The History of the 1916 Rising, easter week , Irish Rebellion.

German Mauser 1871 Infantry Gewehr from the Asgard

Pat O’Hagan pictured with one of the mausers from the Asgard that were landed at Howth in 1914. This and several other mausers from the Asgard will be on show in 2016 in the Ambassador Theatre,Dublin.


REVOLUTION 1916 The Exhibition Ambassador Theatre








Programme of 1916 Centenary Events


Revolution 1916 Éirí Amach Exhibition, from February 2016

Opening on Saturday 27 February 2016 for 33 weeks in The Ambassador Theatre, O’Connell Street, Dublin 1.

This is part of the Rotunda complex and the birthplace of Sinn Féin in 1905. It is where the men of 1916 signed up for the Irish Volunteers in 1913.



1916 rising exhibition


New Zealanders at Trinity College Dublin Easter Week 1916

Your readers may be interested in research I am doing on the 5 New Zealand soldiers who assisted in the defence of Trinity College Dublin during Easter Week 1916.
The 5 New Zealanders are listed in the 1916 Rebellion Handbook published by the Irish Times soon after the Rising, but their involvement has never been widely acknowledged in subsequent publications. In most accounts of the Rising they are described as ‘Anzacs’ and are assumed to be Australians. The 1916 Rebellion Handbook lists only 1 Australian soldier who served in the Trinity College garrison.
The New Zealanders were Sergeant Frederick Nevin NZMC from Christchurch, Corporal Alexander Don NZFA from Dunedin, Corporal John Garland NZMC from Auckland, Lance Corporal Finlay McLeod NZE from Milton and Private Edward Waring NZR from Northland. All five men were in Dublin on Easter Monday when the shooting began and they were directed to Trinity College where the university staff and OTC cadets were defending the buildings against the rebels.
Don, McLeod and Waring had served on Gallipoli and were convalescing in Great Britain before rejoining their units on the Western Front. Nevin and Garland were medical orderlies from the New Zealand Hospital Ship Marama but their non-combatant status did not prevent them from picking up rifles with other Dominion troops to help defend the university. Garland had previously served in the New Zealand occupation of German Samoa in 1914. Letters by Garland, Don and McLeod were published in New Zealand newspapers soon after the Rising and these provide interesting eyewitness accounts of events.


The letters recount the initial shooting by the rebels was directed at unarmed British soldiers on the streets of Dublin. The slouch hats worn by the New Zealanders appeared to confuse the rebel marksmen and they managed to escape being hit. The letters describe the chaos on Dublin streets as the rebels rushed to occupy buildings, with civilians being hit in the crossfire. Garland claims he was shot at by Countess Markievicz as she sped past in a motorcar!  Don recounts how he saw the rebels barricading buildings and he observed James Connolly standing with arms folded on the steps of the GPO.
There were 14 Dominion soldiers in the Trinity College garrison by Monday evening. The other Dominion troops present were 6 South Africans and 2 Canadians. An Anzac sharpshooting squad was soon formed comprising the 5 New Zealanders and the 1 Australian present, Private Michael McHugh, 9th Battalion, AIF. All 5 New Zealanders must have been handy with a rifle as they were often called upon to counter rebel snipers. The university was reinforced on Tuesday by British troops and later that week it became the Headquarters of Brigadier General W.H.M. Lowe.
For 3 days the Anzac marksmen occupied the roofs of the university and exchanged shots with the rebels. They shot and killed Irish Volunteer Gerald Keogh as he cycling past the university early Tuesday morning with 2 other comrades. On Friday the Anzacs ventured from the university to clear nearby buildings, including the belfry of St Andrew’s Church and Westland Row Railway Station. Both Garland and McLeod claim that the Anzacs killed around 30 rebels, however this tally is suspect given the total rebel deaths for Easter Week is 64. It is probable in the smoke and haze the Anzacs misjudged how many rebels they accounted for.


Irish Commandant W.J. Brennan-Whitmore describes the compassion shown to him and other rebel prisoners by a cheerful ‘Australian sergeant’ from Trinity College. Frederick Nevin was the only Anzac sergeant at Trinity College so it must have been him who gave the prisoners a tin of biscuits and a jug of cold tea before they were marched off to imprisonment. Brennan-Whitmore also congratulated the Anzacs on the accuracy of their shooting.


