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.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Multi Racial 1916 Easter Rising

While much has been written the multi-national makeup of both sides of the battles during the 1916 Easter Rising very little has been written on the multi racial make up of forces especially on the British side.

When the battle between the Michael Malone led group of rebels at Mount Street Bridge and the arriving reinforcements of the Sherwood Foresters ended and the general surrender order was delivered to DeValera at Boland's Mills, the prisoners from the 3rd Battalion of the Irish Volunteers were marched not into the city centre with much of the other forces but out towards Ballsbridge and the grounds of the RDS.

According to Andrew McDonnell of Rathgar, Dublin in his witness statement.

We were left in the stalls on the damp ground for some days. Meals were a movable feast: some days we got food and on others we got none. We were taken to the toilet under armed escort. This was at the end of the road near the gate leading on to Simmonscourt Road. We were objects of interest to the British troops who were in the stables opposite and came to grin at us over the half door of the stall. One of the British soldiers was black, a negro and his broad grin was most annoying until a well aimed tobacco spit made him give the half door a wide berth.
It must have been a strange sight for the exhausted combatants to espy a coloured gentleman in British military uniform in what at the time would have been a very white almost Anglo Saxon island.

Stephen Bourne in his book Black Poppies which dealt with the subject of Black servicemen in the British Army during World War One remarked
The near-total exclusion from our history books of black servicemen in the First World War is shameful…. Some black servicemen made the ultimate sacrifice … and like Walter Tull, died on the battlefields but with the passing of time, with the exception of Tull, the contributions of black servicemen have been forgotten.
The main protagonists of World War One all had their colonies and many of the British servicemen of colour were from the Caribbean so it is probably that the soldier at the RDS especially with his happy outlook was most likely from the opposite side of the Atlantic. By the end of WW1, 15,000 West Indians had joined and served in the British Army. As rebels are marched along the quays of the River Liffey towards ship in Dublin port to take them to prison and internment camps a photograph taken as they crossed O'Connell Bridge may have snapped that very same British soldier acting most likely as an ADC to his commandant on horseback.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Somethings Never Change

"A lodge of Orangemen, were attacked, simply because their appearance gave offence to a number of men who hold different religious opinions. We can only characterise such conduct as disgraceful in the extreme. We are quite prepared to admit that an Orange Lodge may be an eyesore to some few bigoted Catholics, on just the same grounds as bigoted Protestants may feel offended at the sight of the Hibernian Society in regalia but the fact that a man feels hurt at another man parading his opinions does not give him the right to attack him, tear off his regalia, and beat him. If this conduct were allowed, we should soon have graceless zealots of either persuasion wanting to tear down the chapels and churches of those who differed from them.
If the "wearers of the green" wish to show their opposition to Orangemen, it would be an easy matter' for them to get up a counter procession, with their , own banners and distinctive badges. Surely that would be a bettor kind of opposition than dealing in bludgeons, shillalahs, and similar weapons. This sort of thing must be stamped out at once. Public safety demands it. The right of every man to enjoy his own opinions, and of every body of men of one mind to walk through the streets without fear of molestation, must be upheld. We therefore trust those who have outraged the public peace will be punished severely not only because their offence is great, but also because the hatreds and dissensions must be prevented from taking root amongst the youth of this country."

A December 1879 newspaper article describing sectarian riots in Christchurch, New Zealand