Saturday 10 December 2016

'Rebels' freedom struggle helped to create a new type of warfare,' says judge

Published 29/03/2016 | 02:30

Liam MacGabhann of Dublin Fire Brigade, with his mother, Hilda Madigan, whose father, Michael Madigan, was a captain in the Four Courts garrison in 1916 Photo: Maxwells
Liam MacGabhann of Dublin Fire Brigade, with his mother, Hilda Madigan, whose father, Michael Madigan, was a captain in the Four Courts garrison in 1916 Photo: Maxwells

Harrowing scenes from abroad that flash on our televisions every night are remarkably similar to what happened here 100 years ago, according to Chief Justice Susan Denham.

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"The Rising of 1916 was the first rebellion in Ireland in the 20th Century. It was also the first which was essentially urban warfare, fighting from house to house, causing mayhem where people lived, worked, studied and played.

"This type of urban warfare we see now every night on television, coverage of wars elsewhere," she said, before laying a wreath at the Four Courts.

The judge praised the rebels who manned barricades during the Easter Rising for their compassion and bravery.

"What struck me in reminding myself of this historic event was the care shown by the Volunteers to those captured from the enemy force," she said.

"Not only did the Volunteers treat them humanely here in the Four Courts, but the lives of many were saved by the Volunteers when a water mains burst and those in the cells of the Bridewell were about to drown."

She spoke as a marching band walked past the Four Courts. Their drum beat sounded so similar to the gunshots that peppered the building in 1916 that many in the crowd turned to double-check that it was only a band.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald then laid a commemorative wreath with Mrs Justice Denham and representatives of the 1916 Volunteers' families.

Sheila Scully (92), from Drumcondra, looked on, wearing her father William McKeon's medals. "He was in the Four Courts during the rising. He was in C Company," she said. "He survived it but with all of that my father did not talk a lot about it. I imagine he didn't want to remind himself of what he saw."

Mr McKeon was eventually ordered to leave the Four Courts. Judging by those scenes on TV now, he may have been better off. Not so, according to his granddaughter, Maura Flynn.

She said: "He was on the run then for four months. He couldn't return to his family home because it was being watched but he survived it."

Irish Independent

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