herald

Thursday 17 August 2017

Boer War vet and clarinet player fought and died at City Hall

Rebel Stories

George Geoghegan
George Geoghegan

George Geoghegan was born in The Curragh, Co Kildare, in 1880.

He grew up in the slums of Henrietta Street in Dublin's north inner-city.

In 1898 he enlisted in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers' reserve battalion and soon found himself guarding bridges in the Second Boer War in South Africa.

Returning home, he quit the army and married Margaret Ledwidge, from the Henrietta Street area.

They had six children, the first three of whom died young in the tenements of Dorset and Dominick Streets.

During this period George worked as a warehouse packer and he later got a job as a boilermaker in the Inchicore Railway Works.

A proficient clarinettist, he joined the nationalist St James' Band.

As a band member and a solo musician he played at events such as the formation of the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and the funeral of O'Donovan Rossa in 1915.

He also played in the Transport Union Band, which often accompanied strikers' demonstrations during the Lockout.

He also became an ardent trade unionist and joined the Gaelic League.

George volunteered for the Irish Citizen Army (ICA) on its inception in 1913, with his British army experience standing him in good stead.

At this time Liberty Hall was the venue for fundraising and morale-boosting concerts on Sunday evenings. George, a member of Michael Mallin's four-piece Workers' Orchestra, often played at these events.

The other members were Mallin himself on the flute, Sean Rogan and John O'Reilly (O'Reilly fought with George at City Hall).

On Easter Sunday, 1916, with no concert arranged (on the assumption that the Rising would be under way), the four-piece played an impromptu gig that lasted four hours.

Seized

George slept at Liberty Hall that night.

On Easter Monday morning, leaving his clarinet (which was never recovered) behind, George marched to Dublin Castle with Sean Connolly's detachment of the ICA.

A small group, numbering roughly 10, seized City Hall, taking up positions behind the chimneys and balustrades on the roof.

They soon came under incessant fire from Lewis and Vickers machine guns as the British poured in with troops to secure the castle area.

Not long after Connolly was killed on the roof, George was shot in the head and died instantly.

On Tuesday morning, George's body was taken into Dublin Castle and interred in a temporary grave.

It was transferred three weeks later to a pauper's grave in Glasnevin Cemetery, in the area that later housed the remains of 230 civilians and combatants killed in the Rising.

Details submitted by Peter Goulding

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