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BRUTAL IRISH MURDERS Head Severed During Execution • Mass Murder in Sligo Killer Doctor From Cork • The Child ‘Born of Shame’


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Ireland History Magazine

There is perhaps no more fruitful form of education than to arouse the interest of a people in their own surroundings The Ireland History Magazine is a bimonthly publication compiled by the Glenravel Local History Project. It is just one of several of our titles which aims to promote an interest in the COVER PICTURE Carrowmore. See page 23 subject of local history. It has always been claimed that history belongs of the higher classes and looking at the way it has been Welcome to the very first issue of presented for decades then this would seem to be the case. We Ireland History Magazine. Needless to say are not interested in the history of lords and earls, their estates and due to its title we do not need to tell you what titles, instead we are interested in the history of every day life. The Glenravel Local History Project is a local historical scheme based in the North Belfast area. It’s activities are centred around the educational promotion and restoration of the areas historic burying ground at Clifton Street and is named after the nearby Glenravel Street which was destroyed to make way for the disastrous Westlink road system. The Ireland History Magazine is not funded by any grant making body and is entirely funded by you - the reader. Its profits are not used for personal gain but for the continuing work of the overall scheme. We welcome advertising from tourist attractions and tour companies so if you run one of these you could be advertising here with a full colour advertisement costing as little as €150 and no that is not a typing error! E-Mail us the address below for details. Our members are fully committed to the promotion of our local and factual history. Quite regularly we travel the country visiting historical sites and collecting stories of a local historical interest. Because of this we often use material which is the public domain and go to great lengths to acknowledge those who own it so if we have missed you - sorry. We also welcome stories from other historians from throughout the country and pay up to €50 per story.

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its content is going to be or even that the overall theme of the publication is the promotion of our Irish history. There is no doubt that Ireland is one of the most historic places on the planet and due to this we attract countless visitors every year. It’s not hard to work out why when you consider that there are more castles in Ireland than in England, Scotland or Wales combined and then we have ancient burial places, round towers, high crosses, forts and lets not forget the oldest man made structure in the world. For the first few issues the magazine will be every two months but it is our aim to have it as a monthly publication from around May 2012. In order to get started and make sure we are doing everything right we more than welcome your views - good or bad. We especially welcome the views of local historians and historical groups throughout Ireland because this magazine is really for you and all articles and features are more than welcome.

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TITANIC’S FORGOTTEN SISTER

The Britannic

Britannic was the third and largest Olympic-class ocean liner of the White Star Line. It was the sister ship of RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic, and was intended to enter service as a transatlantic passenger liner. She was launched just before the start of the First World War and was quickly put to use as a hospital ship. In that role she struck a mine off the Greek island of Kea on the 21st of November 1916, and sank with the loss of 30 lives. ollowing the loss of the predecessors due to the redesign money in clearing out a third like Titanic and the subsequent after the loss of Titanic. To keep size slip as had been used for inquiries, several design changes to a 21 knots (39 km/h) service Olympic and Titanic. In August were made to the remaining speed, the shipyard installed a 1914, before Britannic could Olympic-class liners. With larger turbine rated for 18,000 commence transatlantic service Britannic, these changes were horsepower (13,000 kW)—versus between New York and made before launching (Olympic Olympic's and Titanic's 16,000 Southampton, World War I began. was refitted on her return to horsepower (12,000 kW)—to Immediately, all shipyards with Harland and Wolff). The main compensate for the vessel's extra Admiralty contracts were given changes included the introduction width. top priority to use available raw of a double hull along the engine Although the White Star Line materials. All civil contracts and boiler rooms and raising six always denied it, most sources say (including the Britannic) were out of the 15 watertight bulkheads that the ship was supposed to be slowed down. The military up to 'B' Deck. A more obvious named RMS Gigantic. authorities requisitioned a large external change was the fitting of large crane-like davits, each capable of holding six lifeboats. Additional lifeboats could be stored within reach of the davits on the deckhouse roof, and in an emergency the davits could even reach lifeboats on the other side of the vessel. The aim of this design was to enable all the Construction number of ships as armed lifeboats to be launched, even if Britannic was launched on the merchant cruisers or for troop the ship developed a list that 26th of February 1914 at the transport. The Admiralty was would normally prevent lifeboats Harland and Wolff shipyard in paying the companies for the use being launched on the side Belfast and fitting out began. She of their vessels but the risk of opposite to the list. These davits had been constructed in the same losing a ship during military were not fitted to Olympic. gantry slip used to build RMS operations was high. However, Britannic's hull was also 2 feet Olympic. So by reusing Olympic's the big ocean liners were not (0.61 m) wider than her space saved the shipyard time and taken for military use.

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RMS Olympic returned to Belfast on 3 November 1914, while work on her sister continued slowly. All this would change in 1915. Requisitioning The need for increased tonnage grew critical as military operations extended to the Eastern Mediterranean. In May 1915, Britannic completed mooring trials of her engines, and was prepared for emergency entrance into service with as little as four weeks notice. The same month also saw the first major loss of a civilian ocean vessel when the Cunard liner RMS Lusitania was torpedoed near the Irish coast by SM U-20. The following month, the British Admiralty decided to use recently requisitioned passenger liners as troop transports during the Gallipoli campaign (also called the Dardanelles service). The first to sail were Cunard's RMS Mauretania and RMS Aquitania. As the Gallipoli landings proved to be disastrous and the casualties mounted, the need for large hospital ships for treatment and evacuation of wounded became evident. RMS Aquitania was diverted to hospital ship duties in August (her place as a troop transport would be taken by the RMS Olympic in September) and on the 13th of November 1915, Britannic was requisitioned as a hospital ship from her storage location at Belfast. Repainted white with

Launch of the Britannic at the Belfast Shipyard

This was how the Britannic’s cabin smoking room was to look large red crosses and a horizontal green stripe, she was renamed HMHS (His Majesty's Hospital Ship) Britannic and placed under the command of Captain Charles A. Bartlett (1868–1945). Last voyage After completing five successful voyages to the Middle Eastern theatre and back to the United Kingdom transporting the sick and wounded, Britannic departed Southampton for Lemnos at 14:23 on the 12th of November

1916, her sixth voyage to the Mediterranean Sea. The Britannic passed Gibraltar around midnight on the 15th of November and arrived at Naples on the morning of 17th November for her usual coaling and water refuelling stop, completing the first stage of her mission. A storm kept the ship at Naples until Sunday afternoon, when Captain Bartlett decided to take advantage of a brief break in the weather and continue on.


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The seas rose once again just as Britannic left the port but by next morning the storms died and the ship passed the Strait of Messina without problems. Cape Matapan was rounded during the first hours of Tuesday, 21st November. By the morning Britannic was steaming at full speed into the Kea Channel, between Cape Sounion (the southernmost point of Attica, the prefecture that includes Athens) and the island of Kea. Explosion At 08:12 on the 21st of November 1916, a loud explosion shook the ship. The cause, whether it was a torpedo from an enemy submarine or a mine, was not apparent. The reaction in the dining room was immediate; doctors and nurses left instantly for their posts. Not everybody reacted the same way, as further aft the power of the explosion was less felt and many thought the ship had hit a smaller boat. Captain Bartlett and Chief Officer Hume were on the bridge at the time, and the gravity of the situation was soon evident. The first reports were frightening. The explosion had taken place on the starboard side between holds two and three, but the force of the explosion had damaged the watertight bulkhead between hold one and the forepeak. That meant that the first four watertight compartments were filling rapidly with water. To make things worse, the firemen's tunnel connecting the firemen's quarters in the bow with boiler room six had also been seriously damaged and water was

flowing into that boiler room. Bartlett ordered the watertight doors closed, sent a distress signal and ordered the crew to prepare the lifeboats. Unfortunately, another surprise was waiting. Along with the damaged watertight door of the firemen's tunnel, the watertight door between boiler rooms six and five also failed to close properly for an unknown reason. Now water was flowing further aft into boiler room five. The Britannic had reached her flooding limit. She could stay afloat (motionless) with her first six watertight compartments flooded and had five watertight bulkheads rising all the way up to B-deck. Those measures were taken after the Titanic disaster (Titanic could float with her first four compartments flooded but the bulkheads only rose as high as E-

deck). Luckily, the next crucial bulkhead between boiler rooms five and four and its door were undamaged and should have guaranteed the survival of the ship. However, there was something else that probably sealed Britannic's fate: the open portholes of the lower decks. The nurses had opened most of those portholes to ventilate the wards. As the ship's list increased, water reached this level and began to enter aft from the bulkhead between boiler rooms five and four. With more than six compartments flooded, the Britannic could not stay afloat. Evacuation On the bridge, Captain Bartlett was trying to save his vessel. Only two minutes after the blast, boiler rooms five and six had to be evacuated. In about ten minutes


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Ireland History Magazine the Britannic was roughly in the rudder. The steering gear was same condition the Titanic was unable to respond properly but by one hour after the collision with using the propeller (giving more the iceberg. Fifteen minutes after power to the port shaft) Britannic the ship was struck the open slowly started to turn right. portholes on E-deck were Simultaneously, on the boat deck underwater. Water also entered the crewmembers were preparing the ship's aft section from the the lifeboats. Some of the boats bulkhead between boiler rooms were immediately rushed by a five and four. The Britannic group of stewards and some quickly developed a serious list to sailors, who had started to panic. starboard. To his right Bartlett saw An unknown officer kept his nerve the shores of Kea, about three and persuaded his sailors to get out miles away. He decided to make and stand by their positions near a last desperate effort to beach the the boat stations. He decided to ship. This was not an easy task leave the stewards on the lifeboats because of the combined effect of as they were responsible for the list and the weight of the starting the panic and he did not

want them in his way during the evacuation. However, he left one of the crew with them in order to take charge of the lifeboat after leaving the ship. After this episode, all the sailors under his command remained at their posts until the last moment. As no RAMC personnel were near this boat station at that time, the Officer started to lower the boats, but when he saw that the ship's engines were still running, he stopped them within six feet (2 m) of the water and waited for orders from the bridge. The occupants of the lifeboats did not take this decision very well and started cursing. Shortly after this, orders finally arrived: no lifeboats should be launched, as the Captain had decided to beach the Britannic. Assistant Commander Harry William Dyke was making the arrangements for the lowering of the lifeboats from the aft davits of the starboard boat deck when he spotted a group of firemen who had taken a lifeboat from the poop deck without authorisation and had not filled it to maximum capacity. Dyke ordered them to pick up some of the men who had already jumped into the water. At 08:30, two lifeboats from the boat station assigned to Third Officer David Laws were lowered without his knowledge through the use of the automatic release gear. Those two lifeboats dropped some 6 feet into the water and hit the water violently. The two lifeboats soon drifted into the stillturning propellers, which were


