Archaeology of 1916 Seminar

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We’re pleased to announce a free morning seminar presenting the results of some of our research. It’s being kindly hosted by Dublin City Council at the Wood Quay Venue and it takes place on Wednesday 14 December. Places are strictly limited so to register please go to  at  www.eventbrite.ie/e/the-archaeology-of-1916-tickets-29747252834

You can click on the link above to see the poster. We hope to see as many as possible of you there!

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Bullets, Bricks and Compensation Claims: 1916 and No.25 Northumberland Road

Northumberland Road is today a quiet, leafy, residential street leading to a bridge over the Grand Canal, over which there is a direct route into the centre of the city. For a couple of days over Easter Week 1916, this street lined with terraced houses and its immediate environs saw some of the bloodiest fighting of the Rebellion.

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A photograph of No 25 Northumberland Road, in the immediate aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rebellion.

During the 1916 Easter Rebellion, it was in this peaceful suburb on Dublin’s south side, that a small group of Irish Volunteers inflicted significant losses on the Sherwood Foresters who were attempting to advance into the city. Fatefully for the British soldiers in the ensuing battle, the Irish Volunteers had occupied two superbly located sites: an end of terrace residence at No. 25 Northumberland Road and Clanwilliam House across the canal. Two less strategically located buildings, the Mission Hall and St. Stephen’s Schoolhouse were also occupied, as well as a builders’ yard to the east of the bridge closer to Company HQ at Boland’s Bakery. The story of the fighting along Northumberland Road itself and the ensuing battle of Mount Street bridge is perhaps one of the most familiar of the 1916 Rebellion (and a subject of many fine studies, in particular, see the Contested Memories: The Battle of Mount Street website here), and will be quickly summarized below. What is less well-known is the story of the destruction to property, the aftermath of the battle, and the ways that the residents of the street repaired the damage, and ultimately the physical remains that can be seen today.

In this blog post, we reflect firstly on the action at, and damage to, No. 25 Northumberland Road, and then the efforts made to repair it by its owner, Michael Cussen, in the weeks and months afterwards. Tracking the process of repairing the damage and the claims and decisions made are key to understanding what archaeological traces survive today from the Easter Rebellion at No. 25 Northumberland Road.

But, it is also a story about how a building in a middle class suburb was wrecked, and how its presumably prosperous owner used his resources, solicitors, architects and builders, to seek redress through the authorities and repair his property. In some senses then, it is a very different story to the impact and experience of the Rising in the working-class districts of the city, as described previously in this blog, and most recently here.

Northumberland Road

Aerial view of the crossroads at Northumberland Road/Haddington Road. The No 25 Northumberland Road building is at the lower centre; Haddington Street church is the grey building off to the extreme left. Northumberland Road itself extends off from lower left to upper right, up to the Grand Canal, across which is the location of the original Clanwilliam House, occupied today by the brown building at extreme upper right. (Image: Google Earth).

No. 25 Northumberland Road is today a large, handsome, three-story Victorian terraced building, located at the corner of Haddington Road. This broad crossroads has excellent views in several directions, most notably to the southeast along the road leading into the city from Kingstown.

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No 25 Northumberland Road today. In the main part of the fighting, Lieutenant Malone was firing from the bathroom of the “third floor”, to the side, while Grace was shooting from the “second floor” overlooking the street (Photo: Aidan O’Sullivan).

 

The story begins

The story of the building’s role in the battle begins on Easter Monday, 24th April 1916, when James Grace, Paddy Rowe and Michael Byrne, of C Company, 3rd Battalion Dublin Brigade of the Irish Volunteers, were sent by Lieut. Michael Malone from Mount Street Bridge to the junction of Northumberland Road and Haddington Road, with the instruction to ‘cover the gates of Beggars Bush Barracks’ (James Grace, BMH WS310).

After a tense encounter there with two local men, they were joined on Haddington Road, by Michael Malone, who then told his men to occupy 25 Northumberland Road. Grace in his witness statement  described how ‘I smashed in the yale lock with the butt of my rifle and we immediately prepared the house for a state of siege, putting up barricades, filling vessels with water and so on’. The destruction had begun.

When compiling his witness statement in October 1949, James Grace states that the house was by that time in flats but that otherwise it was ‘practically the same now as it was then, except that there is now a front entrance to the basement’ (a telling detail, given the difficulty the British troops had in attacking the house in 1916). It is clear that the house itself—in 1916 an owner-occupied residence—was empty at the time of the volunteers arrival. James Grace claims in his statement that the owner and resident, Michael Cussen, was supportive of the Volunteers, stating that ‘the Cussens who owned the house were also friendly, and having been told of events to come had sent the servants away and evacuated the house themselves’ (WS 310). In contrast, Cussen himself, in a subsequent letter written to the Under Secretary Sir Robert Chalmers,  claimed that ‘I need scarcely say that I have had no connection whatever with the rebels, and had no previous knowledge of their designs’.

But, of course, he would have said that.

Michael Cussen was a retired Customs and Excise Officer. He was registered in the Dublin City Electoral Rolls for 1914 as resident at 29 Northumberland Road (the resident of 25 was struck off the list, and presumably Cussen purchased the property thereafter).

The fighting starts

The fighting at No. 25 Northumberland Road began on the afternoon of Easter Monday, when a Company of G.Rs. – a form of local home guard – approached from the direction of Ballsbridge. The volunteers ensconced in No. 25, ‘opened fire on them and they scattered and retreated’ (BMH WS310). Although they carried arms, these were reputedly unloaded and the G.R.s retreated to Beggars Bush barracks, located just around the corner.

Through Easter Monday 24th April, and Tuesday 25th April, the Volunteers inside the house had to cope with persistent sniping ‘in particular from a house right opposite giving us a lot of trouble’. Lieut. Malone and Grace proceeded to the top of the house; Grace was asked by Malone to go to the right-hand room, to draw the snipers’ fire, and he was able to then identify that the location of the sniper was ‘… in the right-hand top window of the house opposite which was No. 28’. Malone fired a few times, and the ‘sniper crashed down, dragging with him the window blind’ (BMH WS 310, page 7).

About 2.30am, before dawn of Wednesday 26th April, Malone sent the two boys, Paddy Rowe and Michael Byrne, away on dispatch duty; in reality to get them away from impending danger. Grace prepared the building for battle setting ‘booby traps in the hall and on the stairs’ (BMH WS 310, page 8).

About noon of that day, Wednesday, they were told by Grace’s sister and Miss May Cullen that British soldiers had landed at Kingstown and were advancing on the city. The 2/7th and 2/8th Battalions of Sherwood Foresters, mostly young, inexperienced and barely trained soldiers from Nottingham and Derbyshire, were marching towards Northumberland Road. A building, Carrisbrooke House, previously occupied  by the volunteers further south along the road had now been abandoned, placing No. 25 Northumberland Road to the front of the Volunteers’ positions.

Sometime after noon Malone ‘went into the bathroom, the windows of which was on the side of the house looking towards Ballsbridge’, and spotted ‘khaki clad figures advancing’. Malone opened fire from this bathroom window, ‘which was on the third floor’. As Grace states ‘it was from this window that Micheál operated practically all the time – Malone’s window I still call it. I followed suit from another window on the second floor’ (BMH WS 310).

