Aug 29

“Poor Tommy worked on the Railway” : The London and North Western Railway, North Wall and the Great War

Troops at Spencer Dock , August 1914 (Courtesy NLI)

Troops at Spencer Dock , August 1914    (Courtesy NLI)

Along North Wall Quay, situated between the modern developments at Spencer Dock and the shell of what was to be the Anglo-Irish Bank HQ are two somewhat incongruous red brick buildings. These are the former Hotel and Railway Station of the London and North Western Railway Company, an employer of over 90,000 men and women in the UK and Ireland at it peak and a significant employer in the Docklands in the early 20th Century.

The new LNWR Station 1861

The new LNWR Station 1861

The LNWR name stood for luxury and some sense of it can be found in their Dublin Operation on the North Wall. From their ships there were two tunnels which took passengers directly into the Train Station from where they could take the enclosed bridge directly into the company’s hotel. If you needed to move on fast a short connection would take you to Amiens Street Station and the Great Northern Line, while a number of underground loop lines connected to Broadstone and Kingsbridge (Heuston) Stations and the Great Southern and Western lines.

LNWR Hotel 1886

LNWR Hotel 1886

Like most large employers the LNWR saw it’s staff numbers depleted as war broke out in 1914. It’s been estimated the 38% of their total employees flocked to the colours. Dublin was no different, although it seemed to have been more gradual, with no records of Pal type recruitment such as the 200 Dockers apparently known as The Larkenites” who joined the 7th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Many long-serving and well-regarded staff members left including C.E. Pyke (Passenger Office) and E.F. Ellis (Goods Department) who were giving a rousing send-off and presentation wrist-watches when they left to join the North Irish Horse on the 6th April 1916. Even the general Manager, Henry Givens Burgess, lost a son, Captain Robert Burgess of the Royal Engineers, who was killed in France in December 1915.

LNWR Transport Staff

LNWR Transport Staff

 03 LNWR Roll cover

There is no surviving list of the total number of men from the North Wall Depot who joined up during the Great War. The company’s casualty numbers are still shocking today and motivated the directors and shareholders to mark such an extraordinary sacrifice.

Over 4000 copies of a lavishly produced memorial book were produced with a copy being presented to each of the next of kin of the 3719 former employees of the LNWR who lost their lives in the Great War. It lists all those who died, and also included are the 795 medal winners, 69 mentioned in dispatches, and 52 brought to notice for valuable service. In the opening page it stated in asking acceptance of this commemorative album the shareholders of the company wish to place on record their deep and sincere sympathy with the relatives of those men to whom this album is dedicated.

The company had commissioned an impressive war memorial which was to be unveiled at Euston by Field Marshall Haig, K.T. G.C.B; on Friday 21st October at 2.15pm and accompanying the memorial roll was a letter informing relatives should you or another near relative desire to attend, free travelling facilities (so far as the company is concerned) will be granted.

Euston Memorial to LNWR staff

Euston Memorial to LNWR staff

 The monument does not contain any individual names.Thirteen of those commemorated by the monument and included in the memorial book were from the North Wall section. A look at their stories gives a fascinating snapshot of one workforce on the docks in the early 20 century.


Edmund Luke Cooney (1889 – 1917):


Eddie Cooney had joined the Boys Brigade of his local church at Donnybrook. as a 10 year old. He was the son of Walker William Cooney, an official with the General Post Office in Dublin and is recorded in the 1911 Census as a Railway Clerk. He joined the 9th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers as a temporary 2nd Lieutenant and was killed in France on the 4th June 1917. He was 27 years old and a clerk on the management staff at the LNWR at North Wall. He is buried at Loker Cemetery in Belgium.

Edmund Luke Cooney

Edmund Luke Cooney


James Crilly (1888 – 1918) Private, Reg. No. 7951:


James Crilly was from Phibsborough and worked as a messenger for a Mr Gallagher when he was attracted to join the 5th Reserve Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers as a 17 year old in April 1905. He transferred to the Leinster Regiment in the regular army. Having finished his service he was working as a Carter with the LNWR .As a reservist he would have been among the first to be called up. He was serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Leinster Regiment when he died of wounds on 4th May 1918. He is buried in Ebblinghem Military Cemetery, France.

Ebblinghem Cemetary

Ebblinghem Cemetary

Peter Daly: Driver, Reg. No. 100409;


Peter Daly was a Cattle Porter with the LNWR when he joined the 20th Reserve Battalion, Royal Field Artillery as a Driver. He was at a base in Huddersfield when he was involved in an unfortunate accident from which he died on the 25th March 1916. He is buried at Edgerton Cemetery, Huddersfield.

Edgerton cemetary , Huddersfield

Edgerton cemetary , Huddersfield

Michael Dowman (1884 – 1914) Private Reg. No. 8871;


Dublin born Michael Dowman was a Quay Porter with the LNWR and was among the early recruits in 1914 when he joined the 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers, (which suggests he may have had previous service and was a reservist). He was married to Mary but it’s unknown if there were any children. He was killed on the 27th August 1914. He was possibly related to Frederick Dowman, also of the 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers killed in action on 25th May 1916. He is commemorated on the La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial.

La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial.

La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial.


Thomas Joseph Doyne (1861 – 1917) Quartermaster Sergeant, Reg. No. 3/11524;


Born in Celbridge, County Kildare, Thomas Doyne was a career soldier who joined the the Duke of Wellington West Riding Regiment in 1881. Doyne served much of his time

 abroad in Nova Scotia, Bermuda, Barbados, South Africa, and in India rising to the rank of Sergeant on 24th June 1897. In 1899 he married Bridget O’Hara at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Bangalore India and retired from the army in 1907 after 20 years service. He returned to Dublin, living at 2 Irvine Cottages, where he worked with the LNWR as a labourer. Although in his fifties and an army pensioner he joined up at the outbreak of war and was killed on the 17th February 1917. He is buried at Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt – L’Abbe.

Thomas Gordon Fitzpatrick  (1880 – 1916):


Fitzpatrick was born in Kingstown (DunLaoghaire) in 1880. His father, the Rev. W. Fitzpatrick had seen service with the Indian Chaplain Department, so he had a military background. At the outbreak of World War I he was on the management staff and volunteered for service as a Lieutenant with the 8th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers. By May 1916 he had been promoted to Captain and was mentioned in dispatches by General Sir Douglas Haig for gallant and distinguished service in the field. Fitzpatrick was killed in action at Leuz Wood on the 6th September that year. He was married and had 9 children. He is buried at Serre Road Cemetery No. 2.

Thomas Gordon Fitzpatrick

Thomas Gordon Fitzpatrick

George Habgood (1884 – 1918) Sergeant; No. 32429;


Born in Gibraltar, George Habgood seems to have come from a military background and had served with the Lancers before coming to live with his Aunt and Uncle at 26 Ballybough Road. The 1911 census lists him as a Canteen Waiter and was probably then working at the LNWR Hotel. As a reservist he was called up at the outbreak of war. His will lists a wife, Mary Francis, living at 21 Ossory Road, whom he had married in 1912. Habgood was serving as a Sergeant with the 14th Battalion the Royal Warwickshire Regiment when he was killed in action on the 28th August 1918. He is buried at Foncquevilliers Military Cemetery.

Foncquevilliers Military Cemetery

Foncquevilliers Military Cemetery

J.T. Hewson:


Hewson was listed as a Goods Porter with the LNWR North Wall Depot. He may have been the John Hewson, nephew of Patrick Hewson, 3 Hewson Cottages in the North Dock, recorded in the 1911 Census. No other information is available.


Patrick Francis Kelly ( – 1915) Lance Corporal; Reg. No. 16757;


Kelly was a Carter at the North Wall and served as a Lance Corporal with the 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers when he was killed on the 26th April 1915. Commemorated at Ypres Menine Gate Memorial, burial place unknown.

Ypres memorial

Ypres memorial


Jeremiah Lacey (1899 – 1917) Driver, Reg. No. 205785;


One of 9 children from Upper Sheriff Street, Jeremiah Lacey was working as a Crane Boy with the LNWR at the North Wall as a 14 year old. He joined the B Battalion, 150 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery as a driver and was killed in action on the 29th July 1917. He was aged 19. He is buried at Brandhoek New Military Cemetery.

