herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Rare 1916 witness letters show how Dubs got used to gunfire

centenary

Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke, Annitta and the letters owners Colin McDirmid who is the Newphew of Elsie who wrote the letters accounting the outbreak of 1916 Easter Rising all looking at the 99 year old letters
Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke, Annitta and the letters owners Colin McDirmid who is the Newphew of Elsie who wrote the letters accounting the outbreak of 1916 Easter Rising all looking at the 99 year old letters

A rare eye-witness account of the outbreak of the 1916 Easter Rising shows how people tried to get on with life as the city was in the grip of conflict and even grew accustomed to the constant gunfire.

A letter written at the time by a visiting opera singer outlines the turmoil in Dublin.

Elsie McDermid was in Dublin to perform in Gilbert and Sullivan Shows at the Gaiety Theatre with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.

But the performances were cancelled on the outbreak of the Easter Rising on Monday April 24, 1916.

Elsie wrote the 26-page letter home to her mother in England dated April 25 in which she related, among other things, the risks of having a bath while your house is caught in the crossfire.

The letter now forms part of a personal 1916 archive owned by her nephew Colin McDermid.

He is visiting Dublin this week and donated a digital copy of the letter to Dublin City Public Libraries while in the city.

"We are living in stirring times. I am writing this to be posted if there is any post office left and will keep it till I know it will go," the letter begins.

accustomed

On the Wednesday she wrote: "Daisy and I are going to try to get to the theatre. Shots are being fired all the time but we are quite accustomed to them now."

She continued the next day with the entry: "They say the north side of the city is starving. There are no bakeries there and the bread and milk vans run the risks of being shot."

But Elsie was left in a vulnerable position on the Saturday.

"The street at our side (Holles St) is all barricaded," she wrote.

"Daisy is doing her hair. I've just had a lovely bath but had to get out in a hurry as they started at the back and the bathroom has a big window and I could hear their bullets hitting the side of the house."

"Letters like this one show us how ordinary everyday life in Dublin was affected by the fighting at Easter 1916," said Lord Mayor Christy Burke.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News