There were casualties immediately among the bewildered British troops, with one secondary account claiming that at least ten were killed in the first volley of shots as they were being fired on from both 25 Northumberland Road and Clanwilliam House across the canal. According to Grace, the British soldiers took control of ‘almost every house within point blank range’, and put up a terrific fire on the windows of the house, forcing Grace to move continually and take cover often.

They attempted bombing attacks at 5 o’clock and about 8.30, whereupon Grace took up position downstairs on the hall floor. Hearing movements in the ‘room on the left’, he fired through the panels and heard a rush of feet away from it. A few minutes afterwards, he heard the ‘crashing of glass and a door at the rear with steps leading into the back garden was burst open and some English troops rushed in’. After he emptied a fresh rifle clip at them, they retreated for a moment, before making a fresh rush and Grace ‘was driven down the stairs to the kitchen’ in the basement (BMH WS 310, page 10).

At this point, Grace heard Malone rushing down the stairs to his aid, calling out ‘alright Seumas, I’m coming’. Grace himself knelt at the door of the kitchen firing up at British troops that had appeared at the head of the stairs. From there he heard the crash of the volley and the shouts of the troops as Michael Malone was killed.

Emboldened by ‘desperate courage’, Grace rushed to the ‘small cellar window’ at the front of the house, and fired upon an ‘officer leading some men up the steps to the front door’, causing him to drop down the steps. His automatic was now jamming from the heat of firing, and he tried to cool it under the water tap in the scullery, after which he fired through ‘the chinks in the shutters of the kitchen window, whenever he saw an English soldier’.

James Grace continues his witness statement as this particular battle drew to an end.

‘Just then a bomb was thrown down and exploded at the kitchen door to my right. There was also a bomb hurled through the little window of the cellar from which I had been firing. I took cover behind a gas stove and after that had some room to room, firing at the English troops in the basement. The automatic still kept jamming now and again.

We had originally arranged to make a final stand at the top of the house, having left upstairs, loaded rifles with bayonets fixed, one Lee Enfield and two Howth mauser rifles, but the forcing of the glass-panelled door at the end of the rere hall corridor by the enemy separated Micheál and myself and ruined our plans.

About 10 o’clock that night a whistle below and I heard a voice shout out, “clear the streets for a bayonet charge”. I now got desperate and rushing to the basement corridor I flung aside the heavy iron garden seat which barricaded the rere kitchen door and shot back the bolts. Just as I was getting through the door I was fired on from the stairway and on returning the fire shot my way out through the back and escaped over the garden wall into Percy Lane, but I realized I was trapped within the enemy lines‘  (James Grace, BMH WS310, page 10-11).

James Grace was later captured on Saturday in a shed at the rear of 60 Haddington Road. His witness statement contains the rest of his story and the things he saw, including English troops holding Mount Street Bridge, and Clanwilliam House in flames, but the fight for the building at 25 Northumberland Road itself was over, with English soldiers dead and wounded on the streets, and the body of Lieutenant Micheál Malone within.

The battle over, and the damage starts to be assessed

If the battle was over, then Michael Cussen’s problems had just begun. There are several Property Losses (Ireland) Committee files (which can be downloaded here: PLIC_1_116; PLIC_1_2306; PLIC_1_4351) that record what Cussen and his solicitors had to do next.

His first task was to assess the damage to his property. It seems from his own statements that the military occupied his house for about 10 days after, and he only entered his house for the first time on 4th May 1916, probably with his solicitor from Arthur O’Hagan & Son, who later lists such a visit amongst his fees (PLIC_1_4351).

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First page of Michael Cussen’s solicitor’s listing of payments made and fees incurred, indicating the initial visit on 4th May 1916, and correspondance, as part of the review of damage; PLIC 1 4351 file).

He would have immediately seen that he now had to contend with a wrecked house, destroyed or damaged furniture and lost possessions, and was also facing into the uncertain legal process of seeking compensation from the local authorities, his own insurance companies and/or from the British government. By implication, in a phrase used in one of his letters dated to 1st July, he also had to worry about the further looting of the existing building, which still stood empty—presumably the army had left, and the building could now be entered by others. It is clear that things were stolen, but by whom is never clear (was it the soldiers, or opportunistic locals, or others from further afield?)

The sheer scale of the damage to 25 Northumberland Road can be seen in a document in PLIC_1_116, entitled ’25, Northumberland Road, Dublin, CLAIM of M. Cussen for damage to furniture &c.’. This document, probably prepared in early June 2016 as part of a claim to PLIC, systematically describes and lists estimated losses at 25 Northumberland Road (PLIC_1_116). The losses were clearly extensive and are ordered in the document by room, including in order of listing: damage in the hall; dining room; drawing room; sitting room (study), principal bedroom; daughter’s bedroom; workroom; dress room; stairs; general; blinds & curtains; glass and china; cutlery etc.; beds and bedding; poles for curtains; as well as a claim by Mrs Cussen, for clothes and jewellery. It is difficult to be clear which rooms listed by Michael Cussen correspond with those described by James Grace in his Witness Statement, but there are some obvious links.

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Damage listed in the hall and dining room of No. 25 Northumberland Road (Source PLIC_1_116).

In the hall (where at one point during the fighting, James Grace lay on the floor), the items destroyed included a hall stand, a flower stand and pot, copper pots, pictures, a table and table cloth (latter missing), as well as lineoleum. The list next mentions the Dining Room – possibly off the hallway, and at the front of the house – where a walnut dining table was destroyed, and a carpet and rug, side-board, chairs and sofa damaged.

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Damage listed to the ‘Drawing Room’ of No. 25 Northumberland Road (Source PLIC_1_116).

In the drawing room, which would most likely have been behind the Dining Room, we read of a carpet and rug ‘very badly damaged’, a sofa which was damaged but can be repaired’, whereas a ‘piano short grand’ was absolutely destroyed and ultimately valued at £44.17.6. In the sitting room (study), a book-case was destroyed, and books were damaged and rendered useless, as well as a safe which was destroyed and rendered useless, though there was also a cost listed for opening it.

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Damage listed to the ‘Principal Bed Room’ at No. 25 Northumberland Road (Source PLIC_1_116)

If as seems likely, the bedrooms were upstairs, then the principal bedroom’s wardrobe, and dressing table were all destroyed, earthenware was destroyed or looted, and pictures, carpets and rugs were also “badly damaged”.

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Damage listed to ‘Daughter’s Bedroom’ at No. 25 Northumberland Road (Source PLIC_1_116)

The daughter’s bedroom also has suite of furniture ‘practically destroyed’, and a long list of personal possessions looted (including a ‘Waterman’s Fountain pen, new – looted’, as well as two gold bangles), or damaged. An evening dress was rendered useless.

In the dressing room, Cussen’s own clothes including five pairs trousers, 3 vests, a dress suit, hats, an overcoat, brushes, combs, handkerchiefs, a hat case, socks, were all damaged, destroyed or looted.

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Damage listed to ‘Dressing Room’ at No. 25 Northumberland Road (Source: PLIC_1_116).

The stairs, where Lieutenant Michael Malone most likely met his death, had its ‘carpets and underfelts-All destroyed’.

Other losses in the house included wines, spirits, tea, sugar, cutlery, while beds and bedding needed to be cleaned or replaced.