Ireland History Magazine almost out of the water by now. As the first one reached the turning blades, both lifeboats, together with their occupants, were torn to pieces. By then the word of the massacre arrived on the bridge. Captain Bartlett, seeing that water was entering more rapidly as Britannic was moving and that there was a risk of more victims, gave the order to stop the engines. The propellers stopped turning the moment a third lifeboat was about to be reduced to splinters. RAMC occupants of this boat pushed against the blades and got away from them safely. Final moments The Captain officially ordered the crew to lower the boats and at 08:35, he gave the order to abandon ship. The forward set of port side davits soon became useless. The unknown officer had already launched his two lifeboats and managed to launch rapidly one more boat from the set of portside davits. He then started to prepare the motor launch when First Officer Oliver came with orders from the Captain. Bartlett had ordered Oliver to get in the motor launch and use its speed to pick up survivors from the smashed lifeboats. Then he was to take charge of the small fleet of lifeboats formed around the sinking Britannic. After launching the motor launch with Oliver, the unknown officer filled another lifeboat with seventy-five men and launched it with great difficulty because the port side

was now very high from the surface due to the list to starboard. By 08:45, the list to starboard was so great that no davits were operable. The unknown officer with six sailors decided to move to mid-ship on the boat deck to throw overboard-collapsible rafts and deck chairs from the starboard side. About thirty RAMC personnel who were still left on the ship followed them. As he was about to order these men to jump then give his final report to the Captain, the unknown officer spotted Sixth officer Welch and a few sailors near one of the smaller lifeboats on the starboard side. They were trying to lift the boat but they had not enough men. Quickly, the unknown officer ordered his group of forty men to assist the Sixth officer. Together they managed to lift it, load it with men, then launch it safely. At 09:00, Bartlett sounded one last blast on the whistle then just walked into the water, which had already reached the bridge. He swam to a collapsible boat and began to co-ordinate the rescue operations. The whistle blow was

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the final signal for the ship's engineers (commanded by Chief Engineer Robert Fleming) who, like their heroic colleagues on the Titanic, had remained at their posts until the last possible moment. They escaped via the staircase into funnel No.4, which ventilated the engine room. The Britannic rolled over onto her starboard side and the funnels began collapsing. Violet Jessop (who was also one of the survivors of Britannic's sistership Titanic, as well as the third sister, Olympic, when she collided with the HMS Hawke), described the last seconds: "She dipped her head a little, then a little lower and still lower. All the deck machinery fell into the sea like a child's toys. Then she took a fearful plunge, her stern rearing hundreds of feet into the air until with a final roar, she disappeared into the depths, the noise of her going resounding though the water with undreamtof violence...." It was 09:07, only fifty-five minutes after the explosion. The Britannic was the largest ship lost during World War One.


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Rescue The first to arrive on the scene were the Greek fishermen from Kea on their Caïque, who picked up many men from the water. One of them, Francesco Psilas, was later paid £4 by the Admiralty for his services. At 10:00, HMS Scourge sighted the first lifeboats and ten minutes later stopped and picked up 339 survivors. HMS Heroic had arrived some minutes earlier and picked up 494. Some 150 had made it to Korissia (a community on Kea), where surviving doctors and nurses from the Britannic were trying to save the horribly mutilated men, using aprons and pieces of lifebelts to make dressings. A little barren quayside served as their operating room. Although the motor launches were quick to transport the wounded to Korissia, the first lifeboat arrived there some two hours later due to the strong current and their heavy load. It was the lifeboat of Sixth Officer Welch and the unknown Officer. The latter was able to speak some French and managed to talk with one of the local villagers, obtaining some bottles of brandy and some bread for the injured. The inhabitants of Korissia were deeply moved by the suffering of the wounded. They offered all possible assistance to the survivors and hosted many of them in their houses while waiting for the rescue ships. Violet Jessop approached one of the wounded. "An elderly man, in an RAMC uniform with a row of ribbons on his breast, lay motionless on the

ground. Part of his thigh was gone and one foot missing; the greygreen hue of his face contrasted with his fine physique. I took his hand and looked at him. After a long time, he opened his eyes and said: 'I'm dying'. There seemed nothing to disprove him yet I involuntarily replied: 'No, you are not going to die, because I've just been praying for you to live'. He gave me a beautiful smile . . . That man lived and sang jolly songs for us on Christmas Day." The Scourge and Heroic had no deck space for more survivors and they left for Pireaus signalling the presence of those left at Korissia. Luckily, HMS Foxhound arrived at 11:45 and, after sweeping the area, anchored in the small port at 13:00 to offer medical assistance and take onboard the remaining survivors. At 14:00 arrived the light cruiser HMS Foresight. The Foxhound departed for Pireaus at 14:15 while the Foresight remained to arrange the burial on Kea of Sergeant W. Sharpe, who had died of his injuries. Another two men died on the Heroic and one on the French tug Goliath. The three were buried with military honours in the British cemetery at Pireaus. The last fatality was G. Honeycott, who died at the Russian Hospital at Pireaus shortly after the funerals. 1,036 people were saved. Thirty men lost their lives in the disaster but only five were buried. The others were left in the water and their memory is honoured in memorials in Thessaloniki and London. Another twenty-four men

were injured. The ship carried no patients. The survivors were hosted in the warships that were anchored at the port of Pireaus. However, the nurses and the officers were hosted in separate hotels at Phaleron. Many Greek citizens and officials attended the funerals. One survivor, nurse Violet Jessop was notable as having also survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, and had also been on board RMS Olympic, when it collided with the HMS Hawke in 1911. Wreck The wreck of HMHS Britannic is at 37°42_05_N 24°17_02_E in about 400 ft (120 m) of water. It was first discovered and explored by Jacques Cousteau in 1975. The giant liner lies on her starboard side hiding the zone of impact with the mine. There is a huge hole just beneath the forward well deck. The bow is attached to the rest of the hull only by some pieces of the Bdeck. This is the result of the massive explosion that destroyed the entire part of the keel between bulkheads two and three and of the force of impact with the seabed. The bow is heavily deformed as the ship hit the seabed before the total length of the 882 feet 9 inches (269 m) liner was completely submerged, as she sank in a depth of only 400 feet of water. Despite this, the crew's quarters in the forecastle were found to be in good shape with many details still visible. The holds were found empty. The forecastle machinery and the two cargo cranes in the forward well deck are still there


Ireland History Magazine

and are well preserved. The foremast is bent and lies on the sea floor near the wreck with the crow's nest still attached on it. The bell was not found. Funnel #1 was found a few metres from the Boat Deck. The other three funnels were found in the debris field (located off the stern). The wreck lies in shallow enough water that scuba divers trained in technical diving can explore it, but it is listed as a British war grave and any expedition must be approved by both the British and Greek governments. In mid-1995, during an expedition filmed by NOVA, Dr. Robert Ballard visited the wreck, using advanced side-scan sonar. Images were obtained from remotely

controlled vehicles, but the wreck was not penetrated. Ballard succeeded in locating all the ship's funnels, which proved to be in surprisingly good condition. Attempts to find mine anchors failed. In August 1996, the wreck of the HMHS Britannic became available for sale and was bought by maritime historian Simon Mills who has written two books about the ship: Britannic - The Last Titan, and Hostage To Fortune. When Simon Mills was asked if he had all the money and support needed, what would his ideal vision be for the wreck of Britannic be, he replied: "That's simple - to leave it as it is!" In November 1997, an

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international team of divers lead by Kevin Gurr used open circuit Trimix diving techniques to visit and film the wreck in the newly available Digital Video format (mini-DV). Kevin Gurr, Alan Wright, John Thornton, Dan Burton, Uffe Eriksson, Ingemar Lundgren, Richard Lundgren, Dave Thompson, Alexander Sotiriou, Kirk Kavalaris, Kevin Denlay, Tristan Cope, Miria Denlay, Gary Sharp, Ian Fuller, Manthos Sotiriou participated in the project. Vangelis Sotiriou provided general support. In 1999, GUE, divers typically acclimated to cave diving and Ocean Discovery led the first dive expedition to include extensive penetration into the Britannic.


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Video of the expedition was broadcast by National Geographic, BBC, History Channel, and the Discovery Channel. In 2003, an expedition led by Carl Spencer used advanced diving technology to send scuba divers into the wreck. Their most significant finding was that several watertight doors were open. It has been suggested that this was because the mine strike coincided with the change of watches. Alternatively, the explosion may have distorted the doorframes. A number of mine anchors were located, confirming the German records of U-73 that Britannic was sunk by a single mine and the damage was compounded by open portholes and watertight doors. In 2006, an expedition, funded and filmed by the History Channel, brought together thirteen of the world's best wreck divers to help determine what caused the quick sinking of the Britannic. Setting sail on the 17th of September in a diving boat, converted from a fishing boat for this mission, the crew dived and explored the sunken ship. After days of preparation, the wreck was explored by divers John Chatterton and Richie Kohler. However, time was cut short when silt was kicked-up, causing zero visibility conditions, and the two divers narrowly escaped with their lives. John Chatterton's rebreather famously failed whilst he was still deep inside the wreck. One last dive was to be attempted on

The Britannic’s more famous sister ship Titanic

Britannic's boiler room, but it was discovered that photographing this far inside the wreck would lead to breaking the rules of a permit issued by the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, a department within the Greek Ministry of Culture. Due partly to a barrier in languages, a last minute plea was turned down by the department. The expedition was unable to determine the cause of the rapid sinking, but hours of footage were filmed and important data was documented. Underwater Antiquities later recognized the importance of this mission and has since extended an invitation to revisit the wreck under less stringent rules. During this expedition, Chatterton and Kohler found a bulb shape in her expansion joint. This proved that her design was changed following the loss of Titanic. On the 24th of May 2009, a diver, Carl Spencer, 37, died in Greece from a suspected case of

decompression sickness, commonly known as the bends, which is caused by surfacing too quickly from a dive, while filming the wreck of HMHS Britannic for National Geographic. He is reported to have "begun convulsing" at depth which is a symptom of oxygen poisoning. He was diving with an Ouroboros rebreather. Carl Spencer, from Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, was part of a 17-member crew. Spencer, father-of-two, was an experienced mixed gas and closed circuit rebreather diver who had been on three previous missions to film the Britannic. He was in the team during the exploration of the Titanic wreckage as part of a Discovery Channel expedition led by filmmaker James Cameron, who directed the blockbuster Titanic.

FACING PAGE Advertisements from September 1926


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BRUTAL IRISH MURDERS HEAD SEVERED DURING EXECUTION ndrew Carr was from Kildare and when he was a young man he enlisted in the 87th regiment. He received an excellent education for a person of his station in life, his conduct was exemplary and he quickly rose through the ranks from a private to a colour sergeant. He was also described as being a very good-looking young man who paid great attention to himself and his duties.