Brandhoek New Military Cemetery

Brandhoek New Military Cemetery

Sylvester Mullen (1880 – 1916) Lance Sergeant; Reg No. 14433;


Dubliner Sylvester Mullen was a Boer War veteran having served with the Royal Dublin fusiliers. In 1911 he was living in Golden Lane and listed as a General Labourer.  By 1914 he was working a Casual Quay Porter with the LNWR at North Wall. He was married with 3 of his 5 children still living. Called up at the start of the war, he was a Lance Sergeant with the 5th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers when he was killed in action on the 29th April 1916. Mullen is commemorated on Loos Memorial and was buried at Terlincthum British Cemetery, Wimille, France

Terlincthum Cemetery, Wimille, France

Terlincthum Cemetery, Wimille, France

Joseph. Reynor (1888 – 1917) Reg No. 24802:


Joseph Reynor was born in Nenagh, County Tipperary. In 1911 he is recorded in the Census as working as a Railway Porter and living at 11 Leland Place in the North Dock. He married Caroline in 1910 but it is unknown if there were any children. Reyner was serving with the 8th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers when he was killed in action in France on the 3rd February 1917. He is commemorated on the St Barnabas Parish Memorial, unveiled in 1919 (and now in the Ivy Church on North Strand Road). He was buried Bailleul Communal Cemetery, Extension Nord.

St Barnabas Parish , Great War memorial

St Barnabas Parish , Great War memorial


George Wright:


Wright was a Sergeant and Quay porter with the LNWR. No other information is available.


Dedication page from LNWR memorial book.

Dedication page from LNWR memorial book.


(Cemetery photos : the Commonwealth War Graves Commission )

If you have any comments , clarifications or further information please contact us at

Aug 24

The annual Mass on the Grass – Saturday 29th August 2015 @ 3pm

Mass on the Grass

Aug 14

The Great North Wall Railway Robbery of 1915.

LNWR North Wall station , early 20th Century

LNWR North Wall station , early 20th Century

One hundred years ago . It was midnight, as Saturday the 14th August became Sunday the 15th August 1915, when six armed and masked men forced their way into the rail depot at North Wall. Determined and precise, they left a short time later, taking with them four large crates. The men were not apprehended and the contents of the crates never retrieved. In October of the year the investigation was officially declared closed, with no conclusion or even solid leads. It is now a century later and we believe this is the most complete account of the raid published , and for the first time the identity of all six  raiders can be revealed -

02  August1915 raid

 Shortly after midnight, in the early hours of the 15th August 1915 a small group of 6 men made their way into the London and North Western Railway Depot at the North Wall. Armed and masked they quickly overpowered the four night-watchmen and made their way to a warehouse near Spencer Dock. It was soon obvious to the watchmen that they were well informed and knew exactly what they were looking for as they re-appeared from the warehouse with a number of large wooden cases. They dragged these along the railway track towards a wall to the side of the depot where a number of motor cars were waiting for them. It had been quick and audacious and within minutes over 100 rifles belonging to the Irish National Volunteers were speeding their way to a destination unknown.

 The weapons were Martin – Enfield .303 rifles and were intended for John Redmond’s National Volunteers. Since the now famous landing of rifles at Howth on the 26th July 1914 the Irish National Volunteers had legally imported regular consignments of rifles through the North Wall. Most notable was a consignment of 3,600 acquired from the Birmingham Company H. Trulock Harris & Co, with bayonets and 50,000 rounds of ammunition in August that year. Those had been confiscated and the London and North Western Railway had refused to carry further weapons for the National Volunteers and it took a combination of John Redmond’s close friendship with Henry Givens Burgess, the LNWR’s Manager and political intervention at the highest level to get the railway company to transport further consignments.

An earlier consignment held up by the authorities

An earlier consignment held up by the authorities

 Throughout 1915 regular cargoes of up to 100 rifles were imported from Charles Riggs, a London based arms dealer without any problems other than the somewhat ham-fisted approach by the National Volunteers to obtaining import licenses. On the 14th May 1915 Matthew Nathan, the Chief Under Secretary at Dublin Castle had warned Redmond that the Volunteers showed “little administrative capacity in the matter of importing rifle for their use.” He went on to note that Laurence Kettle ( a founding member of the Irish Volunteers) had a permit issued for 350 rifles which he hadn’t used, yet in order to import a consignment of 100 rifles they had involved The Prime Minister, The Under-Secretary of State for War, The Master General of the Ordinance, The Chief Secretary for Ireland, and The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Forces in Ireland. Nathan pointed out how impractical that was and that it could be simplified with permits issued at both ends by the relevant military commanders. (Kettle’s rifles were a special consignment of Martini- Metford.303 rifles then being made up for the National Volunteers by Webley & Richards, and Hollis, Bentley, &Playfair). However it seems the paperwork continued to be a problem with rifles often sitting for long periods of time in storage until cleared by the authorities. This was still the situation in early August 1915 when a consignment intended for the Limerick Volunteers arrived at the North Wall on the 3rd but remained in storage while Customs cleared the authorisation to release them.

John Redmond inspecting Volunteers

John Redmond and Maurice Moore inspecting Volunteers

The Irish Volunteers were founded in 1913, with the stated aim to ‘to secure and maintain the common rights and liberties of Irishmen’.With the outbreak of the European War in 1914 the issue of recruitment to the British Army led to a split in the Volunteers . John Redmond (MP and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party) had called on the movement to support the British War effort, with the belief that Home Rule for Ireland would be secured once the conflict ended. The majority stood loyal to John Redmond and became known as the National Volunteers. A small group of about 10,000 remained as the Irish Volunteers. (It was from this group that a majority of those who took part in the 1916 Rising would come). While this group retained locations such as Father Matthew Park in Fairview, the majority group which followed John Redmond retained the organisations finances and the capacity to import weapons legally. The Inspector General of the National Volunteers was retired soldiers named Colonel Maurice Moore who seems to have had an uncanny ability to clash with and annoy most groups he came into contact with, including his own.

Relations between the British Command in Ireland and Moore were poor. Moore claimed that they had conspired to prevent him rejoining his regiment on the outbreak of the war. Augustine Birrel, the Chief Secretary, said he had “old military grievances”, while General Friend, OC Ireland, described him as “a disappointed man” and like others at Army Command questioned his motives with the National Volunteers.

The Limerick National Volunteers - without weapons

The Limerick National Volunteers – without weapons

 Among the Dublin Castle Administration resentment developed over the Irish Parliamentary Party using their political influence to push forward the importation of arms and tying them up in endless paperwork as they were busy preparing the 16th Irish Division for Gallipoli. They also felt that security around the arms being imported was poor and that many of them would fall into the more extreme hands of the Irish Volunteers (or “Sinn Fein” Volunteers as the authorities now called them). The net result was that they began to drag their heels in dealing with import licenses for arms and this was the case with the rifles which arrived on the 3rd August 1915 at the North Wall.

The consignment had originally been ordered in May following an appeal to John Redmond from The Limerick National Volunteers for weapons as the regiment’s enthusiasm was waning. They felt that a show of rifles on the parade ground would reinvigorate them and increase their membership which had begun to decline. However the authorities had been reluctant to pass the import license as Laurence Kettle still had an outstanding one for 350 rifles. After much delay the weapons finally arrived at Dublin at the start of August. Customs added further delays and it was only on the 12th that notification of their release was given to the National Volunteers.

Dispatch receipt for 100 Rifles

Dispatch receipt for 100 Rifles

Exact details of what happened next are unclear but having been informed the National Volunteers delayed collecting the weapons as they were unable to organise transport .It appears their release became known to another party with a particular interest in this cargo. The following afternoon a man claiming to represent the INV HQ made inquiries about the consignment and then left. Later that evening the raid took place.

 It was highly embarrassing and a number of senior DMP officers were put on the case. The LNWR began its own inquiry headed up by their Chief of Railway Police, William Ainslow, to see if it was an inside job but turned up nothing.

On the 21st August John Redmond met Matthew Nathan (the Under-Secretary for Ireland) and accused the authorities of facilitating the theft through a combination of unnecessary delays and police inefficiencies. Colonel Moore of the Volunteers decided to instigate his own inquiry by bringing in a friend who had served with Scotland Yard. Much to the annoyance of the authorities began making unsubstantiated allegation. In particular he accused DMP Chief Superintendent George Lowe of being opposed to the National Volunteers and impeding the investigation. It was politely pointed out to him that that gentleman had retired from the force nearly six months and could exert little influence on the case.

Moore then turned his sights towards the Irish Citizen Army (ICA) who he claimed were the one organisation in Dublin with the capacity to bring off such a daring raid. He claimed they controlled all the men working on the docks and the railways which gave them a special capacity to bring off such an audacious stunt. There was little love lost between Moore and the ICA from the time of the Howth Gunrunning when he felt they had disrespected and humiliated him as he attempted to recover mauser rifles landed at Howth which had been “acquired” by the ICA and taken to Croydon Park in Fairview.  By 1915 the ICA had completely fallen off the radar of the RIC in County Dublin and even in the city the DMP saw them as little more than an annoyance. Moore demanded that the authorities immediately raid Liberty Hall and Croydon Park and while the military were prepared to attempt it, Matthew Nathan refused to sanction it because of the potential fallout. The ICA were put under surveillance but by September there was little to report other than the acquisition of a few new shotguns.

