Lilo Holton

M Nic L.: You were telling me the other day now about 1916.

L. H.: Yes, I’d a brother fighting, belonging to the Irish Citizen Army, Peter Jackson was his name, and… he fought with the Countess in the College of Surgeons and they converted her into a Catholic.

M. Nic L.: They did?

L. H.: Oh yes! And then I’d another brother fighting in France and his baby was a fortnight old when she got the King and Queen’s sympathy. He left three girls – he never seen the last baby. And… I used to go to the College of Surgeons to… me brother Peter, and I used to bring them tea. Well then, before the Rising at all, he usually had a friend, and he used to get guns off them, he was out of the British Army, stationed here in Ireland, and he used to – I won’t give the name in case, you know? – and… he… he used to get a rifle off him. Well then, the cans were filled with the gunpowder you know? And I used to help me brother, I used to… me mother wore a shawl that time when she’d be going for messages, and… I used to put the shawl on me. And… me brother had… was very tall, and he had a big top coat and he’d a big pocket at the side, and he used to put the rifle down the pocket, yeah, and I’d walk beside him with the two… with the cans. They were put up on the roof on Liberty Hall, for the coming Rising, you know? And… we’d go down, along the Quays. And of course that time the old policeman with the helmet used to be on duty, just bid us good evening or good night, and we… when we’d get it past him, I’d say to Peter ‘little does he know!’, you know?

M. Nic L.: Imagine. And did you not feel frightened?

L. H.: No, I wasn’t a bit, I was very daring, very daring yeah. I was determined to help them, you know?

M. Nic L.: So how old were…

L. H.: But I was young that time. I was – wait now – I was married in 1917, is… I was married in 1917 anyway, the year after, and the Rising was 1916. And then I married, and me husband worked in Jacobs, and I worked in Jacobs. And then he joined the – that’s him up there – he joined the IRA, and… the Free State at least, and he fought in 1922.

M. Nic L.: 1922. But what else would you remember now about 1916? Do you remember looting or…

L. H.: Oh yes! We hadn’t a crust of bread.

M. Nic L.: Really?

L. H.: The shops, there was no shops open, there was nothing to be got. And… they used to go like, looting for food. And I remember I was down in me mothers’ and… a lad, I don’t know whether he’s dead or alive now, but… he went to Donnolly’s that time in Cork Street, and… he got in, and he got a shoulder of bacon, the whole flitch of bacon, side of a bacon. And… he came home and he cut it up and he divided it with us, well that was the only food we had except, we used to go over to the – there was a shop in Church Street – I think Kennedy… Downes’ or Kennedys was the name, and we used to get an odd loaf of bread.

M. Nic L.: So were people more concerned then about their own survival than with what was happening?

L. H.: They were, they were more concerned, because we were hungry.

M. Nic L.: You were hungry.

L. H.: We were hungry. And…

M. Nic L.: And, but that did they think of the Rising?

L. H.: And then you were only – not interrupting – you were only taking a chance, by going out, or you’d be shot. ‘Cos this little boy who lived who lived in the house with us in St. Augustine Street – Hughes was his name – he went for, he went to go for bread for the neighbour and he was shot, on Church Street bridge.

M. Nic L.: Really? A little boy.

L. H.: A little boy ten year old, shot on Church Street Bridge. That, you only took a risk to go out. You couldn’t go out! Now you couldn’t go anywhere to try and get something.

M. Nic L.: So people just stayed in their houses.

L. H.: Stayed in their home, and tried to get what they could, anyone that did get out.

M. Nic L.: And what were the particularly dangerous parts, areas?

L. H.: Well, Church Street Bridge, the… at the end of Church Street, at the end of Bridge Street facing Church Street Bridge they had up the 21 pounder that was on the Four Courts. They were firing over to the Four Courts.

M. Nic L.: Four Courts, Four Courts yeah. And who was, who was fighting in the Four Courts now?

L. H.: Oh… our men was fighting in the Four Courts but the British Army had the 21 pounder. At Church Street, at the end of Bridge Street there, facing Church Street Bridge. Oh there was a lot killed there. Oh there was an awful lot killed.

M. Nic L.:  So, how, what did you hear then about the GPO?

L. H.: Oh the GPO, I went to the GPO to visit a friend of mine Joe McGrath, and… I could’ve… [had] plenty of money, but I was afraid of my life to take it! But… I never went round, only once around there,

M. Nic L.: Yeah, so you weren’t…

L. H.: But… the Four Courts was really the death trap, and Mount Street Bridge.

M. Nic L.: Was it? Mount Street Bridge.

L. H.: Mount Street Bridge. That was the death trap.

M. Nic L.: And what did people think then of Pádraig Mac Piarais, Patrick Pearse, and, Connolly?

L. H.: Well the way it was, there was half-British in the house I lived in, and then half-Irish and, there was one person got dug into me poor mother, and… me mother was, she was a proper little lady. She never had an argument with anyone only, thought of her God that’s all. And… she… called her an auld Sinn Féiner and all. But… she never retaliated only just said, ‘well I’ve one for… fighting for Irish, for Ireland and the other fighting for England’, so she says, ‘I can’t have them… I have them both ways’. So she says, ‘I’ve as much sympathy’, she says, ‘for the son in France, than I have for the son in the College of Surgeons’. But the Countess, when they were leaving, we went down when the 21 days was up. We went down, I went down, we all went down, mother and all, down to the College of Surgeons to see them going away.

M. Nic L.: They were arrested were they?

L. H.: They were arrested and my brother was sent to Frongoch.

M. Nic L.: Was he!

L. H.: Yes, and he was a time there, he was a good while there. And there was one morning and we were, I was going into work and where I lived in St. Augustine Street the window was down low, on the ground, and – the end house, 40 – and… I happened to go to the window naturally ‘cos you could see the people from the back of John’s Lane going by, and… I seen a man going into the toilet and when he came out I shouted, ‘Mother, here’s Peter!’ Well, I think he slept for a week after that.

M. Nic L.: God love him yeah!

L. H.: He told us the whole [unclear] and everything, in the prison. He looked an old man.

M. Nic L.: And he was, how long was he in Frongoch now?

L. H.: Oh God, he must have been over a year or ten months.

M. Nic L.: Was he, that long.

L. H.: Yes. To me recollection, trying to think anyway.

M. Nic L.: Listen, I’ll just it there for a second and change the tape.

L. H.: Yeah.

  • Informant
    Lilo Holton (L.H.)
  • Age
  • Address
    Wood Street, Dublin 2
  • Collector
    Móna Nic Lochlainn (M. Nic L.)
  • Date of recording
  • Recording context
    Informant’s home
  • Reference
    (audio) UFP0066
  • Faisnéiseoir
    Lilo Holton (L.H.)
  • Aois
  • Seoladh
    Wood Street, Baile Átha Cliath 2
  • Bailitheoir
    Móna Nic Lochlainn (M. Nic L.)
  • Dáta Taifeadta
  • Comhthéacs Taifeadta
    Teach an fhaisnéiseora
  • Tagairt
    (fuaim) UFP0066
Saint Augustine Street [Nuala Nic Óda, September 1980]