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While stationed at Tullamore he became acquainted with a Margaret Murphy, one of five daughters of a farmer who lived in the neighbourhood. Their relationship at the time was described as ‘improper intimacy’ and by the time he was ordered for foreign service Margaret found she was disgraced and rejected by her family. She moved to Dublin where she became an outcast on the streets. Everyday she sank lower and lower in vice and infamy, she became an inmate of one of the many dens in Bull Lane near the Four Courts. The whole area had quite a reputation in the nineteenth century. By 1862 Andrew Carr returned from India, and went to live with Margaret in a hovel kept by a woman named Brien and stayed there for one week. The couple argued all week and Margaret ended up in hospital and Carr returned to duty in the army. He was heard by many at the time to swear that he would "get" Margaret. His behaviour at work changed and he soon was reduced in rank and remained in his demoted position until May 1870 when he was discharged on a pension after

a service of twenty five years. He returned to Dublin and found Margaret Murphy, who was by now living in rented accommodation, in the Bull Lane area, owned by the infamous Ellen Hynes. Andrew Carr and Margaret lived for three weeks among the vice and dissipation until Carr’s pension ran out. They began to argue all day while under the influence of drink and by evening the words turned to threats. One evening they returned to their home after drinking all day. Carr left for a short time and went for another drink, returned and then left a short time later to look for a policeman. He eventually found one and told


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him that he had committed a murder and showed him his hands that were covered in blood and he had a cut on his wrist. The police went to Bull Lane and discovered lying beneath an open back window the lifeless corpse of Margaret Murphy. The wound in her throat gaped open, so much so that it appeared as though the head had been sliced from her body. Her clothes were saturated in blood and she lay in a room with broken windows. The walls were covered in filth and all the doors in the house were falling off their hinges. The door panels were broken and the stench of sewage rotting in the back yard was unbearable. The crime scene appeared to have been the site of a great deal of violence. The house occupied by Margaret Murphy and Andrew Carr contained no furniture, two heaps of dirty straw and a black mattress was all that was found.

Everyday Margaret Murphy sank lower and lower in vice and infamy Six days after the murder Carr was tried and body of Carr landed with a thud on the shingle convicted of the brutal murder of Margaret below followed soon afterwards by his head Murphy. The jury recommended him to mercy encased in the blood saturated hood. but despite a petition handed to the Lord Lieutenant in London signed by many The press present at the execution reported the prominent Dublin citizens his execution was unspeakable horror depicted in every face in set for three weeks. Carr’s execution was to be the room and so quick and appalling was the the first that the city of Dublin had witnessed event that for a long time no person moved from in thirty years and the first execution in the the place they had been standing. The empty Richmond Bridewell. In accordance with the noose swung to and fro in the morning breeze requirements of the new act of Parliament all and Andrew Carr passed away forever for his execution were to be carried out within the walls crimes. All present left the building of prisons and not in public. immediately and such was the shock and horror of the proceedings that calls were made for the Around twenty people attended the execution immediate end of all hangings and an alternative of Andrew Carr. The Chaplin bid him a final method put in place to deter serious crimes. One farewell and as the noisy bell of the prison was of the first suggestions was the demolition of ringing, the executioner drew the bolt and the Bull Lane, which had been the scene of several drop fell. Carr’s body fell and when the rope murders and various other crimes from vice, stretched with a burning sound, the headless assault and robbery.


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Taken Away by the Fairies t a special court held by Mr J C Gardiner on February 23rd 1909 in County Galway two brothers, Michael and Bartley Coyne, were charged with the wilful murder of James Bailey on February 2nd. Both men insisted that the body that had been found in the Bailey house at Lettermore, was not that of James Bailey. He, it was claimed, had been taken away by the fairies. Today such a claim would be laughed out of court but in 1909 it made headline news throughout the country.

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to Bailey about the death of his son or tell him what had happened except that there had been a row that started in the house, continued outside, and that his son had been carried home on a shutter.

CRIED AND WAILED Bridget Bailey gave evidence that when she saw her brother dead she had cried and wailed and that when Michael Coyne had seen her distress had said to her; "Don’t cry. James is gone away since last night, and I know that he is gone." Miss Bailey then remembered that Michael, the elder of the two brothers, tried to persuade her that her TOLD SON WAS DEAD A Constable Sullivan gave evidence brother had been taken away by the that he had arrested Michael Coyne and fairies and that it was not her brother Michael gave a statement to the police lying there dead. noting that he had nothing to do with Bailey’s death. A statement noting the WRESTLING MATCH same was also given by Bartley Coyne Richard Bailey, the brother of the to the police and was read out in court. deceased gave evidence, which brought Depositions taken were then read. In some light to the situation. He told the them, James Bailey, the father of the court that a crowd had been in Daly’s dead man, stated that the prisoners and house after the dance and that some others were in his house and had left to whisky was taken. About half-an-hour go to a dance. On the following later his brother James left Dalys with morning he was told his son was dead. Bartley Coyne. This was the last time He found him outside Daly’s house and that Richard saw his brother alive. Michael Coyne, who was standing at Mary Daly also gave evidence that the gate said, "Do not mind your son. Michael Coyne had challenged any He is gone. It is not he who is there at man who would wrestle him would receive a half gallon of whisky. James all. He is gone away." John Daly, a neighbour, did not speak Bailey asked him to shake hands but


Ireland History Magazine

Michael refused and the two men went outside to wrestle. Michael Coyne got the better of his opponent very quickly and struck James Bailey hard and he fell, with Michael falling on top of him, continually striking him with his fists. Bailey managed to scramble to his feet a couple of times until Bartley came to help his brother. James Bailey was thrown over a wall and then the two brothers knocked down the wall on top of him. James Bailey fell silent and it was alleged that Michael Coyne stood over the body of James Bailey and said "My soul to the devil, but if anyone tells what has happened tonight I will have their lives. Twenty-one years is a long time, but I will remember it if any person says anything about it. Let ye say it was the wall fell on him." FRATURED SKULL The brothers Coyne were remanded in custody to appear in court at the Galway Assizes in March 1909. At the trial the Crown representative Mr Fethertonhaugh addressed the jury informing them he did not believe that it would be necessary for them to find a verdict other than one of manslaughter. Mr Fethertonhaugh claimed he believed that the tragic occurrence was the result of an over indulgence of poteen and that the parties had all been on the best of terms. Medical evidence was produced to the court detailing how James Bailey met

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his death. The evidence showed that the deceased had sustained a fracture of the skull and that a stone might have caused the injuries by coming in violent contact with his head. PEACEMAKER Mr Price who appeared for Michael Coyne said the awful whisky that they made in Connemara was the cause of the whole affair. They all appeared to be drunk at the time of the occurrence and counsel suggested that way really happened was that in the wrestling match the men fell and Bailey got hurt. Mr McDermott who appeared on behalf of Bartley stated that he had acted as the peacemaker throughout the entire row. It was clearly and unmistakably stated that they fell back over the wall and that was how the injuries were caused to the deceased. The jury after twenty minutes deliberation returned with a verdict of acquittal in the case of Bartley Coyne and a verdict of manslaughter in the case of Michael Coyne. The judge sentenced the prisoner to five years’ penal servitude. FOR MORE BRUTAL IRISH MURDERS MAKE SURE YOU PICK UP A COPY OF THE NEXT EDITION OF IRELAND HISTORY MAGAZINE SEE BACK COVER FOR DETAILS


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Ireland History Magazine

Mass Murder in Sligo I

n early 1861 a brutal and shocking murder took place in Ballymote in County Sligo. The bodies of three people, a man and two women were found with their throats cut. Immediately suspicion fell on a local man Matthew Phibbs and he was later arrested and charged with the triple murder of William Callaghan, his wife and their servant. At the inquest to ascertain the circumstances of the crime evidence was gathered from many local people. Thomas Scanlan gave evidence that Phibbs had come to him on the day of the murders and asked him for money, which he did not give him. Luke Feehely and Owen Cawley stated that they were working in the fields around the Callaghan house when they saw Phibbs coming out of small gap at the back of the Callaghan garden. These sightings were all on the morning of the murder and by lunchtime Phibbs was seen drinking in Mrs Mary Flaherty’s house where he announced that he was on his way to Sligo. By one o’clock Phibbs was seen in Ballymote with a cut face and part of his right hand bandaged.

Phibbs was arrested at the door of Pat Conway’s, a publican in Riverstown. He was taken to the police barracks where he was searched and a large sum of money was found concealed in his clothing. Over twelve pounds in cash and a number of gold sovereigns were found and three razors. One of the razors was a Morrison razor and the heel of it was red with blood and there was blood inside the haft. A watch key, a parcel of neck collars and a matchbox covered in blood was also recovered. Phibbs clothing was also covered in blood but it would have been impossible for the court to identify the blood as belonging to any of the deceased however the courts at the time would have taken account of circumstantial evidence.

Phibbs stood charged with murder and robbery but the robbery charges were dropped, as there was not enough evidence to support the charge. The Judge proceeded to charge the jury and went through the evidence in great detail. He carefully analysed the entire evidence putting the inconsistencies in the evidence of each witness to the jury and he clearly and forcibly expiated upon such portions of the evidence, A short time later Phibbs was arrested which were calculated to show the guilt and Mounted Constable Patrick Fogarty of the prisoner. After four hours of the told the court of what happened next. summing up the jury retired to return


Ireland History Magazine

two and a half hours later with a verdict of guilty. The death sentence was then handed down and the execution was affixed for August 19th. On this day Matthew Phibbs was led out to hang for the murder of 80-yearold William Callaghan, his wife Mary and their servant Anne Jane Mooney. It was the first public execution in Sligo for 26 years and although people were discouraged from attending hundreds gathered outside the jail. Phibbs was led out only to be returned to jail, as there was some problem with the arrangements. Finally he was led out and within two minutes of his hanging Phibbs was dead. After his death the following confession, dated 18th August 1861 was released by Sligo Jail: Matthew Phibbs aged about 25 was born in the town of Ballymote…I must say I had honest parents, and often did get good advice from them when a youth to mind my Sunday school and to go to church, the house of God. That I did prefer going with bad company elsewhere – perhaps into a whisky house. Young lad or young men….I do say to thee to take care and beware of what brought Matthew Phibbs to this, his untimely end…I must bid you a farewell, heartily forgiving all who have injured me and asking forgiveness from all whom I have injured. I do trust and hope, though my sins have been very many that my Saviour has washed them

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Matthew Phibbs was soon arrested and charged with the horrific murders

all away and that I am going to That happy land of pure delight, Where saints immortal reign Infinite day excludes the night, And pleasures banish pain. After my trial I have acknowledged my guilt to the Rev Mr Shore and Mr Garrett, but asked them not to make it public until after I was executed. I now admit the justice of my sentence and go willingly to suffer what I deserve looking to my Blessed Saviour who suffered for me. Again, young me, beware of what has brought me to this, my untimely end. Matthew Phibbs. The body of Matthew Phibbs hung in public for three quarters of an hour causing fainting amongst the police and public who watched. His body was then lowered into a coffin and buried within the prison.

