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Baldoyle 1916



Michael J Hurley


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Cover picture is of James McCormack, by courtesy of Jimmy & Sheila McCormack.


This year of 2016 will see extensive celebrations and official functions to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising in Dublin. At the time of writing work has commenced on the construction of a memorial bench to the memory of James McCormack who was an employee of the Baldoyle Race Company when he was killed in the fighting. The bench is situated in the Baldoyle Racecourse Community Garden which is highly appropriate. However, it is interesting to ponder how James’ patriotism might have been perceive by the predominantly pro-union race company had he returned unscathed to his job.

We also look at life in the village during a year that must have seen conflicting loyalties with many local men away fighting in the Great War.

I would like to express gratitude to Jimmy and Sheila McCormack for their assistance with information on James McCormack, Jimmy’s grandfather.


Michael J Hurley ©2016.


Baldoyle in 1916


Note: In this chapter I have tried to recreate the events and times in Baldoyle during the year of the 1916 Rebellion in Dublin. I avoid actual local involvement with the rebellion and path to independence, instead treating it as a separate chapter to follow this.


Baldoyle in 1916 was a small quiet village that extended from the stand of the racecourse to the Coastguard Station and as far inland as Larkhill Farm where the Credit Union stands today. There were two public houses; Mrs. Duff’s on College Street and J. Doyle’s on Main Street. The Sisters Browne ran a small huxter shop opposite the church and Michael Connolly had a shop at Ballhedge.

Only two houses had electric power that year: the convent of the Sisters of Charity and the Novitiate of the Christian Brothers. Both were supplied from the powerhouse of the Hill of Howth tramway at Sutton & Baldoyle Station. The street lamps were oil fuelled and lit every evening by the lamplighter Richie Montague. The Parish Priest was the elderly Richard Carrick (below, courtesy Cora Lynch Dempsey) who lived in the Parochial House which is now the offices of solicitor Michael Kennedy.

The New Year of 1916, a Leap Year, was a Saturday started off in Baldoyle with the customary National Hunt race meeting here. Here is how the Kildare Observer reported the meeting one week later: Baldoyle in the “good old summer-time” – or on August Bank Holiday – is hard to beat. The gentle breezes from the sea are as elixir to the haggard and much-travelled racing man, but Baldoyle when it’s like what is was on New Year’s Day is a place to give the go-by to. A gale that would blow the ambition from the most enthusiastic “regular”, coupled with a downpour that was guaranteed to damp the ardour of anyone – young, old, or middle-aged – and yet the crowd was of most respectable dimensions; indeed, under the circumstances, it was really surprising to find so many venturing to Sutton (Station) , but your average racing man is a very optimistic soul, and he told us “it won’t be too bad in the afternoon”, and “one might win a bundle”….The conditions were all in favour of the luncheon and refreshment bars, and visitors were wishing each other “many happy returns.”

The Freeman’s Journal told us that the gale drove right into the stands and as the first race was scheduled for off at 12.30, it was decided to delay the start for ten minutes in which period the wind did in fact moderate some. The storm continued for over two days. The Clerk of the Course R M’K Waters had published a notice two days earlier stating that No touts, Standings, Roulette Tables, Horse Carts, or Mineral Water carts will be allowed to enter the People’s Park at Baldoyle Race Meetings. Also Large Banners belonging to Bookmakers will be prohibited.

Overseas, New Year’s Day saw a very significant advance in medicine with the first ever successful blood transfusion with chilled and stored blood. Difficult to estimate just how many tens of thousands of lives have been saved by this procedure in the intervening century.

Eighth days later would see the evacuation of all British troops from the bloody massacre suffered on the beaches of Gallipoli at Suvla Bay.

A handful of jobs were available in Baldoyle that year; Mrs Boyd of Talavera advertised for ‘a strong country girl who can milk’, and later on in August, Dalys of Grange Lodge needed a ‘general servant for country farmhouse; young girl, good references.’ Mr Daly was a property owner as he advertised six apartments to let at Emorville Avenue off South Circular Road on 5th September.

After a severe blizzard on Saturday 26th February, March would prove to be the wettest for many years with almost four inches of rain falling on a total of 25 days of the month. The grass temperature was below freezing point for 19 days so all in all it was not a very pleasant month. On 8th March on a motion proposed by Mr C McMahon the North Dublin Union Guardians approved an application for a loan to build a dispensary at Baldoyle. This did not in fact happen until the late forties, long after the demise of the NDU Guardians.

(Above Freeman’s Journal 16/3/1916.)

On St Patrick’s Day, which was a fine and pleasant day, the Commandant of the Royal Irish Constabulary granted a general holiday to those of his members who were stationed at the Depot in Phoenix Park. A large number of the men went out to Baldoyle to the races and ‘came back smiling’ Many of those not at the races went to Phoenix Park football grounds to witness one of the most unique Gaelic football matches ever played. The Royal Dublin Fusiliers played against the Royal Irish Constabulary which the RIC under Sergeant Harry Case won by 4-2 to 2-2. (From RIC Forum 1916).

A couple of weeks later, on 6th April the athletics team of the 3rd Irish Guards came to Baldoyle Racecourse to compete against the national cross-country champions Clonliffe Harriers. The guardsmen came out on top in this event by filling five of the six top places in the race despite the individual winner being Clonliffe’s F J Ryder whose time for the five mile course was 32 minutes and 50 seconds. Difficult to believe that this event of normal times was a mere three weeks before the events that would change our country and the relationship with British Regiments for decades to follow.

A strange case came before Raheny Magistrates under the Defence of The Realm Act when John Bennett of Baldoyle was prosecuted for ‘having in his possession a camera near to a harbour work without lawful authority or excuse’. He was fined half a crown (2s. 6d.). Owing to war-time restrictions it was illegal to be in possession of a camera in the area from Cable Point (7 miles north of Howth) to Bray Head, and two miles inland from the coast hereabouts. (Freeman’s Journal (FJ) 16/8/1916)

On 19th August the body of Trooper O D Reid aged 24 of King Edward’s Horse was found drowned on Velvet Strand Portmarnock. He was native to Annan (a town in Dumfries and Galloway, south-west Scotland) and stationed at Longford. The inquest on the following Monday in Baldoyle returned a verdict of accidental drowning.

While 1916 and the Irish Rebellion was a major milestone in the history of the nation, locally we must put it into perspective. I do not for one moment intend to belittle the efforts of brave local men in the armed struggle, but let us not forget the 21 men from the local hinterland who died in the dreadful hell that was World War I. In the year in question James and Annie Redmond of Portmarnock received the dreaded telegram from the War Office informing them of the death of their son 26-year old Lance Corporal Patrick on 9th September. Just over a month later the similar ill tidings came to the Baldoyle home of Private Christopher Byrne. Both soldiers were members of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.


On 27th April, with the Irish Rebellion in progress, the 16th Irish Division of the British Army was decimated by one of the fiercest and heaviest gas attacks at a place named Hulluch in France. Still the British army were recruiting in Ireland although conscription had been resisted in this country. The above recruiting poster was a strong message with no little hint of blackmail to get to the heart of all young Irishmen to run to the defence of ‘little’ Belgium, but “for the glory of Ireland”?

On June 15th 21-year old James McGuirk marched proudly away from his native Baldoyle to enlist in the Irish Guards. October would bring some local glory, however, when the King decorated Nurse Jane C Towell, daughter of Judge Towell of Hillsdene in Portmarnock for her bravery in nursing very difficult wounded cases in France. Jane had trained as a nurse in Dublin’s Richmond Hospital. Her two brothers, Robert and William were both serving in the British Forces.

