Máire Comerford

M. C.: Is that a good start? The... between… between, in the triangle between Lamb… between Lamb Doyle’s Crossroads and Lamb Doyle’s Pub and the entrance to St. Kevin Lane and the National School –  Sandyford National School – there’s a triangle of land enclosed by those roads. And there are two… there were two cottages standing in this. They were very small cottages joined together, but they were alone, in the middle of the ground.

[aside: Is that alright with you?]

Well now, Countess Markievicz had the first of these two cottages for a holiday place, to come out of Dublin and to rest and to paint. And when she was there, various people who afterwards became famous in history used that. And when Fianna Éireann was started, and being fostered by Countess Markievicz – it’s not certain that she founded it, it’s… some people say she founded it – but when Fianna Éireann was getting off the ground and beginning to get out of Dublin, they came to the fields there in front of Countess Markievicz’s cottage. And the next cottage to her was Mrs. Mulligan’s cottage – I’ve forgotten her Christian name – and she was a laundry woman, she was a beautiful looking woman, and she used to do the most delicate laundry for people, and she was a widow living alone. And she used to keep Countess Markievicz’s key when she wasn’t there, and when she was there and when the Fianna were camping, she was there always to help them, boiling kettles for them and generally being a very helpful, friendly person. And Mrs. Mulligan survived there, well after the time when I came to live here, about… not much more than a mile away, less than a mile as a crow flies away. And I made friends with Mrs. Mulligan and and got everything she had to give me in the way of tales about this, and also did anything I could to try and help and support her. But the… the history of this place insofar as it’s connected with Countess Markevicz, it starts I think a good long time before 1916. A time when she was… she was Countess Markevicz, she was married, she was back from Paris she was in, in Dublin. In some way, she was a relation to the O’Connell-Fitzsimon’s family who lived down here in Moreen and they had stories about her. And one survivor of that, two survivors of that family could probably add to your knowledge. One is old Colonel Fitzsimons who lives up in Glencullen, near Glencullen, and the other is, I suppose, perhaps his half-brother – not his son, must be his half-brother – who’s in a monastery somewhere in, as a lay brother, somewhere near Newry.

But, at any rate, Mrs. Mulligan often gave me stories. Arthur Griffith would come there to call on Countess Markievicz. James Connolly used to come to call on her. Pearse, different people from St. Enda’s, Rathfarnham used to come up, so the place there is, or should be, should be almost holy ground. It’s not because it… We often had an aeríocht [outdoor function] there. It’s a very difficult place for cars and it was hard to manage. I don’t know the situation there now. Hold on a minute, I think one person who was there was Mick Cremin and there was an occasion up on the hill, there were many quarry holes on the hill when a Fianna boy… Fianna boys got into trouble in a deep quarry hole, and there was a rescue, there may have been a boy drowned, I’m not sure.  That was one very… memorable occasion. And Mick… Mick Cremin afterwards, a distinguished IRA man, he was, he was… Billy Aherne was O.C. London, about the 1921 or 1920, and Mick Cremin was there with him in some capacity, I’m not sure…

G. B.: Right.

M. C.: But anyhow, those were two careers that would be very… that touched on this place here. In Easter… Easter week… James Connolly had a very, very large family, and they had been living in Belfast, and Nora Connolly and her sister, the two eldest, were participating in 1916. They were doing messages, and they were sent off to… – Nora Connolly could tell you that herself, I won’t butt in on her ground – but when they were… Mrs. Connolly and the younger children were brought out here to be in Countess Markievicz’s cottage during the Rising in 1916, and although this was done for their safety, I often thought it was a very cruel solution to undoubtedly a problem, because from that, from… almost from the field, if you climbed on a fence, or if you went just a little bit higher than the cottage, you could see that… the sea full of ships or whatever was going on, with the English coming in, you could hear the… see the smoke of Dublin burning. You could hear the bombardment of the centre of Dublin, and for a woman whose husband was in that much danger, and who had all these children and an unknown future on her hands, and probably not a lot of money or anything else to look. It was a terrible place. Well now, William O’Brien, the Labour leader, took them out of it. He called for them, and he brought them to his own house. And when Nora and Ina Connolly… they had had to walk back, from Dundalk or some place like that, a very very long way, there were no trains, and they came in deeply anxious, as much anxious about the fate of their father as about the situation of their mother and the rest of their family, and when they… of course they were greatly relieved to find that William O’Brien had looked after her. [aside: Switch it off for a second.]

M. C.: When… when Pearse was going out in 1916, he sent the youngest boys, the group of younger boys in St. Enda’s. He didn’t tell them anything anything about 1916, and he sent them out in charge of Emmet Humphreys for a day on the mountains. And Mrs. Pearse and Margaret Pearse were left alone in St. Enda’s, and when the boys went off, when Emmet Humphreys was coming out, to, start out on this expedition, in Rathfarnham they met the men of the fourth battalion and people with Pearse on their way into Dublin to take part in the Rising. And they came home that night, he brought the boys back home, and of course he found Mrs. Pearse and Margaret Pearse in a state of… of deep anxiety and uncertainty and all the agitation that goes… accompanies the person who has to stand by and hear somebody else getting shot or getting killed.

M. C.: …When I saw the tricolour on the College of Surgeons in 1916, it made a whole difference in my life. We had been told from the time we were kids, there’s no use the Bridge of Athlone, or the Walls of Limerick were… they were the names of dances, but they were no longer the names of big battles in Irish history. Or the Yellow Ford or the… what do you call it the, the… Benburb. But when I saw this flag up on the College of Surgeons and heard a fight going on, it certainly made a great… something stirred in me, and I was a Republican ever since. Is that an answer for you?

  • Informant
    Máire Comerford (M.C.)
  • Age
  • Address
    Sandyford, Co. Dublin
  • Collector
    Gerry Brady (G. B.)
  • Date of recording
  • Recording context
    Informant’s home
  • Reference
    (audio) UFP0485
  • Faisnéiseoir
    Máire Comerford (M.C.)
  • Aois
  • Seoladh
    Sandyford, Co. Dublin
  • Bailitheoir
    Gerry Brady (G. B.)
  • Dáta Taifeadta
  • Comhthéacs Taifeadta
    Teach an fhaisnéiseora
  • Tagairt
    (fuaim) UFP0485
Unidentified women standing at the gates of Dublin Castle [Carl W. von Sydow, circa 1925]