Hamilton Norway to Ireland when Hamilton Norway as appointed head of the Irish Post Office. Norway was in the GPO in O'Connell Street at Midday on Easter Monday 1916 when the rebels attacked, seized the building and declared a Republic. Norway being a diligent public servant, had letters to write, even though it was a bank holiday. While his wife sat sewing in the Royal Hibernian Hotel on Dawson Street, where the family lived, and their son Nevil went for a ride on his motorbike, he dropped in to his office at the GPO to collect some papers. He was just sitting down at his desk when the phone rang and Sir Matthew Nathan, Under-Secretary of the Irish administration, asked him to go immediately to Dublin Castle.
Nevil was commented in military dispatches after the Rising for his actions as a stretcher bearer under fire from the enemy. He later moved to Australia where he became a successful novelist and aeronautical engineer.

Con Colbert

The night before his execution Con Colbert sent for Mrs. Ó Murchadha who was also being held prisoner. He told her he was "proud to die for such a cause. I will be passing away at the dawning of the day." Holding his bible, he told her he was leaving it to his sister. He handed her three buttons from his volunteer uniform, telling her "They left me nothing else," before asking her when she heard the volleys of shots in the morning for Eamonn Ceannt, Michael Mallin and himself would she say a Hail Mary for the souls of the departed. The soldier who was guarding the prisoner began crying according to Mrs. Ó Murchadha, and recorded him saying "If only we could die such deaths."
Colbert was shot by firing squad the next morning on 8 May 1916 in the breakers yard of Kilmainham Jail. .

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Last of Moments of the Republic

On Friday afternoon, Commandant The O’Rahilly, a man who was initially opposed to the rebellion but once the fighting started wanted to serve along side his friends and comrades, ordered Blimey and Michael McGrath to make their way to the telegraph room and the roof to fight the fires that were now taking hold of the building. O’Connor came across his old pal and fellow Londoner Good and as they attempted to fight the uncontrollable fires, Blimey relived the story of the radio station success for Good. As they attempted to fight the fires with the most basic of equipment they were joined in the fruitless task by Michael Collins who trousers at one stage caught fire. The fires were out of hand and the floors began to collapse down on each other making the building dangerous and untenable. The order was given to evacuate the building. The left onto Henry Street and down towards Moore Street. Blimey O’Connor and others were carrying James Connolly on a stretcher after he had been wounded on Thursday. A British barricade at the end of Moore Street forced the men to shelter in an empty building. The O’Rahilly decided to charge the barricade but he was cut down and killed with Liam Daly badly wounded. Another attempt was planned but the men realised that the British army’s grip on the city was now almost complete.
Sean McDermott addressed the men in Moore Street,
‘Men you have fought gallantly for your country and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy but in order to stop the slaughter of the innocent Irish men, women and children and the complete destruction of our beautiful city, our leaders have decided to surrender. There is no need to hang your heads in shame, we are proud Irishmen who will go down in history as having lit the fire for freedom. In my opinion, I and the members of the Provisional Government will be executed but for most of you prison awaits and it’s therefore up to you to maintain the fight which has so nobly begun.’

The statement from the heart was greeted with silence and a general feeling that they should fight till the very last man but McDermott persuaded them that the fight was over but that the battle would continue. O’Connor watched as Joseph Plunkett stood in the middle of Moore Street with a white handkerchief attached to the top of his bayonet. Joe Good was sent to the barricade to ask for clarification as to the treatment of the wounded on the street. He saluted the British commander who saluted back at least he was being treated like a soldier not a criminal. The commander said that the men would be taken care of by the Red Cross and Army medical personnel. At three forty five p.m. on Saturday April 29th 1916, the President of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic Padraig Pearse signed the unconditional surrender of the rebel army. The surrender was accepted by General Lowe.

The men were marched back into O’Connell Street and lined up in front of the Gresham Hotel. Their names and addresses were taken and ring leaders singled out. They were marched to the grounds of the Rotunda Hospital was kept there over night under heavy guard. The following day they were taken to the Richmond Army Barracks and then transported by cattle boat to be interned in England and Wales.

John ‘Blimey’ O’Connor, the man who helped tell the world of the Easter Rebellion with the radio broadcasts, following his arrest was taken to Dublin port, put on board a cattle ship and was first taken Strafford Jail in England where he served one month in solitary confinement and during the summer he was transferred as many of the rebels were to Frongach Camp in Wales. When he was arrested and questioned at Richmond Barracks he gave his address as 77 Parnell Street, the hotel where they first stayed when they arrived in Dublin and 13 White Lion Street, London, his parents address. By Christmas 1916 all of the rebels and suspected rebels had been released and returned to Ireland to continue the fight that they had so nobly begun on Easter Monday. John would later fight on the Republican/De Valera side during the Civil War of 1922.

‘Many years have rolled by since the Irish Rebellion,
When the guns of Britannia they loudly did speak,
And the bold IRA they stood shoulder to shoulder,
And the blood of their bodies flowed down Sackville Street.’