Thursday 29 September 2016

'It's amazing, I walk now in my granddad's footsteps during battle on the Green'

Published 15/03/2016 | 02:30

Alice Foynes (3) with actors Gareth McMahon, left, as an Irish Volunteer, and Darren McMahon, as a Royal Fusilier, as the ‘1916 Easter Rising in St Stephen’s Green’ exhibition was opened yesterday. Photo: Damien Eagers
Alice Foynes (3) with actors Gareth McMahon, left, as an Irish Volunteer, and Darren McMahon, as a Royal Fusilier, as the ‘1916 Easter Rising in St Stephen’s Green’ exhibition was opened yesterday. Photo: Damien Eagers
Irish volunteer George Fullerton with his triplet daughters, Countess Markievicz and Dr Kathleen lynn.

Eileen Brennan's grandfather was shot as he ran a gauntlet of gunfire raining down on him from snipers as St Stephen's Green became a battlefield during the Easter Rising.

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As the park's head gardener, Ms Brennan still feels his presence today, a century after the Irish Citizen Army and the women's auxiliary dug trenches, set up barricades and transformed the Victorian-era bandstand into a field hospital, and the potting sheds became a temporary prisoners' quarters.

"I just think it's amazing now as I'm walking around the same places in his footsteps. I'm so proud... I feel so close to him," she said of her maternal grandfather, George Fullerton, who died in 1934 before she was born.

He was shot in the leg by British forces as he was escaping from the Green to the nearby Royal College of Surgeons building which the Volunteers had secured.

Mr Fullerton went on to father the so-called "Republican Triplets" - Eileen's mother Kathleen and her sisters Grace and Constance.

Their baptism ceremony in July 1917 was officiated by Rising leaders Countess Constance Markievicz and Dr Kathleen Lynn, chief medical officer of the Irish Citizen Army.

Margaret Gormley, chief park superintendent, is also reminded of the fascinating role the Green played in the Rising every day when she sees the bullet holes embedded in the brickwork of the park's Superintendent's Lodge, where she lives with her family.

It was in her "good sitting room" where Countess Markievicz took tea, telling then-superintendent James Kearney's daughters to bill the Irish Free State for tea served to her and the soldiers in the trenches after Volunteers took possession of the upper floor bedrooms.

These stories and the key role the Green played in the Rising now form part of a special 1916 exhibition which opened in the park yesterday. Some 20 outdoor panels tell the story of the significant events during the Rising that changed the course of Irish history.

Meanwhile, the National Flag protocols have been changed so that the Tricolour can be flown by night as well as day so long as it is "properly illuminated, preferably by spotlight".

A resolution from the Department of the Taoiseach was passed unanimously by the Senate in time for Proclamation Day today.

Irish Independent

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