An t-Óglách 18,19,20

 

      FOUR COURTS AND NORTH KING ST. AREA IN 1916.

 

By Mr. JOHN  J. REYNOLDS (Author of “ Footprints of Emmet”)

Curator Municipal Art Gallery, Dublin.

 

FROM STATEMENTS MADE TO THE WRITER SHORTLY AFTER 1916, BY ACTUAL PARTICIPANTS IN THE FIGHTING.

(Being the Nineteenth instalment of the History of the Anglo-Irish War.)

 

 

During Easter week the fighting in the Four Courts area with its northern outposts at Church Street and North King Street, and its southern posts held at Church Street Bridge, and beyond the river at the Mendieity was exceptionally severe, General Maxwell subsequently stated that “with the one exception of the place at Ballsbridge, where the Sherwood Foresters were ambushed, this was by far the worst fighting that occurred in the whole of Dublin.” This remark especially applies to the fighting in the narrow tortuous streets at parts scarcely 20 feet wide at the intersection of Church Street and North King Street, and, a short distance further north, at the intersection of Church Street and North Brunswick Street.
 

The area of this battlefield, which was the focus of the fighting, might be diameter did not exceed fifty yards. On this stubbornly contested ground, In which the stubbornly contested ground, In which the fiercest street lighting took place, the combatants were only a few feet apart fighting at point black range.
 

It also enjoyed the unique distinction of having been the only place in the city where a regular truce—which lasted about 15 hours – was established. As stated I the official reports, when after desperate fighting the military in the early hours of Saturday morning, had succeeded in penetrating North King Street as far as Church Street , they found their cordon had not embraced the outlying position at the North Brunswick Street, a post held by about 69 Volunteers, which although only a few yards beyond the captured position, did not surrender until Sunday when the armistice had expired.

 

The body of the Volunteers engaged in this area was almost entirely made up of men of the First Battalion under Com. Daly. To the number of about 150 they mobilized on Easter Monday about 11 a.m., at Blackhall Street. About half an hour afterwards they formed into three or four groups, and were ordered to the various  positions respectively assigned them. The main body marched along the northern line of Quays to the Four Courts. Some sections took other directions or dropped out to occupy posis en route. Subsequently on arriving at Four Courts various small detachments were sent to outying posts. Some Volunteers and Fianna who had been engaged in the attack on the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park also joined the main body in this area on Monday.

 

At the Four Courts the Volunteers were ordered into sections to  occupy the building, and preparations were immediately made to force the gates just then a police constable Who seemed to be the only person in charge, appeared inside the railings at Chancery place. He was immediately ordered to open the gate at the Telegraph office, and after some expostulation eventually bowed to the inevitable and delivered up the keys. The resident caretaker was afterwards located in the basement, and on being informed no harm was intended him be shorted afterwards removed his effects and left the Volunteers in sole possession of the building.

 

The building was immediately put in preparation for defence. Barricades of furniture and books were placed against the windows, and the glass was broken to facilitate rifle fire, and many of the doors and entries as well as the gate of the Telegraph office were also barricaded. The Lord chancellor’s room was improvised as a hospital, and neighbouring buildings. Some men were sent on the roof to cut the telegraph and telephone wires, and the upper windows roofs and other points of vantage were manned by snipers.

 

Small parties of volunteers, each in charge of an officer, were posted to hold the various frontages. A party of about 12 men were stationed at  Church Street Bridge under Peadar Clancy, and about 20 men were posted in the western wing (the record office) overlooking this position and the Smith- field approaches through Hammond Lane. A detached body was held in readiness to concentrate on any side which might be attacked . The Four Courts, Whose solid masonry proved impervious to all attack save heavy gun fire , served as a headquarters from which reliefs could be sent to the outposts , and where those returning could snatch a few hours repose.

 

A great number of barricades were placed in neighbouring streets. A barricade was placed on the Church Street Bridge, and the mouth of Church Street on the Quay was also blocked by a barricade, whilst the two corner houses facing the river were also fortified and manned. Further  north a barricade was placed at May Lane, one crossing Church Street at the at the Chapel gate, and another at the Father Mathew Hall. Church Street was also blocked at North King Street, and a little further on the street was closed by two barricades crossing the road obliquely at Moore’s coach Factory. North King Street, and North Brunswick Street, two parallel streets a few yards apart, crossing Church Street at right angles, were also blocked by barricades. A barricade was erected at New Lisburn Street near the Linen Hall Barracks, and a barricade was also placed at chancery Street facing the Mary’s Abbey approaches. Several of the by streets near Bow Street were also barricaded, as well as the Church Street end of Beresford Street near Stirrup Lane.

 

These barricades, especially in Church Street, were of a very substantial character, the strongest being composed of brick work, Building material and debris. Old boilers and metal plates were requisitioned from the neighbouring foundries, and in some cases barrels, lorries and upturned carts with their shafts intertwined were used.Cabs and carriages from the coach factories were commandeered – the opened doors of these vehicles sometimes serving as a passage through the barricades as occasion required Bags of sand and meal and bran from the bakeries were used. Glass and broken bottles were strewn in front of some of the barricades to further impede the approach of attacking party.

 

The artisans’ dwellings now erected were then only in process of building, leaving an open space in front of the chapel

The extreme eastern position was in North King Street facing the Bolton Street approaches and was situated only some 50 yards from Church Street. Here a light barricade blocked king street opposite Laugan’s public house.

Near this barricade the large Malt House of Messrs. Jameson in Beresford Street was garrisoned by 66 men. The iron Stairway leading to the metal, hook- shaped grain elevator on the roof proved a fine point of vantage, being the highest position occupied by the Volunteers. The Technical schools in the Bolton Street, Jervis Street Hospital and other elevated building being plainly visible, whilst close beneath was the narrow passage stirrup Lane, Joining Beresford Street and Church Street.

The Volunteer fire from the top of the iron stairway, which was barricaded with the bags of bran taken from the Malt House ,as well as fire from the loop holes already formed in the Northern walls by the metal ventilators, swept North King Street beneath by lateral fire.

