Monday 5 December 2016

Duffy's book tells the forgotten stories of 40 children Rising killed

John Brennan

Published 17/10/2015 | 02:30

Broadcaster Joe Duffy and his mother Mabel with children dressed in 1916 costume at the launch of his book on O’Connell Street in Dublin
Broadcaster Joe Duffy and his mother Mabel with children dressed in 1916 costume at the launch of his book on O’Connell Street in Dublin

'Liveline' presenter Joe Duffy is determined the memory of 40 children killed during the bloody week of the 1916 Easter Rising won't be forgotten.

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His 'Children of the Rising' book, launched last night, chronicles the lives and deaths of the youngsters who were among 300 civilians caught up in the ferocious fighting.

"The country should remember them," he told the Irish Independent.

The book is full of "uncomfortable truths" and contains a "completely new part of the story of 1916 that has simply never been told before".

Duffy said that "within the two canals in the centre of Dublin, there were 20,000 against 2,000 - it was pouring bullets for six days".

Three quarters of the city's population lived in tenements and were effectively trapped in a warzone for the week, many killed as they looked for food.

Broadcaster Joe Duffy and his mother Mabel with children dressed in 1916 costume at the launch of his book on O’Connell Street in Dublin
Broadcaster Joe Duffy and his mother Mabel with children dressed in 1916 costume at the launch of his book on O’Connell Street in Dublin

The RTÉ star said the deaths of children during the 1916 Rising were "not a part of the official narrative, we're going to have to struggle to get children to be a part of this narrative".

He explained that the research involved seeking out census records from the time, using death certificates as well as a list of the casualties to match names and ages.

"I'd say I was on that [1911] census more than anyone else in the last three years, sometimes up to 40 times a day," he explained.

One boy, known only as 'Male' O'Toole, is thought to have "lived hand to mouth" and been at a workhouse for years.

The poverty at the time is described as the worst in Ireland and Britain - 62pc of children died before they reached 10 in late 19th century Dublin.

Joe decided to write the book after painting an Easter egg for a Jack and Jill Foundation fundraiser in 2013.

Having felt that the Rising was synonymous with Easter, and that it was for a children's charity, he decided to paint the egg with the names of children killed during the Rising.

During his research, he discovered that the father of The Dubliners star Luke Kelly had been shot and wounded as a child during the infamous Bachelors Walk Massacre in 1914.

The father of three launched the book in the GPO last night at a star-studded ceremony hosted by Pat Kenny.

Speaking at the event, his close friend Brendan O'Carroll called upon Arts Minister Heather Humphreys to ensure that the book is on "the curriculum for every child in every school".

Irish Independent

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