Another arms raid in September

Another arms raid in September

A war of words continued between Moore and the administration at Dublin Castle. Even more embarrassing a second raid took place at the LNWR in September in which a case of weapons of various types destined for the repair shop of a London gun manufacturer were taken. Like the first raid no one was ever charged and the weapons never recovered.  Finally in October, Nathan told Colonel Moore that the case was closed and that no further investigations would be sanctioned.

Arms and the men – whodunnit

100 years on with the release of papers from the Military and National Archives we can finally attempt to put together the sequence of events and reveal for the first time the names of the daring six who carried off the Great North Wall Railway Robbery in 1915. In the immediate aftermath of the robbery, Bulmer Hobson issued a statement on behalf of the Irish Volunteers in which he stated they knew nothing about it and “would look with absolute disfavour on any act on the part of our volunteers that would make for bad feeling between ourselves and any other section of Irishmen.” He also noted that “our men had absolutely nothing to do with it so far as we had any information at head quarters.”

That may have been factually correct but a recently released DMP report from the 13th August 1915 records that a group of “Sinn Fein” Volunteers assembled at Parnell Square and route marched to Father Mathew Park on the evening of the 12th. It was probably within this group that the idea of stealing the rifles developed. Peter Martin may have been among them or met them at the park. He was a member of E Company, 2nd Battalion, and their inside man working at the LNWR at the North Wall.  The information became known to Mick McDonnell of the same company, later to command Michael Collins Squad, and it was McDonnell who quickly drew up the plan and put it in place. A number of others from E and F Company, both based at Father Mathew Park, who either worked or lived in the vicinity of the LNWR were drawn into the plot along with the two Franks – Frank McCabe and Frank Daly. The latter brought in most likely due to his knowledge of explosives. Ultimately these would not be needed.The final piece of the plan was put in place by bringing in Joseph Dunne, a driver with Thompsons, to organise the transport.

In the end the robbery was straight forward with the cases of rifles accessed relatively easily. Although notice had been short the accuracy of Peter Martin’s intelligence coupled with the precision of McDonnell’s plan meant the raid was successfully over in minutes. Soon much of the cargo was speeding towards Father Matthew Park , where they were briefly stored before being transferred to the Saucerstown Farm of Frank Lawless, a senior figure with the Swords Volunteer Company. During the 1916 Rising he would be second-in-command at the Battle of Ashbourne. In all probability many of these rifles saw action there.

Frank Lawless of the Swords Volunteers

Frank Lawless of the Swords Volunteers

In the overall scheme of things the North Wall Railway Robbery was minor, nonetheless that shouldn’t undermine its significance. As the National Volunteers huffed and puffed their way around the fields and bye-ways of Ireland, there were young men and women who were prepared to take the next step in advancing independence. Such a group was the LNWR six in what was one of the first offensive military actions in the run up to the Rising. Coming so soon after the O’Donovan Rossa Funeral it must have been a major morale booster for the resource hungry Irish Volunteers. It is to the credit of those who participated and the small group of their colleagues aware of the raid that it has taken 100 years before anyone could publically reveal their identities.

Mick McDonnnell:

McDonnell joined E Company, 2nd Battalion, shortly after the landing of the rifles at Howth and this was his first major raid. He later fought at Jacob’s Factory during 1916 and was interned at Frongoch. During the reorganization of the Dublin Brigade he became Quartermaster of the 2nd Battalion and commander of the Active Service Unit better known as The Squad. It was McDonnell who drew up the plan for the raid at the North Wall which was something of a coup at the time and showed the leadership skills which would prove so vital in the years to come. He was described as one of the most active volunteers during the War of Independence and took part in every job of any consequence during that period. Sent to New York in 1921 by Michael Collins, he remained in the USA after Independence.

Mick McDonnell

Mick McDonnell

Peter Martin:

Martin lived at 38 Common Street North Wall and was a member of E Company, 2nd Battalion. He worked at the LNWR and was the man on the inside who provided the intelligence which made the job such a success. He fought at Jacob’s in 1916. Martin died of natural causes in 1922.

John Murphy:

From 9 Leinster Avenue, North Strand, Murphy was a member of E Company, 2nd Battalion, and had taken part in the Howth Gunrunning episode in 1913. In the run up to the Rising he worked at the bomb factory at Cluny and it may have been this connection which brought Frank Daly into the group which raided the LNWR. Murphy worked in Lenihans Hardware Store in Capel Street which gave him access to much of the equipment which would have been needed to bring the job off. He took part in the raid on the Magazine Fort and later fought at both Stephens Green and the Four Courts during the Rising. On release he continued to work at making munitions as well as participating in numerous raids during the period. He died in 1953.

John Murphy

John Murphy

Paddy Weafer:

Weafer was from Wexford and worked for Lipton’s Tea Company on Castleforbes Road, North Wall. His brother Thomas was Captain of F Company, and to many the effective day to day commander of the 2nd Battalion. Both he and his brother were involved in procuring arms in the run up to the Rising which they distributed from their flat on the North Circular Road. Weafer fought at Annesley Bridge and the GPO during the Rising. (Thomas was shot and killed during Easter Week, and is commemorated by a plaque at Lower Abbey Street). He later went to sea and acted as a courier for the Republican movement between Ireland and the USA. He took part in a number of raids including the burning of the Income Tax Office on Bachelors Walk. He was arrested and Jailed at Arbour Hill in 1920. Weafer died in 1946.

Paddy Weafer

Paddy Weafer

Frank McCabe:

McCabe was a member of F Company, 2nd Battalion, and took part in both the Howth and Kilcool Gunrunning episodes. He fought at Church Street and North King Street during the Rising. On the reorganization of the Volunteers he was appointed Captain of F Company. Arrested in 1917 he was deported to Oxford until 1920 after which he emigrated to the USA.

Frank Daly:

B Company, 1st Battalion, Daly took part in both the Howth and Kilcool Gunrunning and worked at demolition and quarry work. It was probably his explosives skill which saw him brought into the team although none were needed in the end. From November 1915 he was in charge of the production of hand grenades at Cluny at Clontarf and had a roving brief during the Rising fighting from Ashbourne, through the canals, the GPO, and other locations. Following the reorganizing of the Volunteers after the Rising he served as Captain in four of the 1st Battalion’s Companies as well as taking part in numerous raids and engagements throughout the War of Independence. He also acted as instructor in explosives to the Fianna and many companies of the Dublin Brigade. He died in 1976.

Frank Daly

Frank Daly

Joseph Dunne: 

B Company, 1st Battalion. In 1915 Dunne was that great rarity, a man with access to a car and an ability to drive it. He worked for Thompson’s Motors in Pearse Street, then one of the largest hire car companies in the city. His driving skills had first came to attention at both the Howth and Kilcooley Gunrunning episodes. Dunne organized the transport for the raid and took his consignment to a number of locations, the first being his fathers furniture Shop at 13-14 Liffey Street. Others were taken to the home of Seamus Hughes, a future Secretary of the ITGWU and Quartermaster of E Company, 2nd Battalion, at Botanic Avenue. Dunne subsequently set up arms dumps at both his own home at Liffey Street and that of his aunt who lived nearby to conceal the rifles. Dunne took dispatches to Wexford in the run up to the Rising and fought at the GPO during 1916 and was interned at Stafford and Frongoch. He later acted as Michael Collins driver.

Joseph Dunne

Joseph Dunne


If you have any comments, corrections or clarifications please contact

 Dispatch Receipt

The majority of Images sourced by Hugo McGuinness , with a very special thanks to Jimmy Wren , whose assistance was as invaluable as ever.


 Thanks to Chris O’Donnchadha for information about his Great Grandfather Joseph Dunne .




Aug 08

PADDY BYRNE, a local man who died at Suvla Bay 1915

1915 - 7th Battalion Royal DublinFusiliers leave the Royal Barracks ( Now Collins Barracks)

1915 – 7th Battalion Royal DublinFusiliers leave the Royal Barracks ( Now Collins Barracks)

Paddy Byrne was born in Naas in 1872. On the 7th of June 1903 he married Isabella Carrick in the Church of St Laurence O’Toole Seville Place and they had one child together, Ellen (Nelly – born 29th June 1904). They first lived first at no 2 Tenter’s Row and later moved to Hawthorn Avenue.

