herald

Tuesday 24 October 2017

bullets and bayonets on day of carnage in the city

The massacre of four unarmed civilians at Bachelor's Walk on Dublin's quays 100 years ago will be marked this weekend.

The events of July 26, 1914 sparked national outrage and occurred on the same day as the landing of the arms-laden Asgard yacht at Howth.

Following the successful gun-running, a regiment of the British army - which was part of the Scottish division - opened fire on crowds on the Dublin quays.

Reports from that time show that following the unloading of the weapons just before 1pm, hundreds of Irish Volunteers were coming back into the city from Howth.

As they marched back in jubilation towards the city, they found their way blocked by two cordons of police and soldiers from the King's Own Scottish Borderers.

William Harrell, the Assistant Commissioner of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, then ordered his men to attempt to disarm the Volunteers.

In the ensuing scuffle, shots were fired, the police used their batons and soldiers used their bayonets.

Some of the police refused to take part in the attempted seizure, however, and it is reported that at least two of their number were subsequently dismissed for disobeying orders.

Less than 20 guns were captured - with the remainder being spirited away by the Volunteers.

As the soldiers continued on their march back into the city, they were pursued by a hostile crowd who hurled abuse and missiles.

On Bachelor's Walk, the soldiers charged at the crowd with bayonets and a series of volleys were fired, resulting in death and injury.

INFANTRY

The infantry at the time had been returning to the Royal Barracks - now known as Collins Barracks.

More than 30 other people were hospitalised, some with serious injuries, including men bayoneted by the soldiers.

The dead were named as Mary Duffy (50), Patrick Quinn (50) and James Brennan (18).

The funeral procession of the three victims saw massive crowds on the streets of the city three days later.

Meanwhile, a fourth person - Sylvester Pidgeon - died last from bayonet wounds on September 25 that year.

Figures show that as many as 80 people were injured in the incident. Reports from the Evening Herald at the time (above) show that the killings of unarmed civilians sparked massive outrage nationally.

It was a tragic end to the day. Erskine and Molly Childer's yacht had earlier arrived at Howth pier, laden down with rifles and rounds of ammunition purchased in Hamburg with funds raised by senior figures in the Irish volunteers.

The gun-running was prompted by the larger expedition carried out by the Ulster Volunteer Force at Larne the previous April.

The weapons had been unloaded at Howth by members of the Irish Volunteers and Na Fianna Eireann, and a smaller cargo of weapons was landed at Kilcoole in Wicklow a few days later.

Padraig Pearse considered the Bachelor's Walk massacre to be an iconic moment in the struggle for independence.

Certainly, when coupled with the triumphant Howth gun-running, it focused the international spotlight on the Irish Volunteers.

Those who died will now be remembered this Sunday, as part of the events which have also been organised to commemorate the centenary of the Asgard landing.

fdillon@herald.ie

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