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Mrs Cussen’s claim for clothes and jewellery lost is also extensive, with 22 listed items of clothing (some of them multiple) and 23 items of jewellery. Amongst the latter were her wedding ring, engagement ring, diamond and sapphire earrings, a pearl necklet, a ‘2 Jubilee coin mounted in gold (given at marriage)’, a ‘Five shilling piece (given at marriage)’, as well as rosary beads. Most likely these were looted or stolen from the house by the soldiers, or by someone else when the house was unoccupied. A summary of annexed claims puts the total losses of property and costs of removal and storage of furniture at Strahan and Co. at a total of £539.9.9.

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Claim for loss and destruction of clothes and jewellery at No. 25 Northumberland Road (Source PLIC_1_116)

A separate claim for damage to the house ’25 Northumberland Road, Dublin, Claim of M. Cussen for damage to House’ (PLIC_1_116) lists repairs of structure (lowest of three estimates) at £275.0.0, of electric wires and fixtures £15.16.10, and painting and papering at £86.15.6, which had to be combined with an architect’s fee of 20 guineas, a solicitors bill, cost then unknown, and a payment to Farmer Bros. for urgent repairs £4.4.0 (presumably for doors to secure the house?). The total estimated loss for the house was £402.16.4.

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‘Claim of M. Cussen for damage to House’ at No 25 Northumberland Road (Source PLIC_1_116)

On the 7th June 1916, Cussen’s solicitor Arthur O’Hagan sends a letter to the General Officer Commanding, Dublin Castle, making a claim for compensation  (PLIC_1_116).

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The letter sent by Arthur O’Hagan on 7th June 1916, to the General Officer Commanding, making a claim for compensation (Source: PLIC_1_116).

We also have a letter written on 19th June 1916, from Cussen’s solicitor to James J. Healy Esq., 51 St Stephen’s Green E, outlining the particulars of the claims for damages to their property at No. 25 Northumberland Road, amounting to £402.16.4 for the house, £411.11.3 for the contents and £127.18.6 for Mrs Cussen’s claim in respect of the ‘destruction or loss of her clothes, jewellery etc.’.

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The letter by Michael Cussen’s solicitor, of 19th June 1916 (Source: PLIC_1_116).

A solicitor’s letter affirming that Mrs Cussen’s loss of jewellery and clothing amounted to £127.18.6 was also submitted to the General Officer Commanding on 16th June 1916 (PLIC_1_2306 ).

Michael Cussen had insured the structure of the building with the North British & Mercantile Insurance Co., for the sum of 800. He had also insured his furniture in the Alliance Insurance Company (Civil Service Branch, [he being a retired C&E officer]) in the year 1900 for £300, but since that date he had purchased a large number of valuable articles and the value of his furniture was very far in excess of the amount for which he had insured. A later note on this by his solicitor’s states that Cussen’s insurance company had denied liability (PLIC_1_4351). Enclosing a copy of the letter sent to Sir Robert Chambers, Cussen’s solicitor also states that Mr Cussen ‘is most anxious to proceed with the reconstruction of the house at once as every-day’s delay is causing more damage and he is at considerable expense living elsewhere’ (PLIC_1_116).

Cussen’s handwritten letter sent from Clarinda Park, Kingstown (another prosperous square, in today’s Dun Laoghaire) to Robert Chambers gives us a strong sense of his sense of shock of the destruction of the property, and is worth reading in full (PLIC_1_116).

“12 Clarinda Park, East,

Kingstown,

13th June, 1916

Sir,

In the recent rebellion the rebels in my absence took forcible possession of my house at 25 Northumberland Rd, Dublin. It remained in their possession until, after a few days fighting it was taken from them by the military, who then entered it and remained in occupation for about 10 days. In the fighting that took place the house was practically wrecked, and when I entered it on 4th May, the earliest date on which it was practicable for me to do so, I found the doors, windows, floors, ceilings, roof, etc. broken, the walls badly injured, and almost all my furniture etc. wholly or partly destroyed. I also found that my wifes jewellery and other valuable articles had been taken away. The losses sustained by Mrs Cussen and myself are very considerable amounting in the aggregate as I now find to over £900, and we propose to submit claims for compensation for them to the Committee appointed by the Government to enquire into such losses. We have already made claims against the County and the City of Dublin, but the cases have not yet been dealt with.

I desire to commence repairing my house as soon as possible. I have engaged the services of an Architect who has obtained the necessary estimates, and I am ready to commence the work, but I am advised not to do so pending the inspection of the premises by an official appraiser or inspr. It is most desirable that the commencement of the work should not be deferred, as owing to (the injuries to the) roof and waterpipes, every day’s delay causes further damage Besides, myself and family are living in hired appartments at considerable expense.

Under the circumstances mentioned I should deem it a favour if you would be good enough to bring my case under the immediate notice of the Committee referred to and urge them to depute an appraiser or other officer to examine my house at Northumberland Rd. The key is kept at (No 30 Northumberland Road, Dublin).

I am a retired Collector of C. & E. and prior to my retirement about 5 years ago was stationed at Belfast. I retired under the regulations having completed 40 years service, and am in receipt of the maximum pension that (was) payable to me. I need scarcely say that I have had no connection with the rebels, and had no previous knowledge of their designs.

I should be greatly obliged if you would favour me with an early reply.

I am etc.

M.Cussen.”

Cussen filled out his formal claim to the PLIC on 30th June, 2016, on the Property Losses (Ireland) Committee, 1916 blue form, listing his claim at “House and fixtures as particulars already furnished to Committee at a total of £402:16 shillings and 4 pence, with an added claim for ‘Furniture and general effects as per particulars already furnished to committee” of £539:9:9, amounting to a total claim of £942, 6 shillings, 1 pence. These figures equate to those listed in detail above.

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Michael Cussen’s formal claim on 30th June 1916 to the Property Losses (Ireland) Committee.

On 1st July 1916, Michael Cussen wrote to the Secretary of the Property Losses Committee outlining the basis for his claims, and presumably submitted his full PLIC claim form at that time. Rather than edit it down, or paraphrase it, it is simpler and clearer to offer it in full here (PLIC_1_116).

“12 Clarinda Park, East,

Kingstown,

1st July, 1916

Sir,

I beg to send you herewith my claim for compensation made out on the proper printed form. I have ordered in it the amounts in brief, as suggested to me by Mr Walter Hume, the full particulars being supplied in my original claim. I have handed the two policies of Fire Insurance to Mr Hume’s representative at his office, and I enclose the last receipt from the North British & Mercantile Company. I have not been able to find the Alliance receipt but I have applied for a certified copy, and shall forward it in due course.

I should like to submit the following observations, under the respective headings for the consideration of the committee:-

(1) Insurance on furniture etc.

The amount of this policy is only £300. This amount was sufficient at the time the insurance was effected, but since then I have purchased large quantities of furniture. tc but neglected to insure for a larger amount. There can, however, be no doubt as to the extent of my losses, and the claim should be allowed in full.

(2) Removal of furniture etc

Owing to the state of my house and to prevent further looting, it was necessary to remove my furniture and affects to a secure place and accordingly I had them removed to Messrs Strahan and Co stores, where they remain. Had this not been done, my losses would have been far greater, and the amount of my claim would be much more than it is.

(3) Architect’s Fee.

It was necessary for me to employ an architect. I could not myself prepare specifications nor see that the proper materials were used and the work properly performed. The fee demanded appears to be reasonable.