Another soldier with Baldoyle connections was Dennis Bolger, born in Wexford and aged 26 when he enlisted as a Private in Liverpool, New South Wales in 1915. His mother Mary Bolger was recorded as his next-of-kin living at the old Coastguard Station at Seaview Terrace Baldoyle along with her three sons (two of whom were tram conductors) and two daughters. Her husband Thomas was a sailor. While Dennis is recorded on the 1901 Census as being Roman Catholic his military file in Australia records his religion as Methodist.

His army record shows an amazing war career that brought him from Private to Second Lieutenant in just three years. He fought at Gallipoli and later at Mudros east on the Greek island of Limnos where he suffered shell-shock before being sent to Tel-el-Kebir in Egypt. He was wounded in action in France in June 1916 and following his return to the front he was soon hospitalised suffering from ‘decayed teeth’. His second wounding was two months later when he suffered gunshot wounds to back and chest. He was shot a third time, this time accidentally to the buttock in June 1918 and following recovery again needed hospitalisation this time for pyrexia (a fever of unknown origin). He was discharged in Australia in September 1919 following three weeks in a dermatology hospital. He was awarded three medals for his services.


Above is Michael Kavanagh of Golf Road Portmarnock (standing) with a comrade in the British army of World War I. (Photo the late Laura Woods).

Saturday 6th May saw the running of the Metropolitan Plate at Baldoyle with the laurels falling to Treaty Stone. The Patriotic Plate with its relevant and topical title was also run off on the day following the shooting of John McBride in Kilmainham Gaol. It was business as usual for the racing fraternity that day, just two days before the shooting of Eamonn Ceannt, Seán Heuston, Michael Mallin, and Con Colbert. I wonder how Con’s sister Mrs Doyle of Ballhedge was feeling that day as the crowds cheered on the winners behind her cottage?

However, a later meeting of the Stewards of the Turf Club declared the Patriotic Plate result void as it had been started before the appointed time.

In 1916 the Whit Monday Bank Holiday had been postponed by Proclamation of the Government following the rebellion but nonetheless the Baldoyle Derby was the chief event of the following day’s meeting on June 13th. The race was worth £600, which was quite substantial as prizes were at that time. There was a field of eight, and Cimmaron, ridden by the English crack jockey, Steve Donoghue, was the firm favourite, evens being the best odds on offer at flag-fall. Cimmaron had no involvement whatsoever at the finish, with Mountain Park (a 20 to 1 chance) winning in a hack canter. That week the engineer who had designed the Baldoyle course Horace Waters died at his home in Edenderry Co. Offaly. He was brother of Baldoyle Clerk of Course R M’K Waters.

Top jockey Steve Donoghue pictured on a cigarette card.

The same year saw a curious edict issued to the Clerks of all racecourses in the country: – “The Stewards of the Turf Club and of the INHS Committee strictly forbid the taking of photographs at race meetings. Clerks of Courses are instructed not to admit to enclosures etc., persons with photographic outfits in their possession.” Obviously this rule did not remain in force for too long although truth to tell it would have been illegal in Baldoyle at that time under the previously mentioned Defence of The Realm Act!

Another event loosely connected with racing was the election of John Fitzsimons of Stapolin House to the British Veterinary Association (From Veterinary Record vol.29, 1916). John (below) would go on to be a very successful surgeon of human medicine and be Honorary Surgeon to Baldoyle Races for many years.

(Courtesy David Costello)

Baldoyle was not a village of the wealthy. The principal occupations for males were agricultural or general labouring and the majority of women fortunate enough to have employment were domestic servants, lace-makers, silk workers, knitters, crochet workers, or sock and shirt makers as the convent works supplied these latter garments to the British army until 1918. How many young men died in Europe dressed in their Baldoyle socks and shirts? The lace-makers, knitters, and silk workers worked for the Hibernian Lace Depot in the city through the organisation and management of the Sisters of Charity. Many of them were out workers who worked at home and brought the finished product to the convent on one Friday per month for payment. It must be remembered that much of this work was done by the light of poor quality candles or oil lamps in dark cabins and cottages. To make a single yard of one lace pattern called for three weeks labour at eight hours a day. Every stitch was put in by hand. There were no welfare payments for those unable to secure or perform work. The importance of Portmarnock Golf Club to the village is evidenced in the fact that 14 men were recorded as being employed as “golf caddies”. The same year saw the opening of a new golf course at Howth.

In June some Baldoyle people walked to Howth Castle Demesne which was open to the public on Tuesdays and Saturdays to enjoy the splendour of the Rhododendron gardens. The admission fee of three pence per person was donated to ‘charitable purposes in connection with the war’. (Irish Independent (II) 2/6/1916) The following month saw the granting of administration of the will of a lady named Mary Moynihan ‘formerly of Baldoyle’ to a farmer named John Larkin at Waterford Courts. I have no idea who Mary might have been but perhaps she was the wife of a young coachman Andrew Moynihan and no more than 27 years of age at the time of her death. Her effects totalled just over £60.

In 1916 the first burials took place in the newly opened Christian Brothers’ (now Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice) Cemetery off Warrenhouse Road.

In July a very important auction took place on the property of Kilbarrack House (above) with its 94 acres of farmland and six labourers’ cottages.

In 1908 the Principal of Baldoyle Boys’ National School, James Moore (aged 19!) had vacated the post and was replaced by Patrick Doyle. Master Doyle lived in one of the thatched cottages along The Ballhedge (now Main Street and opposite the Community Hall) and was married to a sister of the 1916 veteran Con Colbert. Patrick had a brother who lived at Hillview, Burrow Road Sutton, and who manned the local telephone exchange in that village. One Sunday evening, 14th August 1916 Thomas, another brother who owned a small boat, took his wife Elizabeth and a Miss Penman (one report named her as a Mrs Brennan with one child), a lady friend of hers, to visit Burrow Road by boat. The boat was struck by a sudden squall as they rounded Cush Point from Baldoyle Estuary and all three were thrown into the water. Thomas managed to grab hold of the two women but their weight pulled him under the water. All three were drowned and the bodies of the two Doyles were recovered later that evening leaving two children orphaned. Thomas Green was a schoolboy son of an RIC sergeant living in the boat house of the Coastguard Station at the time and he told me how he came out of school the next day at 2.30 and saw the Royal Irish Constabulary down on the foreshore recovering the body of Miss Penman. What left an indelible impression on the schoolboy was the gentle manner in which a policeman washed sand from the drowned woman’s face with seawater from his cupped hands, before they placed her on the stretcher. Dr Tweedy of Howth attended the scene and later the three bodies were brought to Hillview where an inquest was held.

In October 1989 I received a letter from a lady named May Doyle from Clontarf who had married a son of the drowned couple. She wrote: Thomas saved the two women but they pulled him down. The ‘punt’ had red sails, and the day I was married, Margaret (sister of Thomas) said ‘May, if Dan ever buys a boat, put a hatched through it!’

All of this local tragedy took place while the blood-bath that was the Battle of the Somme was in full rage. In its four months from 1st July one million men died in this dreadful debacle that is recorded as one of the bloodiest battles in human history.

The birth of a baby is a major event for a family, but only rarely the baby born grows to have a lasting impression on the life of the national community. Such a birth took place at Newgrove House at Grange Road in 1916. Louis Le Brocque’s wife gave birth to a son who before his death in 2012 would contribute immeasurably to the wealth of Irish artistic endeavour. The son would be christened to bear the same name as his father, Louis. The young boy first attended school in Mount Temple on Malahide Road. The artist (below) was living at Newgrove into the 1930s.

William Thomson was living in Newgrove House in 1836 and we know that by 1874 the house was the home of a man named Van den Eynde, whose great-grandson would be Louis le Brocquy. Le Brocquy once said of his family: My (maternal) great-grandfather Ange van den Eynde, was said to have been involved as a boy in the Belgian war of independence of 1830, capturing rider-less Dutch horses for the rebels. Afterwards, on manoeuvres with a battery of field artillery, he was thrown from his horse under a gun-carriage, injuring his leg. Unable to ride thereafter, he maintained his love and exceptional judgement of that animal, which eventually led him via Chelsea, London, to his home at Newgrove, Raheny, Dublin, where he married a Kilkenny girl named Anne Walsh and passed a good-humoured and expansive life buying strings of Irish horses for the Belgian cavalry remount.


