Monday 19 March 2018

Fire sales, more executions and a wedding...

Ruins of Clery's stores and the Imperial Hotel, Dublin, destroyed in the Easter Rising. Photo: Getty Images
Ruins of Clery's stores and the Imperial Hotel, Dublin, destroyed in the Easter Rising. Photo: Getty Images

Damian Corless

Almost two weeks after the collapse of the Rising, it seemed that all Dublin was having a fire sale. Stores that had escaped destruction were selling goods bought at knock-down prices from those less fortunate. An upbeat advert for a "great sale of accumulated stocks after the disturbances" gushed that there would be "hundreds of bargains at every counter. A sale of a lifetime. It would be impossible to give here a list of the bargains".

A glaring casualty of the revolt was Clerys, Dublin's flagship store. Witnesses had gasped as the building was engulfed in flames, which were intensified by vats of turpentine exploding in the hardware store next door.

One said: "I had the extraordinary experience of seeing the huge plate-glass windows run molten into the channel from the terrific heat."

Clerys placed an optimistic advert saying their "business will be held up for a short time". The rebuilding would take years.

Meanwhile, Dockrell's was responding to the massive destruction of windows by announcing: "We hold large stocks of polished, rolled and rough cast plate." Alongside the tales of destruction, the Social & Personal column noted: "The Earl of Rosebury was 69 on Saturday" and that two brothers had "returned to 11 Clare Street".

Relocated to a new premises, Easons pledged to resume normal newspaper deliveries, while Andrews & Co had restarted deliveries as far out as the suburbs, but rural customers would have to wait "until the railways resume". In Tipperary, all GAA games had been cancelled.

The 8.30pm curfew remained, but the surviving cinemas had reopened. While the Pillar House was showing The Derby Winner, the Rotunda vaguely promised "best pictures". Putting the Great War back in the frame, the Theatre Royal announced "four special days" screening a "continuous programme" of Irish troops at the front where they were gaining "immortal fame".

The Irish Independent launched a startling broadside at The Freeman's Journal, accusing its rival of going soft on militant nationalism "which encouraged the criminally insane determination to rise against the power of England". Reminding readers that the Journal had sided with the "syndicalist strikes" during the 1913 Lockout, it branded it "a gutter sheet".

The slow drip of executions continued, and four more rebels had been executed that morning, among them Éamonn Ceannt, referred to as Edmund Kent. His death notice stated Ceannt was "an accountant with a salary of £300 a year" and that he was "a man of intellectual attainment and passed a brilliant Intermediate course".

Another Rising leader, Joseph Plunkett, had married Grace Gifford hours before his execution and the paper carried "pathetic particulars" of the wedding. Grace's mother had been set against the match. She said: "I did not even know definitely that they had been engaged. I did not ask Grace and she did not tell me because she knew I disapproved. I had put it to her that she would be doing a very foolish thing. She was always a very headstrong and self-willed girl."

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