(4) Law expenses

I have made a claim against the local authorities, but it has not been dealt with by the Recorder(?). A solicitor and counsel have been emplpoyed and expenses necessarily incurred. I do not yet know the amount of the latter, but as soon as I receive the bill of costs, I shall forward it to you the Committee.

(5) Rent of apartments.

I have been paying rent for apartments at my present address since the 25th April last and this expense will be continued until my house is ready for occupation. I have made no claim in respect of rent, but if the government should modify its attitude as regards consequential damage, I shall submit a claim for it.

I have arranged to hand over to Mr Hume on Tuesday next the tenders received for repairing the house, &c together with the stamped deed of agreement between me and Messers Bolger & Doyle builders. In this agreement the dates of payment are specified. I expect the whole work will be finished by the end of September, and it is desirable that whatever amount of money I may be considered entitled to receive should be paid to me before then.

I am, Sir,

Your obedient servant,

M. Cussen

The last letter from Michael Cussen is written on 31st July 2016 (PLIC_1_4351). This is a follow up letter, explaining that he had previously mentioned his ‘law expenses’ but had not included them, as they were unknown to him at that time. He goes on

In my claim for compensation for damages in connection with my house at above address, I referred to the law expenses incurred by me, but did not state the amount under this head as it was not known to me when making out the claim. I am now in receipt of my solicitors’ bill of costs, which I enclose herewith, and I request that you will submit it to the Property Losses (Ireland) Committee and ask them to be good enough to forward it to H.M. Treasury to be considered with my claim and as forming part of it.

Before the Government had declared its intention of making a grant to cover losses caused by the revolt I had commenced an action against the local authorities to recover my losses but at the instance of the Irish Attorney General, as I understand, my case and all similar cases have been struck out by the recorder of Dublin, who would have dealt with them in the ordinary course, and there is now a Bill before Parliament (Civil Courts Procedure) which provides that no claim of the kind referred to above shall lie against the local authority for losses sustained during the rebellion.

Under these circumstances, I respectfully submit that the law costs incurred by me in this case should be allowed.

I am,

Sir,

Your obedient Servant,

M. Cussen

A small note to the bottom left of the first page notes ‘Telephone Messers Hume who dealt with Cussen’s claim. They would not admit any claim for law costs’. Initialed  9/8/2016, it would appear Cussen was unsuccessful in that particular aspect.

The Solicitor’s Costs (PLIC_1_4351) themselves make very interesting reading. The list of payments and costs lists visits to 25 Northumberland Road itself, to the engagement of counsel, to attendance at a Magistrate and Police Courts, and to the writing of various letters, including the engagement of an architect, Mr Sheridan. It is obvious that solicitors and civil servants were kept busy in the weeks and months after the 1916 Easter Rebellion.

Finally, a fateful and poignant note is also to be found in the solicitor’s list of fees, stating that “during the period of disturbances and riots the body of a man was buried in the garden near the conservatory” and requesting of the Head Constable Police Barracks Irishtown to take “the neccessary steps to have the body removed”. Similar letters were sent to the General Officer Commanding, and to Mr Joshua C. Manly, Executive Sanitary Officer Pembroke Urban District; the body was removed before 13th May 2016, according to a later note in the solicitors’ fees.

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Michael Cussen’s solicitors costs of payments and fees, mentioning a letter sent to Head Constable Police Barracks Irishtown requesting that a body buried in the garden be “removed” (Source: PLIC_1_4351).

This was the body of Volunteer, Lieutenant Michael Malone, who was killed inside the house and had presumably been hastily buried in the back garden by British soldiers. As James Grace’s Witness Statement informs us (BMH WS 3010), his body was later removed to Glasnevin cemetery where upon it being re-opened for identification, James Grace had a

‘last glimpse of my leader and comrade in his blood-stained olive green uniform. Micheál and Seán Cullen of Boland’s Garrison and myself fired three volleys over his grave in salute of one of Ireland’s most faithful sons – a loyal comrade, a gallant leader, a brave and fearless soldier. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam’.

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The monument to Lieut. Michael Malone C Company, 3rd Battalion, “killed in action”..”in this house” on the modern facade of No. 25 Northumberland Road. (Photo: Aidan O’Sullivan).

25 Northumberland Road today

So, what is Northumberland Road like today, or more specifically, can we see traces on the street of the events of 1916?

Lieutenant Michael Malone is prominently commemorated in a plaque on the front wall, looking out into the street. The building itself was also photographed after 1916 (see image at the top of this post), and although taken from a distance, it appears to show broken windows, particularly the two side windows of the hall looking out over Haddington Road, where there is also a suggestion of damage to the bricks. The small window at the back, on the third floor level, would seem to be the bathroom window where Malone was stationed and again the window glass is smashed.  The front of the house is in shadow in the photograph, where James Grace was shooting from, so nothing at all can be made out there. Otherwise, the quality of the photograph is too poor to make much more else out.

We don’t know, as yet, how much repair was done externally to 25 Northumberland Road. On balance, given the scale and meticulousness of the financial claims submitted, and the engagement of an architect Mr Sheridan, we would have to conclude that Michael Cussen would have hardly left badly damaged brick in place, or the walls unplastered or repaired where it was possible to repair it. The bricks could have been chased out and the side wall of the house replastered.

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A view of the south side of No. 25 Northumberland Road today. The very small windows are more recent insertions. We assume—we could be wrong—that the bathroom that Lieut Malone was shooting from was either located at the window over the porch, or at the windows off to the extreme left (Photo: Aidan O’Sullivan).

Having said that, there are both possible traces and probable traces of bullet strikes at the corner of the building.

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General view of holes and infilled repair on plaster of side wall, which may of course long-postdate the 1916 Rising, and importantly a possible bullet strike high up, on the granite quoin, five blocks from the roof, at the upper right corner of this photograph (Aidan O’Sullivan).

Firstly, there are some various general marks and imperfections on the plaster over the main side window on the gable end (see below). In the contemporary photograph, there is ivy in this location, and hints of damage there. The marks visible today may not be significant, they could be very recent repair, or they could be repair over bullet marks if the original wall was not wholly plastered or the underlying wall was weakened here.

However there are also some probable bullet strikes on the granite quoins. It is impossible to prove that these are the result of the 1916 fighting, but these marks are certainly very like other definite bullet strikes that can be seen elsewhere in granite around Dublin City centre; most notably at the Fusiliers’ Arch on the corner of St. Stephen’s Green; on the granite façade and window surrounds of the Royal College of Surgeons, overlooking St Stephen’s Green; and furthermore on the granite facades of the Four Courts building on the River Liffey, where there is definite battle damage from 1916 and the fighting at the start of 1922 Civil War.

On balance then, the 25 Northumberland Road marks compare very closely with bullet marks on those granite facades. We can take it as a probability that these marks be are bullet strikes from the 1916 fighting. It is unlikely in any case that an entire granite quoin would be replaced, whereas brick might easily be.

The bullet strikes at 25 Northumberland Road are most clearly visible at three locations at the corner of the building. Firstly, there is a bullet strike high up on the southern Haddington Street, side wall, fifth stone from the top, and secondly, there is probable bullet mark on the very same stone, but on the Northumberland Road street frontage side).

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Probable bullet strike on granite quoin, fifth from roof, on both this and the Northumberland Road side (Photo: Aidan O’Sullivan).

