F. S.: I lived around here, as I said, during the 1916 period, and things were very, very hot around here. North King Street is well known as where there was, the bitter... the bitterest of fighting. In fact there was twelve people murdered here when the fighting collapsed on the Friday. They were more or less lodgers, and… the soldiers responsible were the Staffordshire regiment. But… I lived, not here then, I lived around the corner in a place called Linen Hall Street. And… as I said in a book which I wrote, which was never published, a sort of an autobiography, we were between two fires because, a few yards away from where we lived was Linen Hall Barracks, which was set on fire and it was blazing for the whole week, the heat was intense. And… only a few yards on the other side was North King Street where all the heavy fighting took place, so things were tough for the period. And I remember soldiers raided the house when I was a kid and took away me father to… to Richmond Barracks, but he was later released. But during the period of ’16 I was rather… a little, well not so much wild as… I was never afraid, that type, but I was down town many days during the week bringing back grub because… there was no food, everywhere was closed. Most of the shops were being looted and things were being thrown out of windows, so I brought back a supply and a few toys from a well-known… a well-known… place on O’Connell Street, I think the names of it was Lawrences… Lawrences. But I was… as I said I was only about I think eight or nine year old at the time. But I saw the boys in the GPO, I saw the several dead horses on O’Connell Street, but that was my experience of 1916. In fact it was ’16 that inspired me to join the Fianna. Because… well, following the Rising and following the executions… the poets let loose their wares and there was songs and recitations everywhere, and I used to pick up the songs and recitations from shop windows, and that’s where I joined the Fianna, early in 1918.
G. B.: Could I begin by asking you about Linen Hall Barracks, what you know about that?
F. S.: Well Linen Hall Barracks, was situated about twenty yards or so from my own home. It was more or less… a quartermaster’s store. It ceased to be a military barracks but there was a squads there and, during, during the Easter Rising an attempt was made for to blow up the wall which surrounds the barracks. There was an enormous explosion and of course, everyone was on their knees saying the Rosary, because we had been tipped off that the wall was about to be blown up. Actually, the explosion only cracked the wall. But... later they set fire to the barracks, and the barracks blazed for the best part of a week. And the exciting part was that, on the weekend we had terrific fighting in the North King Street Area. ...And on one side therefore where I lived there was a barracks blazing, on the other side there was a very hot fight going on throughout the night. To the best of my memory, about six the next morning the IRA surrendered, and all home in the area were, were raided by the troops, you understand the word that I… [unclear] that’s my memory of it, the Staffordshire Regiment. This same regiment, following the surrender of the Volunteers, murdered twelve men around the corner, they just shot them out of hand. My own father was taken away and brought to Richmond Barracks. I was a small kid in the [unclear] I remember it very well. But later on of course he was released, he had taken no part. So, that was my, memory of that period at that, in that area, North King Street.
G. B.: How did you hear rumour that the wall was going to be blown up?
F. S.: Well, the Volunteers told the people around, to take care, that there was going to, they were going to set off an explosion.
G. B.: Were many of the Volunteers from around the area do you know?
F. S.: Well yes, I knew a few of them, I just forget the names now you know? In time, your auld memory goes.
G. B.: Would they have been pretty young? You were young yourself about twelve. Would they have been eighteen?
F. S.: No, I was only about, No I was only about nine, nine or ten at the time. Oh, some of the Volunteers were only sixteen. You see, there was a Fianna before the Rising, and quite a number of Fianna took part in, in the Rising. In fact, two former Fianna officers were amongst those executed. That is, Heuston and Colbert.
G. B.: ...Do you know anything about Heuston and Colbert?
F. S.: No, not a whole lot you see, except that they were senior officers in the Fianna and they were members of the, of the, IRA executive and members of the Republican Brotherhood, and... that’s about as much as, as I know of them.
G. B.: The murders there you said about the Staffordshire Regiment, what do you know about that?
F. S.: Well, there was a number of men in the area there, some of them were lodgers in North King Street which is only around the corner, and they, they were murdered on the Friday morning, I think it was eleven or twelve of them, I’m not too sure of the number, probably eleven or twelve of them yeah.
G. B.: Were they inside, and were they taken outside?
F. S.: No they were shot inside.
G. B.: Inside?
F. S.: Yeah.
G. B.: And was there any particular reason, you know?
F. S.: No, no, it’s just that I suppose, some of the soldiers went berserk as they usually do and half their head be fighting or maybe due to drink or for revenge.
G. B.: ...Were there many soldiers in the Linen Hall Barracks, what type of camp was it?
F. S.: No, there was only about a dozen soldiers, they were only a guard. It wasn’t a military barracks, it had been, but not at that time. It was more or less a quartermaster’s store.
G. B.: And, would the soldiers be from, you know, from around or?
F. S.: Well, I’m not sure, they could be, they could be Irish or they could be, they could be British. But, there was many Irish in the British Army that time. I mean, prior to ’16... there was no, we didn’t feel the same way about the British as we did afterwards. And most of the poor, the city poor anyway, were in the British army or they were earning their livelihood through the British connection.
G. B.: Would there have been a lot of contact then between the people and the British soldiers?
F. S.: Yes, I remember when the Volunteers surrendered, a lot of the local women were dancing round with Union Jacks around them and, well-oiled, yeah.
G. B.: ...Did the people get on well with the Volunteers, no?
F. S.: No, not at that time, no. Not at that time, no everything was transformed later, when the men were shot, and when songs and stories began to appear in the press and in the windows of shops and people gradually swung round. But of course, what changed public opinion radically was the fact that the British were threatening the Irish with conscription, so it was… [laughter].
G. B.: Was there ever a turn against the Irish soldiers that were, part of the British Army?
F. S.: No, no. In fact, a lot of these soldiers when they came back joined the IRA. In fact one of the best leaders we had was Tom Barry from Cork, and he was a British Officer.