The Baldoyle team, Erin’s Pride, were Junior Champions of Gaelic Football 1916/’17. Front left sitting is Tom (later Councillor) Cosgrave. The tall lad in front of tall lad in suit at back is Michael Cosgrave while the lad to our right of him with collar and tie is Joe Cosgrave. Photograph appears to have been taken at front door of girls’ convent school. (Courtesy Peter Cosgrave).

Gaelic football was played quite a lot in Baldoyle during this year. 16th September saw a tournament run off here. What intrigues me is the low scoring in some of these 1916 matches:

St. Mary’s 6 points, Erin’s Pride (probably Baldoyle) 5 points.

Erin’s Pride 1 goal and one point, Emeralds 2 points.

St Sylvester’s 2 points, Ben Edars, 2 points

St. Fintan’s 1 – 2, Skerries Harps, no score.

They must have been rather unexciting matches for spectators in the Junior City (B) division.

July and August saw a major heat-wave in the country. Farmers ‘made hay while the sun shone’ but experienced difficulty with lack of water for cultivated crops. The weather eventually broke with rain on Saturday 12th August. The following evening saw a violent downpour of rain accompanied by severe thunder and lightning.

On 14th October a special charity race meeting was held in Baldoyle in aid of the Red Cross. Everybody had to pay for admission including those holding pre-paid season badges, and race cards were sold at the high price of 2s. 6d. each as compared to the normal six pence. All officials gave their services free of charge for the occasion which raised a large sum of money for the charity. (From Kildare Observer 14/10/1916)


Child flower sellers at a Red Cross charity race meeting in Baldoyle racecourse.

Also in October, six months after the Easter Rising, the House of Commons in London introduced Greenwich Mean Time in Ireland and abolished Dublin Mean Time, which was 25 minutes behind London. As a consequence, when British clocks went back an hour for winter 1916 at 2 am on Sunday, October 1st, Irish clocks only went back by 35 minutes to synchronise time in both countries.

The Irish people did not only lose 25 minutes of the extra hour in bed, the change was made permanent and prompted opposition from farmers, politicians, local councils and various business groups.

Countess Markievicz claimed that the abolition of Dublin Mean Time was among various actions undertaken by the “English” government that would “put the whole country into the SF (Sinn Féin) camp”. She claimed Irish “public feeling (was) outraged by forcing of English time on us”.

Irish newspapers of 16th December 1916 reported that Harry (Henry) Guy, son of John and Teresa Guy, of Sutton had been wounded while fighting in Europe. Harry aged 23 was a private soldier in the 22nd London Regiment of the Royal Irish Rifles. Harry returned to Baldoyle where he secured employment as a labourer. However, his life after the horrors of World War I would not be a long one. On Sunday 6th March 1921 he was playing Pitch and Toss with a group of men in the field known as the circus field at Saxe Lane in Sutton (now Church Road). A tender-load of Black and Tans arrived and as the group dispersed the ‘Tans opened fire on the fleeing men killing Harry and wounding two teenage youths Joseph Arnold and Robert Magee. The body of Harry was removed some time later by ambulance to King George V Hospital (now St Brican’s Military Hospital in Arbour Hill) followed by a Crossley Tender loaded with ‘Tans. He was buried in Kilbarrack on the following Thursday. The death was raised in the House of Commons in April when the Government stated that the (unarmed) Harry Guy was killed by Crown forces in the execution of their duty. This was ironic that a man who had fought for the Crown in the horror that was World War I should be killed by a force of the same regime for whom he had fought.

December would see very seasonal weather conditions. The Sunday before Christmas Eve (17th) brought severe frost and ice which made walking difficult. The following morning saw a thaw with mud and slush everywhere. However, later that day snow started to fall which necessitated hundreds of ‘scavengers’ being employed by Dublin Corporation to clear away the slush and mud. They dumped the snow over the river wall into the Liffey. This snow was in the wake of a severe snow storm just a month earlier on 16th November.

The wartime shortages of materials saw a change to the livery sported by the Great Northern Railway’s Hill of Howth tramcars. They had been turned out in a handsome crimson lake and cream livery (as seen above in a drawing by Jim Kilroy) until war time austerity demanded a plainer teak finish from 1916. Trams number 9 and 10 would retain this teak livery until the closure of the line.


A popular venue for Baldoyle people in 1916 was the Summit Café or Pavilion at the Summit. Built as a feature of the Hill of Howth tramway the café provided teas and refreshments during the summer months and a band was hired to play on most Saturday afternoons. Lord Howth who owned the land refused to permit the sale of alcohol in the pavilion. The wood and corrugated-iron structure was destroyed by fire in 1918 and was never re-built.

Thom’s Directory 1917 (surveyed in 1916) showing property occupants in the area.

Airfield Lodge – vacant

Burns, Michael, Boat House (former Coastguard Station)

Butterly, Joseph

Carrick Rev. J. Parish Priest.

Christian Brothers Junior Novitiate – College Street.

Connolly, Michael, grocer at Ballhedge

Convent of Sisters of Charity – Superior Mrs O’Brien (nuns were referred to as Mrs)

Cusack, Mrs Drumnigh

Daly, Mrs Moyne Lodge

Daly, William, Grange Lodge

Doyle, Daniel

Doyle J. grocer and spirit dealer, Courthill House

Duff, Mrs Grocer and spirit dealer, College Street

Fitzsimons, John, Stapolin

Gill, Christopher, Grange

Gill, Thomas Larchhill (sic) probably should be Larkhill

Kelly, James, farmer, Carrickhill Portmarnock

Kelly, John, An Grianan

Kelly, Mrs Annie, Trinian, Baldoyle Road.

M’Farlane, Joseph, The Mall

Metropolitan (Baldoyle) Race Co. Ltd, Standhouse &c.

Murphy, Rev. Anthony C.C.

National Schools – Patrick Doyle master, Sister Emmanuel, female teacher

O’Reilly, Miss, Breffni

Portmarnock Golf Club – Secretary G.G.T. Power

Railway Station – T. Langtree stationmaster

Roman Catholic Church – Rev. J. Carrick P.P.

Royal Irish Constabulary Station – J. Sweeney, sergeant in charge (later opened sweetshop at Strand Road Sutton with his daughter Tottie).

Ryan, John

Sub Post Office – Miss Markey, sub-postmistress

Talavera House – vacant

Walker G.W., Grange

Wallace & Co. coal importers, and Howth


Arnold, Mrs

Collen, David

Floody, Thomas (probably should be Flood)

Dunne, Christopher

Kelly, Thomas

Loftus, James (died 2nd January 1916 at his home ‘Sunnyside’)

M’Kenna, Miss, Kilbarrack Lodge


Cusack R. R., Drumnigh House

Fitzsimons, John, Stapolin

Towell, Mrs, Hillsdene

Maunsell, Mrs, Shielmartin

O’Neill, Lawrence, T.C., Riverside (Larry O’Neill later Lord Mayor of Dublin)

Plunkett, Thomas, J.P., Portmarnock House

Willan, Percy, Carrick Hill


Baldoyle and The 1916 Rising


“Revolutions are not made with rose-water” (French Proverb)

This year (2016) sees the centenary of the 1916 Rebellion in Dublin. While history bestows most fame and glory on the signatories of the proclamation, we must remember that there were hundreds of men and women who played their parts in the fight for freedom.

Let us look at the development of nationalist activity in this area during the two years preceding the rising.

