The above note to May Noonan, a worker in the National Shell factory in Parkgate St, advising that she would be let go as the factory ceased production following the end of the First World War. Such 'war industries', manufacturing munitions and other military material, existed in Ireland during the war, though never on the scale of their British counterparts.
Just as in the rest of what was then the UK, war industries brought Irish women into the workforce in unprecedented numbers.
Born in Dublin and a printer by trade, McKee fought in the Easter Rising and eventually became Officer Commanding the Dublin Brigade of the IRA. He was captured, along with his fellow IRA member Peadar Clancy and a civilian, Conor Clune, in a British raid the night before Bloody Sunday; all three were killed whilst in captivity that night, presumably as a reprisal. The official version of events claimed they were shot while trying to escape. It reads: In memory of two good friends – Dick and Peadar – and two of Ireland’s best soldiers. Míceál Ó Coileann, 25/11/20. Collins insisted on attending the funeral of both men. Members of the IRA subsequently raided the offices of the Evening Herald newspaper after it published a picture of Collins in the cortege as it made its way to Glasnevin, and they confiscated as many copies of the edition in question as possible across the city, lest the image be used by the British to identify Collins
The Bank of Ireland, founded in 1783, had been the official bank of the British administration in Ireland (hence the presence of a guard at its headquarters). While its management were politically unionist, Michael Collins, as head of the Provisional Government overseeing the handover of power, had invited it to serve in a similar role for the new Free State; this was accepted and the National Army took over the guard duties.
The building had opened in 1731 to house the Irish parliament that was later abolished by the 1801 Act of Union, but despite its symbolism, the Free State was in no position to purchase it as the venue for the Dáil
The Four Courts had been attacked by Free State forces on 28 June 1922, marking the outbreak of the Civil War caused by the divisions over the December 1921 Treaty. The Four Courts had been occupied by the anti-Treaty IRA, who had been attacked by the National Army using artillery borrowed from the the remaining British garrison.
The fighting in Dublin around the Four Courts and O’Connell St was also the most destructive of the Civil War, and in terms of the revolutionary period, was only rivalled by the destruction caused by the Easter Rising of 1916 and the burning of Cork in 1920. By the end of the Civil War three of Dublin’s most iconic Georgian public buildings – the GPO, the Customs House, and the Four Courts – lay in ruins.
All three were reconstructed after independence; the Four Courts reopened in 1932
Sean Cole (aged 19) and Alf Colley (aged 21) were senior members of Na Fianna who were apparently involved in reorganising it during the Civil War. They were picked up at Newcomen Bridge on the North Strand, taken out to Whitehall, north of the city, and shot dead. Some of their killers were reported to be wearing National Army uniforms. Such extrajudicial killings by the Free State’s security forces became a familiar aspect of the conflict both in Dublin and beyond
All four had been imprisoned after the fall of the Four Courts. On 7 December 1922 the IRA attacked two members of the new Free State Dáil on Ormond Quay, killing one of them, the veteran Cork IRA leader Sean Hales. This was interpreted by the government, now led by long-standing Sinn Fein politician and 1916 veteran W.T. Cosgrave, as a direct assault on the new Free State, and as a deliberate reprisal these four men were executed without trial by firing squad in Mountjoy Prison the following morning.
The ruthlessness of the decision was magnified by the fact that O'Connor had, the previous year, served as the best man at the wedding of Kevin O'Higgins; as Minister for Home Affairs in the Free State government, O'Higgins' assented to the execution of his friend. As was the case after 1916, the deaths of republicans would be remembered after the Civil War to foster support for a cause that seemed to be defeated. As far as republicans were concerned, some, if not all, had lived to fight another day
John Gibney is currently DFAT 100 Project co-ordinator with the Royal Irish Academy’s Documents on Irish Foreign Policy project. The images here are taken from his Revolution and Civil War in Dublin, 1918-1923:
'An Illustrated History', available now from The Collins Press.