Thirdly, there is a dramatic bullet strike in the granite quoin on the corner of the front wall just above the level of the porch or hall roof (see below). This latter would appear to be a direct strike from a building directly across the street, possibly shot from a similar height.

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Probable bullet strike in the granite quoin at the corner of No. 25 Northumberland Road (Photo: Aidan O’Sullivan)

There are also possible bullet marks around some of the bricks on the Haddington Street side wall, but this remains unconfirmed.

These bullet marks are few enough, probably testifying to Michael Cussen’s repair of his property. They are hardly as dramatic as others we have seen elsewhere around Dublin City, but although faint, they may be echoes of the fierce and bloody battle for No. 25 Northumberland Road that took place a century ago.

But of course, while Northumberland Road had been taken, with grievous casualties amongst the British Sherwood Foresters, the Battle of Mount Street was not yet over…

The Foresters’ Hall, Parnell Square West

The Archaeology of 1916 project aims to record what’s left in the contemporary urban landscape of the buildings and sites associated with the 1916 Rising. The task becomes all the more pressing 100 years on as we begin to realise how little is left of Dublin’s early twentieth-century streetscapes and vistas. One site that survived until relatively recently was the Foresters’ Hall, located at the back of 41 Parnell Square (then known as Rutland Square), a structure which itself was only built in 1912. Its history articulates something of the linkages between constitutional nationalism and the more militant tendencies in the run up to the Rebellion and indeed in the years immediately after.

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41 Rutland Square as depicted by the Ordnance Survey in 1907 prior to the hall’s construction.

Figure 4

The Forester’s [sic] Hall, Ordnance Survey, 1943.

The Irish National Foresters Benefit Society (Coillteoirí Náisiúnta na hÉireann) began in 1877 as a breakaway section of the Ancient Order of Foresters on foot of certain political disagreements. The movement ostensibly had its roots in late medieval English secret societies which would meet in forests to avoid the attentions of the magistrates. The leadership was afforded titles associated with forestry where the ‘Chief Ranger’ and ‘Assistant Chief Ranger’ held national executive positions, and local branches were run by ‘Woodwards’ and ‘Beadles’.

The organisation was supposedly non-sectarian and non-political, and there was no class distinction within the membership. It can nonetheless be considered an equivalent of the Orange Order, where at its root it was a mutual aid society, established to assist members in financial distress and dependants of deceased members. The membership would partake in public displays at such events as St. Patrick’s Day or on Easter marches, dressed in green regalia with local banners and bands. In later years, the uniform was dispensed with and green sashes, similar to those worn by the Orange Order, were worn instead.

The INF grew rapidly and soon became the largest friendly society in Ireland. It supported Irish nationalism and its constitution called for ‘government for Ireland by the Irish people in accordance with Irish ideas and Irish aspirations’ (Irish Independent, 25 May 1942, 3). By 1914 the order had spread worldwide and had a quarter of a million members in over 1,000 branches. It was particularly strong in Scotland and among the labouring diaspora in Australia and the US. With the establishment of the Free State and the gradual expansion of the social welfare system, the organisation went into decline although some branches still exist in Ulster and north Leinster.

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Foresters returning from the funeral of those shot dead by British troops at Bachelors’ Walk, July 1914  (Hulton Getty Picture Collection).

 

The political circumstances of the popular rejection of Home Rule in Ulster led to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers as an openly armed organisation. This was seen as a useful model by the secret Irish Republican Brotherhood for the establishment of a similar popular body, and a committee began to meet regularly from July 1913 to monitor the situation in Ulster and to encourage the organic formation of a militant separatist force from within a more constitutional milieu. The IRB themselves could not openly take the initiative, where it was likely that any militant organisation would face immediate suppression by the state.

The IRB began the preparations for the open organisation of the Irish Volunteers in January 1913. James Stritch, a prominent member of the Brotherhood, appears to have persuaded the Foresters to build a hall at the back of 41 Parnell Square, which was also the headquarters of the Wolfe Tone Clubs. Anticipating the formal establishment of the Volunteers, classes were held in foot-drill and military movements. These were conducted by Stritch himself together with members of the republican scouting organisation Na Fianna Éireann. They began by drilling a small number of IRB members associated with the Dublin Gaelic Athletic Association, led by Harry Boland. The Volunteer organisation was publicly launched on 25 November, with their first public meeting and enrolment rally at the nearby Rotunda. This brought many more volunteers into the ranks and the Foresters’ Hall became one of the many such halls throughout the city where the organisation trained.

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Volunteers undertaking musketry drill, though possibly not in the Foresters’ Hall (AP/RN).

The hall was designed by a notable architect William Alphonsus Scott (1871-1921), who apart from holding the new Chair in Architecture in the National University (succeeding Sir Thomas Drew who had died only two months after his own appointment), had also designed the Town Hall in Enniskillen (1897) and indeed had exhibited a design for the town’s Foresters’ Hall at the RHA in 1906. He was responsible for several ecclesiastical buildings in the dioceses of Kilmore, Raphoe and Clogher and despite a fondness for alcohol in his later years, he was possibly one of the best known architects in the country, with over 120 designs undertaken throughout the island (Larmour 2001).

Tenders for the new hall were invited in March and April 1911, to measure 97 x 30 ft., with a stage, store rooms, lavatories and a small assembly room (Irish Builder 52, 19 March 1910, 181 and 53, 1 April 1911, 210). The successful contractor was John Dillon of Drumcondra, who undertook to build the structure for £1,500 (Freeman’s Journal, 21 March 1911). It would appear to have opened its doors the following year where the nascent Volunteers were drilling there in January 1913.

The construction of the hall after 1912 fulfilled one of the organisation’s objectives to provide venues for Catholic social functions under the general banner of ‘Unity, Nationality and Benevolence’. In this regard, hiring the hall to the Irish Volunteers would have provided an income as much as they supported the organisation’s general principles. Where these were not as ostensibly subversive as those of the more advanced nationalist organisations, it is likely that many activists belonged to both groups.

The Witness Statements in the Bureau of Military History attest to the importance of 41 Rutland Square (prior to the construction of the hall), as the meeting place of the IRB Leinster Council. Recently released files from the National Archives demonstrate that the Dublin Metropolitan Police was well aware of the activities taking place in the hall in the months leading up to the Rising. The hall was placed under surveillance along with a number of key locations, including Thomas Clarke’s shop at 75 Parnell Street, the Irish Volunteers Office at 2 Dawson Street and the headquarters of the Gaelic League at 25 Parnell Square.

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Handbill for a benefit concert in the Foresters’ Hall.

The hall seems to have been initially used by Na Fianna Éireann, where the father of a prominent activist Padraig Ó Riain was the caretaker (O’Connell 2012). For many Dublin Volunteers, an inkling of what was about to take place was given at a concert organised by Cumann na mBan on Palm Sunday 1916 (BMH WS0081, Bulmer Hobson) where several secondary accounts of the Rising mistakenly have the hall as the mustering point for Ned Daly’s 1st Battalion on Easter Monday.

