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RTÉ reveals 50 Witness Accounts of 1916 Events on Interactive Map

RTÉ reveals 50 Witness Accounts of 1916 Events on Interactive Map

25 January 2016: RTÉ has today revealed video and audio footage featuring 50 personal accounts from men and women who lived through Easter 1916.

They Were There: RTÉ reveals 50 witness accounts of 1916 events on interactive map

  • Watch and listen to stories from men and women who were there
  • Powerful and insightful personal accounts of the events from 30 Dublin locations
  • Interactive map of Dublin City facilities discovery of participants and their stories
  • Previously unseen and unheard video and audio footage
  • Public help sought to identify one unnamed contributor – a Dublin jarvey

RTÉ has today revealed video and audio footage featuring 50 personal accounts from men and women who lived through Easter 1916. These personal accounts, sourced from RTÉ Archives and available on the RTÉ 1916 website - www.rte.ie/1916 - feature men and women who were members of the Irish Volunteers, the Citizen Army, Cumann na mBan, the British army, the Dublin Metropolitan Police and citizens of Dublin.  Together they help build a vivid picture of what was happening across Dublin city and beyond during Easter 1916.

To further connect these men and women and their memories of Easter Week 1916 to the streets and buildings where the events unfolded, RTÉ has developed an interactive map that allows users to click on 30 locations and see or hear an individual describe an event they witnessed or took part in during the 1916 Rising. At present there are 50 personal accounts with more content to be added to the interactive map on www.rte.ie/1916 while many full interviews will be made available on the RTÉ Archives website www.rte.ie/archives in the coming weeks.

The only individual who features on the map who is not identified is a Dublin jarvey who was at Fairyhouse racecourse on Easter Monday 1916. RTÉ is looking to the public to help name the man who was interviewed for RTÉ television in 1962 and describes a near miss with a bullet as he returned to the city:

"When I went into Dublin I was halted at the barricade and could go no further. Because if you did go any further, you could run the risk of a sniper. You'd be shot. And a bullet did whiz by me forehead at the Broadstone."

Glen Killane, Managing Director, RTÉ Television, said: “We are genuinely excited about sharing these incredible and very vivid personal stories from the RTE Archives as part of RTÉ’s 1916 programme. To see and hear these men and women describe their experiences adds a whole new dimension to our understanding of the events of 1916.  That we can make these stories easily accessible online, through RTÉ.ie and through the RTÉ Archives website underlines the valuable role played by digital in connecting us in a very real way to the people and events of 1916 .I hope people will take time to explore these personal stories which are a wonderful addition to our programme of content and events.”

RTÉ television and radio has recorded the recollections of participants and witnesses to the events of Easter week 1916 as far back as the 1950s and while some have featured in RTÉ output over the years, much of the footage is now being revealed for the first time by RTÉ.

Among the 50 personal stories are:

  • Louise Gavan Duffy describes how on hearing the Rising had begun she made her way to the GPO on Easter Monday and demanded to see Padraig Pearse.
  • Min Ryan, the sweetheart of Seán MacDiarmada, along with her younger sister, Phyllis visited Seán while he was a prisoner in Kilmainham Gaol on the eve of his execution.
  • John ‘Blimey’ O’Connor, a member of the Kimmage Garrison and one of the many Irish Volunteers who had come from England and Scotland,  recalls entering the GPO on Easter Monday.
  • Another Irish Volunteer Tom Walsh was in Clanwilliam House at Mount Street Bridge where some of the fiercest fighting took place and where the British forces suffered their heaviest casualties during the week .
  • Albert Palmer, a British soldier, was among the reinforcements sent from England to quell the Rising and recalls how they came under fire making their way towards the city centre.

While the majority of the accounts are from those who fought in the Rising, there are other stories:

  • Dick Cormac was a living in Church Street in 1916 and saw Sean Foster a two year old child being shot while carried in his mother’s arms.
  • Christopher Brady printed the Proclamation in Liberty Hall and describes the challenges he faced in producing the document - “We were stuck for the letter ‘E’”
  • Michael Carey a constable in the Dublin Metropolitan Police at Mountjoy was ordered to close all the local pubs and to take down the Proclamations that had been posted in the area.

A more detailed list of personal included in notes below.

Bríd Dooley Head of RTÉ Archives, said: “In the 1950s and ‘60s, RTÉ showed great foresight in recording the recollections of living participants and witnesses to the events of Easter week 1916 for radio and television. The collections have been carefully preserved by the RTÉ Archives over many decades.  The centenary comes at time of great opportunity with the digital world now enabling us to unlock this unique archive for current and future generations as never before.  Some of the material featured in programming over the years, but many more of these recordings are being revealed now for the first time. The work involved in discovering these hidden gens in the RTÉ Archives has been a voyage of discovery for us and we are committed to opening up and sharing these treasures with the public to facilitate their own journeys of discovery of this huge part of our shared history.”

