News of peace brings violence to the streets of Dublin
Soldiers and Sinn Féiners clash
Dublin, 14 November 1918 - News of the end of the war has unleashed a wave of disorder and violence on the streets of Dublin.
Two nights ago, about a dozen soldiers waving miniature Union Jacks, celebrating the victory of Allies in the Great War, marched northward across the city from the direction of St Stephen’s Green. The soldiers and their supporters marched along Grafton Street, across College Green, Westmoreland Street, onto O’Connell Street before turning down Middle Abbey Street.
It was here the group was met by a hostile crowd carrying Sinn Féin flags. A brief conflict ensued which resulted in the soldiers and their friends dispersing. A series a similar encounters occurred across the city throughout the day.
There were numerous reports of groups of women carrying Union Jacks being confronted by republican crowds singing Sinn Féin songs. Their flags were taken from them, torn into pieces and burned.
Shortly after these incidents, larger crowds chanting ‘Up de Valera’ gathered on O’Connell Street. Sometime after 11pm, the police, led by Superintendent Campbell and Inspector Purcell, baton charged the crowd from the direction of O’Connell Bridge. The crowd scattered onto Abbey Street and adjoining streets, and retaliated by throwing stones.
The excitement and the disorder continued up to midnight.
The hospitals dealt with the fallout from the violence, although the range of injuries was not life-threatening: cuts to heads and ears, scalp wounds from batons and bottles, an injured finger and hand, and a dislocated shoulder sustained from a fall from a tram.
Mansion House and SF HQ attacked
The unruly scenes were repeated last night when soldiers and their civilian supporters again paraded through the main streets of Dublin, this time armed with sticks.
The Mansion House, home of the Lord Mayor of Dublin, was attacked by soldiers who threw stones at the building, breaking windows before rushing the front door and damaging the woodwork and brass letterbox.
Almost simultaneously, another group attacked the Harcourt Street headquarters of Sinn Féin, where they were met with sticks and bare knuckles. Order was only restored when military arrived on the scene with rifles. Harry Boland, one of those who defended the Sinn Féin building, stated that ‘though their premises had been wrecked they had not wrecked Sinn Féin’.
Later that evening soldiers and civilians also attacked Liberty Hall, again breaking glass and causing damage to the building. The crowd were carrying sticks and flags, and singing ‘Rule Britannia’.
[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]