An Easter Rising timeline: Saturday, April 29th, 1916
The seventh in a daily series of reportage-style pieces by the authors of When The Clock Struck in 1916 – Close-Quarter Combat in the Easter Rising
Soldiers survey the interior of the completely wrecked Post Office in Sackville Street, Dublin, during the Easter Rising of 1916. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Saturday, April 29th
06.36hrs - Complete carnage on North King Street. Shortly after dawn this morning roughly 50 South Staffordshires made a charge at Reilly’s Fort. The Langan’s position had been abandoned by rebels a couple of hours earlier. Many were mown down as they ran at the building. Fire erupted from several directions. The road is littered with bodies. Reilly’s is still holding out but the position is under increasing pressure. Snipers dominate every piece of open ground in the area.
06.40hrs - Moore Street is quiet but movement on the street means certain death. Earlier on, Commandant McLoughlin’s plan was outlined to the Headquarters staff. They are now preparing a diversionary attack against the enemy barricade sealing the exit to Great Britain Street. As this attack progresses, their main body is set to make a break for the Four Courts.
The rebels are securely placed along the eastern terrace of houses as far as Sackville Lane, and their expanded front line will render any British counter-attack costly. Should they move into Moore Street against the Republicans they will have to deal with fire from their front and side. Time is running out for the insurgents, however. Just minutes ago McLoughlin asked for volunteers for a do or die assault on the barricade. His request highlighted just how polarised his men’s morale has become. Some are barely able to stand, such is their exhaustion, and are in no condition to mount such an attack. Others, however, still seem to want to take the fight to the enemy. Their dusty and worn faces show few illusions about surviving the morning.
06.52hrs - Plans are being prepared by 3rd Battalion in Boland’s Bakery for a breakout - the destination unknown as yet.
06.53hrs - In The South Dublin Union the Volunteers are re-supplied, rested and regrouped. News from the city is scarce. The position waits.
06.55hrs - As does the nearby distillery. Morale here is at its zenith. A ceilidh is being planned for tomorrow night to celebrate the garrison’s success.
06.57hrs - The Four Courts is holding firm.
06.58hrs - As is the College of Surgeons, but its garrison is starving.
06.58hrs - Sniper fire has just cracked out inside Stephen’s Green.
07.00hrs - Boland’s Mills is under sniper fire. There is no love lost here between both sides. Yesterday the Volunteers buried Patrick Whelan. The 23-year-old from Ringsend was shot in the eye on Wednesday. Unable to get a direct shot at the burial party British snipers tried to kill them instead with ricochets, aiming their guns at the surrounding walls.
08.00hrs - Horrific scenes in Moore Street. A family has been machine gunned. Just moments after they fled from the burning building that threatened to engulf them, they fell victim to the rapacious gunner. They had moved out into the street slowly and apprehensively. Their heads were crouched as the father’s arm stretched out in front, waving a home-made white flag. Their petrified eyes darted frantically between the rubble in their way, the source of the shooting, and the buildings facing them which offered sanctuary. As they reached half way across a burst caught them. It is a dreadful scene.
Anyone who witnessed it turned away in utter disgust. It happened close to the building being used by the rebels as their Headquarters.
Increasing reports are coming in of numerous civilian casualties in the area, one of whom was a teenage girl shot accidentally by a rebel kicking in the door of a nearby cottage.
09.06hrs - A short time ago a broadside of rifle fire flew from Reilly’s Fort into North King Street, and cut into another infantry attack on the junction to its front. The attack was driven back.
Father Matthew Hall is thronged with wounded. The building stinks and echoes to their many groans. Medics are struggling to cope. They move among the wounded, their feet slipping on the festering blood on its floors.
09.36hrs - North King Street is a death zone. It has been impossible to tend to the wounded men on these streets. Even the shadows are being fired at. The air is thick with smoke, and desolation.
09.40hrs - Scenes of extraordinary bravery are being witnessed in Dublin’s shattered streets. The fire brigade have been out all week, often working under fire from both sides. Scores, if not hundreds, of civilians have been saved by these unsung heroes.
As Sackville Street smoulders they have their work cut out. Many of the men who form its ranks have brothers, sisters, friends and cousins fighting in both British and Republican uniforms. Unexploded shells present a terrible threat, as do clusters of the rebels’ home-made canister bombs.
09.50hrs - Terrible tragedy in Dublin’s Docks. A woman has been shot on Ringsend Drawbridge in front of her three children. It is unclear where the shot came from but Beggars Bush Barracks is the most likely source at present. The nearby rebels in the mills building are helpless to render aid. Any movement will draw fire from the same source. Her children are crying and pulling at her, clearly unable to take this in.
10.00hrs - ‘Reilly’s Fort’ fell under constant attack since the South Staffordshires gained ground on North King Street. The decision was made to evacuate the position. The front door was opened and the British soldiers trained the sights of their guns in its direction expecting an outpouring of Volunteers. An order to charge was heard. Unexpectedly then, Volunteers started jumping from the side windows and racing towards Church Street. The enemy had been duped. A machine gun quickly traversed and let rip, but it was too late - the Volunteers had made it. The soldiers then gave chase, but when they reached the top of Church Street; the Volunteers on the roof of the Bridewell fired with everything they had, forcing the pursuers to rush for shelter. A section of the South Staffordshires raced to occupy the vacant Reilly’s Fort, but once inside they found themselves trapped. The Bridewell and Monk’s Bakery positions had them in their gun-sights - any attempt to leave was met with a heavy barrage of rifle fire.