The hall continued to have republican associations after the Rising and was used for a period during the War of Independence as a Sinn Féin court, established to supplant the administration of imperial justice imposed by the British:

In the calling of justices, plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses etc. we ran a very great risk of being captured. This was especially so in the case of defendants who were often hostile. However, we did succeed in carrying on and often when calling a sitting of the Court for 41 Parnell Square we transferred same to a few doors down at 46. All classes of offenders were brought before the Courts and dairymen who had put too much water in their milk before delivery to the people were fined substantial sums. The most notable and numerous cases were those in connection with “Process for Civil Bill”. Criminals were often apprehended and taught a salutary lesson. In many cases they were deported. During this period I maintained my membership of ‘A’ Coy 1st Battalion I.R.A., and naturally most of those actively engaged in Court work were members also. (BMH WS0619, Sean M. O’Duffy).

The hall was also the venue for several IRB Council meetings prior to the Civil War, where attempts were made to reach a political accommodation with those who would later take the republican side in the conflict.

The Foresters’ Hall’s associations with militant Republicanism perhaps overshadow its significance as a theatre venue and indeed as a meeting place for the Gaelic League. The first of March 1914 for example saw a production of Seumas O’Kelly’s Matchmakers by the Croke Club, which also undertook a production of Seamus O’Beirne’s An Doctuir (O’Ceallaigh Ritschel 2001, 92-3).

Long after the INF ceased to be a force to be reckoned with, the hall was a venue for ceilidhe and dances. The remains of a secondary suspended ceiling in front of the stage area attest to a modernisation of the venue, possibly undertaken in the 1950s. It’s interesting to contextualise its construction within the trajectory of public usage of the square’s former grand residences in the twentieth century. On Parnell Square (its official name after 1933) the Ierne and National Ballrooms vied with each other seven nights a week well into the 1970s. To these can be added the smaller halls such as the one under discussion, the Irish Club and indeed the Teachers’ Club (which still survives several doors up from No. 41).

The hall appears to have been derelict for at least fifteen years and was surveyed by the project prior to the removal of its exposed roof trusses which were endangering the party wall to a crèche in the adjoining property. It remains roofless, within the curtilage of a Protected Structure in private ownership.

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The Foresters’ Hall from 41 Parnell Square.

Plate 1

Interior of the Foresters’ Hall prior to the removal of its roof structure.

Plate 11a

Detail of roof structure.

Plate 9

The stage.

 

Larmour, P. 2001. ‘‘The Drunken Man of Genius’: William A. Scott (1871-1921)’. In Irish Architectural Review, 3, 28-41.

O’Ceallaigh Ritschel, N. 2001. Productions of the Irish Theatre Movement, 1899-1916: A Checklist. Dublin.

 

In search of the Linen Hall Barracks

Archaeologists do love boundaries. From the circular crop mark of an enclosure, perceptible only from the air, to rivers and watercourses still extant, to parish boundaries fossilised in twentieth-century housing estates, boundaries are where things tended to happen and in many cases they are all that’s left of an archaeological monument in the contemporary landscape. This is true of the Linen Hall Barracks, the scene of the greatest destruction of the city’s built fabric wrought by the Volunteers, where the boundary survives in its northern wall with perhaps more significant fabric survival of the adjacent Yarn Hall evident the Dublin Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture off Henrietta Place.

As the name suggests, the three-acre site had a long history prior to its partial acquisition by the British army in the 1870s. The Irish linen industry had developed slowly throughout the seventeenth century, assisted to some extent by the tariffs imposed on the woollen trade and conversely by government attempts to foster the industry by importing high quality flax and foreign experts. The most significant of these was possibly Louis Crommelin, a Dutch merchant banker of Huguenot extraction who was invited to Ireland by William III and quickly established ‘A Society for the Improvement of the Linen Trade’ in 1698. In 1711 ‘A Board of Trustees of the Linen and Hempen Manufacturers of Ireland’ (or simply the Linen Board) was founded from the Society’s membership to encourage and extend the linen trade beyond the Ulster heartland. It consisted of eighty members (twenty for each of the four provinces) and it met on a weekly basis, generally in Dublin.

The Linen Board was responsible for encouraging and supervising the industry and was entrusted with the disposal of parliamentary grants, which varied from £10,000 to £33,000 a year. As the industry developed there was a perception that a centralised market was necessary. A Linen Hall was proposed in 1722 and several sites were considered in the city before an undeveloped site was chosen at the start of the ‘Great Northern Road’. The complex was designed by Thomas Burgh (with later additions by Thomas Cooley) and it opened for trade on 14 November 1728, just in time for an inaccurate impression of its façade to be included as an illustration on Charles Brooking’s map of the city.

The Linnen Hall Brooking

The Linnen Hall (Charles Brooking 1728).

John Rocque’s 1756 depiction of the city shows the building within a network of new streets named after the principal linen centres of the country. Its façade looked down Linen Hall Street and there was sufficient space to expand the complex to the northeast to accommodate a Yarn Hall and a Cotton Hall by 1784. The Linen Hall contained a large trading floor with 550 compartments or bays for the storage of linen. There was also a large boardroom for the use of the trustees and what was described as ‘a large and elegant coffee-room for the accommodation of factors and traders who daily crowd its courts’ (Warburton, Whitelaw and Walsh, 1818, History of the City of Dublin, 967).

Rocque 1756

Linen Hall (John Rocque, 1756).

With the opening of the Belfast Linen Hall in 1783, the Dublin industry went into terminal decline and the Linen Board was abolished in 1828, where the market function of the complex appears to have continued. During the 1870s the Linen Hall was used as a temporary barracks by the British Army and it was taken over by the Board of Works in 1878. On the 1907 25 inch mapping the site is annotated as the Linen Hall Bks (Disused) however in April 1916 it was at least partially occupied by the Army Pay Corps.

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Ordnance Survey, Sheet 13, 5ft. to 1 mile (1847).

The Yarn and Cotton Halls appear to have been alienated from the main complex and at some stage prior to 1880 at least part of the complex was occupied by the well-known firm of Hugh, Moore and Alexanders Ltd. who had branched off from the linen trade to focus on the manufacture, sale and distribution of veterinary and pharmaceutical products. The ‘Hall’ from where the company operated featured in their advertisements for products such as Hall Health Salt (‘Cleanses the system and keeps the blood cool and pure’) and Hall Boot Polish (‘Creates a quicker, better and more lasting shine than any other’). On the evidence of contemporary newspaper advertising, Dubliners would have been familiar with ‘Dr. Kirn’s Phospho-Lactine’, which was particularly suitable for ‘children, fastidious persons, delicate women, and nervous men’. Developed by Dr. Leon Kirn of Paris, phospho-lactine was a ‘wonderful powder’ made from cod liver oil and albuminous sulphate of lime.

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Ordnance Survey, 25 inch to 1 mile (1907).

Several of the witness statements recount setting the barracks on fire on the Wednesday of Easter Week. The operation commenced at midnight under the command of Captain Dinny O’Callaghan when an attempt was made with picks and crowbars to bore a hole in the western wall on Coleraine Street, close to the Lisburn Street corner,. Dynamite was stuffed in the hole but failed to detonate (Sean O’Duffy BMH WS303). Another attempt was made to set fire to an adjacent shop however according to one witness (Gearoid Ua h-Uallachain BMH WS328) the main gate was ‘hammered’ until it was opened by some of the soldiers inside. The unarmed garrison of 30 or so surrendered and were escorted to the Fr. Matthew Hall, where one account has them filling sandbags.