In this post, Which was under heavy fire—the metal elevator being riddled with bullets—the bags afforded secure protection to the snipers. A military sniper’s bullet entering one of the loop holes brushed so close to the volunteer in command as to raise an enormous swelling on his face without, however, incapacitating him from action.

 

The Volunteers’ extreme western position extended as far as the Northern Brunswick Street Dispensary, were, directly opposite, Red Cow Lane was barricaded to close the Smithfeild approaches northward.

The extreme northern position extended as far as constitution Hill, although as will be seen, reconnoltring parties were sent as far as the Broad stone; and a party was also sent to occupy the North Circular Road at Philbsborough. On the south side of Liffey the Mendicity Institute was held.

 

The points before referred to marked the extreme east and west positions although isolated snipers must have worked to positions beyond these points. Some of the militarywereshot as far west as queen street.

 

The probable points of military attack were from Broadstone Station and Grangegorman Female Asylum on the north, and from the west from the Royal Barracks, the Kingsbridge Railway Station and the Marlborough Barracks, as well as from any troops who , arriving at the port of from other directions, might have obtained a footong in the central parts of the city.

 

Several houses in Church Street and King Street , as well as the Four Courts Hotel on the river front , were evacuated by the inhabitants. The Volunteers in taking up positions did not fire from any houses expect those which had been vacated by the residents , many of whom on being warued  of the impending danger withdraw for the safety of North Dublin Union or to the Large Technical Schools in Bolton Street.

 

The Volunteers got some small reinforcements early in the week. The midnight march across the city of one of those parties deserves to be recorded.

 

On Monday 30 Volunteers were posted at Larkfeild, Kimmage Road. The Volunteer officer is command prepared to fortify and defend the position and proceeded to loophole the old mill walls and set out guards. About midnight Keogh brought a message from comdt.Pearse ordering the party to come to him at G.P.O. for further orders. The whole party immediately started for the city , going via Rathgar, Leeson Street Bridge, Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street. Under cover of darkness the body of armed men erept stealthily along in Indian file until they reached Leeson Street, Where on crossing the bridge they found themselves under fire, whether from friend or foe It was then impossible to determine.

A little further on they formed into fours and in military formation crossed the city, passing Trinity college at 1.30 a.m., and reaching the G.P.O. without further incident.

 

Gerald Keogh,  who with two companions was passing the college a short time afterwards—the whole party being mounted on bicycles—was shot dead.

 

On reaching the G.P.O. 10 of the best armed of the party were ordered by Pearse to proceed to the Four Courts. these Volunteers reinforced the men holding the barricade at Church Street Bridge.

 

In the general arrangements early on Monday about 65 men were detailed to hold North Brunswick Street in front of Richmond. Hardwick and Whltworth Hospitals from Red cow Lane to Church Street.

 

The four tenement houses on the east side of the Dispensary opposite Red Cow Lane were cleared of their inhabitants the Volunteers meanwhile assisting the tenants who were removing their belongings and helping them to cover up the remaining furniture with sheets, etc.

 

These houses were then joined up by a passage broken through the walls, as well as though the adjoining timber yard. The two tenement houses directly opposite were also cleared, connected and loopholed at the back so as foeover Smithfield and Red Cow Lane approaches. Further east the outer stone gate house at the entrance to the avenue leading upto the North Dublin union was also occupied and loopholed. Moore’s coach factory, a long low building at the corner of North Brunswick Street and the two red bricks houses adjoining were occupied.

 

At Monks’ Bakery the high three storeyhouse , Clarke’s dairy, opposite the coach factory was taken. At this point of Church Street the roadway is very narrow, and these houses which were all loopholed occupy a very dominant position on all sides, From the upper storeys Constitution Hill and Broadstone  Station are quite clearly visible and gave an open field of the fire to the north, as  well as covering at close range the North king Street corners close beneath.

 

In North King Street Reilly’s public house, with its oblique –angled frontage looking southwards towards the lower end of Church Street, and towards the east covering the Bolton Street approaches in king street was , from its prominent position, destined to Le the scene of some desperate fighting which afterwards earned for it the title “Reilly’s Fort.”

The North Dublin Union, despite Its large size, is quite hidden from view by the group of hospitals in front. It was prospected on Tuesday by a small party of volunteers . On counting one of the outer Iron stairways near the roof they found themselves under fire from a part of military at the Broadstone  in the rear of the Union. They took cover and returned the fire from the windows beneath.

 

Subsequently owing to the representations of the Master regarding danger to the  inmates the Volunteers left the building. During the week the week the union was not afterwards occupied, but the building proved a sure protection for the refugees who sought safety behind its massive walls. Unfortunately on Friday night two civilians whilst sight seeing in the high tower  of the Union were killed by military snipers and their bodies were afterwards removed with great difficulty.

 

The room on the right of the entrance hall of St. John’s Convent of the French Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent  de Paul which stands in front of Richmond Hospital was used by Comdt. O’Daly and his staff during the week . An annexe on the west side was used for a short time for storing bread and other provisions, and some 10 or 12 prisoners were detained in a room close by. As the week advanced it was considered advisable to leave the convert and some boys of the Fianna kept guard for the rest of the week.

A party of about 15 men of the first battalion early on Monday occupied the North Circular Road at the railway bridge near Phibsborough Chapel, ’as well as the bridge on the Cabra Road a few hundred yards further north on same line.

 

Slight barricades were erected, one blocking the North Circular Road on the west side of the railway bridge and the other blocking the Cabra Road. On the N.C.R. two houses on the chapel side overlooking the railway cutting were occupied. The party received a reinforcement from the G.P.O. _ater in the day,which made a total garrison of about 30 men at both barricades.

The Broadstone station was visible from the bridge, but the solders kept under cover. Some women were also seen on the platform and it was imposible to fire.

 

On Tuesday evening at dark some soldiers from the Marlborough barracks attacked the position with a light field gun and rifle fire which swept the N.C.R. The Phibsborough post was so far advanced from the Four Courts area and the G.P.O. that it was found impossible to keep up communications. When the firing became very heavy the Volunteers were ordered to retire and if possible rejoin their units. The military had already partially established a cordon on the northern side of the city, and only some of the party found it possible to rejoin the other posts held by battalion.