Following futile attempts to buy weapons in France and Belgium, the Irish Volunteers finally managed to source some 1,500 surplus 1871-vintage Mauser rifles in Germany in 1914. They were obsolete single shot weapons. The weapons were taken from Hamburg by tug boat and then in the North Sea met Erskine Childers’ yacht, Asgard which was to take the weapons to Howth. The £2,000 necessary for the purchase of the guns had been ‘fund-raised’ by Molly Childers and her friend Honorable Mary Ellen Spring Rice of Co. Limerick.

Molly Childers died 1964.

Mary Ellen Spring-Rice died of tuberculosis in Wales in 1924.

The Irish Volunteers had held manoeuvers for some years and they sometimes came to Baldoyle on such exercises. On the Sunday preceding the landing of arms, 19th April 1914, they paraded as far as Baldoyle. They marched to Howth on April 26th for the arrival of the guns and ammunition. Following the distribution of the weapons the men formed up and set out for Dublin.

Bulmer Hobson recalled: About twenty members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood under the command of Cathal Brugha were sent to Howth early on the morning of Sunday, 26th July, with instructions to disport themselves about the harbour, hire boats and generally look as much like tourists as possible. Their business was to receive the yacht, help to moor her, and in the event of any police interference they were sufficiently numerous to deal with it. It was my intention to bring the ammunition away from Howth in taxis and distribute it at several points in the city.

On arrival Erskine Childers, his wife Molly, and Mary Ellen Spring Rice (daughter of Lord Monteagle), above, started to hand up the arms to the volunteers.

The newly armed Irish Volunteers of Fianna Éireann march towards Dublin past the grounds of Howth Castle. Notice the heavily laden Dublin to Howth tram in the background extreme left.

As the volunteers had cut the telephone wires into Howth the coastguard fired distress rockets in an attempt to warn the authorities, but by that time all of the rifles had already been handed out and the battalion was ready to march back to the city. The coastguard dispatched a man to go to the Royal Irish Constabulary barracks in Baldoyle to alert the police. He slipped out a back door of the Howth Coastguard Station and moved along the beach to get to Baldoyle. Commissioner Harrell of the Dublin Metropolitan Police upon hearing of the arms landing, ordered the police, backed by British troops, to intercept the Volunteers, declaring that, a body of more than 1,000 men armed with rifles marching on Dublin constitutes an unlawful assembly of a most audacious character, and ordered the police to seize the weapons. However, the Inspector on the Howth tram refused to carry armed police or soldiers to Howth, claiming that his trams were not military vehicles. The Dublin Metropolitan Police and the King’s Own Scottish Borderers were mobilised. Many of the guns were well distributed into north County Dublin by the time the military confronted the group at Clontarf. The police succeeded in only taking 19 rifles, and a later court hearing ordered their return as they were deemed to have been illegally confiscated.

There was a branch of the Irish Citizen Army in Baldoyle and it supplied men to the cause. In my youth we spoke of people who had been ‘out in 1916’, or ‘in the GPO’. I first came face to face with the reality of the rebellion in April 1966 when the country celebrated the golden anniversary of the fighting. This article sets out to provide some background to what was happening in Baldoyle in the period following April 1916.

Irish Citizen Army 1916.

Baldoyle No. 7 Branch

James McCormack Killed in Action.

James McCormack was a member of the Irish Citizen Army and fought under James Connolly in the GPO in 1916. He was aged 36 when he was killed in Moore Lane on Wednesday 26th April by a shot to the head from a sniper. He was buried in the 1916 plot of St. Paul’s in Glasnevin and his name appears on the following memorial there.



James was native to near Bellewstown, Co. Meath. In 1901 he was recorded in the census as McCormick (NB Ick) at a house in Julianstown, Co. Meath. The family comprised his mother Mary (43), her children James (23), Hugh (22), Margaret (20), John (18), and Michael aged 15.

James came to Baldoyle sometime afterwards to work for the Metropolitan (Baldoyle) Race Company Limited. He worked on the construction of the new five-furlong gallop from Maynetown (on a field purchased from the Daly family of Maynetown) to the Grandstand, which gallop would become renowned as one of the best on these islands.

He met and in 1908 married a girl named Ann Rooney who was an aunt of Lar Rooney, who would become the last foreman on the racecourse. Ann was daughter of Joseph Rooney, a widower, who lived at Maynetown in a cottage on the racecourse opposite to where Willie and Peg O’Rourke’s house stands today. The family later moved to the extant thatched cottage in the village. In the 1911 Census of Ireland James and Ann had two boarders living in their Station Road home: 9-year old William Kelly and 27-year old William Kennedy. The Kelly boarder possibly explains the connection with the Kelly family of Drumnigh. James and Ann had three sons, Michael b. 1910, Joseph b. 1912, and James b. 1914.

Still extant is this opening in the wall of the old racecourse on Coast Road. Inside this opening is a small overgrown area that contained a water pump to supply the house beside it which was the home of Ann (Rooney) McCormack.

James McCormack and his family lived on Station Road in one of the Knock of Howth (or Knockoath) Cottages. James joined The Irish Citizen Army thirty months before the Rebellion. His two brothers-in-law James (47) and Lawrence Rooney (38) also were members of the Baldoyle Branch and were listed in the 1911 Census of Ireland as living in James’ house. This was probably because Ann’s brother Patrick with his wife Ellen and three children were now living in the old Rooney family home with his father Joseph. Ann died in St Vincent’s Hospital in St Stephen’s Green on 1st December 1928. James McCormack Gardens, named to his memory is the secluded development of houses built by the local authority off Burrowfield Road in 1949. Jim Shaw of Marian Park once told me that when a local lady bought the house many years later she could not understand why one step in the house had a different sound to the others when trodden upon. Her son lifted the boards and found some old guns hidden there.

When I was attending the Boys’ National School in Baldoyle, James’s grandson Larry McCormack was in my class but strangely there was never mention of his patriot grandfather in any of the history lessons.

James McCormack, (all JMcC photographs by courtesy of Jimmy and Sheila McCormack).

Ann McCormack, née Rooney of Baldoyle who married James McCormack.

This whistle was found on James’s body following his shooting in Dublin.


The ribbon of the medal forms a background to these views of both sides of the 1916 medal awarded posthumously to James McCormack.

The cottage in Bellewstown where James was born in 1880

The cottage where James McCormack lived in Julianstown and from where he departed to come to work on Baldoyle racecourse.

Another man to be killed by the bullet in that week was 70-year old James Power, probably native of the Kinsaley area, who had married Catherine Warren in Baldoyle Church in 1866. It was thought he had been hit by a stray bullet as it was unlikely at his age that he was a volunteer. He lived in Buckingham Place.

Other Active members

Charles Blake (21) and John Blake, Maynetown (23). The Blake brothers were both General Labourers who boarded with Matthew McDermott at Maynetown. This house became Hunt’s and is now the home of Paddy Emery who married Marie Hunt.

Patrick Doherty, 5, Sutton Terrace who was a 26-year old General Labourer.

Patrick Fox, 9, Sutton Road New Cottages. He was a 35-year old General Labourer.

Joseph Gough, Kilbarrack, a 23-years General Labourer.

Patrick Grant of Great Northern Railway Cottages Baldoyle was probably Paddy Grant aged 24 of Baldoyle and Sutton Station (above). He lived with his father (Francis) and mother in a railway house on the Baldoyle side of the level crossing gates. Paddy cycled to Dublin on Easter Tuesday in the company of two other men, Richard Mulcahy (later to become General and Commander-in-chief of the new Irish Army) and Tom Maxwell. The three men had been unable to get to Dublin before Tuesday. One wonders what Paddy’s superiors at the very non-nationalist Great Northern Railway thought of his patriotism? Paddy was imprisoned in Frongoch in Wales.

William Kennedy, 13 Sutton Cottages. William was a 32 year old General Labourer and a boarder in James McCormack’s cottage.

