S.A.R.G. Commemorates 1916

Kilmainham Hospital

On Monday 28th. of November 2016 Stoneyford Active Retirement Group went on a group trip to visit Kilmainham Jail and Dublin G.P.O. We thought it would be a good idea to commemorate the Rising of 1916 in such a manner. We travelled in style, care of Iarann Ród Éireann, from Thomastown. The company was great and the conversation lively, so much so we seemed to reach Heuston Station in no time at all. Patrick led the way and we enjoyed a pleasant walk through the grounds of Kilmainham Hospital, which brought us to Kilmainham Jail.

The jail is an austere, forbidding and imposing building and its granite walls and reinforced gates are not very inviting. For us of course it was a visit but for the people entering for a term of imprisonment it must have been terrifying. Jackie checked us in and we adjourned for a cup of something refreshing to revive the spirits. It was strange that the café staff had no command of Gaeilge whatsoever and very little command of the English language either.

Our guide for the visit was named Evelyn and she was excellent. Her commentary throughout the visit was comprehensive and informative. I was a bit disappointed with the overall experience but that was probably because of the history of the place. Everything about the building brought some of our tragic and pathetic history to mind. We saw the cell where Grace Gifford was married to Joseph Mary Plunkett. The wedding was a formality and they had no private time together, in the short space of a few hours Plunkett was executed by firing squad. This was done by order of the British Government, who ruled Ireland at this time. We were shown another cell where her ex-fellow warriors, the Free State Irish Government, imprisoned the same Grace in 1923 for similar republican activities.

In the Stone Yard where the British without due process executed the leaders of the 1916 Revolution, we saw plaques to commemorate Republican prisoners, shot by their own ex comrades again without due process. How shameful. It was difficult to raise ones spirits after the Stone Yard experience.

Finally there is a very comprehensive display of artefacts and memorabilia associated with the revolutionary leaders of 1916. As one felt a glow of pride to be associated with such brave people it was impossible not to ask the question: Would those people who suffered for our “freedom” be proud of the outcome as we experience it today?

We travelled by Bus Éireann to O’Connell St. to visit the G.P.O. experience. Travelling through Dublin by bus gives a great perspective on parts of the city one would not normally get. The staff at the G.P.O were friendly and accommodating. We were looking forward to dining in the G.P.O. but unfortunately the Café there only served snacks, and as our group members were fasting since 07.00 hrs we decided to adjourn to Eason’s where we treated ourselves to a meal fit for any ploughman about to start his day.

At the G.P.O once again we were greeted by an actor, dressed in an Óglaig n h-Éireann Uniform, who set the atmosphere for our visit. The exhibition was excellent and well worth a visit.

Carole and Joey and their Grandad.

When we entered the large exhibition room of the G.P.O there was a huge picture of the trenches of the Somme. In the picture there was a group of soldiers looking quizzically at the camera. Well believe it or not one of the soldiers was the grandfather of Carole and Joey, two member of our group. I’m glad to report that he survived the war and went on to lead a productive life when the fighting ended.

As I went around looking at the exhibits I was once again struck by the futility of it all. We were presented with the heroic deeds of these freedom fighters who laid down their lives for what they hoped would be a free Ireland. Were their aspirations in vain? At that time we were in thrall to the British Empire, today one hundred years later we are in thrall to the European Union. Are we any better off? We have more evictions in modern day Ireland than we’ve had since the famine times. The only difference is that our own government allows these evictions to take place. As an aside, in the 19th. Century the Irish Land league had three aims for all Irish people. Th

Democracy in action!

ese aims were known as the Three F’s. This stood for 1. Fair Rent. 2. Free sale. 3. Fixity of tenure. Here we are today over 150 years later with none of these aims achieved. As a result of this we have modern day evictions, homelessness and exorbitant rents and unavailability of affordable houses. It begs the question: Who is in charge?

Large numbers of our finest and brightest have been forced to emigrate in the last ten years, all supervised and encouraged by our own failed politicians. The last time that happened the British ruled our country, what was the freedom fight for?

The journey home, care of Iarann Ród Éireann, was comfortable and carefree. The chat and the banter among the group quickly lifted the spirits and by the time we reached our destination we were worn out but satisfied with our day.


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