 

On Monday morning the first sign of anything unusual in the neighbourhood  of church street was the appearance(about 10 a.m.) outside the Father Mathew Hall—then in preparation for the Annual Fels—of an Irish citizen Army man in uniform who was shortly afterwards joined by six armed Volunteers. Shortly before noon the general mobilization had taken place and the streets were occupied by the party from BlackhallStreet , who proceeded to prepare the area of defence. Several sympathetic onlookers, after a time assisted in building the barricades.

 

One of the Volunteers armed with a revolver crossed Queen Street Bridge and raising the lid of the manhole on the south side of the Quay proceeded to cut the subterranean wires, in which operation he was assisted by two boy scouts sent out by Comdt. Heuston at the Mendicity near by.

 

The Volunteers occupied the Father Mathew Hall as a headquarters for the immediate locality. It served also as a hospital, several CumannnamBan as well as the wife of one Volunteer commandants being in attendance.

A few moments after noon as the Volunteers were taking up positions in the Four Courts the sound of rifle shots rung out from the front of the buinding.

 

A composite party of some of the 5th and 12th Lancers (6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment)  fromMalborough Barracks had been sent to the North wall to convey some munitions to the barracks. On their return, Whilst crossing O’cannell Bridge, a civilian warned the officer in charge not to go on, nut the latter not relying on the information passed on at the head of his troop along the northern quays.

 

The munitions were laden on five I. & N. W. Ry. Lorries driven by civilian carters. The dangerous freight containing rifles, rifle grenades, and Mills hand-bombs. As they came within sight of the Four Courts near Chancery Place they were at once fired on by the Volunteers. The Solders were completely taken by surprise; the terrified horses became unmanageable and some of them stampeded. Several of the soldiers fell,but the main body wheeled into Charles Street, a short narrow street parallel with Chancery place. The lorries were also backed in the street.

 

The Lancers at first tried  to escape by the other end of the street at the open space formerly occupied by Ormond Market, but were driven back by the volunteer fire at the rear of the Four Courts. The whole party were perforce compelled to remain nuddled together, horses and men intermixed, in  the narrow street which from its position gave them secure cover they entered the collier Dispensary and the Medical Mission opposite. Some of the boxes were taken from the cars and placed in the houses.

As stated, some of the solders fell at the first fire, but a few of the horsemen charged wildly in the direction of Church Street , where one was shot dead, falling from his horse nearly opposite the chapel, and another leading a riderless horse fell near the Brunswick Street corner. A wounded soldier was carried into a hallway in Charles  Street and Immediately afterwards attended by Fr. Baldwin of the Church of Adam and Eve.

 

The party remained in Charles Street until Thursday, when they were relieved by improvised armoured motor lorries from the Inchicore Works. A civilian whom it was alleged did not answer a challenge was shot dead by the military in Charles Street and his body lay in the street under the horses’ hoofs for some days. The horses after a few days became maddened with hunger and several were destroyed by the soldiers. At length they were all let loose and ran wild about the locality, the clattering sound of their hoofs occasionally raising a false alarm amongst the midnight watchers at the barricades. The Volunteers attempted to reach the Lancers’ position by burning the Medical Mission Hall at the Chancery Place front, which would have compelled their retirement from the neighbourhood of the Four Courts. In this attack a Volunteer officer, Patrick O’Daly (afterwards General), was severely wounded and removed to hospital.

 

On Wednesday night Sec.-LT. Hunter, the officer in charge of the Lancers, met his death in the Collier Dispensary under tragic circumstances. During the week another officer named Jellet was wounded. A captured lance surmounted by a republican flag was planted in the open space opposite Reilly’s Fort whilst a salute from the Volunteers’ revolvers was fired. After the evacuation of Reilly’s the flag was recovered by the Volunteers and brought to the Four Courts. On hearing the first firing a passing soldier took refuge in the Church and Reverend Fathers made arrangements for his safe conduct from the building.

 

Shortly after this a member of the “G” Division of the people was arrested and bought to the Church Street barricade, and about 4 p.m. a policeman who drew a revolver was arrested in Hammond Lane after receiving a slight wound.

 

Early on Monday Keegan’s, the gunsmith’s, in Chancery Place, was entered by the Volunteers and arms and ammunition were commandeered. The Proclamation of the Provisional Government was posted in prominent positions and the day was spent in selecting posts for defence and in strengthening positions.

 

Reilly’s Fort in North King Street was occupied by eight men, and borings were made into the next house, and the houses at North Brunswick Street were also manned. A close watch was kept all Monday night. The Street lamps were all extinguished, leaving the streets in pitchy darkness. The officers went round all the posts, picquets were sent out, and the sentries were relieved at regular intervals, and all approaching the barricades were challenged until the watchword was given. Throughout the night sounds of desultory firing could be heard in distant parts of the city, and nearer, from the Mendicity institute and the river front.

Shortly after midnight on Monday a party of soldiers, apparently convoying provisions or ammunition in a wagon approached from the Park direction on the south side of the river. The party were allowed to traverse Usher’s Island Quay until they reached a point near Bridge Street. The Volunteer officer in command of the barricade and houses at Church Street Bridge, Peadar Clancy, then gave the order to fire. Several of the soldiers fell and the rest retreated. The next morning the Volunteers crossed the bridge and picked up 5 rifles and 1,000 rounds of ammunition on the spot.

 

In Monks’ Bakery at North King Street the bakers continued at work. Throughout the week the Volunteers took charge of the distribution of the bread to the waiting queues, and an armed sentry controlled the crowd. On Tuesday some of the bread was transferred on hand-trucks to the convent and other storehouses.

 

Early in the week Lord Dunsany and a  a Capt. Lindsay whilst motoring from Kingsbridge towards their regimental headquarters at Ameins Street were challenged by the Volunteers stationed at Church Street Bridge barricade, and a they disregarded the challenge were fired on. Dunsany was wounded in the left cheek and the chauffeur in the hand. The poet peer, who displayed considerable trepidation at his summary reception, was brought before a Volunteer Captain, who somewhat reassured him by jocosely remarking, in reference to his lordship’s literary morceau, that there was no danger of his entering the “Glittering Gates” just yet. He was shortly afterwards released to hospital congratulating himself that he had “come amongst literary men”

A Colonel Brereton, who afterwards publicly paid a generous tribute to the Volunteers, was also arrested, as well as a Lieut. Halpin, a clergyman in khaki, and some others who were confined in the Four Courts.

