Richard McGrath, Kathleen McGrath

E. Ní D.: Your father was in… fought in 1916, did he?

R. Mc G.: Oh he did, yes. Yeah.

E. Ní D.: In the GPO?

R. Mc G.: That’s right. Along in […]  They were first of all in the… before they reached the GPO, they didn’t get to the GPO until about… it was Wednesday, because they were fighting on O’Connell Street, on… just now on, as you go over O’Connell Bridge. That block of buildings, on the right hand side, down to Abbey Street.

K. Mc G.: Do you know where the Irish Permanent building is? Next time you’re in town, you’ll see a plaque upon the wall, a man that was killed there, Weaver.

R. Mc G.: Tom Weaver, he was a carpenter, he was in charge of the crowd there, and... Weafer, Tom Weafer, W-E-A-F-E-R, but they used to call him ‘Wafer’, but no, you’d naturally call him ‘Weafer’, or that name. But…

K. Mc G.: He was killed there wasn’t he?

R. Mc G.: He was killed, yeah, he was shot, I think, coming… I think going down a spiral staircase or something. But…

K. Mc G.: And did your father go from there?

R. Mc G.: Well he, Tom Weafer, Lord have mercy on him, handed over the responsibility to the father, of the men.

K. Mc G.: He was in charge then.

R. Mc G.: And they had to retreat down to the… the place – they were beaten out of it [laughter] – they had to retreat down to – what’s it now Clery’s? – down to a hotel, I think it was the Hammond Hotel. But… that was right opposite the Post Office. I wonder am I getting confused in that hotel there because I can’t remember. No, it wouldn’t be the Hammond, the Hammond was further down. But anyway they were right opposite, they had to get down as near as they could opposite to the GPO and then they had to run across the road right into the GPO… into Prince’s Street, into the GPO. So… it was there the following Thursday night that the brother got wounded. It wasn’t in the night, in the daytime actually, evening time. He got a bullet in through the eye, and… up, when he was up on the roof. So they had to carry him down, to get him down with ropes. They thought he was for it you know. Because they had… the man who gave him… he was the only man who was capable of giving him any real help was an Australian military captain, who had been captured and brought into the GPO, and he had… he was the only one who knew how to give injections to Paddy – that was the brother – to ease the pain. Well, he was never taken a prisoner, because he was brought down through the…

K. Mc G.: Back streets, the…?

R. Mc G.: You know. What do you call it, the little laneway there, at the end of… Prince’s Street? It’s still there.

K. Mc G.: Is it?

R. Mc G.: Yeah. The little lane.

K. Mc G.: Is it open?

R. Mc G.: Oh yes. There’s a little laneway at the end of… [unclear] from Prince’s Street into Jervis Street. And all them places were ablaze, you see, and he was… carried. The officer went with them, and the officer went at the head of them. Do you see, only for that man they wouldn’t have got through down to the… hospital, and they carried the… Red Cross Flag. And James Connolly was in the bed beside Paddy.

K. Mc G.: In Jervis Street?

R. Mc G.: No, in the GPO, in the GPO.

K. Mc G.: But he was wounded there…

R. Mc G.: He was wounded in the leg, and… But poor Connolly was carried on the stretcher at the surrender by his own men out into… Moore Street. Now I didn’t witness any of this, I can only remember it, but I do remember, that on that Monday, this is – I’m telling you this story in a peculiar way. I had… two lads and myself were going out for the day, and we were passing by the… Custom House. We had to go over this way you see to where we were going. Funny, we lived on the northside, we were coming over this side to go to relations of theirs. And we saw the Volunteers, or not the Volunteers, the Citizen’s Army, just… lined up outside Liberty Hall. So we stood to look at them, and I thought they looked very scruffy. [laughter] That’s a very vulgar word to use, but you know what I mean. They were […], they didn’t look a bit smart. And they looked like fellas who had just got out of a sleep. And I passed a remark to one of the… Of course, we went off with them once they started off, we forgot where we were going. And they… turned, they got the order to turn left, and then they were to turn left down Abbey Street. There were two companies. And I said: ‘Aren’t they a terrible, sleepy looking lot, it’s a good job they’re not going out to fight!’, do you see. [laughter]. I knew nothing at all about it!