12.00hrs - In Jacob’s factory word has come down from the towers that British soldiers are moving into Saint Patrick’s park in force; and that civilians are being evacuated from the homes in the surrounding neighbourhood. Rumours have spread that the area is to be flattened so that the artillery can get a direct shot at the 2nd Battalion headquarters.
12.00hrs - White flag in Moore Street. A short time ago a nurse was seen leaving the rebel HQ of 16 Moore Street. She was fired at initially until it became visible to the gunners that she was carrying a white flag. She has since approached the British barricade.
13.00hrs - Rebels preparing their last stand. The South Staffordshires have launched another attack against the barricade at the junction of North Brunswick Street and Upper Church Street, but were forced back yet again. The wounded and dead are strewn across the junction. In nearby Church Street the battle has ebbed and flowed with ever increasing ferocity. At least two Volunteers have just been killed in Church Street as they counter-attacked with their comrades. The machine gun and rifle fire seems never ending. The Volunteers are now turning Moore’s Coachworks into a fortress. It may be the last line of the defence.
14.10hrs - The Shelbourne Hotel, where carnage was unleashed from the fourth floor as dawn broke last Tuesday, now looks over a deathly quiet Stephen’s Green. Foraging parties have been sent out again from the College of Surgeons into the nearby streets to search for food. They are returning with meagre supplies and with rumours of capitulation. The entire city seems strangely silent, after the week-long cacophony of violence.
14.30hrs - Surrender negotiations in Moore Street. Just moments ago Nurse Elizabeth Farrell (it is believed at present that she hails from City Quay in Dublin) approached the barricade with Commandant Pearse. Pearse appears to be involved in an acrimonious discussion with Brigadier General Lowe, who is accompanied by a young officer, possibly his son John. They’ve just moved in the direction of Sackville Street, presumably for better cover, and appear to be negotiating terms of surrender.
15.30hrs - It’s officially a Republican surrender. Commandant Pearse has been driven away to an unknown location. Meanwhile Nurse Farrell has returned to Moore Street with instructions.
Commandant James Connolly, as per instructions, has been carried on a stretcher by four of his men. As he is handed over the barricade there is silence. His leg is strapped up but he appears to be in agony. Everywhere there is silence. Infantrymen sit about, their bayonets still fixed to their weapons, smoking and resting.
At the barricade both sets of enemies eye one another up, but say nothing. Connolly has been manhandled over the barrier with great respect from his new captors. Courage is a thing respected by fighting men regardless of uniform, and the steadfast bravery displayed by this man is undeniable.
On Moore Street things are deathly still.
19.00hrs - 1st Battalion surrenders at Four Courts. Nurse O’Farrell has delivered the surrender document to Commandant Daly at the Four Courts. Daly ordered all men manning positions and barricades to return to the Four Courts, but appears unable to contact his men on North Brunswick Street. Addressing those in the courts he informed them of the order to surrender. They were stunned - surrender has never crossed their minds. They argued that they could hold out for a month. Daly, however, was adamant that they obey their orders. Word was then sent to the men on the Bridewell roof to return to the Four Courts and prepare to surrender, but the men refused and continued to fire at the British soldiers in the North King Street area. Another order was then dispatched to them. They reluctantly complied. The men of 1st Battalion then marched out of the Four Courts building and began handing their weapons through the railings to the waiting Dublin Fusiliers, who looked exhausted but tremendously relieved.
19.10hrs - Ceasefire in North Brunswick Street. A short time ago a pair of priests managed to arrange a ceasefire. Apparently the Volunteers there wish for official confirmation of surrender from their headquarters. Lines of demarcation have been set up. Recently, two British officers wandered across the line, and were met with several dozen gun-barrels. Who knows what tomorrow may bring?
19.45 - Rebels form up to surrender in Sackville Street. A report from the area a short time ago.
“The filthy, exhausted, but intensely proud Irish Volunteers and Citizen Army men finally formed into two lines on the eastern side of the tramlines between Findlater Place and Cathedral Street. Behind them was the block of buildings that housed the Gresham Hotel. To both their front and rear stood a cordon of British infantrymen.
Another command rang out from Commandant McLoughlin: ‘Front line five paces forward, rear line two paces back, and deposit arms!’ The subsequent clatter of the last rifle hitting the ground signalled to the hundreds now gathering in the area that the battle for Dublin City was all but over. The rear rank then stepped back. Many among them still attempted to goad their adversaries at this point, by pushing their backs up until they were touching the bayonets of the troops standing behind them. As they approached closer and closer with every step the pointing bayonets of the men now eyeing them with malevolence, they advanced until their chests began to place pressure on the sharp steel. The tension mounted while in the distance, rifle fire continued to echo sporadically.
General Lowe suddenly ran angrily towards McLoughlin as he bellowed, ‘Who the hell gave you the authority to give orders here? I told you to leave your bloody arms in Moore Street. I’ll have you damn well shot!’
McLoughlin looked back with contempt. He then drew his sword from his scabbard, before thrusting it to the ground next to the general’s immaculately polished boots. Lowe glared back at him.”
20.00hrs - In Jacob’s its garrison has been on high alert all day. Due to the noticeable lull in firing from further in to the city the men were called to man their defensive positions. An imminent attack was expected. Many inside feel their time is at hand.
20.40hrs - The surrendered GPO/Moore Street garrison is now being detained in the grounds of the Rotunda Hospital. They are exhausted, hungry and cold. Their treatment at the hands of their captors varies from rough to indifferent, with occasional kindness.
The odd crack of gunshot still reports from the city as it waits on the next moves of these momentous events to be played out. Tomorrow will tell.
When The Clock Struck in 1916 – Close-Quarter Combat in the Easter Rising by Derek Molyneux and Darren Kelly, is published by the Collins Press, at €17.99.