Isabella was the eldest girl of the large Carrick family (at least 10 children) living in Church Street. Isabella’s father was a Foreman on a Steam ship and most of his older sons worked on the docks. The Carrick’s were originally from Glasgow but seem to have settled in as a well-known family of ‘Hobblers’ about half way through the 19th century. Paddy and Isabella moved to Abercorn Road somewhere around 1906. Tragically, Isabella died that year in childbirth leaving Paddy and Ellen behind. Paddy remarried, to Mary Moran (originally from co Meath), and according to the 1911 census they lived at number 12 Church Street. Paddy was working as a labourer. It’s unclear when exactly but Mary and Ellen moved to Glasgow where they set up a grocery shop.

Inspection at the Royal Barracks (now Collins Barracks)

Inspection at the Royal Barracks (now Collins Barracks)

Paddy enlisted in the C company 7th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in 1914, aged 42 years (Service number 12637), with a large group of enthusiastic young men from the area. The 7th battalion was a support battalion as opposed to a front line unit and was part of Kitchener’s Army set up to supplement the regular British Army at the time. They trained in the Curragh, the Phoenix Park (digging trenches) and at the musketry school set up at Dollymount .They soon after shipped out from the North Wall to a camp in Basinstoke for further training . One trooper recalled

“The day the 7th  left Dublin was a memorable one. We shall never forget the enormous crowds assembled to bid us Goodbye. In places the crowds were so dense that we could not keep our ranks. The great bursts of cheering that greeted us from time to time as we marched with fixed bayonets through the city, were inspiring. Our recollections of the loads we were perspiring under are not so pleasant. Each man carried a blanket and oilsheet, as well as his full pack”.

Members of the 7th Battalion with  food supply for journey to Basingstoke

Members of the 7th Battalion with food supply for journey to Basingstoke

They then set sail for the Dardanelles in July 1915 as part of the 10th (Irish) Division on the liner Alunia. They reached Gibraltar on the 14th of July, Malta July 17th and Alexandra July 20th and eventually on to the Greek island of Lemnos July 24th where the landing fleet for the Suvla bay attack had been assembled. As part of a tactical ruse to make the Turks believe the attack was to take place elsewhere the Alunia sailed off to the harbour of Mitylene on Lesbos. They exercised on the Greek island and there was a great concert held on the Alunia on the evening of the Iost of August. It was to be one last night of song.

Suvla Bay landing , August 1915

Suvla Bay landing , August 1915

On the morning of the 6th of August they left for Suvla bay, arriving there on the 7th of August. The landing seems to have gone reasonably well but due to indecisive leadership and lack of experience the landing became an impasse. It would seem that Patrick was wounded shortly after landing, or the day after, and died of his wounds on the 9th of August. He was part of a support company and was probably the victim of Turkish shelling or sniper fire as he would have been transporting food and water from the base camp at the beach to the firing line.

A sad end for Paddy, he’s not mentioned in any dispatches. Actually, not many of the ‘Dubliners’ were, perhaps as a high number of officers who would have recorded them had died. The Turks were excellent snipers and specialised in targeting officers). Paddy was amongst the 28,000 who lost their lives at Suvla.

Paddy Byrne, a North Dock resident, is buried in a small graveyard with the title Hill 10 Cemetery on the gentle slope just to the north east of Suvla Bay, looking out over the bay.

Hill 10

For any corrections , clarifications or further information please contact


(The story of the Paddy Byrne and Isabella is part of a major project being compiled by song-writer Paul O’Brien, looking at the family connections between Glasgow and our community. This will be launched as part of our History Festival 2015).


Aug 01

John Flood: Fenian leader, Australian citizen and East Wall smuggler

“If loving my country through my whole life should make me wretched, I am wretched indeed…I am ready, my lords, for my sentence”

John Flood in Mountjoy

John Flood in Mountjoy


These were the words spoken by Dublin man John Flood on the 21st May 1867 as he was found guilty of ‘treason felony’ and sentenced to 15 years transportation to Australia. Described as the overall leader of the Fenian movement in Great Britain and Scotland, he had been arrested after a near escape and boat chase on the River Liffey. Never to return to his native soil, he would live a long and prosperous life in Australia, and two years after his death in 1909 up to 3,000 people attended the unveiling of a monument at his grave in Queensland. A one time resident of East Wall, this is his story…


Important arrests

On the 23rd February 1867 the Collier Brig (a coal boat) New Draper sailed up the Liffey into Dublin Port. Its approach did not go unnoticed, as police and troops awaiting its arrival were stationed on the Quay-side North and South. As it made its way along the river, two men dropped overboard into an awaiting Oyster boat and were rowed away. This sparked a pursuit which also involved a ferry and a canal boat before both men scrambled abroad another Collier where they were eventually arrested. They gave their names as William Jackson and John Phillips. They were in fact two Fenian leaders- ‘Jackson’ was the American John McCafferty and ‘Phillips’ was John Flood.

“The clever and dashing young attorney…

the still more clever and dashing young smuggler”

John Flood was born at Sutton in Dublin on the 2nd of May in 1841. His father was the owner of  a shipping company .He was educated at Clongowes   Wood, County Kildare. Fresh from College he studied for some time under the eminent barrister, Isaac Butt  .Details of any other residences during these years are unclear but we do know that by the time he was in his early 20’s he was living at Malachi-Place off Church Road , East Wall. He was employed as a as a clerk or apprentice at a solicitors firm based at number 34 Lower Gardiner Street.

Malachi Place can be seen at lower left on 1850's map

Malachi Place can be seen at lower left on this map from early 20th century

At this time he also had other business interests, on the opposite side of the law:

“Unfortunately for himself, like many young men of an adventurous spirit, he formed a taste for a roving life. He embarked in smuggling transactions…upon one memorable occasion he acquired no little notoriety as a defendant in a prosecution which was instituted against him for breach of the revenue laws”.

 Issac Butt would later make reference to him as “Mr Flood the clever and dashing young attorney … Mr Flood the still more clever and dashing young smuggler” and stated that he was “beyond all question engaged in smuggling enterprises- boldly, successfully, and extensively engaged in them”.

A number of descriptions of Flood emphasise that he was of striking and distinctive appearance: “A fine looking man, of large person, and frank, handsome features, adorned by an ample beard of a tawny colour, his bearing was upright and stalwart” .His twin careers on either side of the law were not his only passion, as “the troublous condition of his native land at this time enlisted his sympathy and he entered with patriotic fervor into the Fenian movement of the ’60s, quickly becoming one of the trusted leaders in the organization”.

Longford arrest


“strong manly forms, eyes with hope gleaming”

 “John Flood when quite a young man, with a career before him, heard his country call, and he responded to that call in no uncertain note.  He gave up a career that would have undoubtedly led him to a pre-eminent position in the legal profession, and took his stand with the rank and file in that great movement known as the Fenian Movement of ’67.  Along with Colonel McCafferty and such men as James Stevens, he set himself to get the Irish people to band themselves together and to tolerate the system of tyranny and oppression no longer” 

The first ‘official’ suspicions against Flood as a Fenian were probably in January of 1866 when he was arrested in the Longford in the company of known Fenians. Upon being searched a receipt for ammunition (that would ‘fit a French rifle’) was found upon him. Lacking any other evidence he was released without charge. He had given his correct name and two addresses, his home and his place of employment but when asked about his profession was he replied ‘a gentleman at large’.

James Stephens

James Stephens


The Fenian movement was born out of the failed Young Ireland rebellion of 1848. Amongst the participants who fled the country afterwards were James Stephens and John O’ Mahony.  After spending time in Paris together Stephens eventually returned to Ireland and from Lombard Street founded the Irish Republican Brotherhood (I.R.B) while O’Mahony travelled to New York and founded The Fenian Brotherhood. Eventually both organisations would unify, with their goal “to make Ireland an Independent Democratic Republic.” The word Fenian would come into common use as a generic term for Irish Revolutionaries. A newspaper The Irish People was founded and operated from Parliament Street, almost in the shadow of Dublin Castle. There was an informer in the office of the paper and in 1865 a developing plan for an insurrection led to it being raided and all those associated with it arrested.

(The informer was Pierce Nagle, a paper folder in the office. He lived for some time ‘in lodgings off Sheriff Street” and was “so remarkably respectable, and in every way so upright and virtuous, that he was selected by the Catholic clergymen of St. Laurence O Tooles Church to fill the office of clerk”.  He afterwards fled to England in fear for his life, with good reason it seems as “Some time afterwards his mutilated body was found under the arch way of one of the London bridges, a large bacon-knife, on the handle of which was the inscription, “Death to traitors,” being embedded in his heart.”)