Oil and drums of tar were taken from Moore’s coachworks (Sean Cody BMH WS1035) where Ua h-Uallachain refers to ‘oils and paints we had brought from a druggist’s shop in North King Street’. They were ‘spilled the in a large room on the first floor, and then [we] piled up the bed-boards. We then lighted the fire. The fire spread with amazing rapidity and Dinny suggested it might be better if we opened the windows. I crossed the room to open the windows and I will never forget the heat. It took me all my time to get back, and the soles were burned off my boots in a few minutes. The fire continued throughout the day and Wednesday night, and we had to use hoses on it to keep it from burning the dwelling-houses in the vicinity’ (BMH WS328). This relates to the houses on the eastern side of Lurgan Street and indeed the fire spread to the east into the premises of Hugh, Moore and Alexanders, where there was also an oil store which ignited. The fire had the effect of illuminating the area to an extent that made it difficult for the Volunteers to move around at night without attracting sniper fire from the surrounding British positions.

The files of the Property Losses (Ireland) Committee suggest that the destruction of the barracks inconvenienced more organisations than the British Army. James Dillon, honorary secretary of the Irish National Foresters Brass and Reed Band claimed £9 11s 6d for the destruction of a clarinet, case and clothing, for which he was given £7 18s (NAI PLIC/1/6365). Another clarinettist, an Edward Fulker, then resident at Islandbridge Barracks but who was probably one of those captured by the Volunteers, claimed £7 for the destruction of another clarinet, music and clothing, a claim which was declined by the Committee (NAI PLIC/1/6236). The St. Patrick’s Ambulance Association in the personage of its secretary, Percy J Chillingworth claimed £14 4s for the loss of stretchers, first aid equipment and property, where £13 was recommended by Committee (NAI PLIC/1/4287). Other more commercial enterprises were also using the old Linen Hall. Victor Reginald Harold Jameson, acting on behalf of Kodak, claimed ‘£6 9s 9d for destruction by fire caused by insurgents of Kodak films, paintings and property at Linenhall Barracks’ and the Committee recommended a €5 payment (NAI PLIC/1/6114). A more complicated claim made by Richard Dickeson and Company Limited, the wholesale grocers, specified inter alia ‘destruction of buildings by fire’ at the barracks (NAI PLIC/1/4592).

The destruction wrought on the barracks is evident from the photographs taken immediately afterwards and serves to illustrate the effects of fire − as opposed to artillery − on the city’s built heritage during the conflict. Four of the photographs were taken by the antiquarian Thomas J. Westropp from Lisburn Street and the Lurgan Street entrance where another was taken from the yard to the east of the main barracks complex, looking to the northwest across the range of buildings designed by Cooley in 1784. These were occupied by Hugh, Moore and Alexanders in 1916 where the 1907 mapping appears to indicate a certain amount of pre-existing dereliction, with Cooley’s courtyard now covered over. The practice of Millar and Symes had been commissioned by the company to design repairs and alterations for what was referred to as the Linen Hall in 1904, which were possibly being undertaken by J. and P. Good as the map was being surveyed (Irish Architectural Archive, Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720-1940).

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T.J. Westropp, view of the barracks from Lisburn Street, 1916.

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T.J. Westropp, view of the barracks from Lurgan Street, 1916.

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T.J. Westropp, view of the barracks from the corner of Lurgan Street and Lisburn Street (left), 1916.

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T.J. Westropp, view of facade from Lisburn Street, 1916.

The afterlife of the Linen Hall Barracks throws some light on the early, post-independence attempts of Dublin Corporation to eradicate slum housing conditions in the city. Where other former army barracks (such as the Richmond Barracks in Inchicore, the Marshalsea Barracks off Thomas Street and Beggarsbush) were acquired for conversion into social housing, the remains of the Linen Hall were demolished and in September 1925 the 2¼ acre site was leased to the Corporation for 99 years for the erection of 70 temporary dwellings ‘for the poorer class of workers’ (Dublin Corporation Reports and Printed Documents (Housing Committee), 224/1925). It is not clear if the temporary dwellings were ever erected as the Linenhall Public Utility Society (PUS) applied for permission in 1926 to erect 63 four- and five-roomed houses on the site, having acquired it from the Corporation for an annual rent of £126 (R. McManus, 2002. Dublin 1910-1940. Shaping the City and the Suburbs, Dublin, 246).

Linenhall PUS plaque

The Linenhall Public Utility Society Ltd. 1926, date plaque, Linenhall Parade.

The PUS was founded in 1925 with the assistance of the Rev. David Henry Hall, a protestant cleric who had championed the formation of similar societies across the city. The 1925 Housing Act was instrumental in encouraging such schemes which were partially financed by private capital and partially by state assistance given at the same rate as grants to local authorities. In the case of the Linenhall PUS, two of the major local employers, Jameson & Sons and Maguire and Patterson, provided considerable support where a number of their employees would obviously benefit from proper housing. The Church Representative Body also invested £6000 in loan stock (McManus, 246). Collen Brothers were awarded the building contract at a cost of £30,500.

What survives today of the original complex? The northern boundary of Burgh’s Linen Hall survives in the plot boundary to the rear of Linenhall Terrace against the Dublin City Council Housing Services yard to the rear of Coleraine House. The wall is of calp limestone with frequent blocked openings with brick reveals which accommodated windows and a doorway. The wall returns to the north behind the houses on Linenhall Parade, before returning east again at the boundary to the King’s Inns.

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Portion of the surviving northern wall of the Linen Hall on Coleraine Street.

The most significant survival in the area is perhaps the remains of Thomas Cooley’s Yarn Hall, which, although not part of the barracks in 1916 was gutted by the fire started by the Volunteers. The claim made by Hugh, Moore and Alexanders Ltd. was for £32,752 19s 4d, to cover the destruction of premises and property by fire at Linenhall, Henrietta Place and Bolton Street. A payment of £20,500 was recommended by Committee (NAI PLIC/1/3763).

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‘Linenhall Barracks, Dublin, shelled’ (Keogh Photographic Collection, NLI).

Where the building appears to have been substantially gutted, the walls survived at ground floor level at least and the rusticated arcading survives to this day ubder a heavy render on the DIT School of Architecture. The arcade on the southern elevation makes a partial appearance on a photograph in the collection of the NLI, where the roofless remains of the eastern portion of the Linen Hall are evident in the background. The arcades have been filled in to create arched window opes which survive along the entire frontage on the elevation shown below and indeed in the northern elevation, where they are now within the extended building.

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The Yarn Hall today, compared with NLI image above (Photo: Alva MacGowan).

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Wider view of arcaded breakfront (Photo: Franc Myles).

Postscript

Another look at the  Keogh Photographic Collection in the NLI has uncovered two more photographs of the Yarn Hall after the fire. The first shows a group of men standing on a pile of smoking rubble with what appears to be the cast iron skeleton of the roof structure placed over the courtyard and depicted on the 1907 mapping.

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Untitled (Keogh Photographic Collection, NLI).

The second identifies the location as being ‘Hugh Moore’s premises’ and shows the same group of men, possibly in front of the arcaded northern elevation, now within the DIT School of Architecture. Captions such as this only encouraged the popular perception that the shelling of the city was more extensive than it actually was. The photographs do however demonstrate something of the destructive nature of fire. The project will be looking in some detail  at the insurance claims arising from the Linen Hall fire, which extended as far as the Bolton Street frontage where Nos 57-59 were completely rebuilt after the Rebellion.