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Ireland History Magazine

Killer Doctor from Cork S handy Hall was situated between Macroom and Cork in a town named Dripsey, and was the home of 63 year old Dr Philip Henry Eustace Cross, a retired British Army Officer. Surgeon Major Cross was a gentleman of means who had married a lady of what was regarded in 1887 as a good social position. She was Mary Laura Marriott, a lady from a well-known English family and they were married in 1869 at St James’ Church, Piccadilly in London. On June 2nd 1887 Mrs Mary Laura Cross was found dead at her home in Shandy Hall. Suspicions were aroused when on June 9th 1887, only 5 days after her burial, Dr Cross left for England. At the time he claimed that he was going to break the news to his two sons at school there but it later transpired that he met up with a young girl who at one time was employed by him as a governess at Shandy Hall. This girl was called Effie Skinner and both she and Dr Cross continued to London together where they were married at St James’ Church, Piccadilly on 17th June 1887. The body of Mrs Mary Laura Cross was exhumed and strychnine and arsenic were found in her remains. A murder enquiry had begun. Miss Effie Skinner came to work at Shandy Hall in October 1886 and stayed there for three months in the capacity of governess. After that she went to Carlow to take up the same position. She was next reported to have been at the North Western Hotel in Dublin on the 29th March with Dr Cross. Three weeks later they were both booked into the same hotel going by the name of Mr and Mrs Osborne and on the 22nd April

St James’s Church in London’s Piccadilly the intrigue ended and Dr Cross returned home. At this time Mrs Cross wasn’t suffering from any illness but on April 29th an old friend of Mrs Cross stayed at Shandy Hall and her diary was used as evidence at the trial. The journal showed how Mrs Cross suffered and described the fatal symptoms of slow arsenic poisoning. It was proved at the trail that Mrs Cross used to vomit for hours at a time and that the vomit was a yellowish green and there was no nurse with her at any time during her illness. When her body was exhumed there was no solid food in her stomach. On the night Mrs Cross died, Mary Buckley, the kitchenmaid, was awakened from her sleep, and for a few minutes she heard her mistress’s screams. She had never heard her scream before and Mary went off to sleep again. Next morning at 6 o’clock, Dr Cross went to the servants and


Ireland History Magazine

told them that Mrs Cross had died at 1.30 am. He had remained for five hours alone with the deceased and did not call on anyone after her death. The doctor then proceeded to register her death, and he himself filled out the death certificate, stating that the cause of death was typhoid fever and the number of days of her illness was fourteen. She died at 1.30 am on June 2nd and was buried at 6.00 am June 4th. None of her servants were at the funeral and a kitchenmaid reported that on the morning of the funeral she looked out the window and saw only three persons present; Dr Cross, the husband, Griffen, the publican and the driver of the hearse.

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minutes past eight, death appeared to be instantaneous. At shortly after 8.00 am the reporters were admitted and at 9.30 am the inquest was opened. The inquest was complicated by some technicalities and the hangman was called to give evidence but he had already returned to England. The inquest was adjourned to enable his to return but he refused. The inquest on Dr Philip Henry Eustace Cross therefore remains technically adjourned to this day and he is therefore not officially dead – yet.

Directly after the funeral Dr Cross left for London to break the news to his two sons but instead he went to renew his intimacy with Miss Skinner. By the time they were married on the 17th June she was already pregnant. At first Dr Cross did not introduce her as his new wife to Cork Society and it was noted that on June 19th, two days after their marriage, they were registered at the North Western Hotel in Dublin under the name of Mr and Mrs Onslow. Dr Cross was eventually arrested and charged with the wilful murder of his wife. He was brought to trial and found guilty and sentenced to death. Dr Philip Cross was hanged at Cork Gaol on the Morning of Wednesday January 11th 1888 pleading his innocence and denying he murdered his wife by administering poison to her. It was reported that he ‘walked erect without faltering’ to the gallows. When the noose was adjusted around his neck he turned to face the clergyman who was reading the service for the dead. He said nothing to the hangman, whom he classed as his social inferior, and when the bolt was drawn at a few

Cork Gaol where Dr Cross was executed


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Ireland History Magazine

The case of the child ‘born of shame’ r Houston Q.C. was the prosecutor during the murder case of Mary Toner, who died aged only three months, in Cookstown in July 1893. He opened his case with a very emotional statement;

was six weeks old, and by all accounts Mary was a well cared for and healthy baby. When she was a few weeks old she suffered some convulsions but this had only occurred once and she seemed well enough for a child in her Mary Toner was an infant of circumstances. three months old, and was an illegitimate child. The life of an infant was in the eye of the law as sacred as the life of a grown-up human being; and a little child born of shame was as much entitled to the protection of society, and perhaps more so, than any individual in the whole community.

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collected at around five o’clock again by her mother. Margaret’s only day off was Sunday, when Ellen didn’t work. At five o’clock on Saturday the 1st July 1893 Ellen collected Mary as usual and the child was in good health but a little more fretful

So began the court case of Margaret Burton who was indicted for wilfully killing and murdering little Mary Toner. Mary Toner was the child of Ellen McDonagh, a mill worker and who had been a widow for many years. While Ellen worked at the local mill in Cookstown, Margaret Burton looked after Mary. She had looked after her since she

Margaret Burton was paid between nine pence and eighteen pence each week to care for Mary, depending on whether she had to buy her food. Mary was left at Margaret’s house each day around six o’clock and she was

than normal. According to Ellen she spent the night at home with Mary as the child had a disturbed night and didn’t sleep. On Sunday she recovered well and slept as normal on Sunday night. Ellen left


Ireland History Magazine

Mary at Margaret’s as usual on Monday the 3rd July, but Margaret was still asleep, and her daughter took Mary and placed her in a small box to sleep. Ellen returned to Margaret’s at around nine o’clock and gave her some breakfast of a bottle of milk and then returned to work. The next thing she heard about her child was when a neighbour came to the mill and told her to go quickly to Margaret Burton’s house because Mary was dead.

accused Ellen of dropping Mary over the weekend and of being out at a public house over the weekend with the child with her.

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The last witness called was a young neighbour of Ellen’s who shockingly told the court that on the evening of the 1st July he had seen Ellen with Mary outside her house very late at night and that Ellen was drunk and arguing with his mother. He saw Ellen lose her temper and then throw Mary down in anger into a wooden box just inside her house. The courtroom was shocked and the judge questioned this witness closely as he suggested that Mary had been killed by her mother.

Margaret Burton was arrested and charged with the murder of Mary and medical evidence suggested that Mary had died as a result of injuries which could have been caused by a fall. She was bruised and had received a blow to her head, or had fallen and struck her head. Whatever had happened had happened over the previous couple of days according to the When she got to the house doctors. The witnesses account was Ellen found her baby daughter denied by his mother and Mary choking on milk, a bottle As the trial progressed there evidence was heard that he had of milk was on the side table were many witnesses who gone to bed early on that and Margaret was in an talked about the kind of mother Saturday night and couldn’t agitated state. She had not Ellen was, many said she was have seen his mother and Mary called a doctor but when the a heavy drinker, other said she talking. He was discredited but doctor got to the house Mary was a committed and enough doubt had been put in responsible parent. Witnesses the minds of the jury. was dead. talked of Margaret’s devotion Ellen was distraught and to the child but also that she The judge summed up and the accused Margaret of killing her was a heavy drinker and she jury retired for only a short daughter and being drunk in had complained about how time returning with a verdict of charge of her. Margaret rushed little money Ellen gave her to "not guilty" and Margaret off to the police where she then feed the child. Burton was freed from custody. One of the great gaffes in social history took place at Stormont in the 1920s. During an important function, Northern Ireland minister Dawson Bates - who was in attendance with his wife and son - entered the main hall. As the party made their way towards the gathered dignitaries, a flunky grandly announced 'the honourable Dawson Bates, his wife Lady Bates and their son Master Bates'.


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Ireland History Magazine

Workmen clearing the site of the Hamman Hotel, O’Connell Street. The new Gresham Hotel, in the course of erection, is to be seen in the background. 1926

Dundalk FC, September 1926 (Sorry no names)


Ireland History Magazine

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THIS IS IRELAND CARROWMORE

Carrowmore, (Irish: An Cheathrú Mhór, meaning Great Quarter) is one of the four major passage tomb cemeteries in Ireland. It is located at the centre of a prehistoric ritual landscape on the Cúil Irra Peninsula in County Sligo in Ireland. Around 30 megalithic tombs can be seen in Carrowmore today. The tombs (in their original state) were almost universally 'dolmen circles'; small dolmens each enclosed by a boulder ring of 12 to 15

meters. Each monument had a small levelling platform of earth and stone. One of the secrets of the dolmens longevity was the well executed stone packing set around the base of the upright stones. The combination of 5 of these orthostats and a capstone enclosed a pentagonal burial chamber. The boulder circles contain 30 - 40 boulders, usually of gneiss, the material of choice for the satellite tombs. Sometimes an

inner boulder circle is present. Entrance stones, or passage stones, crude double rows of standing stones, emphasise the direction of the small monuments; they generally face towards the area of the central tomb. The 'satellite tombs' or dolmens are distributed in a roughly oval shape about 1 km x .6 km, with the largest monument at the highest point at the centre, a cairn (now restored) called Listoghil.

Radiocarbon dates from the survey and excavation project in the 1970s, 80s and 90s by Professor Göran Bürenhult has caused controversy amongst archaeologists, particularly dates from one of the tombs of 5,400 BC (before the perceived advent of agriculture in Ireland). But were the tombs we see today built here this early? Objections include 'old wood' theories, earlier depositions of material, and simply inadequate numbers of dates. The idea of Mesolithic tomb builders is still advocated by Burenhult, although this runs in the face of the prevailing view, which generally associates Neolithic farming societies with megalithic sites. Supporters of the early dates sometimes


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Ireland History Magazine

point to similarly ancient dates attributed to chamber tombs in Brittany where Mesolithic microliths have been found in association with at least one passage grave, and some other very early dates in the Sligo area. Perhaps the key point is that Burenhults work and the work of later researchers places the bulk of the megalith building in Carrowmore at between 4300 and 3500 BC, more in keeping with Neolithic dating but still unusually early. It also upturned the idea that Irish prehistoric sites such as Knowth and Newgrange were the earliest in Ireland. Excavation of other tombs in the Cuil Irra area has indicated that although they employed different architectural styles, many co-existed contemporaneously with Carrowmore. Recent

archaeology by the National Roads Authority for the Inner Relief Road route in Magheraboy near Sligo has shown that a huge causewayed enclosure existed at the same time as Carrowmore. Listoghil (The Central Tomb, aka. Tomb 51) has been dated to about 3600 BC. Because of the assemblage of material found within the monuments, the clustering, and the layout of the structures, Carrowmore - like Newgrange and Lough

Crew - is classified as being part of the Irish Passage Tomb Tradition. There has long been debate about how the different tomb types 'passage tombs', 'court tombs', 'portal dolmens,' and 'wedge tombs' - all of which occur in County Sligo - should be interpreted. Are they indicative of different 'cultures,' or peoples? Of different functions for a single community? Perhaps research into DNA or other techniques of the future will finally resolve these questions.