Joseph McDonagh, 18 Sutton Road (Knockoath) Cottages fought in the GPO. Joe was sent to jail from Richmond Barracks to Stafford on 30th April 1916, and later to Frongoch Detention Camp during June / July 1916. Joe was the father of Tom (‘Black’ because of a very dark complexion and hair colouring) McDonagh who lived here until his death. Mrs Catherine Warren of James McCormack Gardens was Joe’s daughter. Tom was local ‘organiser’ for the republican movement for most of his life. Interesting that this short row of just eighteen cottages produced seven volunteers for the Rising.

Michael Nolan, Burrowfield Cottages, fought in GPO. Michael was fifty years of age in 1916 and a Co. Carlow born General Labourer. His son would become the world famous golfer Willie Nolan. He was sent to jail from Richmond Barracks to Stafford on 30th April 1916, and lastly Frongoch Detention Camp during June / July 1916. By a strange quirk of fate so often evident in the lives of Irish nationalist families, Michael’s son Willie became a hero of the Great War when shipwrecked as a merchant seaman. He saved the lives of several comrades by rowing a lifeboat for many hours to safety in The Dardanelles.

Joseph Roche, aged 42 of Maynetown and Patrick Roche, Maynetown, an 18-year old Agricultural Labourer from Co. Wicklow who were father and son.

Philip Roche, New Road (Willie Noland Road). Philip aged 49 was an Agricultural Labourer native to Co. Wexford. I wonder if in fact Philip was a brother to Joseph and that the constable compiling the census mixed up Wicklow with Wexford or vice versa?

(un-named) Rooney, Burrow, Sutton, and James Rooney, Burrow, Sutton. The latter was a 47-year old brother-in-law of James McCormack. The previous Rooney with unknown Christian name was probably 38-year old Lawrence who was a brother to James. Also listed were:

(un-named) Geoghegan, Baldoyle, Capel Street No. 4 branch.

James Gough, aged 26 of Howth Junction also with an address at New Road (Willie Nolan Road), Baldoyle served at the Royal College of Surgeons. He was sent to jail from Richmond Barracks to Stafford on 30th April 1916, and lastly to Frongoch Detention Camp during June / July 1916. James Gough became very well known in Baldoyle and at one time operated the ferry boat between the village and Portmarnock Golf Club. In later life he worked as a Civil Service porter in the Custom House. In 1966 James was invited to raise the flag at the Baldoyle Boys’ National School following the reading of the Proclamation of Independence in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Rising. James was actively involved with the Legion of Mary and with the youth of the parish and helped (along with my late father) found a Boys’ Club and a pipe band in the village in the late forties and early fifties.

James Gough, a native of Howth Junction pictured here by Bill O’Meara at a Legion of Mary meeting in Baldoyle. James is wearing his three War of Independence veteran’s medals.

In December 2015 Philip O’Connor gave a lecture in The Marine Hotel in Sutton and he stated: “A diverse community, unlike any other, Howth, Sutton, and Baldoyle reveals an extraordinary story of a North Dublin rural and suburban community in a time of national revolution”. The first chairperson of the local branch of Cumann na Mban was Mary Maguire Colum, the noted literary critic and wife of the dramatist and poet Padraig Colum, writer of ‘She Moved Through The fair’. The Old Woman of the Roads’, and ‘A Drover’. The Colums are buried in St Fintan’s Cemetery in Sutton. O’Connor also told us that “Baldoyle produced the only substantial unit of the Citizen Army, farm labourers all, several of whom fought bravely and honourably in the 1916 Rising and in later struggles including those for social justice in the young Free State of the hard 1920s.”  


The Ennis-Woods family lived in Talbot Street in the city where they owned substantial property. In 1916 their house was raided by British soldiers who commandeered their furniture with which to build a barricade on the street. Mrs Blanche Ennis-Woods begged the officer in charge not to take the family piano and the officer agreed and left the instrument. Postcard images of those times show the Ennis-Woods furniture on Talbot Street. Mrs Woods, who was a native of Portmarnock, would later come to live in The Mall Baldoyle and run the post office here for many years. In the fifties a local dramatic group in Baldoyle planned to stage O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars, but group member Mrs Woods objected on the basis that she knew many of the characters used by O’Casey while she lived in Talbot Street. She felt uncomfortable in using old acquaintances in a stage production.

The fishing vessel St Michan of Howth was the vessel authorised to be used by Mr W. J. Smith to sail as far as Drogheda and elsewhere in order to procure provisions for the people of Howth who were short of food due to the severing of communications with Dublin after the 1916 rebellion. Commander Gaisford St Lawrence made the order as Commander R. G. for craft watching duties on 27th April 1916. (See below letter courtesy Louis O’Connell.) St Michan was later torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of North County Dublin.


The Continuing Struggle


Following the rebellion and the ensuing guerrilla warfare there was a renewed interest in the Citizen Army. In his book ‘From Public Defiance to Guerrilla Warfare’ (Irish Academic Press 1996) Joost Augusteijn wrote: The attention given to the company training and the prospect of exciting expeditions caused a resurgence of interest in Volunteer work, particularly in Dublin. This is clearly shown by the Baldoyle Company, a particularly small rural unit of the Dublin Brigade. After a period of inactivity, it experienced a rapid development between the end of 1919 and April 1920.’

A later picture of the Baldoyle Section of the Irish Citizen Army some time before being disbanded. The men I have been able to identify are kneeling at 3 (from left) – possibly a Brady, standing at 5 John Kane and at 6 Pearse Gough, son of James the 1916 veteran in previous photograph. The last public appearance of the Citizen Army was at the funeral of James Larkin in 1947. (Courtesy Aileen Daly).

In the book Dublin Street Life and Lore by Kevin C. Kearns (Gill & Macmillan) we can read an account of an interview with George Doran who was a hackney driver: [_ “In 1921 when the Tans was here I was a hostage. I was walking down O’Connell Street, passing the Gresham, and four of them came out, Tans, and says, ‘c’mon, get in there’, with a gun. I got into the car and this fella had this (revolver) at me head. I was frightened. Out at the Baldoyle races I was walking around with them, between two of them at the front and two at the back. They said ‘you stay with us – anything happens to us will happen to you’. They did that to save themselves. Oh, that was regular. If anything happened to them I was gone! Everyone was looking at me. They knew what I was. And they’d go round making bets and have a drink. After it was over back to the Gresham and they said, ‘come in and have a drink’ and I said ‘I don’t drink’. I had a lemonade that’s all. And then they said, ‘go and have a f--- good day for yourself’ and they gave me a pound. After that I met a few of me pals and we drank the pound!” _]

Terence de Vere White, the noted Irish author in his book A Fretful Midge, recalled: Vividly now I see the housewives of Portmarnock gathered round a wireless set, passing the ear phones to one another. Some of them are crying. It is the morning of 16^th^ January, 1922. Dublin Castle, the symbol of English government in Ireland, is being handed over by the Lord Lieutenant (Lord Fitzalan) to Michael Collins on behalf of the Provisional Government. ‘(I am glad’ said some well-brought-up aide to Michael Collins. ‘You are like Hell,’ said Collins who had a rougher schooling. Through the ear phones came brave music of the military bands as the British soldiers marched out and the new Irish Army marched in. The Union Jack was replaced by the Tricolour. It was quite a day for Ireland, but the women I was with were in tears. I watched them with the clear eyes of childhood, observing, not judging, not involved.

“We shouldn’t be crying,” wailed Lilian Plunkett (of Portmarnock House), while her neighbour Ellen Cusack (Drumnigh House) cried, “they let us down, they let us down!” Mrs Cusack was non-specific as to which side had let who down!