 Those arrested included Stephens, but after a short stay in Richmond Barracks his escape was facilitated by Fenian prison guards. John Flood “became specially distinguished by his participation in the arrangements for the escape of Stephens from Ireland. He accompanied Stephens and Colonel Kelly in their perilous journey from Dublin to Scotland. Adverse winds blew their boat into Belfast Harbour with the loss of their tiller; and it was owing to Flood’s knowledge and experience that the party were saved. He received a severe injury in the hand letting go the anchor in the hurry to prevent their being driven too far into the harbour. Flood saw Stephens safe to Paris and after a few days returned to Ireland, and almost immediately took his position as one of the first officers of the English and Scotch organisation”.

(His Australian convict record notes a distinguishing mark as a Small cut on lower joint of left fore-finger”, a souvenir of the Stephens escape)

Captain John McCafferty

Captain John McCafferty


Fenians chester

“If it had not been for the inevitable traitor…”

Once again a Fenian rising in Ireland was being been planned, initially for February of 1867 but it was agreed that this should be delayed until March. To help equip the insurrectionists, an attempt was to be made to seize the armoury at Chester Castle. The plan was probably initiated by information from IRB men within the British Army. The intention was that a large body of men would ’infiltrate’ Chester and seize a cache of rifles belonging to the local volunteer corps. These would then be used to storm the Castle which had a standing garrison of just 60 regular soldiers. It arsenal contained 10,000 rifles and 900,000 rounds of ammunition, which would have been an incredible haul for the Fenians. Once successful, the next step would have been to commandeer a train, take the arms to Holyhead, seize a steamer, sail to Wexford and look forward to a successful and well-armed rebellion. The leader of this audacious operation was the U.S. born John McCafferty, a veteran of the Confederate army during the Civil War, who was closely assisted by John Flood. Monday the 11th of February was the scheduled date for the plan to be enacted.

Things did not go as expected, as the notorious informer John Joseph Corydon (who had infiltrated the Fenian leadership) passed on the plans to the authorities the previous day. The rifles of the Chester Volunteers (needed to initiate the main raid) were moved into the Castle, and an additional body of 70 troops from Manchester strengthened the Garrison.

Fenians at Chester 1867_

McCafferty and Flood went out for dinner on the Sunday afternoon and realised from the activity they witnessed that their intentions were known. They managed to very quickly disappear, but not before sending a messenger with a countermanding order to other Fenian officers. Despite these efforts to turn their men back, an estimated 1,300 Fenians reached Chester, in small parties from Manchester, Preston, Halifax, Leeds and elsewhere. According to a contemporary report:

 “Hundreds of strangers poured into it with an ominous air of mystery, and dispersed silently through its quaint streets. The magistrates, the volunteers, the soldiers and all the guardians of the peace that could be enrolled, were preparing, as in old times, to watch all night, and were on the alert for a sudden attack.”

However, with the raid abandoned, the Fenians discarded the few weapons they had (a small number of revolvers were recovered from a Canal) and melted away. The Times reported that ‘about 2000 Irish roughs passed through the New Ferry Tollbar on their way from Chester to Birkenhead. They came in gangs of 30 or 40, and seemed to be much jaded and dispirited’. The following day a further 500 household troops arrived by train from London. (As there was no longer any threat, it is said that they arrived ‘in time for a tumultuous reception and breakfast at Chester hotels’).

While this was an anti-climactic conclusion to such an ambitious conspiracy, the contemporary press did recognise it’s significance and potential:

“..the mere look of some of the strangers was sufficient to indicate their character, if not their purpose. We must certainly give the Fenians credit for having formed a bold plan, and for having put it into execution with considerable promptitude. If it had not been for the inevitable traitor there is too much reason to fear they would have had at least a partial success”.

The Attorney General was much more direct in his assessment: “If that project had been carried out, it would be impossible to exaggerate the disastrous consequences to this country which might have followed”.

(When the planned rising in Ireland  finally took place the following month it was a disaster – the lack of arms was a major factor in it’s failure , but the ever present informers in the ranks , most notably Corydon, had a major impact too. Neither John McCafferty nor John Flood would play a direct role in these events, as by this time they were already behind bars).

After the aborted raid at Chester the identity of McCafferty and Flood was well known, not least because of the actions of ‘Corydon’ .They would have been amongst the most wanted men in Britain and they knew the risks of either staying there or  attempting to return to Ireland. But the uprising was drawing near…

A police detective on duty at the rail station claims that while McCafferty and Flood may have initially left Chester and headed to Manchester they returned, and were seen on Monday “in communication with large bodies of working people who were arriving by train”. That evening they left on the Birkenhead train. They avoided the usual passenger routes back to Ireland, but 9 days later they set sail on their return journey.

Custom House 1867  (Photo:NLI)

Custom House 1867    (Photo:NLI)

‘two persons of suspicious appearance’

 “The New Draper arrived in the river here on the 23rd February, towing up an oyster boat. She came near her berth at the Custom House, but before she reached it these two men, Flood and McCafferty, dropped from the stern of the vessel into the oyster boat, and were rowed towards Carlisle-bridge. They were pursued by the police, who had been informed they were coming over by this vessel, and were on the look out for her; indeed, one of them had followed her all the way from Pigeon House. They were called on to surrender, which they did not do, but sought to escape by jumping into a canal boat, and from the canal boat into a collier. They were there arrested, and gave false names.”

Charles Smith, Captain of the New Draper out of Whitehaven, normally engaged in the Coal trade,had agreed to give the two men passage to Dublin, leaving on 20th February. They reached their destination three days later, and in the Bay a tug steamer took the vessel in tow and proceeded up the river. Throughout this time they were under constant observation, as the authorities had been made aware that ‘two persons of suspicious appearance’ had sailed aboard. Near the pigeon-house a small boat (described as a row boat, but with a small mast) approached and a rope was thrown down to pull it alongside. The New Draper was due to berth at Georges Quay on the South side of the River opposite Custom House. As it was preparing to dock the two passengers made their exit onto the small boat and were rowed away. As they left, one of them politely addressed the captain with the words “Goodbye, I’ll see you again”.

Thomas Reilly, a police Sergeant based at College Street was one of those awaiting their arrival, positioned on Sir John Rogersons-quay. As they made their way up the Liffey he could observe those on deck and ordered his men to proceed along-side, moving as far as Creighton Street / City Quay. Here he climbed aboard a Collier to gain a better view and witnessed the wanted men make their way into the small boat and be rowed away by two men, towards the other side of the river. He rushed along onshore and accompanied by another constable commandeered one of the Liffey Ferry boats and gave pursuit into the centre of the river. They shouted a command to surrender but were ignored. Flood and McCafferty leaped from their boat into a canal-boat and from here scrambled aboard another coal-brig.

Police constable Michael Rowland was located at the Point of the wall (on the North Side of the River) when the New Draper was towed past. He crossed over on a ferry-boat and on the way he witnessed the two men climb into the smaller boat. Having reached the South Quay he joined Sergeant Reilly in the pursuit aboard the commandeered Ferry boat, and afterwards onto the canal-boat and finally onto the coal-brig.

It was here that O’Reilly and Rowland arrested the two men. Identifying themselves as William Jackson and John Phillips, they were initially returned to the New Draper before being taken to Mountjoy Prison later that evening.

Fenian prisoners being brought to Mountjoy        ( Illustrated London News)

Fenian prisoners being brought to Mountjoy    (Illustrated London News)

“…never was our country so humiliated in an Irish Court of Justice”

The Special Commission held at Green Street Courthouse began on April 8th, with 265 men accused of High Treason and Felony Treason. McCafferty was tried separately and on his own. On the 15th of May Flood faced trial alongside Edward Duffy and James Cody. Amidst the general treason / conspiracy accusations, Edward Duffy was specifically named for ‘seducing men away from the army’, and Cody with being head of ‘an assassination committee’ which was tasked with killing ‘any man who should be found giving information to the authorities of the movement of Fenians’.

The informer John Joseph Corydon gave evidence against all three and many of the others on trial. His testimony was the most substantial and damning against Flood. Civilian witnesses confirmed that Flood had been in Manchester very regularly during the previous year but made no claims to any criminal or conspiratorial activity on his behalf. Likewise he was identified as present at various locations in and around the time of the Chester raid. This was all corroborative to Corydons accusations. Aside from the informer, the most detailed evidance regarding Flood and Fenian links came from a Dublin Detective.