Houses of the dead or something more? Almost all the burials at Carrowmore were cremations with inhumations being only found at Listoghil. It is apparent that the dead underwent a complex sequence of treatments, including excarnation and reburial. Grave goods include antler pins with mushroom-shaped heads and stone or clay balls, a fairly typical assemblage of the Irish element of the passage tomb tradition. Some of the tombs and pits nearby contained shells from shellfish, echoing the finds of shell middens along the coast of Cuil Irra. The Carrowmore megaliths were sometimes re-used and re-shaped by the people of Bronze Age and Iron Age times. They remained focal points on the landscape for long after they were built. The role of megaliths as monuments and foci of ceremony and celebration, as well as markers on the landscape is emphasised by archaeologists such as Richard Bradley. Earlier commentators - who called the monuments 'tombs' - saw them simply as a repository for


Ireland History Magazine

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Landscape of Monuments'.

the dead, or as markers erected over fallen warriors. Early unrecorded antiquarian digs disturbed the Carrowmore tombs. The sites were surveyed by George Petrie in 1837, who numbered them all. William Gregory WoodMartin made the first recorded excavations in the 1880s. The small Carrowmore dolmens are unlikely to have ever been covered by stone cairns. Although such ideas were once popular

among antiquarians, the discovery of 'settings' of stone and finds close to the chambers, of Viking, Roman and Bronze Age artefacts make it unlikely - according to Burenhult - that such cairns ever existed. One of the satellite tombs, Tomb 27, has a cruciform passage tomb shape, a feature seen in later tombs like Newgrange or Carrowkeel. The roof now gone - may have been of stone slabs or corbelled. The building of cairns

such as Listoghil or Queen Maeves tomb (on Knocknarea) or Newgrange may represent a new phase of megalith-building of greater scale and ambition than the dolmen circles. They probably required the involvement of more workers and greater organisation. The area of the Cuil Irra peninsula and its hinterlands is dotted with such tombs, often on hilltops, which inspired Professor Stefan Bergh to style it 'the

the

Visitor Centre Since 1990 a small farmhouse close to the R292, 2k east of Ransboro crossroads, has been used as a Visitor Centre by the Office of Public Works. It houses an exhibition, and between the months of March to October (inclusive) provides guided tours and multilingual self guide options for the Carrowmore megaliths. Admission is â‚Ź3.00 for adults, there are discounts for seniors, groups, students and families. Most of the tombs can be accessed from there. The centre opens from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.


Page 26 Ireland History Magazine 200 YEARS OF BELFAST HISTORY

Visit the most historic site in Belfast

CLIFTON STREET GRAVEYARD SEE THE OLD BELFAST POORHOUSE Not a pleasant place to be in Victorian times! VISIT THE GRAVES OF THE FOUNDERS OF IRISH REPUBLICANISM Did you know that they were all Presbyterians and Freemasons! THE CHOLERA PITS Where the remains of thousands of victims of this horrific disease lie buried THE GRAVE ROBBERS Discover why corpses were stolen from this very cemetery and sold THE FAMINE GRAVE See Belfast’s largest remaining grave from the period of the Great Hunger And lots, lots more ranging from the founders of the worlds oldest newspaper to the inventor of Christmas cards

EVERY SUNDAY AT 11am MEET OUTSIDE St ANNE’S CATHEDRAL Cost £7 £10 tour includes local history booklets and DVD of the Belfast Prison tour


Ireland History Magazine

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FIRE OVER BELFAST The day the Dublin Fire Brigade went North

Seventy years ago, bombs rained down on Belfast, and the Dublin Fire Brigade was ordered to rush northwards to help in fighting the flames. J. O. Leet gives here a personal account of that exciting morning when the border was forgotten …

eventy years ago , the York Street Flax Spinning Mill, the site of the present Yorkgate, was a smouldering heap of rubble for the most part, some of the factory still stood burning and little streets of workers two storey houses that flanked the mill looked as if some gaint imbecile child had wreaked on them every conceivable mischief. Making their way slowly, tortuously and often painfully through the heat and the dirt were a small group of men dragging after them the long lines of hose bringing cooling and quenching water into the inferno. They were red helmeted auxiliary firemen from Dublin, and this is the story of one of them. Returning consciousness made him aware of the hammering on the front

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door. Slowly at first he got out of bed, and then, as the urgency of the knocking banished the last residue of sleep, he thrust his head through the open window into the bright sunlight. Below stood a man still beating at the door. It was the station officer in his area, his face a little red from his exertions. "The Chief’s just phoned me: he wants you to ring him as soon as possible to Tara Street." "What about?" said the man at the window. "I’ve no idea," was the reply. Hastily he pulled on his clothes and made his way to the nearest phone box at the top of the road. Dailing "0" and one word "fire" put him through to Fire Brigade Headquarters, and in seconds,

J. O. Leet

he heard the familiar voice of the Chief. "I want you to go to Belfast," he said. "I have two pumps and crews, and I need a District Officer to go in charge. Can you manage it?" "Yes Sir," said the District Officer. "I’ll be with you in ten minutes. You sure you have all the men you want?" "Yes" came the answer, and the phone clicked. He walked back in the sunshine, thoughts racing through his head. Bicycle To Tara Street Belfast: must have been a blitz there, where’s our neutrality now? Back at the house, after a moments hesitation he changed into his oldest clothes. Grabbing his red steel helmet


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Ireland History Magazine

with it white bar at the side denoting his rank, he rammed it on his head, jumped on his old bicycle and started peddling furiously to Tara Street. His old but serviceable car was immobilised for lack of petrol. They were supposed to have eighty pumps in Dublin for the Auxiliary Fire Service, and only three of these were self propelled, the other seventy seven had to be towed. He knew there were precisely three vehicles available to tow them, the staff car and a lorry down in Tara Street and finally his own old Morris. He was speeding down Westland Row, now he had taken off the heavy helmet and it hung from the handlebars clanking against the frame. They said if Dublin was bombed they’d requisition taxis to tow the pumps. It had taken four hours to fit the tow bar to enable his car to pull a pump, he couldn’t just see them getting the taxis, let alone fitting them with tow bars when bombs were falling. Preparations He was at Tara Street now and he could see that preparations were well ahead. One of the three big Tangye selfpropelled pumps with a heavy trailer pump attached stood in the middle of the yard. Regular firemen in their navy uniforms were loading the lockers with rolls of hose and a subofficers was checking over the engine of the pump. A number of auxiliaries stood ready waiting, clad in oilskin jackets and trousers, rubber gum boots, belts and axes and of course the inevitable red helmets. One of the regulars directed the District Officer to a storeroom where he too could collect his oilskin boots and belted axe.

He put them on and went back into the yard. Things had changed now – a regular fire pump had arrived, its red colour contrasting vividly with the battleship grey of the auxiliary pumps. Its firemen too with their big but light plastic helmets, their waterproof coats covering their uniforms, looked very different to the almost comic appearance of the men that were to be in charge. He found out quickly that the new arrivals were from Dun Laoghaire, and they too were bound for Belfast. Then he saw a familiar face, a station officer of the auxiliaries in the next area to his, obviously to be his second in command. None of the other auxiliary firemen came from his area, a few he vaguely recognised, the rest he did not know. "John," he said, "fall in the men, and allocate them to two pumps, you’d better be number one on the Tangye." The Station Officer was giving his orders while the District Officer walked around the Tangye and the heavy trailer, checking the equipment.

He realised that the Chief was coming towards him, speaking to the Dun Laoghaire officer, to all the men. "Belfast has been bombed; they have asked us for assistance. A regular pump and crew left four hours ago, followed by the second officer in the staff car drawing a light trailer; we have since had a further appeal for help. I suggest that the Dublin and Dun Laogaire pumps should travel in convoy, in case of trouble on the road. You are to report to the Fire Brigade Headquarters in Belfast. I have an important final instruction – you must return to Dublin tonight, no matter what may happen, and," here a faint smile passed over his face, "with your tanks full of petrol from the North. Good luck to you." The engines started simultaneously, the Dun Loaghaire pump leading through the archway into Tara Street; the Tangye and the tow in close pursuit. They were off. The District Officer glanced at his watch; it was nearly a quarter past seven. He was


Ireland History Magazine sitting in the Tangye, John at his right at the wheel, and a sub-officer from another area on his left. Spread over the rest of the Tangye were nine men, the rest of his crews, no doubt hanging on grimly at first, but they would get used to it. He didn’t expect that any of them had been for a ride on a pump before. Even now he was feeling sticky in the oilskins they had been intended for decontamination squads who were supposed to deal with attacks of poison gas, and consequently they had no ventilation. The instructions issued with them said they were on no account to be worn for more than four hours. Apart from the undoubted fact that they were gas proof, and consequently water proof, they were not exactly suited for fire fighting. His station officer was saying: "Are you sure you wouldn’t like to drive?" "No," he answered. "You’re driving fine; I never handeled anything this size."

Bell Ringing As they turned around Mountjoy Square, he was conscious of the feeling of riding in a breeze on a kite with a peculiarly cumbersome tail. They were out on the Santry Road now, green hedges were taking the place of suburban garden walls. Apart from the time of day, the petrol shortage ensured there was no traffic on the road. Suddenly the District Officer became aware of a clanging with the realisation that it had been going on for a long time. He turned to the sub-officer. "Tell whoever is ringing that bell to stop it." The sub-officer leant out of the side window, but his exhortations were followed by no lessening of the noise. They were well out in the country now, and whatever reasons there might be for bell ringing in the city, there was none here. He leant across the subofficer and thrust his head through the window and roared; "If that bloody bell-ringing doesn’t

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stop, I’ll come round and crucify whoever is doing it." With a final peal, the ringing ceased, and now the roar of the engine dominated. On straight stretches the Dun Loaghaire pump could be seen far ahead. It was going surprisingly fast but then of course it had nothing to tow. By the time they had reached Balbriggan it was out of sight, but to his surprise it had halted at Drogheda; he told John to stop. He hopped out of the cab to find out from the laconic Dun Loaghaire Officer what had happened. It was quite simple, standard city pumps were not designed for long distance and this one couldn’t rekon on going more than forty or fifty miles on its tankful. They were consequently waiting for the town clerk of Drogheda to produce petrol without either cash or the much more important coupons. The Border Perhaps ten minutes passed before they got away. It seemed a lot more. The District Officer and his men writhed with impatience, but he felt that the orders to keep the convoy had better not be disregarded. Again in Dundalk came the same dismal wait while Dun Laoghaire negotiated for gas. They were off at last, the red pumps effortlessly taking the lead as the road rose to meet the coming challenge of the Mourne Mountains. Then he saw uniformed men on the road excitedly beckoning them on, he turned to John, "Even the Customs Barriers are down," he said. They roared over the border at a steady sixty, it might as well not exist, he reflected, on this occasion anyhow.