So, I went down, we followed them down, you see to… Abbey Street, and then they went out across the road. What we did not notice at that time, I didn’t notice until a few minutes later was that the rear company had stopped in Abbey Street, do you see, without coming on to the main road, whereas the… the crowd we were with turned round, and turned to the right. And then we noticed that… the O’Rahilly, who was in a car – I think it was the O’Rahilly, and I still can’t swear to it now – but I thought ’twas he… in the car, stood up and shouted ‘Halt, left turn, charge!’, and they charged into the Post Office. There was a DMP man on duty, at the corner of the Post Office, and he looked and then he walked down… he was walking down Prince’s Street, and somebody, it wasn’t the O’Rahilly, but I don’t know who it was, one of them, the officers, the IRA or the Volunteer Officers – they weren’t the IRA at that time – he came along and fired a shot in the air after… not at the policeman, but just up in the air, to I suppose to hurry the poor man away.

But anyway, they went in, and next thing I saw them breaking the locks, do you see? So I says to the other lads, ‘I’m going back home’, I says, ‘I must tell the father, because’, I said, ‘he’s going to know about this’. So I went home, he’d been on… at work the night previous because he worked on night work in the Independent. So I went home and he was just getting… he was up a short while, and he used to love pottering in the garden. So, I told him what had happened. ‘What’s that?’ says he. Now the thing, was to come off on the previous day, I didn’t know anything about that. I would think very poorly of it if I did. But… I remember well he said to me, on that Sunday, one of the men had left his gun there, his rifle, and his belt and his bandolier, with ammunition. A man named Joe Larkin, and he lived on Dorset Street, and my father says to him, said to me ‘Will you take that gun’ – he was a terrible man for that – ‘will you take that gun’, he said, ‘up to Joe Larkin, you know where he lives, up in Dorset Street’. So I said ‘right’. So I took the Mauser, it was a huge thing; when you’d stand it up it would be up over me! But I took it, and the friend of mine took the… bandolier, and we thought that right, we went up and left him his gun. But, I thought no more about that, but when I saw this thing happening, on the Easter Monday morning, I said ‘Well, I’d better move’, so I got home, I got the tram and got home. It was only a penny around, at that time [laughter], and I told the father. So, he said… Oh, he said, ‘that’s quick’. So he went off and got ready, immediately do you see? Now as I told you the brother was in it. Now the brother was a barber, and he was out in Dunleary, and they had to, I mean he was living at home, but he had to travel out there to his job, and they always had to work a half-day on… a bank holiday, up to one o’clock. So he was wor… he had been, I didn’t know this, he had been in Liberty Hall all that night do you see? And waiting for what… I don’t know. But… the proclamation had been printed in Liberty Hall. The man worked… I can’t think of his name now, he worked or that in the Irish Press for years afterwards. But...

K. Mc G.: He was the man who printed the proclamation for 1916…

R. Mc G.: That’s right. Well, you see they used to… I think they used to… print the Irish Worker, that was Connolly’s paper, used to wor… print that there also. However, Paddy was, shaving or doing something to a fella, and another fella came in and says ‘I hear there’s murder in the city’. So Paddy says, ‘what’s wrong?’. So the boy says, ‘There’s shooting and everything’. So he finished the man he was doing and took off his things and left the job and got the tram, and he could only get as far as… what do you call that road there, not… Haddington Road. The trams weren’t going any further. Now, he got out and he went down by the gasworks, and at that time, there was… a boat used to cross the Liffey from one side to the other, down about that, and the what’s this they call it? The ferry boat, yeah. It cost a ha’penny to come across. So he crossed there and came up by the… the wharf road, you know the East Wall road now, and got home, and… But he wasn’t home before the father went out, do you see? They were mobilised… the father was mobilised, he took… well, I’m getting confused now, or mixing things up a bit. The mobilisation came for the brother, and the two of them had the same name. Now the father, the father in hope, knowing that Paddy was gone out to Dunleary, and hoping that Paddy wouldn’t get back in time, he went on Paddy’s mobilisation order, over to Croke Park. But… Paddy came in later on, heard what had happened, and just as he came… came in, the father’s mobilisation order came and the two of them went over, because that’s where the whole crowd were meeting. However, I went over with overcoats to them later on, and they didn’t take them because the weather was too warm, well no, I don’t think they took them anyway.