Launcelot Dawson, Police Constable,gave evidence of his special duties in 1864 and ’65 when he had been engaged in watching Fenian meetings and Drill assemblies. He described his time observing one particular large store-room (near Island Street) where drilling took place.  He described those who attended as ‘of the labouring classes generally’, and entrance was gained by knocking or giving a ‘peculiar whistle’, with the two men posted as ‘sentinels’ granting admission.

“These persons generally went there about seven o’clock, or between seven and eight; and continued to go in there in batches of twos and threes up to nine o’clock, or half past nine”. He stated that “fifty or sixty, and sometimes up to eighty…” used to assemble on these occasions.

He “procured a key , and got access to the premises after they had all left” . It was ‘a very extensive place’ which he believed to be a former wool-store .Paraffin lambs hung around the walls ‘secured by nails’ and the windows were  “boarded up , so that no one could see what was going on inside from the outside” . It also contained ‘some basket hilted sticks such are as used for the broad sword exercise” and no seating at all.

 He claimed that he had first noted John Flood in December of 1864 at Burkes Public House on Dame Street and afterwards observed him entering the store on at least three separate occasions when drilling was taking place. Each time he only stayed ‘perhaps an hour, or sometimes not even half an hour’.

He did not know Flood at this time, but said he had seen him ‘about town’. When cross-examined ‘Do you know everyone about town?’ he explained “No; but he is about the class of man who would attract my attention”.  He added that he had “Met him in several parts of the city …the principal place I met him was down about the North Strand”.  At the drill hall, he had taken down a description of Flood, the clothes he wore and ‘the colour of his whiskers’ but did not know his name, and afterwards did not see him until he was in custody at Mountjoy.

The three men at the Special Commission Court  (London Illustrated News)

The three men at the Special Commission Court (London Illustrated News)

As stated, the most substantial evidence against Flood was from the informer John Joseph Corydon. His background and role was fully detailed in court – he was a former lieutenant of the Federal Army of the United States who had joined the Fenians in 1862. He came to Dublin in 1865 and knew the key figures such as James Stephens and Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa. He lived first at Summerhill and then at Buckingham Street. In 1866 he began passing information to the authorities. That year he moved to Liverpool, and was based here during the planning of the insurrection and the Chester Raid. He was the most significant and high ranking informer in the ranks, betrayed the rising and gave evidence against many of the leaders in subsequent prosecutions.

 He first met Flood in 1865 , and described him as “the principal leader, or head- centre in England and Scotland in the absence of Stephens”, and that “Liverpool was his headquarters”. He attended meetings with Flood, McCafferty and American Fenian officers including the planning for the Chester raid.

He described a meeting in Edgeware street in Liverpool prior to the events in Chester at which Flood and McCafferty  gave the orders regarding the proposed raid, capture of weapons and transportation to Ireland and provided finances (£20) to enable members to make their way there. He also detailed meetings with American Fenians (who were to be officers on the raid) and his own traitorous activities to prevent the plan being enacted. Issac Butt, a one time legal mentor to Flood would now take charge of his defence against the serious accusations he now faced.

It was questioned whether such a conspiracy ever actually existed, or if it was just an invention of the informer Croydon to improve his own value:

 “How easy to pervert some intended prize fight, some gathering of a trades union into an alleged treasonable attack, and elevate himself…”

“…not one single human being has been prosecuted in England for participation in that treasonable design. In the centre of one of Englands most peaceful and prosperous districts of peaceful and loyal England, hundreds of persons assembled in that quaint old city of Chester to raise the standard of open rebellion, to make war upon the Queens troops , to seize upon one of the strongholds of the nation in open day. They came in troops from every quarter; they filled the streets of the town; and disappear as mysteriously as they came. And of all the crowd that met there in the broad sunlight- if you are to believe the story- in an act of open and audacious rebellion, not one has been prosecuted or brought to account… a rebellion passed off as a matter of course- and at this hour no single individual has been made amenable to justice for being in Chester with that party of traitors on that day”.

The fact that the trial was taking place in Dublin was highlighted and the question asked (and answered): “why was not Flood tried in Chester where the treason was committed? There is but one reason which can be assigned. They dare not submit to an English jury the evidence on which they ask you to convict”.

The character of the informer Croydon was of course brought into question, and no hyperbole was spared: “Ireland has been subject to many insults; she has borne many humiliations. But never was our country so humiliated in an Irish Court of Justice, as when this degraded ruffian was spoken of by the Queens Attorney-General as ‘Mr. Croydon, the saviour of his country’…

The evidence that Flood had been in Chester was irrefutable, with many witnesses to his presence there. The tactic of the defence was to throw doubt on his reasons for being there, even invoking his reputation as a ‘Clever and dashing young smuggler’ to full advantage – “Where is the direct and manifest proof that his presence in Chester was connected with any treasonable purpose whatever? Can you say that he is provably attained by any overt act or deed? If you cannot you must acquit him. He may have been at Chester for a thousand purposes of which you and I know nothing. He may have left it clandestinely for a thousand reasons we cannot divine. He may have been engaged in some smuggling transaction. He may have been assisting McCafferty to get away. Everything is conjecture, and upon conjecture you cannot bring in a verdict of guilty…”

John Flood was found guilty of Treason Felony as were his co-defendants. On Tuesday 21st May he gave his speech from the dock, which defiantly stated:

“The Attorney-General has alluded to me repeatedly as that wretched man. If loving my country through my whole life should make me wretched, I am wretched indeed; for I tell you now, and I tell the world that I not only abhor assassination, but I would rather go to my doom than be guilty of the moral assassination that has been practiced against me. I am ready, my lords, for my sentence”.

He was sentenced to fifteen years penal servitude. His expectations were probably worse.  Tried separately, John McCafferty had already been convicted of High Treason and sentenced to death, though this was afterwards commuted to ‘penal servitude for life’.

After the sentence had been pronounced the convicts, who had been held in cells beneath the court, were conveyed to Mountjoy Prison, escorted by mounted police and two troops of Ninth Lancers. Five months later Flood had been brought to Britain and facing transportation to the far side of the world, a journey of almost 10,000 miles.

Hougoumont in 1885

Hougoumont in 1885


To Australia with ‘The Wild Goose’

In October of that year Flood was aboard the ship Hougoumont which set sail from Portland in the South of England, bound for Freemantle, Western Australia. A three month journey, this was the first such transportation in almost 20 years (since the Young Ireland rebellion) and it would be the last such voyage of a prison ship.  Aboard were 280 convicts, and amongst these were 62 Fenians. A plan was proposed by some of the Fenian prisoners for the seizing of the ship and sailing her to America,with John Flood as the navigator. A lack of support and concerns about how the two hundred plus criminal convicts would react led to the plot being discarded.  As a result the voyage was generally uneventful, but remarkable in that for much of its passage the Fenian prisoners produced their own weekly paper.

In a letter sent to his parents from Australia, Cork man Eugene Lambert detailed the journey:

  “We enjoyed a tolerable passage and arrived here on the 9th January, making the voyage in 89 days. Really I was heartily sick of life on board ship, the journey was so long. I managed one way or other to while away the time. Myself and my exiled friends lived very agreeably during the passage. We were kept separate from other prisoners and placed in a good part of the ship nearly amidships. We published a written newspaper on board, entitled “The Wild Goose”. I was a copyist on it and it was edited by J.Flood, he that was tried with Capt. McCafferty….Only half the voyage was over when ‘twas thought of. It was our greatest delight to have a read of it…”

 Denis B. Cashman, a Waterford Fenian kept a diary which was later published. His entry for November 5th 1867 records

 “a meeting held to see if we could start a newspaper. Meeting composed of Con Mahony, J.Flood, Duggan , O’Reilly, Cody, Casey, Noonan and self…J. Flood appointed editor…”

As Irish patriots bound for foreign shores, the appropriate title “The Wild Goose” was chosen. The Chaplin aboard the Hougoumont was Father Bernard Delaney of Dublin, who was friendly towards the Irish prisoners. He provided the necessary paper and ink for the task.

First edition of The Wild Goose (Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)

First edition of The Wild Goose (Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)

 A vivid reminiscence of preparing the paper was provided by John Boyle O’Reilly: “We published seven weekly numbers of it. Amid the dim glare of the lamp, the men at night would group strangely on extemporised seats. The yellow light fell down on the dark forms, throwing a ghastly glare on the pale faces of the men…”

 A total of seven weekly issues of “The Wild Goose” were produced, which included a double sized Christmas edition of 16 pages. Saturday was publication day and the Fenians would look forward to gathering in one of the ship’s holds and having the paper read aloud by the editor John Flood or his assistant, John Boyle O’Reilly .The content was not overtly political, but was designed to be diverting and morale building. It featured stories and poems, history pieces, memoirs of home and a fair bit of humour. It set out its ambition on the front of the first edition “I will aim to console you for the past, to cheer you for the present, and to strengthen you for the future”.

