herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

'She was only 35 yards from me and I fired on her'

Voices from The Rising

British soldiers man a barricade on a Dublin street in April 1916
British soldiers man a barricade on a Dublin street in April 1916

Street fighting during Easter week was, at times, a far from clear-cut or clean affair. In accounts later provided to the Bureau of Military History, combatants recalled these less-than-conventional encounters.

A British soldier came along...He was using very filthy language. At that moment Miss Gifford and an old lady were at the trench...He passed a remark about prostitutes fighting with us. I told him I would give him a chance if he went away. He became worse, so I picked up a shotgun and shot him at close quarters
- Jim O'Shea, Irish Citizen's Army, St Stephen's Green

I saw an ambulance, called the Canadian Women's Motor Ambulance...I noticed soldiers, three or four of them, sitting on the floor...The next instant a machine gun in it started to fire and sprayed the barricade with a shower of bullets
- Jerry Golden, Four Courts

I was left behind when [my] company surrendered, as I was thought to be dead...I heard the British breaking in...while they were deciding whether to use a bayonet or a bullet on me, an officer came in and claimed me as his prisoner
- Dick Balfe, Mendicity Institution

I noticed a woman leaning out of a window....It was a queer place for a woman to be and it was queer she should have a hat on her, as she must have seen the bullets flying around...I made up my mind. She was only about 35 or 40 yards away from me and I fired on her. She sagged halfway out of the window. The hat and the small little shawl fell off her and I saw what I took to be a woman was a man in his shirtsleeves.
- Robert Holland, Marrowbone Lane

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