Lieutenant Colonel Manners O’Connell Fitzimsons

S. Mac P.: You weren’t in… in Ireland when the 1916 Rising happened were you?

O’C. F: Oh yes.

S. Mac P.: Were you?

O’C. F: I was going to O’Cramers then, in Dawson Street, for the Sandhurst exam. Great fun that.

S. Mac P.: The Rising?

O’C. F: Yeah. That’s what we thought, I mean, a young, youngster like myself. Heard all the shooting, I was… Oh wait a minute, it’s coming back! Yes, D’Oyly Carte Opera Company were in Dublin and I was to be in my cousin’s house by half past six for dinner before going to the Gondoliers. Cousin Tom Redmond telephoned… That was Easter Monday wasn’t it? Yes. I’d been out all day on a motor-bicycle trial run, down to… we had lunch in… with this group of motorists in the Meeting of the Waters there. Arrived back home about four o’clock. Home was then Moreen. Cousin Tom rang up to say the party’s off for tonight, there’s trouble in the town. ‘I don’t know what it is’, he said, ‘it’s a shooting going on, you can hear it in the telephone maybe’, to my father, ‘but it seems to be serious, more than a strike’. So my father came out, just finished dressing, and he said ‘You better not go in’. So I had dinner at home, and afterwards I got out the motorbike and rode in to see what was to do. Went in via… by Ranelagh, to Charlemont Bridge, but I was stopped by a British soldier, who held up his hand, and his rifle in the other – bayonet not fixed, which it should have been – and said, ‘where are you going?’ and I said ‘I’ve come in to see what’s to do’. ‘Do you know?’ And he said, ‘no, I’m here to stop everybody going in to the city, there’s trouble in there’. And I should have said ‘you’re telling me’ because of the noise, really it was quite, quite loud then, long bursts of fire. So I went on up to the other one, Charlemont Bridge… the other one, no, Portobello. The same thing happened and I said, well damn it, and I went and drove home. And it was the following night that we walked up to the top of the hill, at the turret as they called it. You could see the blaze. But the next day, we discussed this business for a long time, and while we were having a discussion after breakfast the next morning, Hugh Jellett, who lived next door in Clonane, came walking up the avenue and said... he said ‘Oh there you are Manner’ – Manners was my name. ‘There you are Manners. I’ve just been told that fodder is needed for the British horses that are being stabled in the RDS grounds.’ And my father said, ‘Who told you?’ And he mentioned the name of the man whose name I don’t remember, but he lived in Kilgobbin. And, ‘I’m going to go in now and see what I can do about it. We haven’t got enough.’ And he turned to my father, ‘Have you any hay you could spare?’ And father said, ‘Neither hay nor oats at all’.

So anyway Hugh came back about half an hour afterwards, and he said… I got into the sidecar, and he said, ‘we’ll go out to…’, oh dear… out through Blanch… Do you know the countryside? Blanchardstown, Clonee and after Blanchardstown, Mulhuddart. Mulhuddart. ‘I’m going out to Mulhuddart now, I believe’… – can’t remember the name of the people that lived there, they were an old, old family. They migrated, what was left of them to Australia… to New Zealand some years ago – to see if there were any hay. So off we started! We went into the RDS, found a quartermaster fellow there, asked what was wanted, and he said, ‘all I can get’. They had been stationed there for over some considerable time, these transport horses, not as cavalry. He says, ‘We don’t know how long we’ll be here, so you better get all you can, at least order it’. So, off we went from the RDS and along Pembroke Road, and heard a nasty piece of shooting going on, and Hugh having more sense than I, said, ‘I’m going back, I’m not going to go up across there and down Baggot Street, over the canal’. He said, ‘we’ll go on round, we’ll go round by… What’s the bridge above King’s bridge? A couple of miles up.

S. Mac P.: Islandbridge.

O’C. F: Islandbridge, yes. We’ll go round by Islandbridge and through the [Phoenix] Park. So we did, expecting to be shot at or to be chased, and […] arrived in Mulhud[art] –  I wish I could remember the name of these people, one of them was in the Leinsters with me. Anyway we got there and we had chat and tea, and found that we could get four or five loads of hay if the wagons were sent for it, and rode back to Ballsbridge. Hugh reported what had happened, I confirmed it, and we both shook hands with each other and said, ‘We’re heroes! Let’s go home to lunch!’ It was a great little adventure, terrific. That’s about all I know.

S. Mac P.: What did you think, you and your family, think of the rebels?

O’C. F: Didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to think. We argued and argued. We didn’t feel frightened or anything like that. We didn’t, it wasn’t a question of closing the shutters and locking the doors, but we wondered what the aftermath would be. My father of course was particularly bothered. But I was only a schoolboy at the time you see, and it was all rather fun. But, it sank into me within a day or so when people in Sandyford came over to see if anything could be done about getting flour. Because most of them baked their bread in those days although they did live near Dundrum and the city. So a flour pool was made in the coach house marine, but it was used up in a week when all was over. That’s all we thought about it, at all. Much impressed by the ruins of Sackville Street when we did go in. No sign of blood, no dead bodies, very disappointing. The reaction of a very very one young, and not very brilliant person.

S. Mac P.: What did you think of the executions afterwards?

O’C. F: A pity. A pity! It’ll lead to trouble, and later on realised it was stupidity, wicked stupidity, typical of the mentality of the English.

S. Mac P.: And soon afterwards…

O’C. F: They don’t, they don’t hang people right left nowadays, right, left and centre. They thrash them, knock them about, treat them badly and lock them up. Let them out. Some have learnt the lesson, some haven’t. Is that what you were going to say?

S. Mac P.: Then soon afterwards you went to Sandhurst and you became an officer. And did you go to France then was it? Did you see action duriing the war?

O’C. F: Yeah, yeah. In France.

S. Mac P.: In the trenches.

O’C. F: Yeah. Very cold and very wet. Very nasty.

  • Informant
    Lieutenant Colonel Manners O’Connell Fitzimsons (O’C. F)
  • Age
  • Address
    Glencullen, Co. Dublin
  • Collector
    Séamas Mac Philib (S. Mac P.)
  • Date of recording
  • Recording context
    Informant’s home
  • Reference
    (audio) UFP0212
  • Faisnéiseoir
    Lieutenant Colonel Manners O’Connell Fitzimsons (O’C. F)
  • Aois
  • Seoladh
    Glencullen House, Co. Bhaile Átha Cliath
  • Bailitheoir
    Séamas Mac Philib (S. Mac P.)
  • Dáta Taifeadta
  • Comhthéacs Taifeadta
    Teach an fhaisnéiseora
  • Tagairt
    (fuaim) UFP0212
Lieutenant Colonel Manners O’Connell-Fitzsimons [Seamas Mac Philib, July 1980]