A short distance south of Trinity College, Fusiliers’ Arch, the memorial to the men of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who died fighting for the British in South Africa at the turn of the 20th Century, marks the northern entrance to St. Stephen’s Green.
The arch was erected in 1907, and despite being labelled ‘Traitor’s Gate’ by some Irish nationalists, it is one of the few monuments from the time of British rule in Ireland not subsequently demolished.
The names of the fallen are inscribed beneath the memorial arch, and if you’d like a more detailed look, click here.
In the meantime, this is the memorial from inside the park. Note the height of the surrounding buildings, some unchanged since the Rising, which will play an important part in the story of what happened here in April 1916.
St. Stephen’s Green is now marked on the map I introduced last post in turquoise, and the strategic importance of Trinity College (marked in yellow), between the two rebel strongholds, can now be clearly seen, and hardly overestimated.
The United Service Club, across the road from Fusiliers’ Arch, provided the British with an excellent field of fire across the western side of the green towards the Royal College of Surgeons (out of shot away to the right in the black & white photo above).
A British machine gun, which began firing down on the rebels in the early hours of Tuesday morning from the third floor, would cause serious problems not only for the rebels in the park and later in the Royal College of Surgeons, but for the north eastern side of Fusiliers’ Arch, as you can see above.
Just inside the park entrance, this stone memorial remembers Irish Fenian leader and prominent member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, who was instrumental to the Rising, although he would never know it…
…as it was at Rossa’s funeral in Galsnevin Cemetery in 1915, after his remains had been returned from New York, where Pádraig Pearse was to make his famous speech (below)…
…which would end, “…but the fools, the fools, the fools! They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.”
Click here to take a look at the Republican Plot in Glasnevin Cemetery.
St. Stephen’s Green was seized by a party of some forty men and women of the Citizen’s Army under ex-British Army officer Major Michael Mallin in the early hours of the Rising on Monday 24th April 1916. Clearing the park of shocked and surprised citizens, the rebels began digging trenches and barricading the park entrances; at least one civilian was shot dead for attempting to dismantle the barricades, and others were driven off with rifle butts.
On Monday night the British began positioning troops in the buildings across the street on the northern side of the park, in particular, as we have seen, in the United Services Club at the north west corner of the green, and the Shelbourne Hotel, near the north eastern corner.
Note the British field of fire from the buildings across the street; would you fancy being a member of the Citizen’s Army down here either in a trench or behind barricades? Me neither. Interestingly, despite the disappointing mobilisation figures reported by the Volunteers, nearly two thirds of the Citizen’s Army turned up to fight at the start of the Rising, perhaps reflecting their greater militancy and undivided leadership.
Above & below: One of the information boards records Mallins’ heroic attempt to rescue a Citizen Army man, Philip Clark, wounded out on the street, early on Tuesday 25th April.
The Summer House (above & below) was here at the time, and used as a field kitchen and place to rest during the night of 24th/25th April.
British troops occupied the Shelbourne Hotel (below) in the early hours of Tuesday morning, where, at four o’clock, in tandem with the guns at the United Service Club further up the street, machine guns began firing down on the rebels in the park. Hotel residents, some of whom had already been shot as they dined, were moved to the rear of the hotel.
It was here that Doreen Carphim, just eight years old, was shot and severely wounded on Monday while she walked past the hotel. In total nearly forty children were killed during the week of the Rising.
While we are at the north east corner of St. Stephen’s Green, here’s a quick look at Edward Delaney’s sculpture of the father of Irish republicanism, Wolfe Tone…
…and Delaney’s famine memorial on the other side, inside the park.
On the western side of the park, almost opposite the Royal College of Surgeons, Constable Michael Lahiff, of the College Street Dublin Metropolitan Police station, was on duty as the Citizen Army arrived to take control of the park. Refusing to leave his post, Lahiff was shot dead, possibly, as the information board tells us, by Countess Constance Georgine Markievicz, London-born socialist, suffragette and revolutionary nationalist. Three unarmed Dublin Metropolitan Policemen were shot dead on the first day of the Rising before their colleagues were withdrawn from the streets, presaging an outbreak of looting across the city for which, following the eventual failure of the Rising, 425 people were arrested.
Once the British had occupied the buildings to the north of the green, the Irish positions down in the park became untenable. Mallins ordered his men to abandon their positions and make a break for the Royal College of Surgeons (below) across the road to the west of the park, which he had earlier ordered his men to capture.
And that is where they stayed, pinned down by the British machine guns on the other side of St. Stephen’s Green, which ensured that the garrison would spend the remainder of the week cold (the heating was inoperative), hungry, and effectively unable to influence events unfolding elsewhere in the city.
The damage inflicted by the British machine gunners is still evident on the facade of the Royal College of Surgeons to this day (above & following photos).
The Royal College of Surgeons garrison held out for six days before surrendering, on the morning of Sunday, 30th April 1916, after Mallins received a copy of Pearse’s surrender order, some say from the British.
Today, a small plaque on the wall remembers the Irish Citizen Army who fought here during Easter week 1916.
November in Dublin. The Royal College of Surgeons, lit up at night. The unfortunate Constable Lahiff was shot a few yards behind us, just over one hundred years ago. The college would have been one of the last sights he would ever see. Just as with the men who died for their country out in Flanders & France, never forget.