Wednesday 28 September 2016

Henry street store that had 'miraculous escape'

Published 31/01/2016 | 02:30

'Was it really for this that the 1916 rebels rose up at Easter? Where were the vision, the poetry, the sense of a bigger picture? After all we’ve been through, where was ‘the Democratic Revolution’ and 'Renewing the Republic'?'. Photo: Independent Newspapers
'Was it really for this that the 1916 rebels rose up at Easter? Where were the vision, the poetry, the sense of a bigger picture? After all we’ve been through, where was ‘the Democratic Revolution’ and 'Renewing the Republic'?'. Photo: Independent Newspapers

The Arnotts chairman's annual report, as reported in March 1917, referred to the store's "miraculous" escape during the Rising.

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"Fire had broken out in two places, they had three shells as souvenirs and the tower was perforated by bullets and shrapnel. One shell struck a waterpipe and water flowed for two days and nights damaging £10,000-£12,000 worth of goods. However, they sold off these goods very cheaply, which proved a cheap advertisement."

Company secretary Henry Beater's letter to his sister on May 5 notes the devastation that "destroyed utterly" Clerys, Eason, GPO, Metropole and Imperial Hotels, the Freeman's Journal and while Henry Street was bombed, Arnotts was still standing - but every window in the shop front was "smashed".

Historical documents include a daily report by store supervisors on duty from April 25, the day after the Rising started, to May 1 and they record daily looting.

On Thursday, April 27, three Volunteers entered the warehouse through Princess Street and took possession of the Arnotts tower.

They inspected the tailors' workrooms, used store ladders and barricaded themselves with pieces of dress goods in the tower.

Six Volunteers broke in through the trimmings department, and were given a ladder.

Across on Sackville Street, Clerys was shelled and burned during the night.

The following day, the Volunteers left the tower and asked for the making of a flag.

- from Ronald Nesbitt's book 'At Arnotts of Dublin'

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