But… it appears later on that two of them, a young chap named Jimmy Kerrigan were going up and Paddy [says] to the father, ‘I hope nothing happens poor Bill’. And the father says ‘Who in the name of so-and-so is poor Bill?’ And ‘poor Bill’ happened to be the younger brother, he was a baby, he was only just after being born the week previous, and he was being christened that morning in… Laurence O’Tooles, St Laurence O’Tooles. And they had to go down… the sister had to bring him down and they had had to lie on the road where there was… some fellas had fired at some British soldiers. And this is what Paddy was referring to, and sure the father hadn’t even thought. He said to him, ‘so someone’s called the child Bill’, says he, ‘who’d give him that name?’ Paddy looked at him and said, ‘you did, I suppose you did’. ‘Me? I never did.’ So that finished that, till a long time… a long time afterwards. And what happened afterwards was, when they were home, after the whole thing was over, they were released, the talk came up about why the child was called William Joseph. Now the grandmother was down in the house with us that morning, and… she had the baby in her arms, and either her, she had said or the mother had said, ‘Pat, what will you call him?’ and he wasn’t even thinking of the child at the time and he said, ‘Oh, call him after the Kaiser, the Kaiser and Will… and… Billy of Ossory, William of Ossory’, or something like that. And when the sister and the others was going down that was all they had heard. And the two of them were saying […] they knew about this Kaiser, what the Kaiser’s name was, but they didn’t know what the other man’s name was, and they had to find out what was his name, and that’s how the kid got his name. That’s a fact. William Francis Joseph or some blooming thing. But however, never did him any harm, even if it didn’t do him any good! But eh. I don’t know if there’s a whole lot more to tell, about that particular period.

E. Ní D.: what was life like for people living around, in Dublin [during] the Revolution?

K. Mc G.: Oh they’d kill you, they’d tear you asunder!

R. Mc G.: Ah well now that’s different, you, that’s… that’s not exactly, we’ll bring that in alright. The… what happened to the Volunteers when they were going down on the north side and the south side, they had to pass, on the north side they had to pass down through Parnell Street and down through Gloucester Street – and they don’t call it Gloucester Street now do they, it’s Cathal Brugha Street isn’t it, or something? Well, that’s where they… had to pass down to get to the post office, and of course down by the North Strand. But, they… oh the people there they… they abused them shockingly! Now, you’ll understand that when I tell you, that they were all tenement houses, and those unfortunate men had… most of them had joined the British Army. Now they were pressurized in many ways, and one of the principle reasons to my mind, and I think he spoke about it, why James Connolly wanted to bring about the Rebellion was: he wanted to shake up the people and stop this pushing, actually pushing of men into the British Army. Of course he paid for it with his life, and he never gets that credit, for… for that particular aspect of it, but that’s one of the reasons, the main reason why… Even Connolly was very nice to the soldiers who were around him, he realized what was happening or what happened to those men.

K. Mc G.: There was very little nationalism.

R. Mc G.: Pardon?

K. Mc G.: There was very little nationalism in Ireland at that time.

R. Mc G.: There was none, practically none. You see, you couldn’t expect it because the Home Rule Bill was put on the statute book, and… the people were being told, you’ll get Home Rule. Most of the people at that time didn’t know what the devil Home Rule meant, no more than the people afterwards who were dying for… the Republic, and the majority of them didn’t know the first thing about what a Republic meant! Only it was something away from England!

K. Mc G.: There was a small section of nationalist people that held nationalist views.

R. Mc G.: Don’t confuse the issue now, we’re talking about Nationalists as being, Redmondites. You can call the others ‘National’ to the people who would understand it, but you’ve got to call them now, extremists. They were even called… they were called Sinn Féin. That was the most extreme that they eh, because, the political arm of Sinn Féin through Arthur Griffith… was supporting them, supporting their view, do you see? But if you tried to call both of them Nationalists now, you can’t distinguish between the people who joined in their thousands, they joined the British Army in their thousands, and who went and… did duty, took up the duty on canals and railways… so that British soldiers, or Irishmen in the British army, could go to France. So you couldn’t call them… you wouldn’t get confused with them. I mean I don’t hold anything against them, that was their view. But you don’t want to confuse the issue for other people who might sometime be reading this, do you see? So… that’s why I differentiate between the two. I’m not saying they weren’t as good as Irishmen as… the Sinn Féiners, in their own light, you see, in their own way, but… you’ve just got to make that little distinction there.