One contribution rejoiced in the memory of a spectacular Fourth of July celebration spent in Chicago. It concluded with a patriotic ambition -

“Thus do the Americans commemorate their country’s natal day. That night, sadly contrasting the position of my own country with that of the proud American republic, I fervently prayed that a happier day might dawn for my own native isle of the sea.”

 John Flood contributed poetry under the name Binn Éider (The Gaelic name for Howth is Binn Éadair ). A total of eleven of his poems appeared across the seven issues, all described by later commentators as of good quality.

“Amid scenes that lie, oh! so far away

From my prison home to-night –

By the lovely shores of sweet Dublin Bay

And Ben Eder’s crowned height,

Behind whose hills oft I have seen thee rise …”

(“My Star” 10/12/1867)

One in particular “Cremona” recalled the battle in the 1700’s when an Irish Brigade fought alongside the French against the Austrians. It is not hard to imagine the emotion Flood might have felt when he penned the lines

“A curse upon the traitor wretch who to the wily foe

For sordid gold the town betrayed! “

  Amongst the bumper crop of material appearing in the final edition , the double sized Christmas special, were two contrasting poems by John B O’Reilly .“Christmas Night”  described  the circumstances of an Irish prisoner in an English gaol on the feast day  , quite clearly based on his own incarceration in London the previous year.

“And thus he spoke as he onward sped-‘truly every heart is light;

In merry England from east to the west, no mortal is sad tonight!’

But now in his path stood a gloomy pile, ere the cheering thought had passed:

A prison, all massive, and silent, and stern, its darkening shadow cast.

The air grew cold and his boisterous mirth was struck with a sudden chill;

For tho’ keen are the frozen blasts of the North, there are others more piercing still.”

But the paper was designed to be uplifting and morale building , and another Christmas verse was more light hearted and cheery –

Then, brothers, though we spend the day

Within a prison ship,

Let every heart with hope be gay, a smile on every lip.


Let’s banish sorrows, banish fears,

And fill our hearts with glee,

And ne’er forget in after years

Our Christmas on the sea”.

The Wild Goose Christmas edition (Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)

The Wild Goose Christmas edition (Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)

John Boyle O'Reilly

John Boyle O’Reilly


The Hougoumont reached its destination on the 9th of January 1868, the last vessel to carry convicts and political prisoners to those shores. When John Flood set foot on Australian soil he was in the land that would become his home for the next four decades, until his death in 1909.

(Incredibly, copies of the ship-board newspaper have survived. A century after the convict ship Hougoumont arrived in Fremantle the original hand written manuscripts of The Wild Goose were donated to the Mitchell Library in Sydney by Sheelagh Johnson the great granddaughter of John Flood.)


“He was a friend of whom anyone might be proud”

He had been sentenced to 15 years penal servitude, but after only a few years of his sentence he was released, on the condition that he would not leave Australia or attempt to return to England or Ireland. Now a free man (at least on one continent) he set out to make a new life for himself.

John Floods pardon (Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)

John Floods pardon (Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)

Perhaps inspired by his journalistic endeavours on the ocean, he would become a ‘Newspaper-man’, and also become involved in the thriving goldfield and mining industries.  Having proceeded first to Tasmania, he then went on to Sydney, where he established his own paper called “The Irish Citizen” in December of 1871.  This bore the imprint “Printed and published by the proprietor, John Flood, at No. 6 Park-street, Sydney.”  and would run until August of the following year. In 1873 there was a gold-rush on the Palmer River in the Northwest, which attracted him, but he still had ink in his veins, as he soon became editor of a paper in nearby Cooktown, (Queensland). He would also spend some time on the ‘literary staff ‘of the “Brisbane Courier”. In 1881 he arrived in Gympie, another Gold-rush town in Queensland, setting up “John Flood and Co.” establishing himself as a mining secretary. But the ink beckoned again, and in 1888 he set up the Gympie Newspaper Company Ltd. and acquired the “Gympie Miner” daily. He maintained his role in the company as a managing –director and also in its ‘journalistic control’ until the early 20th century.

The town of Gympie

The town of Gympie

In Cooktown he had married a Tasmanian woman, Miss Susan O’Bryne, and they had a number of children. Three of these would die at young ages over a reasonably short time span – Valentine Patrick in 1889 (aged 6), Kathleen in 1890(aged 9) and John Oscar in 1892(aged3) His wife died in 1897 at the age of 44, and at the time of his own death in 1909 only two of his children were still alive.

Inscription on John Flood monument (Photo: John Huth)

Inscription on John Flood monument (Photo: John Huth -Monument Australia)


A monument   “placing on record the life of John Flood”

During his years in Gympie he was a prominent citizen, who “always took an active part in local affairs”. In relation to his native land, he was    “especially recognized as a leader in all movements having reference to the Irish National question. On these matters he was consulted by those connected with the Irish Home Rule movement in all parts of Australia, and maintained a continuous correspondence with his native land. When Messrs. Redmond, Dillon, Davitt, and other members of the Irish National Party visited Gympie they were his guests”.

His status amongst the Irish population of Australia was confirmed two years after his death with the erection of a monument to his memory on the 24th September in 1911. These extracts are taken from an extensive account published in the Gympie Times newspaper –

“The hour fixed for the ceremony was 3 p.m., and by that time an assemblage estimated at between 2000 and 3000 persons had gathered round the memorial erected over the grave.  The monument which stands 14ft. high is a handsome Celtic cross in polished Aberdeen granite on a Bohn base of unpolished local granite.  It is set on a solid base of concrete and the walling and enclosure are Helidon freestone.  On the face of the monument are engraved the round tower, wolf dog and national harp of Ireland, with other emblematic designs… A lorry was drawn up on the right hand side of the memorial, on which was placed the handsome banner of the H.A.C.B. Society and with this as an appropriate background the various speakers addressed the large audience from the lorry…”

The chairman of the memorial committee began “today they were unveiling a monument to the memory of one of the most earnest, enthusiastic and patriotic Irishmen that ever lived.  (Hear, hear).  The late Mr. Flood, as they knew, was prepared to lay down his life for his country, and up to the moment of his death he had never lost his enthusiasm for the cause of Ireland.  For his enthusiastic support, he had suffered the penalty of banishment from his native land.  Of all the friends, of the late Mr. Flood, he (Mr. Power) living alongside him had a better opportunity of judging his character and know something of his inner life, and, apart from his patriotism and love of country, no better father ever lived.  He was a friend of whom anyone might be proud – courteous, cultured, and straightforward, never saying one thing when he thought another”. 

Amongst the guests was William Archer Redmond MP, son of John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party.   “MR. REDMOND who was heartily received, said that cold indeed would be the heart of any Irishman if it was not moved and inspired by the spectacle in the cemetery that afternoon, a crowd assembled in thousands to do honour to the memory of a great Irish patriot and an esteemed fellow townsman...  In this truly Irish monument erected by the people of Gympie, they expressed their deep appreciation of and lasting admiration for the sterling qualities of their late townsman, John Flood, and for his self-sacrifice and his unswerving devotion to the cause of his native land and its people.” 

The inscription on the memorial stone reads:

 “Sacred to the memory of John Flood (a true Irish patriot) born 2nd May 1841 at Sutton Dublin Ireland. Died 22nd August 1909 aged 68 years. Erected in 1911 by friends and admirers to commemorate his life’s work in the cause of the Irish Nationality. RIP”.


John Flood monument (Photographed in 2013 by John Huth)

John Flood monument (Photographed in 2013 by John Huth-Monument Australia)



Any corrections, clarifications or additional information please contact

Sources include:

“The Fenian conspiracy :Report of the trials of Thomas F. Burke and others, for high treason, and treason-felony, &c., at the Special commision, Dublin, held at the Court-house, Green-street, Dublin, commencing 8th April, 1867.”    By William G. Chamney. (Printed by A. Thoms, Dublin 1869)

Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

State Library of Queensland


  Fenian Diary.Denis B. Cashman on Board Hougoumont 1867-1868

(Edited and introduced by Dr C.W. Sullivan III)


Voyage of the Hougoumont and Life at Fremantle: The Story of an Irish Rebel              

 By Thomas McCarthy Fennell


Irish Political Prisoners, 1848-1922: Theatres of War

By Seán McConville


(Dedicated to Belinda , a finder of lost things and a great contributor to the work of the East Wall History Group. )

Jul 12

Sean O’Casey, St Barnabas Parish and the Loyal Orange Lodge

Plaque marking site of St Barnabas Church

Plaque marking site of St Barnabas Church

Sean O’Casey was a parishioner of St Barnabas Church from 1889 to 1919, initially living at Hawthorn Terrace and afterwards at Abercorn Road. He had a high opinion of the Reverend Edward Morgan Griffin who served as Rector here between 1899 and 1918. O’Casey dedicated the second volume of his autobiography (“Pictures in the Hallway”) to him as follows:

 “To the memory of the Rev E.M. Griffin, BD, MA, one-time Rector of St Barnabas, Dublin. A fine scholar; a man of many- branched kindness, whose sensitive hand was the first to give the clasp of friendship to the author.”

