The following is an account of the burning of Linenhall Barracks during Easter Week 1916 by Fianna Eireann officer Garry Holohan:
“The following morning, Wednesday, Dinny O’Callaghan and some others made an effort to blow a breach in the wall of Linenhall Barracks but did not succeed. He afterwards took me as one of a party to take the barracks.
We went up to the front gate and started to hammer at it, and in a few minutes some soldiers opened the gate. They were evidently unarmed. I think some of’ them were members of the Pay Staff. There were others who had taken refuge there, including a couple of members of the R.I.C. We took the lot prisoners and brought them down to the Father Mathew Hall. I happened to know the Sergeant in charge of them and he asked me to try and get his suit of civilian clothes that he had in the barracks. I went back to look for the clothes for him but I could not get them.
Dinny O’Callaghan and myself spilled the oils and paints we had brought from a druggist’s shop in North King Street in a large room on the first floor, and then piled up the bed-boards. We then lit the fire. The fire spread with amazing rapidity and Dinny suggested it might be better if we opened the windows. I crossed the room to open the windows and I will never forget the heat. It took me all my time to get back, and the soles were burned off my boots in a few minutes. The fire continued throughout the day and Wednesday night.”
According to archseek.com “in 1722 a centralised Linen Hall was proposed by the Linen Board and several sites around the city were considered and dismissed. The Linen Board eventually decided in favour of a three-acre site at the top of Capel Street. Over the next six years, the Linen Hall gradually took shape and it opened for trade on November 14th, 1728. The Linen Hall contained a large trading floor and 550 compartments or bays for the storage of linen. There was also a large boardroom for the use of the trustees and what was described as a large and elegant coffee-room for the accommodation of factors and traders who daily crowd its courts. Originally designed by Thomas Burgh in 1722, it was enlarged by Thomas Cooley in 1784. However with the opening of the Belfast Linen Hall in 1783, the Dublin industry went into terminal decline and the Linen Board was abolished in 1828. During the 1870s the Linen Hall was used as a temporary barracks by the British Army and it was taken over by the board of works in 1878. It was destroyed by fire during the 1916 Rebellion.” – http://archiseek.com/2011/1728-linen-hall-yarnhall-st-dublin/
During Easter Week it had apparently been occupied by 40 unarmed men of the Army Pay Corps and several RIC and DMP members until Holohan, O’Callaghan and the other Volunteers took them prisoner.
Keogh Brothers Photograph courtesy of South Dublin County Library
“A Dublin message says the exhibition of the British Army film in a Sackville Street picture house last night, was accompanied by scenes of disorder.
A party of fifteen youths connected with the Irish National Boy Scouts [Na Fianna] during the display, cheered for the Germans and the Boers, made insulting remarks about English Soldiers, and sang “ A Nation Once Again”.
Some of the audience raised counter-cheers for the Army. Eventually the disturbers were removed by police constables.” – The Newcastle Daily Journal, Friday March 6th 1914
“Countess Markievicz, her dog ‘Poppett’, Theo Fitzgerald and Thomas McDonald, members of Na Fianna Eireann, photographed at Waterford in 1917.”
The above photograph shows Countess Markievicz and senior Fianna officers Theo Fitzgerald (Assistant Director of Training and Organisation) and Thomas McDonald (Waterford O/C) in 1917. According to Patrick Hearne, Waterford Vice-Commandant, Markievicz was invited down to Waterford to give lectures to the local Fianna Sluagh. Hearne recalled that Markievicz “lectured in the City Hall on the 1916 [Rising]. She was accompanied by Theo Fitzgerald. Afterwards a banquet was held at the Metropole Hotel”.
Theo Fitzgerald, who accompanied Markieviciz, was one of the longest serving Fianna members. He attended the original Fianna meeting, along with his brothers, in August 1909. During the 1916 Rising he served with the Boland’s Mills Garrison.
Following the Rising, Theo was on the Fianna reorganizing committee, along with Eamon Martin, Seamus Pounch and Joe Reynolds. Theo was also Captain of Fianna Company No. 5 Harcourt Street from 1916 until January 1917. He later briefly became Commandant of the 2nd Dublin Battalion following the 1917 Fianna Ard Fheis. He was also O/C of the Sean Heuston Sluagh. He served on the Fianna GHQ staff as assistant Director of Training and Organisation.
In December 1919 he resigned from his Fianna duties and he applied for a transfer to the Engineers Battalion of the Dublin Brigade IRA. He was arrested in 1920; he was sent to Dublin Castle, then to Kilmainham, Arbour Hill and finally interred in Ballykinlar. He was released in December 1921.He joined the National Army in 1922 and rose to the rank of Commandant until his demobilization in 1924.
Theo came from a large family (six brothers and three sisters). They lived on Great Brunswick Street (later Pearse Street). Several of Theo’s brothers and sisters were involved in the movement. One of Theo’s brothers, Leo Patrick Fitzgerald, also a former member of Na Fianna Eireann, was killed during the Pearse Street ambush on 14 March 1921. One of Theo’s sisters married Sean McMahon (IRA QMG during the War of Independence and later briefly National Army Chief of General Staff). Theo Fitzgerald married Aine Malone, sister of Lieutenant Michael Malone who was killed during the Battle of Mount Street Bridge in 1916.
Thomas (or Tommy McDonald) joined Na Fianna Eireann in Waterford City around 1914. Within a short period of time he was appointed O/C of the Waterford Fianna Sluagh. Tommy was also a prominent member of the IRB in Waterford. During the War of Independence McDonald was arrested and sentenced to six months in Waterford Gaol.
Photograph courtesy of Padraig Og O Ruairc and taken from his book “Revolution Revolution: A Photographic History of Revolutionary Ireland 1913-1923”. Padraig’s book has just been re-published and is available online and in bookshops.
Text and research by Eamon Murphy