Easter Tuesday [April 25th, 1916] was a bright and sunny day on Achill. Darrell Figgis recounts;
“The spring work was in full swing. Voices of men, voices of women, and the barking of dogs, flowed over the land pleasantly. Nothing seemed further removed from the day and its work than the noise of war.”
Like Darrell Figgis no one as far west as Achill could have imagined what was unfolding in the Capital. It was not til later on that afternoon did he learn of the events in Dublin. A friend of his, who he does not name and possibly Emily arrived at his door in floods of tears. Wondering what was amiss, he inquired at least about the lateness of the post. Her reply;
A beautiful spring day on Achill just like the one Darrell Figgis describes in 1916
“There is no post'” she replied, “but there’s terrible news. They say Dawson street is full of dead and wounded men. The Volunteers hold the General Post Office, the Bank of Ireland, and a number of buildings all over Dublin. They’ve been attacking the Castle, but I cannot find out what happened there. The soldiers are attacking them everywhere with machine guns, and they say the slaughter is terrible.”
If the lady caller was indeed Emily she took off there and then to Dublin to lend her services as a Cumann na mBan member and most importantly her nursing services. Darrell Figgis stayed put, but his quite island life was interrupted shortly afterwards, as a know subversive from the Howth Gun-running incident a few years before he was arrested and taken to nearby Castlebar Prison, then to Dublin and later on to the UK.
Figgis’s friend was correct in with some of her information, at least about the Volunteers taking over the GPO. Closer to the source was Ella Young, who kept a vigil from the vantage point of Portobello Bridge.
Portobello Bridge today
Ella Young’s account of Easter Tuesday:
“Machine Guns are Spluttering
News is filtering in Constance de Markievicz, second in command with the Civilian Army, held Saint Stephen’s Green Park all Monday. Trenches were dug there and sharp shooters exchanged shots with the English soldiers. Pearse, Tom Clark, Connolly and The O’Rahilly, has taken possession of the General Post Office. McDonagh is in Jacob’s Factory De Valera hold Boland’s Mill. No one in Rathmines seems to know hats going on. But soldiers everywhere: behind barracks walls; behind walls of gardens; on the roofs of houses. Machine guns are spluttering. Rifle shots rifle and volleys puncture the intermission. There is fighting in the streets. How and how little no one can guess. But certainly dead bodies in the streets”
View of Portobello from Rathmines
Figgis, Darrell. A Chronicle of Jails. Dublin: The Talbot Press, 1917.
Flowering Dusk; Things Remembered Accurately and Inaccurately, Young Ella, 1945, Logmans, Green and Co., New York, Toronto. 1945