Another Baldoyle connection with the war of Independence was with Mrs Mary Shaw (above, courtesy Helen (Shaw) Grimes). Mrs Shaw ran a hackney car service from stables on the east side of Parochial Avenue. One evening the stables were raided by the Black and Tans from Gormanstown Camp. The officer in charge was most polite and as he lit his pipe told Mrs Shaw not to be afraid as they were only seeking someone who had escaped them the previous evening. They surrounded the stables for three weeks (!) until they were satisfied that there was nobody concealed therein or thereabouts. Mrs Shaw then became worried that people might be using her hay loft for refuge at times, and that they might set fire to it with candles or matches. She knew that local lads used the warmth of the hay loft for card schools on winter nights and this too caused her concern about fire so she sold the stables altogether.

Mary was a sister of Peadar Kearney who wrote the lyrics of Amhráin na bhFiann which was to become our National Anthem.


Above Clarke’s Villa, the former police barracks of The Royal Irish Constabulary which became the home of Hannah Clarke and her mother. At the time of this photograph the building which had been used as a library for many years was in a state of almost dereliction and was closed pending re-building. (©mjh collection)

An upstairs bedroom in Clarke’s Villa (©mjh collection)

Following the foundation of the Irish Free State the Baldoyle police barracks was vacated by the Royal Irish Constabulary, and The Garda Siochána decided not to retain a station at Baldoyle even though it had been the ‘senior’ station to Howth. After the departure of the RIC the army of the Free State were in occupation for a time but in 1922 Dublin Corporation decided to lease the vacant premises to Miss Hannah Clarke who had previously lived at the guesthouse Breffni a short distance away. Hannah, a sister of the executed signatory of the 1916 Proclamation, Tom Clarke renamed the house Clarke’s Villa and lived in it with her mother Mary. It should be remembered that Tom’s widow, Kathleen who was also a sister of the executed Ned Daly became the first woman Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1939. Hannah and her mother accommodated guests in the summertime and were often called upon to house the excess visitors who could not be accommodated at the Sisters of Charity holiday home in the village. Hannah also advertised accommodation in her own right at Clarkes Villa as shown in the following advertisement from the Irish Independent of 29th April 1925. I do not understand the logic of the accommodation; 2 or 7 Business Gentlemen or 5 Business Ladies? What does attendance ‘from May or longer mean? This business was not new to the Clarkes as Mary was returned in the 1901 Census as a ‘lodging house keeper.’

Mary did not enjoy long tenure at Clarke’s Villa as she died there on 16th July 1922 aged 88 years and this is how the family announced her death:

‘CLARKE (Baldoyle) – 16th July 1922, at her residence, Clarke’s Villa, Baldoyle, MARY CLARKE, mother of the late Tom Clarke, executed at Kilmainham Jail 1916. R.I.P.’

Sometime after the death of her mother, probably in 1937, Hannah went to live in one of the houses (number 2) of the former Coastguard Station. This was probably in an effort to reduce her outgoings on rent which was just under eleven shillings per week in the smaller residence. She was here at this address until at least 1940 before retiring to a room in the Dominic Street area in Dublin where she is reputed to have lived in extreme poverty. She died on 11th October 1950 in The Hospice for The Dying in Harold’s Cross aged 80 years and was buried with her mother at Prospect Cemetery in Glasnevin. The Irish Press described Hannah as a staunch Nationalist, who had sheltered many men on the run during the War of Independence. Her funeral was attended by representatives of President Seán T. Ó Ceallaigh, members of Old Cumann na mBan, Old IRA and Old Fianna. (Irish Press 12/10/1950)

Hannah, or Dora as she was known to the family, had had a difficult life. She had tried to keep a roof over the head of herself and her mother in the 1890s when Tom was imprisoned for Fenian activities.

Tom returned to live with Hannah and their mother at 159 Great Britain Street where Tom was on record as stating both H (sic.) and the old lady can’t do half enough to try and make me feel at home. He described how his mother would always take sides against Hannah to defend her son. This perhaps suggests that Hannah was not ‘over the moon’ with her brother’s republican involvement.

Hannah (born 1870) ran a small news agency and grocery shop in Great Britain (now Parnell) Street and this would inspire Tom on his return from The United States of America to go into similar business when he set up shop in 55 Amiens Street at a rental of £36 per year. Tom believed that Hannah was making money ‘hand over fist’ and could take as much as £10 in three days. Hannah tried to dissuade Tom from going into the retail trade as he had no experience and she saw it as a difficult lifestyle. However, when he persisted, she used her contacts to introduce Tom to the travellers for newspapers and tobacco. With her direction and advice he stocked 36 brands of cigarettes. He had a large gold ‘55’ sign displayed in the centre of the window, similar to those he had seen in America, but Hannah strongly disapproved to this ostentation telling him that nobody did this in Dublin, to which Tom replied, yes, but that is the point!

By 1950 Clarke’s Villa housed the public library which had been transferred from the Community Hall because the upper storey there had been condemned as unsafe. As a library, the building had a varied career.

In the above picture Clarke’s Villa as the library was deteriorating. Note the front door which was on the north-facing side of the porch until after the renovations by the County Council. (©mjh collection)

Another somewhat tenuous connection with the 1916 Rising was told to me by my late friend Laurence Liddle of Australia, whose parents lived at Burrow Road Sutton in 1916. Laurence’s grand-parents were scheduled to make their first visit to Ireland on Easter Monday 1916 to stay with their son and his wife. They duly sailed to Dún Laoghaire (Kingstown to be more correct!). However, on disembarking, they learned that there were no trains or trams running to the city because of the civil unrest. Undeterred, Mr Liddle hired a local boatman to row them across the bay to Sutton Strand. Having paid off the boatman, he found a small boy who was only too happy to earn sixpence by running to Burrow Road to have young Mr Liddle come with a hand cart to collect the travellers and their luggage.

Following the rebellion and subsequent executions and imprisoning the whole cause of National freedom took on a new urgency. The IRA waged a guerrilla war with the forces of the crown. The main targets were the members of the Black and Tans and The Auxiliaries who terrorised the countryside. Houses were searched and wrecked by the ‘Tans including that of the Dignam family who lived in the gate lodge to Grange Abbey House. The family suffered a night of terror during ‘The Troubles’ when they were raided by the Black and Tans and the house was wrecked in a futile search for Mr Dignam’s brother.

The late Jim Shaw of Marian Park told me once in an interview about some events that befell him during ‘The Troubles’. At an early age he went to caddy at Portmarnock Golf Club. He was to work there for many years and caddied for many top golfers including Willie Nolan. One day the secretary asked Jim to make four caddies available. Eight army trucks full of troops trundled up followed by a car full of police, and another car containing four men; Ernest Blythe, Professor Hayes, Liam Devlin, and Lord Beaverbrook (an Anglo-Canadian business tycoon, politician, newspaper proprietor, and politician). Eight more trucks of soldiers brought up the rear, all to guard Beaverbrook whose life had often been threatened. Another day as Jim caddied for some Black and Tan officers they ducked into a bunker for cover as they heard shots coming from the direction of Sutton. The ‘Tans commandeered Batt Browne and his vis-a-vis car to take them across the estuary to Sutton. Batt reluctantly agreed and when they reached Sutton Cross they were told of a shooting at Saxe Lane (Church Road). The man fatally wounded was not a rebel but the previously mentioned ex-British soldier Harry Guy.

Jim was no stranger to the ‘Tans and he told me of another day when they arrived at the boys’ school in the village. The boys shouted that they were coming and the teacher said to say nothing as he had hidden his revolver behind the map on the wall. Later he gave the gun to Jack French to mind and Jack was nervous to have it about the place. Next day the ‘Tans arrived to search French’s house but failed to find the gun as Jack’s father, Matt had had the foresight to bury the weapon far away from the house.

The local organisation was very active as shown in the following reports from The Bureau of Military History.

The following testament was given by Frank Henderson Commandant of the IRA from 1917 to 1921.