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‘Men standing outside the shelled remains of Hugh Moore’s premises’ (Keogh Photographic Collection, NLI).

Where was Clarke’s Dairy?

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Clarke’s Dairy, looking east down North Brunswick Street, with New Lisburn Street extending beyond (Bureau of Military History).

Of all the battlefield sites of the rebellion, North King Street is perhaps the most difficult to interpret in the contemporary landscape. Air Corps photographs taken in 1950 depict an area completely alien to modern eyes, one which still retains many of the buildings evident on the Ordnance Survey 25 inch mapping undertaken in 1907. According to the Bureau of Military History (BMH) website, the photographs were annotated by Commandant R. Feely who fought in the area in 1916 and when taken along with the other images obtained by the Air Corps they provide a fascinating glimpse of a city which has virtually vanished in the intervening years.

Our task as archaeologists is to treat this area as an archaeological site and to collect the evidence as we would were we excavating trenches in the ground. This may appear an unusual endeavour; however the theory of using archaeological techniques in contemporary landscapes is one which has gained currency elsewhere and where traditional archaeological approaches usually involve the destruction of the evidence through excavation, our approach is to interpret what’s in front of us, to identify what survives today and hopefully to redefine ideas of what actually happened over the period of the Rising.

In addition to the photographs, the BMH has over 20 witness statements from participants and observers of the fighting in the area, which provide details of the location of barricades and premises occupied by the Volunteers from the Monday through to the eventual surrender of the final outpost the following Sunday. The witness statements were collected between 1947 and 1957, some thirty to forty years after the events took place, and a certain degree of imprecision is to be expected. Where historians treat these texts as (often contradictory) primary sources, the team initially interrogated the documents for references to the buildings occupied and attempted to annotate them on the 1907 mapping before examining the evidence in the field.

It’s striking that anyone under the age of 60 will have no memory of the general area around Church Street and North King Street as it would have appeared in 1916 and in this respect, this brings the area closer to a traditional archaeological site. Of all the sites to be covered in the project, this landscape is perhaps the most denuded in terms of its built heritage and historic vistas, where the widening of the principal road junction makes it very difficult to appreciate the intimacy of the fighting over the final hours as Reilly’s Fort was being attacked from the east.

Reading through the witness statements certain buildings achieve a deserved prominence and in the case of one building in particular, something of the difficulty in reimagining the landscape with the historical sources can be appreciated. Clarke’s Dairy is annotated on all the maps of the fighting as being located on the southwestern corner of Church Street and North Brunswick Street. More recently published accounts of the Rising persist in locating the dairy to the west of Church Street and the secondary accounts of what took place here are obviously influenced by this perception of its location.

The witness statements are admittedly ambiguous as to the exact location of the dairy, where its strategic significance is accepted in all primary accounts. The witness statement of Captain Nicholas Laffan (BMH WS201) for example states that he established his HQ in Moore’s (coachbuilders) Factory, which occupied the northwestern corner of the junction, and that he also occupied Clarke’s Dairy ‘diagonally opposite’. Eamon Morkan’s witness statement (BMH WS411) agrees with Laffan and states that ‘we manned a house, Clarke’s, at the junction of Church Street and New Lisburn Street’.

The positions on North Brunswick Street have an added significance in the narrative of the Rising, being the last to surrender on the Sunday morning. The British, having taken Reilly’s Fort the previous day, had effectively cut off communications with the new HQ established in the Four Courts and the surrender of Clarke’s Dairy was negotiated by Paddy Holahan, who had taken over the position after Laffan was wounded.

An examination of the 1915 edition of Thom’s Directory does not list Clarke’s Dairy and indicates that the southeastern corner of New Lisburn Street and Church Street was occupied by Monk’s Bakery, where several of the witness statements state that Monk’s was on the northeastern corner of Church Street and North King Street. The files of the Property Losses (Ireland) Committee were also examined and they indicate that Thomas Clarke of 80 Church Street Upper claimed for £53 for damage to stock and furniture, where he was eventually granted £20 (NAI PLIC/1/3575).

Clarke's Dairy OS copy

Ordnance Survey 25 inch mapping c. 1907. Clarke’s Dairy at 80 Church Street Upper outlined.

The four Air Corps photographs taken of the building known as Clarke’s Dairy in 1950 undoubtedly depict the structure identified by Laffan and Morkan. The building has long been demolished and its foundations, which presumably survive underneath the carriageway on Church Street, have now become an archaeological site in their own right. When the photographs are examined with the 1907 mapping, the strategic importance of the building becomes obvious. The three windows in its north-facing elevation provided an excellent field of fire against any British advance being made down Constitution Hill from their position at Broadstone, where the angle of fire from the windows in the west-facing façade dominated any attempted advance from the west along North Brunswick Street. The witness statements also specify that ‘loopholes’ were broken through on the north- and south-facing elevations, which explains how fire could be directed on Reilly’s Fort after its capture by the British.

Moore's Coach House then and now

North Brunswick Street c. 1950 (left) with Clarke’s Dairy to centre and the scene today (Alva Mac Gowan).

Clarke's Dairy then and now

North-facing elevation of Clarke’s Dairy c. 1950 (left) and the same vista today (Alva Mac Gowan).

How is it possible that a site of such significance continues to be incorrectly mapped? The landscape of the Rising was certainly extant when the witness statements were being collected in the 1950s. As late as 1964 local TD Richard Gogan asked a parliamentary question regarding the clearance ‘of that part of the scheme consisting of Lisburn Street, Coleraine Street and Upper Church Street, which consists mainly of derelict houses’ (Dáil Éireann Debates, Vol. 181 No. 1). The road widening eventually came to pass by the end of the ‘60s, resulting in the construction of Kevin Barry House and urban landscape we see today.

Moore's

Moore Brothers coach factory (right) on the corner of Church Street and North Brunswick Street with the gable of Clarke’s Dairy (left). Photograph looking west from New Lisburn Street (An tÓglách, May 15, 1926).

The first account of the fighting in the North King Street area was published as three instalments in the journal of the National Army, An tÓglágh in May 1926. It was written by John J. Reynolds, Curator of the Municipal Art Gallery ‘from statements made to the writer shortly after 1916, by actual participants in the fighting’. Reynolds refers to the occupation of ‘Moore’s Coach Factory, a long low building at the comer of North Brunswick Street’ and states that ‘at Monks’ Bakery the high three storey house, Clarke’s Dairy, opposite the coach factory was taken’. Where Laffan thirty years later specified that the buildings were diagonally opposite one another, the map published in the third instalment of Reynolds’ account places Clarke’s Dairy directly opposite Moore’s on the southern side of North Brunswick Street. All of the maps of the battlefield published since have perpetuated this mistake where the accompanying narratives have followed suit.

Our investigations of this landscape continue. Over the next few posts we’ll be looking at what remains of the Linenhall Barracks, what the files of the Property Losses (Ireland) Committee can tell us about the location of Volunteer positions and the conflicting evidence for the conflict around the Four Courts.

1st Battalion area of operations, Easter 1916

‘Map of Four Courts and North King Street Area’, An tÓglách, May 29, 1926. Note 20, the location of Clarke’s Dairy.