M. Nic L.: So, you were telling me, you were ten years old at the time of the rising.
P. F.: I was ten years old in the… in 1916 Rising. And it was on for a week. And during that week there was nothing but… shooting all the time. Repeating like… machine-gun fire all day and night, machine-gun fire. And they… were… during the end of, of… coming to the end of the, that week, the British came around to our place; the British officer came around to our… and ordered us all out of the house. There was a couple of houses together; you know? And they said, the women and children would come out first, and the men all come out together, with their hands up. And they marched all the men to, to a certain place, though where they were marching, but they marched the women and children up to Dominick Street, and they were all accommodated in different parts in Dominick Street. And we happened to be accommodated in… a man, he was… something to do with a stonecutter. His name was Bracken, yeah, and we were there in his house for a whole week, while the Rising was, was on all the time, when the shooting and all was on, and why we had to evacuate that time, they were going to blow…
M. Nic L.: Why did you have to evacuate then?
P. F.: The reason was for, for to… for us leaving… for the safety of the women and children, with the big explosion in the, of the GPO, the burning of the GPO, it might effect the people you know the shatter the whole place you know? And in it the people.
M. Nic L.: And you were living off Parnell Street?
P. F.: And we were living for a week off of Parnell Street, in Dominick Street, it was Dominick Street. People the name of Bracken, we lived with for the whole week. And my father, my father was, was taken away with the other men, but there was nothing done to them. No, no-no, no-no, no-no, women and all had to leave the house, and in leaving the house they separated all the men from the women and children, and all the men were put together and marched off to some other place in, in… marched away altogether, and only the women and children were left and they were brought up, up to the, different houses in Dominick Street to stay there, for the, for the weekend, when they were going to blow up the GPO.
M. Nic L.: And… who organised the evacuation?
P. F.: Oh no it was the British themselves, the British Army put the people out, for their safety’s sake, and, and, they, they, took… all the men in captivity, that were living there like, you know, afraid they might rebel and then… and there was barricades as well up all around the place, barricades in, in, in… with cars and all piled up… for all… across the street.
M. Nic L.: Which street was this now?
P. F.: There was barricades in, in, in Horseman’s Row, it was all barricades across, like, like… in case there’d be ambushes or anything like that, defence you know? Yeah. And the… Republican men had the rifles out through the, through the Post Office windows at the beginning of the Rising. They were… they broke all the windows and had the rifles sticking out through the windows, from Henry Street right around. Yeah, they had them. And they were in all the time, and in order to get them out they… in the end, they, they blew up the Post Office, they had to come out then you know. They burned them out of it really, like you know. They, the prisoners that were in there.
M. Nic L.: And do you remember when they surrendered? Do you remember the surrender?
P. F.: Just the tail end of it, yes, yes, and we all got back to our own place. We… we had… we had a small clothes shop in… in the place at the time, and we had the shutters up. And oh… on the shutters all marked with, with the bullet, where it went right through the edge of the shutters, and made a mark on the shutter, where they fired in. And there was a man, there was a curfew as well, we had to be in at certain times.
M. Nic L.: Really?
P. F.: Yeah. And there was a curfew out, and there was a man drunk outside our place, and, and they told him to get in, to get in, get in off the street, and he wouldn’t, and they shot him dead.
M. Nic L.: The British shot him dead?
P. F.: The British shot him dead, yeah. He was drunk of course, he didn’t heed anybody, you know? And the British shot him, and… and he was lying outside our… our… house. Our house is on the corner like, on the corner in, in… in Horseman’s Row and he was outside, lying up with a rosary beads in his hands, somebody put a rosary beads in his hand, and that’s all we heard of him then.
And then, then when… when the Rebellion was over, at the end, we… we took a ramble around the different places, and we went… as far as… we went up to Moore Street, and we saw the O’Rahilly where he was shot outside of eh… on the foot… He was lying in his uniform, lying on the… dead, with his knees up, and his hands across like that, and his knees up, and he was outside of Hanlon’s, that was a fish-shop, and beside that shop was Price’s, the… delph shop. And he was lying there, and then we took a walk then up to the, to the… Daisy Market.