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Ireland History Magazine the cement. The door was shut, and knocking brought no response. He ran round to see if there was a side entrance; a small man was walking towards him. "Have you any instructions for the fire service from Dublin?" he almost shouted. "I have not," came the reply." But if you take the third turn on your left as you pass down the road, they’ll be able maybe to direct you in the hotel there." The District Officer turned to run back to the pump. He told the other two what had happened. They were in the outer suburbs now, and seemed to be looking down at the city. There was no sign from here of smoke, much less of fire over Belfast.

Up the hills they were slowing down, the heavy trailer dragging them back, and once over the crest, a mad downhill rush, the pump behind straining at its low bar in an effort to overtake the Tangye. It seemed to ricochet from once side of the road to the other, at times narrowly missing the ditch. The Station Officer drove grimly, everyone else was probably a little frightened, certainly the District Officer, though used to fast driving, could but wonder occasionally if they would ever reach Belfast. The level road after the hills brought them easier going and the town of Lisburn, where a burly big R.U.C. sergeant stood waiting in the main street his hand up-

held. The station officer pulled up alongside him. "You’re to proceed to the Royal Agricultural Buildings; they’re on your right hand as you’re driving into Belfast; you can’t miss them. They’ll give you directions there as to where you’re to go," said the sergeant. The Station Officer let in the clutch and accelerated until at last they were on the crest of the straight Lisburn Road that leads into the heart of Belfast city. Immediately on the right was the Royal Agricultural Buildings, and at the main gates they stopped. The District Officer jumped out and ran in to the door of the main building, his rubber boots ringing hallowly on

Small Hotel At the turn to the left they swerved sharply into a narrow road. To his complete amazement, the District Officer saw three fire pumps parked outside a small hotel, while some of their crews hung around outside. He was into the hotel like a flash. The entrance lounge seemed full of firemen with red helmets. From Dun Laoghaire, Drogheda and Dundalk they told him. "And their officers?" "Up in the office," they pointed. He was up the stairs, a quick look : the reception office, a girl trying to telephone, the three officers standing by the desk. "Come on to Central," he said, "and lets waste no more time." Now the Tangye took the lead into the city, its bell ringing once again and in her wake followed the other brigades from the South. "Anyone know their way to Central


Ireland History Magazine Station?" he asked. Officers and men, of the twelve of them, none of them knew Belfast. Something else to thank the border for, he reflected. By the simple expedient of shouting at a crossroad the one word ‘Central’ no furthur time was lost. There was still no sign of any blitz until, just as Central Station came into sight, he saw a bombed out building, with dust and smoke still rising from the ruins. As the Tangye pulled up at Central Station, a small square built man, no longer young, came out of the doorway. The District Officer got out, saluted and reported: "Auxiliary Fire Service from Dublin, sir, with two pumps." you can get something to eat before you start work." Exhausted Workers As the Chief turned to meet the crews The Belfast Chief Officer looked at of the other pumps the District Officer him for a moment, "I expect you and said, "I would like to report back to your men have had no breakfast, just Dublin that we have arrived." over there across the street in the hall "Aye, you can try and phone through,"

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said the chief, "go in there to the control room." Instead of the usual two firemen there was no one in the control room but a girl. The District Officer wrote quickly on a pad beside the phone. "Fire Brigade Headquarters, Tara Street, Dublin, auxiliaries have arrived safely." He said to the girl, "Get that message through to Dublin." "Oh I couldn’t do that," she said and then as an afterthought, "unless its priority." "Of course it’s priority," he snapped and strode back to his waiting men. The meal was a quick one, remarkable for the sparkling white bread. It seemed a long time since he had seen white bread – a contrast to the grey war time bread in the neutral South. Scattered here and there in the big room at trestle tables were a few dirty tired looking Belfast A.R.P. workers from the different services. One had fallen asleep, his head on the table beside his half finished food. The District Officer hurried the men back


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Ireland History Magazine

York Street Mill

to Central Station. There was no sign of the Chief now, but the girl said she had sent the message to Dublin, and out in the yard was a tall young National Fire Service Officer, his face pale with exhaustion under the dirt, his uniform grey with dust. Wrong Pipes "I have been told to pilot you," he said. "Before we go, what type of stand pipes do you have?" The District Officer answered "Bayonet." A horrible suspicion was growing in his mind. The stand pipes were the only way you could get water from the main’s hydrants into your pumps. If the Dublin stand pipes didn’t fit the Belfast hydrants, they weren’t going to pump much water. "They’re no use," he heard the Belfast officer saying. "Ours are all screw in. We’ll see if there are any around the yard." They looked in vain, the District Officer cursing the lack of standardisation in fire fighting

equipment and the apparent ignorance of Dublin’s headquarters as to what was the practice in the North, but mainly his own inability to think of a soloution. The Belfast officer went ahead in what was obviously his own old car and the Tangye and its tow lumbered after him. The after effects of the bombing were becoming more apparent. Here and there whole blocks were flattened, and bricks and rubble littered the streets. In places, where they had been blocked, a way through had been

bulldozed in the main thoroughfares, but the side turns in many cases were choked with fallen debris. The Belfast officer pulled up beside what remained of a great factory. He got out and came back to the Tangye. The District Officer noticed for the first time he was limping badly. "That was the York Street Flax Mills." Said the Belfast officer. "You can make it your main objective, but I can’t see you getting at it from this side. I’ll bring you round to the York Street end." Back in the car he turned round in the wide street. As the Tangye followed slowly, the District Officer looked over the expanse of smoking and smouldering ruins. Suddenly there was a commotion. From a side lane a small group of women came running. "There’s a house on fire," they cried. The District Officer stopped the Tangye and told the sub-officer to take his crew and the heavy trailer to deal with it. They detached the trailer pump and hand hauled it across the lane from where the women had come. "When you’re through take that turn to the left and follow me down to York Street," he shouted.

York Street Mill


Ireland History Magazine

British troops fighting a fire on the New Lodge Road Out of the corner of his eye he had seen the Belfast men take the turn, and now the Tangye relieved of the dragging trailer jumped briskly forward. He found the Belfast officer at a passage way off York Street that seemed to lead to the heart of the mill. Beside him was a hydrant, which had all the water they wanted, but which they could not use. He went over to the Belfast officer. "Have you a river or pond anywhere handy?" "Yes there’s a river down there, but it’s about three or four hundred yards away. If you don’t mind I’ll get off now. I ran a six inch nail through my foot during the night and I’m pegged out." The Belfast man gave a tired smile and drove away. Getting Water The District Officer looked across York Street, down the narrow lane which presumably led to the river. Four hundred yards would use up all the hose and at that he could only hope to get a trickle of water at the fire. The

Station Officer was looking round him. "I remember a tip I got in London, to place a barrel without a bottom in it over the hydrant and then turn the valve on and the barrel will fill up." The D.O. was frankly sceptical. "We haven’t got a barrel," he said. "We’ll have a look," said the Station Officer. And a short distance up the street there it was – a fruit barrel still intact, lying among the rubble of a bombed out

A Tangye Fire Pump trailer

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shop. The men gathered round expectantly. Planks angling from a nearby wall pushed on top of the barrel, now sitting over the hydrant, pressing it down firmly on the pathway. The Station Officer turned on the hydrant valve. Water gushed out through the crevice between the base of the funnel and the path, but the pressue of the mains was filling the barrel quickly. "Make down suction," ordered the D.O. and in a minute the thick corrugated suction hose was assembled, the engine of the pump was roaring into action and a thin line of canvas hose was being quickly run out by the branch men, who, once they had water, would direct their branch or nozzle on the fire. "Good work, John," said the District Officer. He saw that the pump could not be worked at anything like full force or it would empty the barrel quicker than it could fill. But still there was enough water to give reasonable pressure in one line of hose. He went forward to the two men on the branch. Ahead of


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them for countless yards lay an uneven heap of smoking hot rubble, to their left a portion of the mills still stood. Here there were signs of fire spreading, and this must be their objective. The only approach was over the smouldering debris on which they were working. Academy Street A call from the Station Officer brought him back. The heavy trailer had rejoined them, the alarm that had diverted them had been the next best thing to a false one. There was no point keeping them there, there wasn’t enough water for one pump. He looked down York Street. A good distance away another trailer pump appeared to be in action. Calling the heavy trailer crew to follow him, he set of at a trot. He could see now that soldiers were working the pump and as he approached an N.C.O. came to meet him. He explained the difficulty about his stand pipe. Fortunately, the soldiers’ pump carried a spare and not

far away was another hydrant. The two pumps could both tackle the very considerable fire here. "Academy Street," said the N.C.O., "there was a A.R.P. Depot ‘ere." The heavy trailer was making down now, getting their water running out of their hose. "The firemen told us," said the N.C.O., "when they were knocking off, that there was an unexploded bomb in there. I thought you ought to know." He pointed to the middle of the smoking ruins. The District Officer saw the two branch men running out their hose in precisely that direction. His men, his responsibility, his decision. Well, he believed that a fireman should should go for his fire whatever the dangers might lie in his way. But the fact that it wasn’t his own skin he was risking but somebody else’s , made the decision less easy. Then he remembered hearing that about eleven out of twelve so-called unexploded bombs were phoney. After all if you

A lucky escape for St Anne’s Cathedral with Academy Street arrowed

heard a large lump of masonry fall in your back garden during a raid, what more natural than to think it was a bomb that had failed to explode, but might do at any time? He came to his decision. Let the men fight the fire and better on the whole not to tell them. He went back to the Tangye, all was going well as far as the limitations of the barrel allowed. He went on to the men at the branch and saw the water turning into clouds of steam as it dug into heaps of red hot rubble. There was a side turning leading up to where the terraces of workmen’s little two storied houses were. The first two rows had been flattened. The next was mysteriously untouched, and it was followed by another with the whole front removed, like looking into a row of dolls houses. The furniture in the rooms, the wallpaper. It had a strange unreal effect – like something seen in a dream. Casualties Further on a squad of soldiers dug among the ruins. There was no fire here. Two of them were carrying the dusty body of a little girl. He was distracted momentarily by the sight of a line of hose. Following it eagerly he had come to what he had most hoped for, a Belfast stand pipe. Quickly he wrenched it out of the hydrant and bearing it in triumph in his arms ran with it to the Tangye. It was then that he realised how far he had come, the stand pipe was pretty heavy. He greeted the Station Officer triumphantly. "A stand pipe, John, we can really get going now." Quicky the change over was made