The release of these personal accounts from RTÉ Archives forms a core part of RTÉ 1916, an ambitious programme of content and events across television, radio, mobile and online. RTÉ 1916 invites people, at home and throughout the world, to watch, listen and take part as they commemorate and celebrate debate and analyse the centenary of the 1916 Rising.

RTÉ acknowledges that this comprehensive 1916 programme has only been made possible through the cooperation and support of a wide range of State institutions, the Ireland 2016 programme, and collaboration with Ireland’s vibrant creative and artistic sector.

Follow RTÉ 1916 content with #rte1916 on @rte on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Vine and Instagram

NOTES: For more details on personal stories, see below.

ENDS
Monday 25 January, 2016

For further information and images:

  • Neil O’Gorman, Acting Corporate Communications Manager, RTÉ, 087 2077192

***NOTES***

RTÉ 1916: Watch – Listen – Take Part – Discover

Explore personal stories of those who were there at www.rte.ie/1916 such as:

“We Were Stuck For The Letter E”

Printer Christopher J Brady describes how the Proclamation of the Irish Republic was printed on Easter Sunday 1916. (Video)

“Down Moore Street We Charged”

Tom Devine was in Moore Street on Friday 28 April and witnessed the deaths of Paddy Shortis and The O'Rahilly. (Video)       

“I was brought to Pearse and had the temerity to tell him that I thought the rebellion was very wrong as it would certainly fail but that I wished to be there if there was going to be anything doing"

Louise Gavan Duffy, interviewed for radio in 1956, recalls how she chastised Patrick Pearse when she presented herself for duty at the GPO on Easter Monday.

“The First Shot Should Be Fired At Dublin Castle”

On Easter Monday Captain Sean Connolly led a section of the Irish Citizen Army to the gates of Dublin Castle. Constable James O’Brien was killed when he ordered them to halt. Sean Connolly and his party then took over City Hall.

Helena Molony recalls how a short time later she was on the roof when Sean Connolly was fatally wounded while hoisting a flag.  She tried to save him but it was too late.

I said a prayer into his ear as he went, and he was dead. 

On Tuesday the building was completely surrounded by British soldiers and the garrison was forced to surrender. Dr Kathleen Lynn, the most senior surviving officer led the group from City Hall.

They were arrested and taken to nearby Ship Street Barracks and held for eight days before being transferred to Richmond Barracks.

Helena Molony was a member of the women’s section of the Irish Citizen Army.

Helena Molony was interviewed for the radio series 'The Week of the Rising' broadcast on Radio Éireann, 11 April 1966. Photograph of City Hall courtesy of the National Library of Ireland.


“I Never Got To See Him After That Wednesday”

Roddy Connolly recalls the last time he saw his father, James Connolly during  Easter Week. He was interviewed for the RTÉ Television project 'Portraits 1916'  on 9 January 1966.

“We never thought this would be the end”

Min Ryan was the sweetheart of Seán MacDiarmada, leader and signatory of the Proclamation. She and her younger sister Phyllis visited Seán while he was a prisoner in Kilmainham Gaol on the eve of his execution. Despite the fact that they would never see each other again, Seán’s mood was upbeat and the three talked about everything other than the fact that he would die in a few hours. He gave Min some keepsakes to give to some of his friends. Before long their time was up. Seán kissed her and his last words to her were.

Seán MacDiarmada was executed at dawn on 12 May 1916 in Kimainham Gaol. He was thirty-three years old. Min Ryan was a member of the Central Branch, Cumann na mBan. She was interviewed for the RTÉ Television project 'Portraits 1916' on 27 November 1965.

“The lancers advanced up O’Connell Street. Immediately word was sent around not too fire until we got the signal. But it so happened as the head of the column reached Nelson’s Pillar somebody did inadvertently open fire and of course the rest of us let go immediately.”

John ‘Blimey’ O’Connor, a member of the Kimmage Garrison and one of the many Irish Volunteers who and come from England and Scotland,  recalls entering the GPO on Easter Monday. He was handed what he thought was a tea canister until it was pointed out to him that it was an improvised bomb. When the mounted lancers came up Sackville Street O’Connor recall how they were attacked from the GPO:

“When the British tried to cross the bridge they charged seven or eight at a time across the bridge. There was enough in Clanwilliam House to deal with each individual maybe two shots one fellow fired two shots another three or four but they never crossed the bridge. But they left a lot of casualties on the bridge.”

Another Irish Volunteer Tom Walsh was in Clanwilliam House at Mount Street Bridge where some of the fiercest fighting took place. It was here that the British forces suffered their heaviest casualties during the week as they came under fire from buildings on Northumberland Road and Clanwilliam Place. Walsh describes how a small number of volunteers were able to inflict such heavy losses,

“It wasn’t until the entire battalion was in Northumberland Road that the fire opened from the bedroom windows and the rooftops of the houses”.

Albert Palmer was a British soldier was among the reinforcements sent from England to quell the Rising. He recalls how the first British soldiers who had landed at Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) were making their way towards the city centre when they came under fire

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