 

On Wednesday 24 policemen and a prisoner were discovered secreted in a large coal cellar on the ground floor of the Bridgewell at the rear of the Four Courts. Some of them were armed with revolvers, which were taken from them, as well as their truncheons. As they were marched as prisoners into the Four courts many of them appeared overcome with hunger and fatigue. They were detained until Friday, when the volunteer Captain released them on parole, at the same time ensuring them a free passage outside his lines.

 

The military were known to be in force at the Broadstone, and further to the west they had established a post in the Female Asylum at Grangegorman, which caused Comdt. O’Daly to fear an attack which might divide his position in the rear. The Volunteer post at Phibsborough was not strongly held and there were not enough men to occupy the Temple on Constitution Hill, which would have intercepted the military approach from the Broadstone across the King’s Inns’ fields.

 

On Tuesday, at dusk, Comdt. O’Daly sent a party of about 15 men to reconnoitre the Broadstone and if possible to take possession of the station under Capt. Dinny O’Callaghan. This party included Peadar Breslin (who took a leading part in many of the dangerous operations in this area), Garry Holohan, Eamonn Martin, etc. The Volunteers advanced cautiously up Constitution Hill, and turning on the left through a side street worked their way along the high wall at Prebend Street. Eamonn Martin, a Fianna officer, who was distance in advance, had reached the open space near the Aqueduct Bridge when some soldiers entrenched in front of the station immediately opened fire and the young Volunteer fell shot through the right lung. He was immediately taken to the Richmond Hospital by two of his companions and subsequently recovered. The remainder of the party at once took cover and fired from the neighbouring houses on the soldiers, who retired. In this engagement a Volunteer sniper stationed in Farrell Street shot one of the soldiers who was firing from a window in the station. The Volunteers held their ground and a dispatch was sent to Daly, who ordered a retirement to Brunswick Street, where the party were dismissed for the time to their various sections.

The Volunteer snipers at the northern outposts in the houses near Brunswick Street corner, especially the high building beside Moore’s Coach Factory and Clarke’s Dairy pear by, were under the command of Patrick Holahan and kept the military position at Broadstone under constant fire. From these elevated positions there was a clear field of fire across the intervening space. Soldiers going on sentry and any military snipers who were met by the fire of the Volunteer sharpshooters. Lieut. Gray, R.D.F., ad several other British soldiers were killed by this fire.

 

The upper portio of Clarke’s was also loopholed towards  the south, and later in the week the fire from this side was responsible for several casualties amongst the military when they endeavoured to turn the corner from King Street to Church Street. These posts outside the cordon were, as already stated, not taken by the military, but were held under truce by the Volunteers under Patrick Holahan until Sunday morning.

 

Reilly’s Fort was garrisoned early on Monday morning by 8 men and at the end of the week bore the burnt of the main attack from Bolton Street. After Monday the garrison was augmented and a proper sustem of reliefs established. The glass in the shop windows was removed, and some of the defenders took position inside on the window ledge, and upstairs the windows were completely barricaded with bags filled with sawdust, meal, etc. Jack Shouldice mainly directed the defense of “ Reilly’s Fort” and the Church Street area in front. Piaras Beasley also took an active part here and in the neighbourhood of the Father Mathew Hall.

On Tuesday and Wednesday Volunteers were engaged building barricades and strengthening positions. Intelligence was received of movements of troops, and all approaches were closely watched. Advance piequets went to and fro reconnoitering, and on Wednesday an armourned car was reported in the vicinity of Bolton Street. Communication was kept up with the G.P.O., and on Wednesday a copy of the “Irish War News”  was received from the Republican Headquarters.

(To be continued).

 

 

 

FOUR COURTS AND NORTH KING ST. AREA IN 1916.

By Mr. JOHN  J. REYNOLDS (Author of “ Footprints of Emmet”),

                             Curator Municipal Art Gallery, Dublin.

FROM STATEMENTS MADE TO THE WRITER SHORTLY AFTER 1916, BY ACTUAL PARTICIPANTS IN THE FIGHTING.

               (Being the Nineteenth instalment of the History of the Anglo-Irish War.)

                                               [ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.]

 

CONTINUED  FROM  LAST  WEEK.

 

On Wednesday some of the Volunteer positions were under military fire from various distant point of vantage. It was extremely difficulty to locate the military long range positions. The tower of the Christ  Church Cathedral,  Power’s  Distillery, and other high buildings on the south side of the river appear to have been occupied. The Volunteers in the Malt House at Beresford Street by means of a powerful field glass discerned a machine-gun on the roof of Jervis Street Hospital playing in May Lane direction. The snipers in the Malt House Concentrated their fire on the gun and after some time it was silenced.

 

Early in the week soldiers were reported in the Linen Hall Barracks, and on Wednesday morning it was decided to attack the building. The Volunteer officer in command, Capt. Dinny O’ Callaghan, ordered the military to come out, and on their refusal some sticks of gelignite were inserted in the wall to force a breach, and the gate facing Lurgan Street was burst open with sledge hammers.  The garrison who then came out under the white flag proved to be some forty of the Army Pay Staff dressed in khaki and an R.I.C man. They were taken as prisoners to the Father Mathew Hall, and later in the week, when the severe fighting began, they were for safety transferred to the Bridewell.  During the week their services were requisitioned under armed guard to assist near the bakery, and in the filling bags for the barricades. In this connection it is proper to state that all acquainted with the factstestify as to the humane treatment of the prisoners in all cases by the Volunteers.  In the Four Courts the prisoners were separated according to rank, the officers having separate rooms, and although the Volunteers were all on short rations themselves, the prisoners were provided with ample food, tobacco, ets.  In the Four courts the officers were supplied even with stimulants if required.  Several of these prisoners, however, rapid the leniency of the Volunteers by identifying the latter or procuring them long terms of penal servitude.