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Troops search for survivors and bodies among the bombed rubble

from barrel to standpipe and quickly too, a second line of hose made its way into the heart of the York Street Mills. There was water in plenty now at as much pressure as the men on both branches could hold. Along deserted York Street came three women and a pram, he barely saw them out of the corner of his eye. One of them had come up to him. "May we offer you and your men some tea?" she said. He thanked her noticing now that her pram held in fact a large urn and not a child. John, the two men at the pump and himself had their cups and he arranged for the men at the branches to be relieved so that they, too, could share in this unexpected manna. He paid a visit to the heavy trailer where all appeared well and told them that

they, too, might shortly expect a welcome cup of tea. On his return to the Tangye one of the men reported with a hand badly cut by broken glass. The pumps did not carry any First Aid equipment, which no doubt would have been considered an interference by the Fire Service with the sole rights of the casualty service. He brought the man with him down the street, having a vague idea of having noticed among the ruins, a chemist’s shop. He had, and the chemist was there, one of the few remaining inhabitants in the street. The fireman’s cut was professional bandaged. Back at the fire at the spinning mill, progress was being steadily made and another obstacle was becoming apparent. The smouldering heap of

rubble fell steeply down to the side of what looked like a small canal. On the other side of this, rising from the edge of the water, rose the walls of that part of the mill that had not been flattened. To cross this canal - which was perhaps eight feet wide - was yet another problem. Well, it could wait, he reflected, they still had quite a way to go. The day was wearing on, though, and he had quite lost count of the number of times he had travelled the quarter of a mile that divided his two pumps. He saw no one on his journeys, only the soldiers among the ruins. What had happened to all the Belfast A.R.P. services? Then the obvious solution came to him. The blitz had happened shortly after midnight. The Belfast Fire Service, demolition, casualty and wardens had


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York Street Railway Station all got to work at once. But before he arrived they had just dropped from exhaustion, left their equipment and gone; they had no second shift to take their place. Soon he established this is what had, in fact, happened. In their surrounding neighbourhood there were pumps, hose and above all stand pipes galore, abandoned by their spent crews. When he got back to the men at the branches, he found to his surprise that they had already crossed into the mill buildings where the hoses were now playing. One man alone had got over first somehow, and with the aid of a rope had brought the hose across. Back again at the Tangye, he found some members of the Drogheda outfit looking for directions. This was quickly solved by the arrival of a Belfast boy who announced that the railway station at the end of York Street was ablaze. Not long after another respite came in the shape of a travelling army canteen,

with a variety of hot drinks and sandwiches. The whole crew fell to eagerly by turns. They were not yet too tired not to be hungry. He made another trip to Academy Street. The bomb, if it was one, though still alive in his thoughts, lay dormant. When he arrived back, it was to find a dapper civilian who seemed filled with curiosity at the Tangye. The District Officer was very short in his answers, and probably rude. He was feeling very tired by now, dirty and sweaty. The quarter mile between the two pumps in those infernal oilskins was becoming endless. When the civilian had at last gone, the station officer looked at him quizzically. “Know who that was?” he said. “No, you tell me.” “He’s an Irish Army Major,” said the station officer, “the one who acts as liaison officer between the A.R.P. and the military in Dublin.” “Oh well,” said the D.O., “I expect he realised we were busy.”

Daylight fading The brightness of the spring day was beginning to fade, and the question of getting back to Dublin that night, in keeping with instructions, had begun to occupy his mind. As if in answer to his thoughts a car appeared driving slowly down the length of York Street. He stepped out and hailed it. The car was new, its occupant a young officer of the N.F.S. looking equally smart and polished. Without ceremony the D.O. got in beside him, with one word “Central.” Silently they drove through the blasted, littered streets. At central he found to his relief that the Dublin regular firemen had just checked in and were preparing to have a meal. He found the second officer who agreed that the auxiliaries had better be brought in now and suggested going back with him to York Street. The second, no doubt tired like himself, as they drove back first to Academy Street, where the fire was still going, and then to York Street where it was out at last. Orders were given to “make up.” The second officer drove back to Central, and the District Officer watched the men laboriously rolling up the dirty lengths of hose. He went to help them when, providentially, some of the Dundalk men arrived to give welcome assistance. Between the two lines of hose, at least five hundred yards must have been used. The Station Officer had been at the motor of the pump all day, maintaining the supply of water and keeping the pressure delicately at the highest possible maximum. The District Officer called to him. “Come on John, we’ll have a look round before we go.”


Ireland History Magazine They took their place on the Tangye and went down York Street to collect the heavy trailer and its crew. On arrival at Central Station, his crews went up to get some food. Along with the Station Officer he crossed the road to have a drink with some of the regulars. He felt very tired now, there was no doubt that sitting in an office was no training for fire fighting. The Second Officer suggested he should travel with him back to Dublin in the staff car. He felt that he should not desert his crews but he knew however he travelled he would sleep most of the way. The staff car was more comfortable and in leaving the pumps in John's care he knew they'd be safe. A little later they started, as the sun was setting. At the Lisburn Road their pace became slower and slower. A mass of walking humanity seemed to fill the road from one side to the other. All seemed to be carrying bundles or small children and some were pushing prams or go-cars. All had obviously brought whatever valuables they could Refugees and home manage. He saw china teapots, frying Completely soothed he walked back pans, a bundle of books, clothes and with the Station Officer to the pumps blankets among the assortment. The where the make up was now finished. car would make little headway through Souvenirs They walked over to the mounds of rubble as the D.O. told him what the men had done. Even now, when the fire was out, it seemed a miracle that they had succeeded in getting their hose into the mill building. Suddenly the station officer stopped. At his feet lay a tattered piece of thick green canvas. “Bit of the parachute of the bomb that probably did most of the damage round here,” he said, hacking off a piece with his axe. “Like a bit?” The District Officer nodded, it would be a souvenir of his trip to Belfast. John handed it to him and they walked over the debris, Again the station officer halted. This time he found the tail fin of a kilo incendiary. The District Officer felt a pang of jealously. Why hadn’t he seen it first? That was something really worth bringing back. But a minute or two later John found another one and presented it to the D.O. who took it gratefully.

The bombed area between York Street and Academy Street

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the closely packed throng. The District Officer watched them. Their faces seemed grey and expressionless in the fading light. They must think, he thought, that Belfast will be bombed again tonight. There is no chance of their finding shelter, but if the weather holds they will come to no harm in the fields and at least they will feel safe. The car stopped, they were nearing a road block, and coming against them seemed an endless file of taxis, which were obviously returning to the city to look for more fares they would take out to the refuge of the country towns. What was it he had been told about the Dublin taxis, he wondered. Yes, they were to tow the trailer pumps. He laughed mirthlessly. As the last of the taxis passed through the road block, they moved slowly forward again. They could go a little faster now, the road was widening a little. He settled down in his seat, saying to the Second that he was going to sleep, and closed his eyes. He seemed at once to be looking at the Stillorgan Road leading out of Dublin to the South. It was tightly packed with people, their faces grey and expressionless. Some were people that he knew, they were all carrying bundles or little children, he tried to speak to them, they could not hear him, he tried to touch them, they were too far away. They were all only intent in making their escape from the city of death and destruction and he could do nothing to help them. He woke from his nightmare as they stopped briefly at the Customs and then dozed fitfully for the rest of the journey. At Fire Brigade Headquarters he was given a cup of Bovril and then he cycled slowly home. It was after midnight.


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The burnt out cinema at Drumcolliher

The remains in coffins lying in the ruins of the cinema awaiting identification


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THE GHOSTS OF DROMCOLLIHER A

lmost every tragic event throughout the world has its own tale of ghosts connected with it. Most of these stories are as a result of ‘active imaginations’ by authors and numerous story tellers, but not them all. Incidents surrounding painful deaths such as burning always seem to be the main focus of these tales and in Ireland there is no exception. The tragic events usually have a number of different stories connected with them and that which occurred in the small village of Dromcolliher in 1926 is no different.

Dromcolliher (also knows as Drumcollogher) is a small village in Co. Limerick close to the borders of North Cork. It derives its name from Drom Collachair, which is a corruption of DromColl-Choille meaning Ridge of the Hazel Wood, and at the turn of the last century the population of the village was around 1,000. On Sunday 5th of September 1926, local man William ‘Baby’ Forde hired an upstairs room in Patrick Brennan’s two storey shed at Church Street in order to use it as a make-shift cinema. This building


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was mainly a wooden structure and in order to use upstairs William Forde had to construct a make-shift stairway. The films were brought from Cork and were The White Outlaw and Baby Be Good. Just under 200 people showed up to watch these films. As there was no electricity in the building the projector was run by a lorry engine converted for the purpose and lighting was supplied by a large number of candles. Everything was going to plan and the gathered audience were enjoying the show. At around 9.30 pm one of the candles fell on to a roll of film and it caught fire. The projector operator then attempted to put it out but instead made matters worse. The whole thing then erupted into a mass of ABOVE & BELOW - View of the interior of flames and panic broke out. All those the ruins with relatives attempting to identify behind the projector managed to scramble the bodies out of the building but those in front were trapped by the flames. Most of these people then ran down to the back of the building as there were two windows situated there but when they removed the heavy curtains they discovered that the two windows, their only way of escape, were heavily barred. The audience made a wild rush for the only exit which the building afforded, and in the struggle to get through the flames many people were trampled upon, including women and children. By this stage it was too late for all those still inside the building to escape. Almost instantaneously the makeshift cinema had become a raging inferno, and amidst terrible scenes those inside were forced to await painful and agonising deaths. Heart rendering cries were heard by those outside The first of the funerals from within the burning building as the


Ireland History Magazine

victims one by one succumbed to the attack of the awful element, and those outside were rendered powerless to give any assistance. Some who were fortunate enough to escape endeavoured to return to the rescue, and one at least who made this brave endeavour died in the attempt. When the fire brigade arrived the whole building was completely ablaze and there was very little they could do. When they eventually quelled the flames the military were called in from the city of Limerick to search for the remains of those trapped. Forty six charred bodies were found and a further two died later in hospital as a result of injuries. After each body was discovered it was placed inside a coffin, all of which were taken to the scene by a number of different undertakers. When all the bodies were discovered all the coffins were laid out inside the remains of the building and those who had family members missing were then asked to look at each one for identification purposes. The first to do this terrible task were two sisters aged 10 and 8 who were trying to identify the remains of their parents. When all the bodies were eventually identified they were taken to the local Catholic church and after a number of services were buried in a communal grave in the local churchyard.