[_ With the help and advice of the officers left in the Battalion I set about the re-organisation of the Companies and Battalion Staff. There were a half-company at Howth and a half-Company at Baldoyle and Sutton which were organised as one Company, known as "G" Company, under the command of Fergus Kelly. I formed these into two Companies, "G" at Baldoyle and Sutton, and "H" at Howth, and placed Bernard McGillies in charge of the former and **** Friel in charge of the latter. Fergus Kelly was in the unfortunate position of being "on the run" from the British forces and having to live on a yacht – generally kept on the south side of the Liffey - on account of the hostility of his father to his I.R.A. activities. I felt he could not properly command his Company under such circumstances. There were the nuclei of Companies at Raheny and at Artane - Santry, but I think the former was eventually attached to "G" Company and the latter to some of the older Companies. _]

The Battalion was soon fit to fight again and the nightly patrols were resumed and a few attacks on enemy transport carried out. Plans were made to ambush British troops but I think the Truce came before anything big of that kind could be attempted.

The R.I.C. barracks at Coolock which had been vacated was examined with a view to demolishing it, but I was instructed by the Brigade Commandant to leave it as it was.

The R.I.C. barracks at Raheny (two-storey house at left above) had not been destroyed either. It had been vacated and it was used, during the Truce at any rate, for IRA and Sinn Féin Cumann meetings. Owing to the peculiar geographical situation of Howth and Sutton, the two local IRA units had not much opportunity of assuming the offensive within the limits of their areas. Moreover, as well as I can recollect, a ‘go easy order’ had been issued in regard to Howth as many IRA officers – including some GHQ officers and men slept there at nights and used it as a rest centre. Some of the enemy also used it for the same purpose. It would not be a very suitable place to carry out regular activities in, as it is joined to the mainland by a very narrow neck of land and perhaps it served its best possible purpose as a place of quiet retreat for IRA personnel. The men of the local units had been instructed by Commandant Tom Ennis to hold themselves in readiness for quick transport to the main 2nd Battalion area as required, and I decided to adhere to his decision in this regard.

The Sutton and Baldoyle Company had occasionally held up, and on one occasion derailed (in conjunction with another Company), trains proceeding from Howth to Dublin for the purpose either of capturing mails or dealing with an enemy intelligence agent. On the morning that the train was derailed the Director of Organisation was a passenger. Commandant Ennis had been planning to attack an enemy lorry or lorries containing military or Black and Tans which did periodical patrol work through the village of Baldoyle and on the back road thence to Portmarnock. We were arranging to carry out this attack when the Truce was called.

Peter Gough who was brother to James Gough gave the following information.

On being demobilised from the British Army following the 1914-1918 war, my brother, who had already been in the Citizen Army, suggested to me that I should join the Volunteers. He said; “You have been fighting for a foreign country long enough. It’s up to you now to fight for your own country. As a result of my brother’s suggestion, I joined the Volunteers and became attached to a unit in the Baldoyle Area.

When I came on my first parade, I was asked by my Company Officer if I knew anything about machine-guns. I told him that I had, a general knowledge of all types of machine-guns, as I was a No. 1 Gunner in a Machine-Gun Company while I was in the British Army. At a subsequent date, I was attending a machine-gun parade in North Great George’s Street, when Joe Byrne (later Colonel) came to me and asked me if I knew anything about a Thompson gun. I said I knew all about every class of gun. Then he told a that there would be a job coming off and that he would have work for me to do in connection with a machine-gun; but he did not know whether it would be a Vickers or a Thompson.

On Wednesday night in May, 1921, I was mobilised to be at Abbey Street the next morning at a given time. On Thursday, I got a gun from the dump, and proceeded with Tom Keogh and two other men to the abattoir. On arriving there, we were told that the job was off. I did not know, even at this time, what the job was. The same routine took place the next morning.


Jerry Golden of Fairview continued.

[_ I told him that Craigie's house was just beside Glasnevin R.I.C. barracks and that probably he would drive up to the barracks and inform the R.I.C. and perhaps bring them out after us. We decided to take the car and chance it taking us to Knocksedan, so the seven of us piled into and around the car and drove it out towards Knocksedan. We had just passed the ‘Forest Tavern’ when the car started to splutter and eventually stopped. Willie Walsh, Liverpool Irish, who, together with his other knowledge, knew a lot about motors informed us that the petrol tank was empty, and since we could find no spare tin of petrol in the car we were forced to abandon it and commandeer a farm cart and horse, the property of old Mick Maher a dairyman from Botanic Avenue, Glasnevin. We drove it out to Knocksedan Cross where we joined up with Comdt. Ashe. He was then just returning from Donabate and Swords where they had attacked and disarmed the R.I.C. in both barracks. On arrival at the camp the Comdt. handed over to us Paddy Grant and Tom Maxwell, members of the Baldoyle Company of the Dublin Brigade, and told P. Holohan that he was appointed Section Leader of No. 4 Section which then comprised 11 men all told as Ned Stafford of Swords was also put into No. 4 Section. After a good dinner, and for me a well-earned rest, the order was given to break camp and prepare for a trek and journey of about 7 miles with all arms, ammunition and equipment. About 7 p.m. we started off, the majority on bikes, the Comdt. and Dr Hayes in his 2- seater motor, and Capt. Jim Lawless and myself and three others on the farm cart. The farm cart also carried the Battalion's spare arms, ammunition, explosives and equipment. After a circuitous route through Oldtown, Killsallaghan and other small villages in the north county we arrived outside Garristown about 11.30 p.m. The Column was halted, and bicycles, motor and farm cart put into an open shed in a field. About half the Column were told off to remain in the field and guard the vehicles and their contents, the remainder were told off for duty under the Comdt. We advanced up the road towards Garristown and on arrival outside the R.I.C. barracks the Comdt. called on the occupants to surrender their arms to him in the name of the Irish Republic. _]

The following from Frank Robbins who would become General Secretary of the IT&GWU.

One of our Saturday night manoeuvres consisted of a raid for arms, but only the superior officers of the Irish Citizen Army knew the real purpose of the manoeuvre. The operations on this particular night cut off the complete North-East side of the city from the canal bridge at Phibsboro’ to the North Wall at the Liffey. The Baldoyle section of the Citizen Army, with others, took part in the actual raid on the drill hall of the Georges Rex. (This author’s note: these soldiers were known to Dubliners as the ‘Gorgeous Wrecks), the British Auxiliary Home Defence Force at Sutton cross-roads, on the opposite side of the road from where the Sutton cinema now stands. The raiding party, to their consternation, found that all their work had been in vain because of the fact that the arms which were believed to be there were none other than wooden guns. On that night the officers and men guarding the bridges which would give outlet to any British forces who might be informed of our activities at Sutton, were ordered to stop such forces by every means in their power. Dr. Lynn provided transport with her own car and drove out to Sutton to bring in the arms which, alas, were not there. (This author’s note: Dr Kathleen Lynn was a member of the Citizen Army and was its chief medical officer during the rising. She was the daughter of a Church of Ireland rector and related to Countess Markievicz).

Our final piece is from William J Kelly.

After I arrived home I got in touch with Tom Clarke’s sister who lived near Baldoyle, Co. Dublin. I sent her his trunk which I took from America. After I returned I heard that the Clan-na-nGael were taking another sister of Tom Clarke’s to America. This sister’s name was Maria Jane. I had some correspondence with the Clan as to their purpose in taking her out. I had the feeling that in Tom’s absence I should look after his sister.


Kilbarrack grave yard holds the above memorial to Frank Flood who was executed by the British in March 1921. (©mjh collection)

Francis Xavier or Frank Flood was not a local man; he lived at Summerhill Parade in Dublin and was a second year university student of engineering in University College Dublin. He was involved with the attempted ambush of British forces at Tolka Bridge at Drumcondra. Because no soldiers had been killed in the ambush he was charged with ‘High Treason and levying war against the king’, and executed in Mountjoy Jail. He was a close friend of his UCD colleague Kevin Barry.