 

On Wednesday a motor car was heard approaching from Bloton Street, but as it turned the cornet facing the first barricade a shot was accidentally fired.  Immediately afterwards it was seen to be a Red Cross motor car as it turned off into a side street.

About 3 p.m. on Wednesday the Linen Hall Barracks were set of fire an soon the conflagrating assumed enormous proportions, threatening to spread to the surrounding threatening to spread to the surrounding tenement houses and towards some of the Volunteer positions.  A water hose and some men were requisitioned from North Dublin Union to keep the fire somewhat under control.  On Thursday it travelled eastwards and set fire to the extensive premises of Messrs. Moore, the wholesale druggists, of Bolton Street. Here the highly inflammable materials were soon ignited and the whole burning area became a roaring furnace, the barrels of oil being projected high into the air and exploding with a loud report. At night a pin could be picked up by the glare overspreading the surrounding streets. On Friday the fire subsided, the dying flames flickering at intervals in lurid and fitful flashes before they were finally extinguished. Towards the end of the week the severest fighting was carried on in pitch darkness, which completely enveloped the narrow streets now entirely deserted save by those engaged in the grim work of death.

On Wednesday the four houses at the corner of Bridge Street and Usher’s Quay were burned. These projecting houses dominated from the opposite side of the river the Church Street Bridge position as well as the western wing of the Four Courts. The flames travelled southwards from the corner and, strange to say , skipping two of the intervening houses, burned the frontage at the Brazen Head Hotel in Bridge Street. But fortunately the historic hotel itself, situated in the rear, with its quaint old time entrance and courtyard—so famous in the annals of the United   Irishmen—escaped unscathed.

 

On Wednesday also the Mendicity Institute after heavy fighting surrendered.

 

On Thursday in the North King Street area many of the residents, who had been at first incredulous, now began to realize the seriousness of the situation and left the neighbourhood, and some of the shops were barricaded with corrugated iron and planking. An armoured car was reported in the vicinity, and all the barricades were manned to repel an expected military attack.

On Thursday about 9 a.m. the Volunteers stationed at Church Street Bridge under Peadar Clancy observed a body of about 20 soldiers cautiously proceeding in Indian file along the south side of the river by Usher’s Quay towards the city. The First of the line was allowed to reach the corner of Bridge Street , when the Volunteers opened fire. Several of the soldiers were shot dead, whilst the remainder took cover under Ganly’s colonnaded portico or rushed into the neighbouring houses.  Almost immediately an ambulance arrived on the scene and removed the fallen men as well as their rifles and ammunition.

 

Towards the end of the week the military fire on Church Street Bridge, and from Smithfield through Hammond Lane on the western wing of the Four Courts was very severe.  Thomas Allen received a fatal wound, the bullet entering the building by one of the large windows of the record Office. The late Fr. O’ Callanghan  (St. Paul’s) and Fr. Augustine came a few minutes afterwards. On entering the room where the wounded Volunteer lay the clergymen found it necessary to creep along the floor to escape the fusillade of bullets which entered. A Red Cross doctor advised his immediate removal to hospital. He was taken away on a stretcher borne by three Volunteers. One of the stretcher bearers, all of whom wore white armlets, was severely wounded on returning.

 

About the same time two Volunteers were dangerously wounded at the Bridge barricade and removed.

On Wednesday at midnight in the open space in front of Reilly’s Fort, now brightly illuminated by the fire from the Linen Hall, Com. Daly held a consultation with some of his officers as to sending a party to force their way to the G.P.O., but owing to the strong light which fell on the intervening streets it was not considered advisable to make the attempt.

The plan of the British Military operations as officially stated was to establish a  circular cordon on the north from Kingsbridge up Infirmary Road, along the North Circular Road, and down to Amiens Street Station across Butt Bridge to Trinity College. On the west the cordon was thrown up Bridge-foot Street and Queen Street as  far as King Street, then along king Street to join hands with the troops occupying Capel Street.

 

The main concentrated attack on the North King Street position at the end of the week when the military had obtained an immense augmentation occupied nearly two days’ incessant fighting, from dawn on Friday until about 7 p.m. Saturday; whilst the final surrender in this area—at the North Brunswick Street position—outside the military cordon, which after the truce the Volunteers continued to hold under arms. was not accomplished until about 10 a.m. on Sunday—15 hours afterwards.

On Friday early the military had advanced up King Street from Bolton Street. In the evening about 6.45 p.m. an armoured car rushed up Bolton Street and stopped at the main entrance to the Technical Schools. A party of soldiers jumped from the car and charging up the steps burst in the porch windows, and were proceeding to beat in the front door when Mr. Ward, the resident caretaker, appeared with the keys. He was covered with their rifles and backed down to the basement. The large building was searched, and furniture was hurriedly thrown out of the windows to form a barricade which crossed the road obliquely, blocking Bolton Street from the school steps to the north-west corner of Yarnhall Street opposite. 250 soldiers of the 2nd/6th South Staffords under Lieut.-Col.   H. Taylor occupied the building as head-quarters for the rest of the week—until 9.30 a.m. Monday. They fired towards the Volunteer positions from the upper windows and from this post could have had but little effect as the Volunteer positions were hidden a considerable distance off, amongst the winding narrow streets. During their occupation the military corralled a great number of the neighbouring residents in the building.

 

On Thursday information was received that the troops were closing in; and on Friday morning heavy firing was heard in all directions.

 

On Friday evening in the distance the repeated roar of armoured cars rushing troops towards Bolton Street could be heard, as night fell a Volunteer officer brought final instructions to the men holding the barricades and warned them to prepare for a supreme effort as an attack in force might be expected that night. Supplies of bombs and extra ammunition were brought to Reilly’s,  Clarke’s, and other strongholds.

 

On Friday at dusk an armoured car from Bolton Street rushed up King Street quite close to Langan’s barricade. The Volunteers at the barricade immediately opened fire, killing a soldier.  The fire from the machine-gun on the car fatally wounded a Volunteer at the barricade. After the car retired he was removed by Coleraine Street.

