Easter Monday 1916; “It is terrible and splendid.”

Easter Monday 1916 on Achill dawned and closed with it’s inhabitants being blissfully unaware of the events unfolding in Dublin. The GPO was taken over by the Rebels and no communications were getting through. Any news would have taken time to reach that far west. Slowly rumors of the Rising were making their way down the country, but it was not till the following day that the news reached Achill.

In Dublin things were different. From the vantange point of Rathmines close to the scenes of Rising Ella Young kept a vigil form a safe distance, not that she chose safety but the city was closed off at checkpoints such as Portobello Bridge.

“It is terrible and splendid.”
Easter Monday the sun is shining, but it seems to have the only brightness. Nothing is happening. It does not seem that anyone expected anything to happen. Sounds of shots! Everyone is tense and alert, something is happening. I hurry from my lodgings in Leinster road to the town hall at Rathmines. People are standing there wondering. From Rathmines one can see as far as Portobello Bridge. One can see the Portobello Barracks, where for some time the English “Tommies” have been leaning over the back walls and trading rifles, blankets and other equipment for bottles of whiskey pressed on them by ear patriots. There is a stir in the barracks, soldiers are marching out from the barracks along the canal bridge into Dublin City. More and more shots! “Must be a riot of some kind”, mutters a bystander. “It is more than that it is a rising of sorts”.

More shots further off now, dull and muffled. News begins to creep along the knot of bystanders. “They say that Pearse is in the General Post Office, that they have taken half of the city. That the Volunteers held up ta train load of soldiers. “ They’ll win with the help of God”. It can’t be! “They cant hold out more than a day, do their best!”

Seumas O’Sullivan and Estella Solomns come up to me as I stand listen with all my ears to every shot, to every rumour. “The telegraph wires are cut!. Railway stations are in the hands of the Volunteers” says Seumas. “It is terrible and splendid. If it could true that they are rising everywhere in Ireland.”

The trams are not running. No one can get across the Canal Bridge at Portobello. English soldiers are posted there. People who like in Rathmines are turned back from the bridge, and wander aimlessly, telling each other news that they have heard or invented. “The English have a warship in the Bay!” “They are sending gunboats up the Liffey.” “The Irish are rising everything. God bless them.”

Portobello Bridge over the Canal, as it is today.

Portobello Bridge over the Canal, as it is today.


Figgis, Darrell. A Chronicle of Jails. Dublin: The Talbot Press, 1917
Young, Ella, and Stephen Griffin. Flowering Dusk: Things Remembered Accurately and Inaccurately. New York, Toronto: Longmans, Green and Co., 1945.