Dispute over War of Independence plaque at Dublin tenement museum

Council officers oppose move to honour Thomas Bryan, one of the ‘Forgotten 10’

A dispute has arisen over plans to erect a commemorative plaque to one of the “Forgotten 10”, executed during the War of Independence, at the tenement museum on Dublin’s Henrietta Street.

Thomas Bryan, a great-uncle by marriage of singer Boy George, was executed in 1921 for his part in an attempted ambush in Drumcondra and buried in the grounds of Mountjoy Prison.

Bryan was one of 10 volunteers, including Kevin Barry, to be reinterred in Glasnevin Cemetery in 2001.

He had lived at 14 Henrietta Street, now Dublin City Council's tenement museum.


The council’s commemorations and naming committee agreed to erect a plaque on the building in his honour. However, the move has been opposed by the council’s senior executive architectural conservation officer, heritage officer, and deputy city librarian.

In a letter to councillors represented on the commemorations committee, deputy city librarian Brendan Teeling said he had been advised by architectural conservation officer Mary McDonald and heritage officer Charles Duggan that the plaque could create "an undesirable precedent".


Mr Teeling acknowledged there were commemorative plaques on other building in Henrietta Street, but said “serious concerns” had been raised in relation to a plaque on number 14 due to the “significant number of historical figures” associated with the house and the conservation work done to create the museum.

“Great care was taken to avoid attaching any signage or other fixture to the building due to the potential to detract from its heritage character,” Mr Teeling said. He noted there was already a memorial to commemorate Bryan in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn said the response was "ridiculous" and could deter private homeowners from allowing plaques on their houses.

“The undesirable precedent being set here is that people who give us permission to put plaques on their homes, if historical figures lived there, will be less inclined.”

He said the committee had not received other applications for plaques on the house. “There is no suggestion that we are facing a deluge of requests for plaques at 14 Henrietta Street, and applications can denied if they are not appropriate.”

Mr Flynn disputed claims the plaque would deter from the character of the house. “There’s a modern light beside the front door.”

Committee chairman Mícheál Mac Donncha of Sinn Féin said claiming the council’s heritage plaques detract from the heritage of a building was a “contradiction” and “not something we should in any way endorse”.

“The argument that there is a memorial to Thomas Bryan in Glasnevin is spurious; that is his grave. By that logic no-one with a grave in Glasnevin should be memorialised anywhere else.”

The plaque should be installed, he said. “Next year is the centenary of Thomas Bryan and his comrades executed in Mountjoy. I think it will actually enhance the heritage value of the building and increase public interest in it – a desirable outcome for the council.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times