 

On Friday night within an ambit of a few yards round Reilly’s Fort was fought a combat of frightful intensity. As the military approaching from Bolton Street attempted to push through to Church Street this Volunteer stronghold and the barricade in front bore the brunt of the first attack. Reilly’s Fort was not visible, owing to a bend in the road, until a point is reached only some 50 yards from the building, when they at once came under close fire. Here they were met with a galling fusillade from Reilly’s further back, and laterally , by the enfilading fire from the Matt House in Beresford Street.

 

The military generally approached under cover of an armoured car, containing 12 or 15 men, which, rushing up the street, stopped suddenly at some selected spot, and under cover of fire from the machine-gun in the car would strom the houses on either side.

Whilst advancing in the darkness the military fired into practically every house in the line of advance, and the few terrified inhabitants who had had the temerity to remain throughout the terrible night took refuge in the cellars, or by lying flat, face downwards, on the floor, sought to escape the continuous fusillades, whilst the flying bullets shattered everything around.

In stroming the houses several soldiers were shot down. During the conflict a soldier who was noticed with clubbed rifle burstingin a door accidentally killed a comrade beside him through the premature explosion of the gun.

Langan’s barricade during the night was under heavy fire. It was manned by six men, who had a box of grenades placed conveniently near the middle of the barricade. As the night was pitch dark aim was taken at each flash of the enemy’s rifle, the double report being sometimes followed by a scream or a groan in the darkness when a bullet reached its mark.  Some soldiers also crept along the roofs of the houses on each side and rained down bombs into the street beneath.

 

When some soldiers had effected a lodgment in a house on the South side of the street between Anne Street and Church Street they worked under cover into closer range by boring through the interior of the houses towards Church Street. The party manning the front barricade at Langan’s between 3 and 4 a.m. retired to Reilly’s Fort.

 

To stop the advance an incessant fire was kept on the street near the abandoned barricade from Reilly’s and the Malt House. The military continued to fire on it during the night, and unintentionally it served as a decoy to draw their fire, whilst as an obstacle it continued to impede the nearer approach of the armoured cars.

 

During the night the crashing sound of breaking woodwork as the military burst into the houses and the excited cries of the officers as they urged the men forward could be heard. Occasionally a star shell would rise above the houses, its weird blue tint illuminating the darkened streets for a few brief seconds, whilst the Volunteers in Reilly’s crouched in the shadows or took cover beneath the window sills to prevent their forms being silhouetted against the walls behind as an easy mark for the sniper’s bullet. The woodwork of the windows and doors was splintered, and the bags barricading the frontage were cut to pieces by the hail of bullets, their contents dropping into the street. In the distance was still heard the roar of the motor cars and the bottom of artillery.

During the night a Volunteer officer called to Reilly’s Fort and directed two men to go to a disused house at the west corner of Beresford Street to drop hand-grenades on any armoured car which might approach the position. They immediately proceeded to the house and entered it in the rear by Stirrup Lane, which being out of the firing line made a safe line of communication between Church Street and Beresford Street.. Six men took up a position lying near the entrance of the lane to cover the retreat of the bombers. One of the men upstairs cautiously raised the window, and preparatory to throwing the grenade, stooped under the window sill and struck a match to ignite it. In the momentary gleam of the match a military sniper’s bullet entered the window and passed clean through the Volunteer’s hat, which he still keeps as a souvenir of his experience.

 

The whole party then took up a position lying across Beresford Street at a barricade only a few feet from King Street. All troops endeavouring to pass King Street to Reilly’s came under close enfilading fire from this party.

 

On Friday (about 8 p.m.) the firing had become so heavy that it was decided to remove for safety the Linen Hall Army Pay prisoners from the Father Mathew Hall to the Bridewell nearer to Four courts.  They were conveyed to the prison under heavy fire, the bullets spattering the walls around the party, who stumbled in the dark over the obstacles strewn between the barricades. At this time the fire from the armoured cars was terrific, searchlights played upon some of the streets, and hand grenades seemed to burst everywhere. Several of the Volunteers were coming in wounded to the Father Mathew Hall.

 

The Bridewell was reached at length, where, at the gate, a Volunteer, temporarily installed as gaoler stood in readiness with a large bunch of keys attached to his girdle. The prisoners were duly counted as they entered, and were then led through dimly lighted passages guarded by armed Volunteers with fixed bayonets to three large cells on the ground floor. The prisoners were well treated by their captors, who provided them with cigarettes, etc. Some of the soldiers who had returned from France seemed to take a professional interest in the situation, descanting for the edification of their captors on the various familiar sounds of rifle fire, machine-guns, and heavy artillery.

 

Some time after the prisoners were locked up a large water main burst which floded the lower cells and threatened to drown the prisoners. The leakage was stopped, and the flooded cells reopened and cleared of water. The prisoners were then secured for night.

 

In the early hours of Saturday morning several houses on both sides of North King Street had been occupied by the military and the Malt House in Beresford Street was now under heavy fire from the back of the houses in Anne Street and the south side King Street, where they had obtained a footing by boring through the houses. Reilly’s Fort was also under renewed fire from these houses.

 

Later the military, emboldened by their success, attempted a bayonet charge towards Reilly’s. They were allowed to pass Langan’s barricade, some taking the middle of the road, whilst others, more cautious, sidled onwards in short rushes under cover of the houses, or ran obliquely from side to side across the street. Just as they reached Beresford Street they broke as they met the frontal fire from Reilly’s whilst at the same moment they were caught by the lateral fire from the Malt House further back.

In one charge some 8 or 9 soldiers were killed and several wounded. The Volunteers crossed the barricades and captured the bayonets, rifles and ammunition of the fallen men. They nearly all fell in a group opposite Sammon’s Repository on the roadway, where their bodies lay till next day. This rebuff stopped the military advance for some time.

The Volunteers at the Beresford Street barricade were shortly afterwards ordered to retire to the Father Mathew Hall, whilst the party in the Malt House held on until 3 p.m. on Saturday.

