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Tuesday 24 October 2017

'I sandbagged the window and returned fire and kept them off'

Rebel Stories

James Fitzpatrick
James Fitzpatrick

James Fitzpatrick was born in Swords in 1877.

By 1900 his family had moved to the south side of Dublin city.

In 1914 James joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and later, in July 1915, the Irish Volunteers.

In 1916 he lived with his wife Ellen at Carrickfoyle Terrace in Kilmainham.

James later stated that on Easter Sunday 1916 he "was mobilised to attend at Earlsford Terrace with 'B' company, 3rd Battalion, and was told mobilisation was off and to go home and remain in the vicinity.

"On Monday morning I was not mobilised with that company. We made our way to Dolphin's Barn and fell in with a company there at about one o'clock on the Monday."

The cancellation of orders for Easter Sunday meant that James was not garrisoned at Boland's Mills under Eamon de Valera but instead served with F Company, 4th Battalion, led by Eamonn Ceannt.

The 4th Battalion occupied the area around the South Dublin Union (now James's Hospital) and Marrowbone Lane Distillery. The battalion controlled the southern and western access roads into the city, a key factor in limiting British troop movements.

James remained in Marrowbone Lane Distillery throughout Easter Week.

At one point, as the rebels came under heavy fire from British forces, his commanding officer Seamus Murphy asked for 'a couple of good shots' to counteract the attack. James volunteered.

He then went, in his own words, "up to the top floor. The military were firing in to the Canal. I sandbagged the window and returned the fire and kept them off".

Amidst the gunfire of British artillery, he hoisted the Republican flag over the Distillery. He helped defend the rebel stronghold until ordered to lay down arms and surrender, on April 30.

Following the surrender James was brought to Richmond Barracks.

On May 6 he and 307 other prisoners were sent first to Knutsford Jail and later to Frongoch internment camp. He was released from Frongoch in July 1916. On returning to Dublin James re-joined and helped re-organise F Company of the 4th Battalion.

Subversive

He was involved in a range of subversive activities between 1916 and 1921, from the procurement and carrying of arms to resisting attempts to introduce conscription.

He went on the run at different times from 1919 to 1921, leaving Ellen with their children (the couple had 12, of which seven survived).

He refused to support the pro-Treaty faction and in 1922, at 45, handed in his arms and ammunition.

With his wife Ellen, he raised a family and worked as a coach-builder for the Great Southern Railways in Inchicore.

James Fitzpatrick died in 1938, aged 61, and is buried with Ellen in Mount Jerome Cemetery.

Details submitted by granddaughter Clare Eager

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