Archive for 1916 Easter Rising

An interview with Éamon de Valera

Posted in History with tags , on November 8, 2020 by telescoper

I thought I’d share this old film that I came across a few days ago. It dates from 1955, at which time Éamon de Valera was leader of the opposition. It is quite a strange film. Notice how the camera position keeps changing as does the placing of the interviewer (Professor Curtis Baker Bradford), who at one point is standing up near to the sitting interviewee in a way that looks very unnatural. Notices the frequent changes of camera angle too. I’m guessing they had to change reels quite frequently and the camera operator used those opportunities to change the set up. It all looks rather stilted with de Valera not at all relaxed but that might have been typical of him. He seems particularly uncomfortable, though, talking about the Easter Rising of 1916: notice how he skips from the Proclamation of the Republic directly to the surrender. I’ve heard it said that Éamon de Valera was not a particularly effective leader of the battalion at he commanded Boland’s Mill during the uprising (which would not be surprising because he had no real military training). Some even say that he had some sort of breakdown while under fire and couldn’t really function during the fighting. It may just be what his political opponents who spread that around, of course. Nobody who wasn’t there will ever really know.

P.S. Apart from anything else, this film shows what a great job Alan Rickman did at “doing” Éamon de Valera in the film Michael Collins

A Revolutionary Manhole Cover

Posted in Architecture, History, Maynooth with tags , , , , , on August 20, 2020 by telescoper

I must have walked dozens of times past the above manhole cover on Maynooth University’s North Campus without paying too much attention. Then I noticed a post on Twitter of another such cover in County Kerry, in the thread following which someone mentioned one on Maynooth campus so I thought I’d take a picture of it. They must have been made for the centenary commemorations in 2016. There’s more than a hint of Soviet-style design in the artwork.

The figure depicts Eamon Bulfin raising the flag of Irish Republic above the GPO on Easter Monday 1916, the start of the Easter Rising. After the end of the rising Bulfin was condemned to death, but his sentence was commuted and, after being imprisoned in Britain for a time, he was deported to Argentina. He returned to Ireland when the Irish Free State in 1922 where he lived until his death in 1968.


The Slouch Hat Question

Posted in History with tags , , , on March 29, 2020 by telescoper

Yesterday I was reading a book about Irish history – I’m reading quite a lot these days – and was intrigued by the headgear worn by members of the Citizens Army during the 1916 Easter Rising:

This type of broad-brimmed hat seems to have been quite thing among volunteers of the time:

Described as a ‘Boer Hat as worn by the American Army’ (?) this is usually called a ‘Slouch Hat’ and is also associated with the Australian Army and other Commonwealth forces.

I can understand the utility of the broad brim in hotter climes though not perhaps in Ireland…

The main question that struck me, though, is why it is so often worn with the brim folded up on one side?

See if you can guess. I reveal the answer below.

Continue reading

Margaret Skinnider – in her own words

Posted in History with tags , , on June 20, 2019 by telescoper

A few weeks ago, occasioned by a stroll around St Stephen’s Green in Dublin, I put up a post that included the the remarkable story of Margaret Skinnider.

Before the 1916 Easter Rising Margaret Skinnider was a school teacher. During the hostilities she initially acted as a scout and a runner, carrying messages to and from the GPO, but when given the chance she proved herself a crack shot with a rifle and showed conspicuous courage during the heavy fighting in and around St Stephen’s Green. In particular, on 27th April she lead a squad of men in an extremely dangerous mission against a British machine gun position, during which she was hit three times by rifle bullets and very badly wounded.

Anyway, I found this fascinating recording of Margaret Skinnider herself telling the story of her part in the 1916 Easter Rising.

After the War of Independence and the subsequent Civil War were over, Margaret Skinnider returned to her career as a primary school teacher. She died in 1971.