 

During Friday a Canadian Corporal, armed with a revolver, which he carried in his hand, and who had been leading parties of soldiers and was taking a prominent part in searching the neighbouring houses, entered the premises of Mr. O’Toole, Tobacconist, North King Street. He ordered the latter under arrest leaving two soldiers on guard. He had scarcely left the house when he fell shot dead close by at the corner of Beresford Street. His body was shortly afterwards removed on an armoured car.

The Volunteers were also attacked on the west side by a party of Staffords and Sherwood Foresters who had come towards Smithfield By Qeen Street in an Armoured car on Friday evening. Upon their arrival the soldiers were dropped into various houses in the neighbourhood, and a barricade was erected which, running from Queen Street to George’s Lane opposite. Blocked Queen Street near Stoneybatter.

 

At a late hour on Friday night under cover of darkness they advanced eastward towards the Volunteer position at Church Street, firing into suspected houses on the way. They eventually took position at Egan’s public house at the corner of Smithfield Market, which, projecting out of line, enabled them to fire on to the Church Street barricade. Some soldiers were shot in this neighbourhood, probably by advanced picquets or isolated snipers.  The last volley was fired here at 5.25 p.m. on Saturday.

On Saturday before dawn the bombardment subsided somewhat, but shortly afterwards began with redoubled vigour, the main attack being concentrated on Reilly’s Fort.  The Volunteer officer in command of this section, a man of cool and determined character, who with unceasing vigilance had been going from position to position throughout the night, now came to Reilly’s and remained with the garrison.

 

About 7 a.m. Patrick O’ Flanagan was sent out for hand-grenades to the barricades at the Father Mathew Hall, which place he reached safely.

 

The open space in front of Reilly’s was now swept east and west by the military cross-fire from both ends of King Street.

Returning on his dangerous errand Patrick O’ Flanagan had Just reached the middle of this street when he was seen to trip slightly.  The impetus carried him into the doorway of Reilly’s where he fell. It was seen that the gallant young Volunteer was fatally wounded, and despite every attention paid him by his companions he soon afterwards breathed his last.

Between 8 and 9 a.m. on Saturday it was decided to evacuate Reilly’s and attempt to regain the Father Mathew hall.

(To be continued).

 

 

FOUR COURTS AND NORTH KING ST. AREA IN 1916.

By Mr. JOHN  J. REYNOLDS (Author of “ Footprints of Emmet”),

                             Curator Municipal Art Gallery, Dublin.

FROM STATEMENTS MADE TO THE WRITER SHORTLY AFTER 1916, BY ACTUAL PARTICIPANTS IN THE FIGHTING.

               (Being the Nineteenth instalment of the History of the Anglo-Irish War.)

                                               [ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.]

              “ REILLY’S FORT.”        

           (Continued from last week).

           

After a short consultation as to whether the garrison should rush out singly or in a group the latter method was adopted upon the advice of the officer in command. The word was given, and all simultaneously rushed across the fire-swept zone, whilst at the same time the Volunteers in front of the Chapel covered their retreat by heavy fire from the barricades.

When the military took possession of Reilly’s they found themselves between two fires-from the massive brick barricades in front of the Chapel and on the other side from the Brunswick Street corner.

Some short time after the Volunteers had left, a party of solders charged out of Reilly’s and in attempting to rush back towards Bolton Street were shot down.

 

A volunteer Red Cross man who was under fire all day had been indefatigable in his exertions to help the wounded, was kept prisoner in Reilly’s from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. during its occupation by the military.

 

The North Brunswick Street Volunteers (about 60 men) on Saturday afternoon made a determined effort to drive the military out of Reilly’s by encircling them. Through the rear of Monks’s Bakery they worked round into Neary’s shop in King Street, which they entered by the back. From this position they engaged the soldiers in Kavanagh’s opposite. On the other side of Reilly’s they outflanked them by sending man to Ball’s Drug Store, and the soldiers in Reilly’s were now cut off from the main body. The fighting was become concentrated in an effort to hold the small portion of Upper Church Street Lying between North King Street and North Brunswick Street, a space of about 50 yards in length.

 

The position was now as given in General Maxwell’s official statement discussing the military plan to encircle the Four Courts area:---“ One line of this cordon was to pass through North King Street. We discovered, however, that instead of being outside the rebel are the street actually cut through it. and very desperate fighting occurred before we could complete the cordon in this street.” As a matter of fact a truce was established before the surrender in North Brunswick Street, a few yards north of this position.

 

On Saturday from 3 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. the Volunteer forces at North Brunswick Street corner came into full play, making a determined stand to hold the last contested position. The military coming up King Street from Bolton Street were making persistent efforts to relive the party of British soldiers in Reilly’s and at the same time gain a position in Church street itself. A civilian resident at this point described the firing and bombing as “perfectly infernal,” as the soldiers and Volunteers were now only a few yards apart. The moment the soldiers turned the corner of Church Street they came under fire from Clarke’s Dairy as well as from Moore’s Coach Factory opposite and the barricades near the Church. Several soldiers fell, but others under cover gained possession of the Blanchards-town Bakery at the corner opposite Reilly’s, in this building a sergeant-major and some soldiers were shot. In the height of the conflict a young British soldier fell wounded between the barricades and the firing ceased until he was removed. In the afternoon of Saturday the military seemed to be gaining ground also in the rear of the R.C. Church and an armour car rushed by in Bow Street.

 

Rev. Father Augustine, O.S.F.C., who had been heard rumours of the surrender at the G.P.O. Accompanied by Dr.  O’Carroll and Dr.  Miles he proceeded to the Volunteer position at North Brunswick Street. The Volunteer officer in command there (Patrick Holohan) told out to the death.

 

Rev. father Augustine, O.S.F.C., has become anxious about the safety of the wounded, of which there was now a great number in the Father Mathew Hall. The supply of drugs and appliances was also running out, and communication with the hospitals cut off.

 

About 4 p.m. on Saturday he sent a Volunteer Red Cross inan with a note to the military commander asking for a brief interview. After an hour’s absence the messenger returned and stated that the officers had a council of war and had given him the verbal answer, “You are all rebels and outlaws and you will get none of the amenities of war.”