In contrast to this, O’Casey took a dim view of some within the parish, obnoxiously anti catholic and critical of the less fervent members of their own flock. His description of these brethren is most unflattering. Both O’Casey and Griffin would come into conflict with some of these elements within a few years.

 While paying tribute to O’Casey in a special sermon following his death in 1964, the Dean of Christ Church recalled his “immense and affectionate regard for the Rev…” and noted also that locally there had existed a “colony of Ulster Railway workers, who were members of the Orange Order”.   The following excerpts are from “Pictures in the Hallway” .As always with his autobiographical volumes, O’Casey refers to himself in the third person as Johnny, and the parish as St. Burnupus.

02 St  Barnabas church and school

“…the little church of St.Burnupus, in its desolate seat among the dust of the dowdy streets, the cinders of the bottle making factory of North Lotts, for ever pouring out it’s murky plumes of smoke, the scarred heaps of mouldering bark and timber chips round Martin’s timber yard, the dung of the cattle, passing in droves down to the quays , the smell of the beer-soaked sawdust, floating out from the wide-open doors of the pubs, blending its smell with that of the foul rags of the festering, fawning poor…”

As seen from inside O'Casey house, Abercorn Road

As seen from inside O’Casey house, Abercorn Road

“Even when the rooms were bare of fire and scant of food, he sang and wondered that life had so much to give; and he tried to share all these sights with his mother; but he saw they had but a timid and feebly whispered message for her, sending her more eagerly back to the motherly care of her crimson geranium, her golden musk, and her fuchsia, with its purple bells and white waxy sepals drooping royally over the sadness of the cracked and withering window.

Into this glowing dwelling -place of Johnny’s came the new rector, to take up the pastorate of St.Burnupus. Quietly he came, introduced by the city’s archbishop, who left the smoke, the cinders, the timber chips, the dung, and the hearty smell as quick as he decently could in his carriage and pair, when he had safely dumped down the new rector where he was to work for the salvation of souls. The archbishop left behind a man of middle height, some forty-five years of age, a sweet face, bearded brown, now firmly streaked with silver; eyes that sometimes glowed with a ripe autumnal friendship, and sometimes glittered with a wintry scorn; small, delicate, graceful, and sympathetic hands; a warm, sensitive, and humorous mouth; a fine presence, gracefully rugged, that endorsed the confidence of a broad and scholarly mind. A man among men; few there were that could stand beside him, and when the place was found where these few where, it would be hard to say the best of them was as good as he was.

A great stir came to the parish with Edward Morgan Griffin, son of a Methodist minister, and once one of the secretaries of the Hibernian Bible Society, so that here was one who was surely a hale protestant after the Orangeman’s pattern, and a joy for ever to the simple soul believing that salvation came with the mumbling of a text of scripture. The choir began to sing well, and Johnny sat with them, singing lustily when he was in the mood, the rector telling him not to be afraid to let himself go. Bible classes flourished, and Foreign Mission work was strongly aided, Johnny acting as secretary to this activity. The vestry was enlarged and made warm and comfortable for smaller meetings. The school grew so that it had to have a new wing added; and the religious life of the parish became vigorous, homely, orderly and genuine under the direction and with the encouragement of the new rector.


Reverend EM Griffin

Reverend EM Griffin

 Orangemen, purplemen, and knights of the grand black chapter, with civil and religious liberty stamped on their stony faces, hemmed him in , smiled at him , and patted him on the back. Cordons of orange and blue and purple were all around him; and, for a time all new work was born in contentment and charm. The Orangemen were headed by the people’s churchwarden, Frank Donaldson, secretary to the Grand Loyal Orange Lodge of Dublin, a man to whom any speck of colour on a church wall or in a window meant popery and auto-da-fesof burning protestants every morning in Rutland Square, and twice a day on Sundays. His pale, pitiless face for ever stared in front of him, seeing nothing but evil and danger of a fringe on a church cloth, and a devils conjuring trick in the sign of the cross; Edward Doosard, Inspector of the Quay Police(doddering old men, in their childhood, watching the warehouses of the Port and Docks Board, showing gold and brass where the  real police showed silver, the dockers cursing them , and the carters cutting at them with their whips whenever they got in the way), his ruby face, jowled like Dutch cheese, his bull-neck forming a circle above a white collar, like a thick rubber hose, a rusty-fleshed fat hand almost always stroking a bristly moustache, and his piggy eyes trying to tell everyone that  he was a pillar of Protestantism; and John Glazier, foreman in the Great Western Railway Goods Store; a true-blue, if ever there was one; a man who would be ready to die for his faith, his rugged face carved like a stone creviced by centuries of frost and rain; his jagged teeth showing grimly when he mentioned some taint of ritualism in  some protestant church; his hands twitching as if they were edging towards a pope’s throat. …”


02 a


Extract from “Pictures in the Hallway” (1942)


All six volumes of Sean O’Casey Autobiographies, republished by Faber and Faber, are currently available in both print and kindle editions.

If you have a favourite Sean O’Casey extract please bring it to our attention.

Contact us at


Jul 11

“Kathleen Lynn , a Truly Radical Woman” – Saturday July 18th –

On Saturday the 18th July the East Wall History Group will host the inaugural Sarah Lundberg Summer School. Held in conjunction with the Alternative Visions Oral History project, the event is in honour of our friend and colleague Sarah Lundberg,  an Archivist , Historian and publisher  who tragically passed away last year.

Lynn poster

The topic of Kathleen Lynn was chosen because this remarkable woman was the subject of a major publishing project that Sarah had begun at the time of her death. This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the death of Kathleen Lynn in September of 1955.

Dr Kathleen Lynn was a lifelong campaigner for women’s rights. In 1913 she became involved with the work at Liberty Hall during the great Lockout. This led to her assuming the role as chief-medical-officer in the Irish Citizen Army and an Easter Rising participant, serving in the City Hall Garrison. Imprisoned on a number of occasions for her political activity, she was released in 1918 at the request of the Dublin’s Lord Mayor to help fight the flu epidemic sweeping the city. Working alongside her life-long companion Madeline fFrench Mullen, she founded St Ultans Children’s Hospital at Charlemont Street in 1922. Always a progressive thinker, she was instrumental in tackling the scourge of TB and brought educationalist Maria Montessori to Ireland in the 1930’s.

A number of prominent historians and activists, along with some newer voices will be taking part, and many aspects of Lynn’s life, activities and legacy will be explored in an open and participative forum.

Kathleen Lynn (third from left) with St Ultan's Hospital  staff and Lord Mayor Alfie Byrne

Kathleen Lynn (third from left) with St Ultan’s Hospital staff and Lord Mayor Alfie Byrne


See link to facebook event page here :



Jun 29

Fourth of July Parade – for the first time ever !

4th-2For the first time ever East Wall will be hosting a ‘Fourth of July’ parade , starting @ 2pm at the Sean O’Casey Community Centre. All welcome to this spectacular event , which will also hold a collection to benefit Temple Street Children’s Hospital .



Jun 21


East Wall History Banner

Would you like to get more involved with the East Wall History Group ? Here’s your chance -

Thursday 25th June @ 7.30pm

The Sean O’Casey Community Centre


The East Wall History Group was established in 2011 , and we held our first annual festival that year. Since then we have become very much a vital part of the local community and undertaken numerous projects, including researching stories from the revolutionary period, compiling details of the shops, businesses & streets that existed throughout the 20th the century, celebrated our great football heritage , erected plaques to mark significant locations and made available many photos, documents and memorabilia from our areas past .

SO WHAT DO WE DO NEXT ? Come along to this informal meeting and have your say – would you like to get more involved , can you suggest new projects , have you an expertise or skill you’d like to share . This meeting is open to all , to plan for the ongoing work of the group and to encourage more people to get involved. We hope to see you there.


We can be contacted at

Jun 01

EAST WALL FESTIVAL WEEK 2015 – Brochure now available


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