E. Ní D.: But the ordinary people of Dublin were very much against the Rising?

R. Mc G.: Oh!

K. Mc G.: Oh!

R. Mc G.: Terrible! Oh, shocking! As a matter of fact, it’s my candid opinion, if the British had not been so stupid, and if they had’ve treated that thing, given all the fellows, take them away, when they got arrested, take the guns from them, give them a kick in the pants and send them home.

K. Mc G.: There never would have been a free Ireland.

R. Mc G.: There would not! There would not! All those chaps could’ve been conscripted along with everybody else, all the rest of the men that would’ve been conscripted before the war, they would. They would, they would, without a doubt! Without a doubt, they might’ve refused to go, they might have done what they liked, but they… they would have been defeated. Because in the… it was the executions, that turned the people, do you see?

E. Ní D.: And was that noticeable, could you see people’s mood changing?

R. Mc G.: No, it could have been most of them... I’ll give you an [example]… sorry…

K. Mc G.: Even when we were young, as children, my father was a hundred percent Irish, always. I mean we were always kind of Sinn Féiners, you know, even as children. And in school even with the girls you’re mixing with, none of them were interested in anything only the War, and their people was at the War and all. I mean it never strike them not to go out to War, to stay here, nothing. No. No, absolutely no! Nobody with those ideas here at home. You were Irish, but I mean you belonged to England kind of thing.

E. Ní D.: They were sort of British really.

K. Mc G.: British.

E. Ní D.: Yeah.

K. Mc G.: Yes, in their backbone they were British.

E. Ní D.: But then…

K. Mc G.: But even the Aonachs that were held here, to try and force the people to buy Irish manufacture, there are many people wanted to support those.

R. Mc G.: To try to encourage them.

K. Mc G.: Yes, to try to encourage the people to buy Irish manufacture, these… Aonachs were held in the Mansion… at the Round Room in the Mansion House, and everyone that supported the Irish movement were there and bought materials and different things that were made here in Ireland, but it was only a handful of people would go there. I mean you could count them on one hand. Very few of them, what you call ‘Irish’. Now you know that yourself.

R. Mc G.: [laughter] Now they have a ‘G’ on it, if they haven’t got it as a ‘G’ […] themselves… A few years ago they wouldn’t have to have all these things. You know, this ‘G’…?

E. Ní D.: Oh, the ‘Guaranteed Irish’, yeah.

R. Mc G.: Yeah, guarantee. Because they’ve… But we’re jumping aren’t we? Better not jump too far ahead. Not fair, it’s not fair [laughter] You didn’t come in to hear the things that you know, that are a fairly recent... Where were we? We were talking about…

E. Ní D.: About, people’s reactions, after the executions.

R. Mc G.: Yes. And we didn’t know at the, on the northside, that it was the same way on the southside. The men in Jacob’s had to go through it quite a lot from the people round where Francis Street and all around there. And the irony of the thing was that you couldn’t blame those people. Their husbands or their sons were out in France. They were getting… they were living on their… [K. Mc G.: Their allowance.] On their separation money.

K. Mc G.: And before that things were pretty bad for those people, and I mean that was their livelihood, and they didn’t want to destroy it. In one sense you couldn’t blame them.

R. Mc G.: No, you could not blame them.

  • Informant
    Richard Mc Grath (R. Mc G.), Kathleen Mc Grath (K. Mc G.)
  • Age
    73, 74
  • Address
    Ranelagh, Dublin 6
  • Collector
    Eilís Ní Dhuibhne (E. Ní D.)
  • Date of recording
  • Recording context
    Informant’s home
  • Reference
    (audio) UFP0248
  • Faisnéiseoir
    Richard Mc Grath (R. Mc G.), Kathleen Mc Grath (K. Mc G.)
  • Aois
    73, 74
  • Seoladh
    Ranelagh, Baile Átha Cliath 6
  • Bailitheoir
    Eilís Ní Dhuibhne (E. Ní D.)
  • Dáta Taifeadta
  • Comhthéacs Taifeadta
    Teach an fhaisnéiseora
  • Tagairt
    (fuaim) UFP0248
The Brook Dairy and unidentified pedestrians [George Mac Clafferty, March 1980]