About 6.30 p.m. Father Augustine, accompanied by Father Aloysius and a Red Cross bearer, went up to the Blan-chardstown Mills, then occupied by the military, and on arriving requested to see the officer in command. After some delay Lt.-Col. Taylor came. Father Augustine commented upon the nature of the  reply he had received, as he had requested nothimg but an interview.

 

It was decided to send the Red Cross bearer to the Brunswick Street position to interview the Volunteer officer in command. Just then a crash of bullets struck the pavement near the group. The military officer immediately wheeled round and covered the Red Cross bearer with his revolver. Father Augustine then volunteered to go himself and accordingly went up to Volunteers manning the windows of Clarke’s.

 

The Volunteer officer (Patrick Holohan), speaking for himself and his men, then stated that he would not personally make any terms with the military, but if the Fathers of Church Street considered it necessary he would agree to a temporary truce for the removal of the wounded. In this event he would require the officer in command to notify the military at Broadstone to cease fire also. A truce was then arranged—ratified by Lieut.-Col. Taylor and General Lowe’s son—to last from 7.30p.m., Saturday, until 10a.m., Sunday morning.

 

Dr. O’Carroll of the Richmond Hospital, accompanied by a military sergeant and a corporal, consented to undertake the mission to the Broadstone. An unarmed Volunteer officer went with the party to the railway terminus, whilst another Volunteer officer was held by the military at North King Street as a hostage until their return.

It would be impossible to speak in adequate terms of the humanity displayed by the priests in this area as well as by the doctors of the Richmond Hospital. Utterly disregarding all question of personal safety they were to be found at all hours wherever duty called them amongst the wounded and dying. The physical strain alone was sufficient to break down the strongest.

 

One of the Franciscan Capuchin Fathers—whose church was fated to be the centre of the battleground—was, during the week, on the duty in the Richmond Hospital. When a Volunteer Red Cross bearer brought word that Sean Bernard Howard had been carried into the Father Mathew Hall dangerously wounded, and that it was necessary that he should immediately be brought to hospital. This priest and Dr. D. Flanagan immediately volunteered to take the wounded man to the hospital. In going to the hall they had to cross North King Street, then swept by a terrific cross-fire from both ends. On reaching the street they stood for a moment to breathe a short prayer, and then quietly walked across the street, Although the bullets whistled round them they reached the opposite side in safety. In the Hall a large Red Cross flag was thrown over the priest’s shoulders, and thus enveloped he and the doctor, bearing the wounded man on a stretcher, made the return journey to the hospital in safety.

 

The same clergyman under heavy fire mounted the high, open, latticed-work tower of the North Dublin Union and conditionally anointed the two men who had been shot on the ladders in its upper framework.

 

During the final fight Peter Paul Manning and Patrick Farrell were shot in the large room over the shop in Moore’s Coach Factory. The Volunteer lieutenant in charge, despite the heavy fire, immediately sent for a priest and a doctor. Dr. O’Carroll from the Richmond Hospital soon arrived, accompanied by a priest from Church Street. The two young Volunteers passed away about the same time. Their companions reverently placed their bodies in the rear of the factory and covered them with a cloth.

 

A Red Cross flag which was displayed from window in Moore’s was riddled with bullets in a few moments.

Shortly afterwards Philip Walsh, who had labored and fought indefatigably throughout the week, was shot dead in a gateway opposite Moore’s and near the Christian Brothers’ Schools in North Brunswick Street.

John Dwan is supposed to have fallen at the corner of St. Michan’s Street and Chancery Street: and John Hurley of Clonakilty, who was fatally wounded at one of the Church Street barricades, was carried into the Father Mathew Hall and in his last moments was attended bu Father Augustine.

 

On   Saturday, about 6 p.m.,  Rev, father Columbus, O.S.F.C., when returning from Jervis Street Hospital met Miss O’Farrell Conveying the surrender order to Comdt. Daly at the Four Courts. He accompanied her bearing a small white flag, and on reaching the Four Courts They interviewed Commandant Daly at the Chancery Place entrance.

At the surrender the Volunteers Arms were passed out through the railings at Chancergy Place to the soldiers outside.

Comdt. Daly at the head of his men was marched under heavy military guard along the quays and by Capel Street and Britain Street to the northern end of O’Connell Street. They were afterwards placed inside the Rotunda railings and throughout the night were confined on the grass plot opposite the hospital. Several of the Cumann na mBan were taken prisoners at the same time.

 

THE    LAST   STAND.

 

The Volunteers in this area made their last stand at North Brunswick Street, which after the four Courts surrender continued to be held under the armistice until Sunday morning. The Volunteers stood to arms and the truce was closely observed by both or the belligerents.

 

During the truce, in the upper part of Church Street, two military officers advanced a short distance beyond the line agreed upon. They were warned off by a Volunteer sentry, but as they did not withdraw two armed Volunteers came from under cover at Clarke’s and presenting their refles at them ordered them into their own lines. They walked back a short distance again,crossing the line agreed upon, and continued their promenade in safety in front of the Volunteer position.

An official copy of the order for surrender in Pearse’s handwriting was brought by one of the Franciscan Capuchin Fathers to the North Brunswick Street position on Sunday morning. The elergyman had had a personal interview with Comdt. Please earlier on Sunday at Arbor Hill Detention Barracks, where he was then confined.

 

THE   HARDEST  TASK.

 

On reading this order the young Volunteer captain in charge (Patrick Holohan) decided, after consultation with lined up in the street in the presence of the military near “Reilly’s  Fort” he addressed his men in a few final words of simple unstudied eloquence :--“ Fellow-soldiers of the Irish Republican Army, I have just received a communication from Commandant Pearse calling on us to surrender and you will agree with me that this is the hardest task we have been called upon to perform during this eventful week, but we came into this fight for Irish Independence in obedience to the commands of our higher officers and now in obedience to their wishes we must surrender. I know you would, like myself, prefer to be with our comrades who have already fallen in the fight—we, too, should rather die in this glorious struggle than submit to the enemy. The treatment you may judge from the past,” He then informed his party—consisting of 58 men—into military order and was marched under guard to the Castle.

 

[The First and second instalments of the Fighting in the Four Courts and North King Street Area have appeared in “ Ant-Oglach,” Nos. 18 and 19, respectively,”- ED.]