Monthly Archives: March 2016

Easter Thursday; The Wildest Rumours are Flying Now

Emily continues to make her way to Dublin. Martial law is declared.

The Wildest Rumours are Flying Now

Every sort of gun is coughing, spitting and stammering. There is a curfew regulation. Everyone must be indoors by six o’clock. No lights can be shown. Outside there is plenty light for Dublin is burning! The Post Office is burning, and so are the other buildings in the heart of Dublin. A red, a blood-red cloud is like a pall. The wildest rumours are flying now. “whole regiments of English soldiers have been held up, have been annihilated.” These are things that one wants to believe but with the terrible appearance of truth, other rumours like serpents forces themselves into one’s consciousness. “Connolly is wounded and dying. There is no general Rising outside Dublin”. “Pearse, O’Rahilly, and others have burst out of the flaming Post Office and have been massacred.”



Flowering Dusk; Thing Remembered Accurately and Inaccurately, Young Ella, Longmans, Green & Co. New York, Toronto. 1945

Easter Wednesday; Emily sets off for Dublin

By Easter Wednesday Emily is well on her way to Dublin to fight for her country. How she traveled is impossible to say,  as Dublin was in lock down by then. All modes of transport to the Capital had screeched to a halt. She may have made her way by coach, horse and cart or on foot, which ever way she was determined to get to the heart of the fighting and play her part…


In Dublin however, Ella Young keeps in touch with the events as best she can. She gets firsthand account from her mother’s servant girl, whose sweetheart came up from the country to fight in Jacob’s Factory. The girl had to see him just in case he did not survive. She made some excuse about a sick mother that she had to visit and the soldier on duty at Portobello Bridge let her through. She was able to return with more news for Ella, and most importantly got to see her sweetheart.

Portobello Bridge

Portobello Bridge

“Every Little servant Girl can get Across.

A sound of heavy guns fro the river, accompanied b heavy guns from another point, the English are shelling some important position. It must, by the direction, be Liberty Hall.

No one can get into Dublin City across any canal bridge without a pass signed by a a British officer. But every little servant girl can get across she has only has to sidle up to one of the Tommies marching up and down there with a rifle on his shoulder and a general look of boredom. After a little conversation, she tells him her sick mother or something of equal importance and slips through to town… “


Flowering Dusk; Thing Remembered Accurately and Inaccurately, Young Ella, Longmans, Green & Co. New York, Toronto. 1945

Easter Tuesday; Emily gets word of the Rising

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

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

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

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.

The Time Line of the Rising and Achill

The Rising

Easter Sunday, 23 April

From the National Library of Ireland:

They [the leaders] decided to go ahead with the Rising, but postponed it until noon the following day, Easter Monday, to give them time to send couriers throughout the country to inform the Irish Volunteers that the Rising was indeed taking place…Read more of the day by day account of the Rising on the National Library of Ireland’s website:

Miles away on Achill Island life went on as normal. The Easter celebrations went on as normal for the population of the Island. Emily’s niece Enid (Siobhan) was on school holidays from school, Alexandra College in Dublin to spned  her Easter holidays with her aunt. Little did she know that before she returned to the Capital that she would be on her way to Tullamore to ‘collect’ her aunt and that the Dublin she left days before would look a lot different to the one she left behind.

Clearys of O'Connell Street, seen from the GPO

Clearys of O’Connell Street, seen from the GPO

Closer to Dublin City centre, at Rathmines, home to Ella Young, the stirring of things to come was detected by the writer:

Easter Sunday a day of uncertainty. Parades, manoeuvres and marches of the Irish Republican Army should have taken place today. We hear they have been called off. What does that mean? They were to signal for the rising after so much hope and preparation has the Rising fizzled out? No none seems to know. It is said that Eoin MacNeill himself has called off the manoeuvres. a slack, uncertain day filled with rumours.

Flowering Dusk; Thing Remembered Accurately and Inaccurately, Young Ella, Longmans, Green & Co. New York, Toronto. 1945