"Each Man Got To Fire One Shot With The Howth Gun, That Was Our Training In The Howth Gun"

Joe Doolan was a Sergeant, First Aid section, 'A' Company, 4th Battalion, Dublin Brigade at the time of the Easter Rising. He fought in the South Dublin Union under the command of Éamonn Ceannt, an area in which some of the fiercest fighting of the Rising took place.

Describing his Commanding Officer Doolan says that Ceannt had 'a very nice, loveable disposition but when stirred he was very stern.' Ceannt swore Doolan into the IRB in late 1914. Doolan recalls how the company would drill firstly in Camden Street and later in Larkfield, Kimmage.

In 1915 a First Aid Section was set up and after taking an exam Doolan was appointed Sergeant, First Aid Section, 'A' Company. In light of this promotion he gave lectures to all the companies in the 4th Battalion. He also describes how the company drilled and his battalion's involvement in the Howth gun running. He recalls their confrontation with the police and military on the Malahide Road on their return into the city.

As a member of 'A' Company Doolan should have fought in Jameson's Distillery, Marrowbone Lane during the Rising. Owing to the confusion caused by the countermanding order he was asked by Ceannt to gather the groups from the 4th Battalion at their various mobilisation points. As a result he was late getting to Emerald Square, where his company were to meet and so made his way to the South Dublin Union and fought there. 

The men in the South Dublin Union were divided into three separate groups. One was at the back gate, Rialto gate, another section was in the Night Nursing Home... and the third was in the boardroom.

The South Dublin Union garrison like all the Volunteers had limited ammunition and Doolan remembers that they could not shoot indiscriminately.

They couldn't fire unless they were dead sure of their mark.

On Monday night and each evening after Ceannt, who was stationed in the Nurses Home called all the men together and they recited the Rosary and he informed them of the days events. 

Thursday saw the heaviest fighting in the Union. However Friday and Saturday it seems that the British had changed tactics and were concentrating their attack in the city centre. Finally the order to surrender came and the men were marched from the South Dublin Union to Marrowbone Lane where 'A' Company fell in behind the South Dublin Union garrison and were marched to Ross Road/Bride Street where Ceannt officially surrendered to the British.

Joe Doolan was arrested and later sent to Knutsford Prison, Wormwood Scrubbs and eventually interned in Frongoch, Wales. He was released in July and on his return to Ireland he rejoined his company. During the War of Independence he transferred to the South Dublin Section of the Irish Citizen Army and he fought on the anti-Treaty side during the Irish Civil War.

Joe Doolan died in 1974, he was ninety-one years old. 

Joe Doolan was interviewed for the RTÉ Television project 'Portraits 1916' on 21 November 1965.