But now, just to show that a sense of humour still pervaded the minds of the rebels, I am including the following anecdote which already appeared as ‘A Blow For Freedom’ in my book Tales of Old Baldoyle.

In those far off days of 1920 talk of treason and freedom was prolific. Cold winter nights and roaring coal fires warmed the exterior parts while burning amber spirits (medicinal of course) thawed the innermost extremities of the being. A mellow spirit being engendered the talk often turned to topics political. Not indeed that the Baldoyle men needed inner warmth to incubate the spirit of insurrection; had not our men spirited away James Stephens after 1798, and Hamilton Rowan in like fashion?

Now in the summer of the year, a glorious dawn brought much military presence to Portmarnock. On that day musket, carbine, and Gatling were replaced by mashie and niblick as the officers of the crown prepared for a weekend of golf on the prized Portmarnock links. On that fine morning as the larks soared high over the sand dunes, a sergeant major unfurled the Union Jack and hauled it mast-high through its pulleys. There, fanned by a sea breeze it fluttered from its cleats throughout the day. Those who saw it from Dingle’s Bank in Baldoyle fumed. They fumed, they planned, but they waited, waited with the patience of an assassin.

Darkness fell and still the Jack flew casting its red, white and blue like a bleeding wound against the green marram grass of the dunes. The gentle summer waves lapped gently onto Dingle’s Bank as a clinker-built punt slid silently into the water. Quietly the oar blades cut ripples through the black water as the moon appeared briefly from behind the scudding clouds. Soon the dancing craft scraped onto the shell and shingle on Portmarnock and a dark figure crept stealthily ashore; quickly the agile youth shinned up the flagpole and with a sharp penknife cut away the Union Jack. From a cavernous pocket he pulled a crudely made Tricolour, a few tacks and a small hammer. He tacked the flag to the pole and descended, taking care to heavily smear the pole with grease as he went. No time was wasted as he again reached the punt and set out for Baldoyle. Back in the Town of The Dark Stranger a curious smell came from a chimney; a smell of burning cloth.

Throughout the next day the tricolour flag defied the attempts of the British to remove it and it flew bravely. That night the Baldoyle men again pushed out the boat as darkness brought a curtain on the last day of golf.

The next dawn broke and the bugler’s reveille called the officers from their flapping bell tents on this morning of their departure. There to greet them stood the naked flagpole. Soon two Crosseley tenders laden with the dreaded Black and Tans arrived to remove the flag, but they too had ‘missed the boat’ and returned slowly to Dublin. Another blow in the fight for freedom, and not a single drop of gore stained the silver sand of Portmarnock.


Black and Tans in Dublin. (Photo ©Dublin Forum).

The Union Flag flying briskly over Portmarnock Golf Club. (©mjh collection)

Throughout the times of trouble in Ireland men on the run from the British were often sheltered in the convent in Baldoyle; all done ever so quietly as to avoid suspicion. This may seem a little strange when we remember that the nuns in Baldoyle at this time were running a shirt and sock factory under contract with the British Army for their soldiers fighting in Europe as well as those who fought against the insurgents in Dublin.

The Irish White Cross was established on 1 February 1921 to support republican families and as a mechanism for distributing funds raised by the American Committee for Relief in Ireland. It was managed by the Quaker businessman and later Free State Senator James G. Douglas. The Irish White Cross continued to operate until the Irish Civil War and its books were officially closed in 1928. The Report of the Irish White Cross to 31st August 1922 reported that: ‘an ideal place for recuperation was found in the convent hostel (presumably the holiday home founded in 1918-’19) in Baldoyle near Dublin. The Irish White Cross undertook the responsibility of paying the expenses of those who were sent to the hostel.’

A letter of reply from the Baldoyle Race Company to Jim Parkinson the horse-trainer from the Curragh acknowledging his request for a White Cross Meeting at Baldoyle. (Courtesy Willie O’Rourke (©mjh collection))

The meeting on 24th June 1922 was attended by around three thousand people and raised just over £614 for the charity. I wonder how the so traditionally West Britain racing fraternity of Ireland felt about having to support, and more importantly to be seen to support a meeting with a strong whiff of Republicanism attaching to it?

The Civil War saw division in the people of Baldoyle between the sides of the Free State and the Irregulars. Like every other part of the country during that difficult time for the fledgling state, we saw some acts of defiance carried out in protest against the Treaty.

The General Manager of the GNR John Bagwell was appointed a Senator in the new legislature. He was kidnapped on the evening of 30th January 1923 as he walked to his home from Baldoyle & Sutton Station. Next morning The Free State army threatened punitive action against known perpetrators of the crime if Mr. Bagwell was not released within 48 hours. The Senator was picked up quite uninjured by a passing motorist on a back road near Swords on the morning of 1st February.

The Great Northern Railway suffered a number of sabotage attacks in this area during the period of the Civil War in 1922 – ’23. On 26th July 1922, 20 to 30 armed Irregular soldiers held up the 6 a.m. Dublin to Belfast goods train near Howth Junction. Some men boarded the engine and tied back the regulator with wire thereby setting the train in motion. They jumped off the train before it derailed having met a gap in the tracks caused by a previously removed rail. This was the second such incident, and a third was to occur just 16 days later on 11th August. On this occasion the guard screwed down the handbrake before he left the train and this brought the train to a stop before it could cause damage. However, the Irregulars then forced the crew at gun point to release the brakes and the restarted train derailed when it hit the points which had been set “wrong way” at the junction.

On 6th January 1923 an engine was maliciously derailed at Raheny cutting and a number of passengers were slightly injured by flying glass when a Howth to Dublin train struck the derailed engine. Railway engineers later stated that there could possibly have been 40 or more fatalities had the derailed engine come to rest twelve inches further into the path of the Howth passenger train.

The final local act of Civil War sabotage was the destruction of the railway bridge at Moyne Road. On the 16th February 1923 the local Irregulars set the explosive charges and waited for the northbound troop train. The story is that it was late and that one of the bombers said “I hope that nothing has happened to them!” The bridge was blown and two youths, one of whom was Paddy Henry who lived in the nearby gate-lodge of Moyne Lodge ran to Howth Junction Station to alert the signalman and stop the trains. They received a reward of £10 each for this humanitarian act.

On 2nd March the GNR issued an invoice for £3,000 to Dublin County Council for malicious damage to the bridge (seen below). A Baldoyle man once told me that he had been a member of the bombing unit, but I think I shall let him and all other participants rest in anonymity and peace now after almost a hundred years lest I rekindle any of the ill feeling of that sad era in our history.

Then on a final note there was the atrocity that was not an atrocity at all! My friend Laurence Liddle once wrote to me from Australia: Going westwards on Corr Bridge Road was ‘Carramore’ inhabited by the two Middletons, a childless couple who were friends of my parents. Not long after Mrs Middleton had learned to drive their Rover Pup she invited my mother out for a trip. All went well until, after turning off the High Road onto Corr Bridge on the way back, the good lady lost control of her vehicle and smashed into the iron railings on the west side of the bridge. The car was not mortally wounded and the two ladies got home safely. The bridge suffered two or three bent uprights of the railings. This accident was never reported but many years afterwards my father, who had left the Valuation Office and had set up on his own as a Valuation and Rating Consultant, developed quite a close professional relationship with the Accountant’s Department of the Great Northern Railway Co., and learned that the damage to the bridge had been assumed to have been caused by one or other of the sides in the Civil War!







Baldoyle 1916

In this year of the centenary of the 1916 Rebellion in Dublin it is an opportune time to take a look at what was happening in Baldoyle County Dublin that year. The book also details the activities of the numerous men and some women of Baldoyle who played a part in the Rising and the subsequent War of Independence.

  • ISBN: 9781311457127
  • Author: Michael J. Hurley
  • Published: 2016-03-25 18:20:10
  • Words: 12533
Baldoyle 1916 Baldoyle 1916