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The dead were as follows:Mary O’Callaghan (60), William Ahern (31), William Savage (55), Mrs F. McAuliffe (45), May McAuliffe (45), Miss M. McAuliffe (16), John McAuliffe (14), May O’Brien (24), Jeremiah Buckley (45), Ellie Buckley (40), Bridie Buckley (11), Kate Wall (42), Nora Kirwan (17), James Quaide (36), John Barnett (40), - Barnett (8), - Barnett (6), Thomas Buckley (60), Ita Noonan (17), - Noonan (13), Eugene Sullivan (9), Daniel Horan (9), Anthony McCartney (32),

Jeremiah O’Brien (53), Nellie O’Brien (19), Pat O’Donnell (50), Dan Fitzgerald (42), - Fitzgerald (3 children), Mr Walsh (50), Violet Irwin (15), Noran Hannigan (10), William Quirke (19), John Egan (46), Margaret Kirwan (15), Nora Long (60), Bridget Sheehan (13), Mrs Madden (45), Mrs Turner (73), Bridie Sullivan (21), Nora Sullivan (19), James Kenny (13), John Kenny (8), Maurice Harnett (8), Dan Collins (50), Kate Collins (20), Maurice Collins (45).

Mr and Mrs Jermiah Buckley

Drumcollogher was devastated and the village bitterly turned against William Forde who had organised the event and who was now in police custody. Many people in the village had lost loved ones and in a number of cases whole families Patrick O’Donnell, 50 were wiped out.

Bridie Buckley, 11


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As previously stated the person who the village blamed for this tragedy was William Forde. Local people went to his home and after smashing all the windows intimidated his family into leaving. The family fled and the house lay empty but a few days later a number of incidents were to occur which not only scared those who lived around the house but almost terrified the entire village.

lived next to the Forde home began to be disturbed by loud banging noises. Believing that local people were again taking their vengeance out on the house the neighbours went outside to investigate but were shocked to discover that there was no one around and that no one was in the house. At this stage the banging noise had stopped but when the neighbours returned to their homes it again resumed. The neighbours on both sides told the following The first reports of any incidents occurred day how the banging continued for over two days after the tragedy when those who an hour even though no one was in the house. The following night a large crowd The square in which there is scarcely of people assembled in front of the Forde’s house to hear this banging noise but when a house that has not suffered nothing was heard a number of the bereavement assembled audience began to throw stones through the windows before leaving, dismissing the incident as a sick prank. The next day, in case someone set it on fire, one of the neighbours secured the house and boarded up all the windows, but over the next few weeks he had claimed that a number of strange sounds were heard coming from the house. These sounds included banging and thumping but the most terrifying was a loud long scraping sound as though someone, or something, was trying to claw its way through the walls. The neighbours knew that nobody could have been doing this as the entire The Bishop of Limerick blessing the remains house was well secured and when local people heard about the incidents they no longer dismissed them. No one went anywhere near the house and one of the neighbours moved out and stayed with relatives outside the village. The sounds continued as well as a number of other incidents which would now be known as All the victims but one were buried in a mass ‘Poltergeist activity.’ grave in the local cemetery


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Church Street with the arrow pointing out the ill fated cinema The local church entirely dismissed the religious service in the home of the Forde whole incident as superstitious nonsense, family (pictured below left) and after this, however, one local Catholic priest held a all the incidents within the house stopped. different view. This priest was a friend of the man who lived next door and also knew There were also a number of different other the family who had moved out. Knowing supernatural incidents being reported but that there was no way these people were many of them were believed to have been going to make all this up the priest offered untrue. A number of sightings were then to stay in his friend's home. After staying reported by many respectable local people a few nights the sounds returned and the and as could be expected most of them priest heard every one of them. The were around the ruins of the burnt out following day he decided to hold a small building. However, there were other sightings which were more distressing as those who claimed to have seen them knew who it was they were looking at. One of the most pitiful aspects of the whole tragedy was the fact that entire families were killed. One of these was the Buckley family. Some time after the tragedy some young people began to state that they had seen a ghost at an upstairs window of the Buckley home. The youths claimed that the apparition was that of a young girl and that they believed that it had been the family's eleven years-old daughter Bridie. When later asked about what exactly they had seen they claimed that it was definitely a


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young girl and that the sighting only lasted for a few seconds. At the beginning their stories went unbelieved but after a number of different people claimed to have seen the same thing the people of the village took a different attitude towards it. Once again the same priest carried out a religious service in the dead family’s home (Pictured below) but after all his efforts the apparition continued to be seen for a number of years afterwards. Another apparition, again that of a young girl, was also claimed to have been seen in the ruins of the building. Once again a large number of locals claimed to have seen the ghost of a little girl. It appeared to have been standing in the one area and, after lasting for a number of seconds, suddenly

disappeared. After a number of sightings some of those who seen it stated that it was the apparition of one of the girls killed in the fire, eleven-year old Norah Hannigan. This little girl was over from England staying with relatives when she was killed in the tragedy. This sighting also lasted a number of years and both this and the previous sightings were believed by many people throughout the village. Why they appeared and what was the purpose could never be explained, however, they are extremely similar to many ghost stories throughout the world. Maybe if the purpose of these are ever explained then we will know the reason why the ghosts of the two young girls who were tragically killed in this fire returned.


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Robert Emmet’s Faithful Servant of Michael Dwyer, the dauntless leader and fighter from Wicklow, and she was able to tell Emmet how to get in touch with him and the others who were to join in his enterprise.

Truly has the poet boasted: With wonderful deathless ditties We build up the world's great cities, And out of a fabulous story We fashion an empires glory One man with a dream at pleasure Shall go forth and conquer a crown And three with a new song's measure Can trample an empire down.

for, great, indeed, is the power of a song, especially in Ireland, where, be it noted, the art of poetry was born, and where, in olden days, verse. And in that far off time a poet who considered himself wronged, had his revenge by satirising with a biting poetic satire the one who had rashly offended him, and so gifted in this malicious art were some of the poets that, tradition has it, they could raise blisters on the face of an enemy by their satires. Be that as it may, in more recent days it will be seen that a poet could bestow lasting fame with a 'deathless ditty,' as in the case of Moore, whose song 'She is Far from the Land,' immortalised for all time Robert Emmet’s sweetheart Sarah Curran as an Irish heroine. One would not grudge the poor, unhappy girl her fame but heroine she was not. Pretty,

gentle, sweet, and not particularly strong minded, she was a creature made for the lighter side of life, and it was her tragedy that she loved and was loved by a revolutionary. The real heroine of Emmet's brave bid for Ireland's freedom is 'unwept, unhonoured and unsung,' which is a blot on the pages of Irish history. Moore was too much of a snob to write verses about a mere servant girl, and so Anne Devlin went through life in poverty and neglect, her heroic conduct unrecognised by the Irish people, while Sarah Curran's memory was kept green by the magic of song. When Robert Emmet was living at Butterfield Lane, Rathfarnham, under the name of Robert Ellis, Anne Devlin was his housekeeper, and he trusted her implicitly. It is believed that she was the niece

It was a dull life for a young girl in that unfurnished house at Rathfarnham, where men were coming and going at all times, sleeping on mattresses laid on the floor; nor was Anne any more comfortably fixed. She knew all the men who attended the meetings which Emmet held there, and she it was who carried his letters to Sarah Curran. She was loyalty itself, and bitterly she paid for it. When Emmett was "on his keeping" after the failure of the Rising of 1803, and the yeomen arrived to search the house in Butterfield Lane, they found Anne there and proceeded to question her, in no gentle manner, as to the tenant, Robert Ellis. She refused to give them any information, and the brave yeomen tried to persuade her to speak by prodding her with their bayonets until she was streaming with blood. But still she would not answer their


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Robert Emmet questions. They then resorted to one of their favourite tortures - half hanging. A cart was tilted up, a rope tied to one of the shafts, with one end around Anne's neck; as the cart was titled the poor girl was lifted off the ground by the neck and half strangled ; then she was lowered and questioned again. Her reply was: "You may murder me, you villains, but not one word about him will you ever get from me." Again they tightened the rope, and as she swung in the air she gasped : "Lord Jesus, have my soul." Again and again the torture was applied until she was unconscious. As soon as she recovered they questioned her afresh, but her reply was always the same : "I have nothing to tell ; I will tell you nothing." So they left her, bleeding, half choked, but dauntless still.

Then she was arrested, and in prison Major Sirr, finding that force availed nothing against the girl's heroic determination, tried what guile could do to extract the desired information. Speaking gently to her, he pointed out that Mr Ellis, not being a relation, there was no reason for her suffering because of him. Why not save yourself? he asked - and there would be ÂŁ500 for her, just as a present! It was useless - she would tell nothing. They released her, and the rest of her life is - a blank. Shortly before her death Dr Madden, who was writing a life of Robert Emmet, searched until he found her - an old woman, living in poverty and obscurity. She went with him to the house in Butterfield Lane, and from the recesses of her memory brought forth the story of those days of terror ; drew for him a glowing picture of the tragic young hero who she had served so faithfully, and spoke of the lovely face and gentle manner of poor Sarah Curran.

To the memory of Anne Devlin (Campbell) The faithful servant of Robert Emmet Who possessed some rare, and many noble qualities Who lived in obscurity and poverty And so died on the 18th day of September, 1851 Aged 70 years May she rest in peace Sarah Curran was luckier, for she died young - though her death was not just as the poet and succeeding writers pictured it. Washington Irving, the American author, in his essay, 'The Broken Heart,' writes of her last days, after the marriage to the English officer who had gained her hand, with the

Dr. Madden made Anne's last days easier for her, and when she died he placed over her grave a monument with this Monument to Anne Devlin at inscription : Rathmines


Ireland History Magazine

understanding that her heart Let us, by all means, continue could not go with it. He writes to sing of poor Sarah Curran, thus:but there is not a poet among us to hymn the praises of the She was an amiable and heroic, the dauntless girl who exemplary wife, and made an suffered torture rather than effort to be a happy one; but betray the gallant lad who had nothing could cure the silent fought and lost? Is an epitaph and devouring melancholy that on a tombstone to be the only she entered into her very soul. recognition of one whose She wasted away, in a slow but heroic conduct is something to hopeless decline, and at length wonder at - heroism which may sunk into the grave, the victim have been equalled, but has of a broken heart.' never been surpassed by all Broken-hearted she was surely, those who suffered for the but she died in child-birth. cause of freedom?

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Sarah Curran (1782 – May 5, 1808) was the youngest daughter of John Philpot Curran, an eminent Irish lawyer. She lived in the priory in Rathfarnham and was Robert Emmet's great love. She met Robert through her brother Richard. Richard Curran was a fellow student with Robert Emmet at Trinity College. Sarah's father considered Robert unsuitable, and their courtship was conducted through letters and clandestine meetings. Robert and Sarah were secretly engaged in 1803. When her father discovered that Sarah was engaged, he disowned her and then treated her so harshly that she had to take refuge with friends in Cork, where she met and married Captain Robert Sturgeon in November 1805. The two had a child who died in infancy. Sarah died of consumption (tuberculosis) and was laid to rest in the birthplace of her father at Newmarket, County Cork.


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£2.50 (NI) €3 (RoI)

Ireland History Magazine 1  

Articles of historical interest from all over Ireland

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