M. Nic L.: Where was that?
P. F.: The market, the… the Daisy Market, it was… it was, it’s off of Mary Street there, in one of the, the markets. There’s a fish-market and the Daisy Market. And, and we went through the market, and as we go through the markets, we saw men and women lying dead all over, around the place. And cloths over their face. Lying dead all around, and, and people dead out in the ordinary street, flat dead. All lying on the, the… their faces covered with sheets, covering them all up.
M. Nic L.: And was there anybody belonging to you killed?
P. F.: Oh no, no, no no, we weren’t, we weren’t in in the movement at all no, we weren’t in the movement, we had no political aims at all. But there was a neighbour of ours, the name of Mrs. Barrett, her, her husband, her husband was in the movement, he was fighting in… Jacob’s factory, this was the southside. We were living on the northside, but he, he just happened to be in the… Jacob’s Factory, but he escaped well. He, he, he didn’t get any… bullets or anything like that, he came out safe out of it. And he, he was… a next-door neighbour of ours. Ours was number eleven and his was number ten.
M. Nic L.: You said your father was?
P. F.: Ah well my father wasn’t, no, he was… an insurance, an insurance agent, at that time he was an insurance agent for the Prevention, eh, that’s an English company you know?
M. Nic L.: So where was he…?
P. F.: He was at home like… he wasn’t in the movement at all like you know? He had no part in either side. He was neutral. He was just an… just, just… an insurance agent, and he had no, no interest in politics you know?
M. Nic L.: So would you have known any of the leaders?
P. F.: What?
M. Nic L.: Would you have known any of the leaders?
P. F.: Ah no I wouldn’t. I was too young at that time. Ten year old, I didn’t know them. And I only just heard of the men fighting and all you know? I think Pádraig Pearse was in eh, the GPO and Connolly. He, he,he was… he was shot in the GPO, and they were attending to his wounds and all in the GPO and Pearse happened to be there as well in that department, in charge in that section.
M. Nic L.: So what was the public’s reaction to the Rising? Did they think it was a good thing, or did they think they were fools or? How did they react?
P. F.: No they, they reacted reluctantly, reluctantly, yes they did… Because some of their people were in , in the, already in the British Army you know? 1914, yeah, so they were half and half really you know? In favour and some not in favour. Some of the relations were British. And getting away from, from, from England, same as the North now, they’re not, they’re not in favour of coming in here, because they have better benefits and all. Under the, under the British Rule they have better, better, in, in, in grants and insurance and all that. Therefore that on the money part, not on the patriotic part, the money, money side, I wouldn’t blame them on that point, getting more money of course, and if they joined here they’d lose money, they’d have less, less grants and less insurance, that’s why they, that’s why they’re in favour of being under British Rule, because there’s better benefits. Which is the fact, you can see that yourself today by reading the papers. They have better benefits, under the British Rule of course. Apart from being patriotic you know?
M. Nic L.: And what else would you have heard now maybe about other leaders like Con Colbert or others?
P. F.: No I didn’t hear anything about it, only, only just the destruction of the place. The whole place. There was a lot of looting there at the time and…
M. Nic L.: Was there?
P. F.: Yes, there, they, all, the places and all were all on fire! Noblett’s, a big tea-shop there, it was in on O’Connell Street at the time, and Hampton and Eden’s a sort of a… I think it was a sort of an oil-shop or a, something like that.
M. Nic L.: And who did the looting?
P. F.: Oh, oh… oh the locals, people yeh.
M. Nic L.: All the neighbours?
P. F.: Yeah, yeah, all the neighbours, all the people that lived around did the looting. We, we bought from the looters at the time, we we bought eh, a pillowful of tea for sixpence.
M. Nic L.: A pillowful?
P. F.: A pillowful of tea for sixpence! And there they had a big tea-chest you know, then their [unclear] ‘we’ll give you sixpence for the pillowful’, and, and they were selling chocolates where the – otherwise it would go to waste – no-one, it belonged to nobody because it would be all destroyed by the fire, no-one, no-one would have any benefit. So there was, there was no more in taking the stuff, because there was no-one there to protect it, and it would be all burned and, and destroyed and go to waste anyhow. So it was a benefit to the people. The people that took it of course, they had a few bob out of it after, after collecting it, and gathering and selling it among the people, among the crowds, so much eh… they had tea, and they had eh, a pillowful of chocolates from, from from the…
M. Nic L.: From Noblett’s?
P. F.: From Noblett’s, yeah.