Film footage of the Easter Rising on the Imperial War Museum website clearly shows Sergeant Nevin and Privates Waring and McHugh walking from the gates of Trinity College soon after the surrender carrying rifles and smoking cigarettes!


After the Rising the New Zealanders travelled back to England to rejoin their units. In August 1916 they were each sent a small silver cup commemorating their role in the defence of Trinity College. Edward Waring later served on the Western Front with the 6th Hauraki Company, Auckland Regiment and was invalided back to New Zealand in early 1918. He succumbed to influenza in November 1918 aged 26.


Frederick Nevin and John Garland rejoined the Hospital Ship Marama for a return sailing to New Zealand. Nevin was a machinist with the New Zealand Railways and he died in Christchurch in 1953 aged 58. John Garland was still living in Auckland in 1950.


Alexander Don served on the Western Front with the New Zealand Field Artillery and was ‘reduced to the ranks’ in 1917 for striking a superior officer!  He was selected for officer training in 1918 but the Armistice prevented this. He returned to New Zealand in 1919 and became a school master in Wellington. Don served in the Home Guard during the Second World War, dying in 1954 aged 57.


Finlay McLeod was gassed on the Western Front in 1917 and was invalided home to New Zealand.  He was still living in 1967 when he claimed his bronze commemorative Gallipoli Medallion and Gallipoli Veteran’s lapel badge from the New Zealand Government.


The New Zealanders Army Service files make no mention of their unofficial ‘Active Service’ in Dublin during the Easter Rising.   However, there is a letter on Waring’s file from his nephew on the 50th anniversary of the Rising in 1966 seeking confirmation from the Ministry of Defence that his uncle was in Ireland in 1916.  I  would be keen to hear from any of your readers who may have more information on these 5 New Zealanders.



Hugh Keane


New Zealand




Irish Volunteers Commemorative Organisation

The Irish War has been sponsoring the Irish Volunteers Commemorative Organisation,

This weekend, to mark the 1916 Easter week Rising,  the I.V.C.O. will be putting on a small display of Original Irish war of Independence items at the Metropole Hotel ,MacCurtain Street, Cork city on saturday April 23, 10 am to 4 pm.

The event takes place in the main ballroom and is part of the Munster Militaria fair.

We wish them luck and if you are in the area , please drop in.

The Irish War.

1916 Rising Dublin- Sherwood Foresters

We are grateful to John McGuiggan for the following article. If anyone would like to e mail John his e mail is at the end of the page.

In some forgotten corner of a foreign field

For a dead English soldier it really doesn’t matter whether the foreign field in which you finally rest is in Flanders or in Dublin. At least it shouldn’t. But scattered across Dublin cemeteries lie the forgotten remains of the young men of the Sherwood Foresters Regiment who were slaughtered on Dublin’s Streets during the 1916 Easter Rising. Their story, like their scruffy and neglected graves, remains largely forgotten in the long and embarrassed history of the English in Ireland.

They were volunteers, recruited from the towns and villages of Nottinghamshire. From Newark and Bingham from Huthwaite and Hucknall, Robin Hood county, the English folk hero from which the regiment took it’s name. They had responded to Kitchener’s posters, to fight in the trenches of Belgium and France, but had been caught instead in a smaller cause and had been pulled out of basic training at Watford to be thrown into street fighting against the Irish Rebels in Dublin

They were so raw. Most had less than three months of military service. They were unfamiliar with their weapons and many of them had not yet had live firing practice. Young men with guns and little training are as much of a danger to themselves as they are to anyone else. On Dublin’s dockside their officers issued live ammunition but ensured that as the men charged their weapons they were pointing their rifles safely out to sea – just in case of accidents amongst such unskilled soldiers.

The officers, all volunteers from English public schools, breakfasted at St. George’s harbourside Yacht club while the men opened tins of bully beef and biscuits. Some of the men thought they had landed in France. They were excited, keen, anxious and apprehensive.

In the paneled rooms of the Yacht club the officers were briefed on the outbreak of Rebellion and given their orders. They were to divide their forces. Two of the battalions, Derbyshire men, would march round the city and enter from the west, making their way to Kilmainham hospital, now the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and thence to Dublin castle.  They were to be heavily engaged in the rebellion but would suffer light causalities. Their most notable presence became known through the use of Guinness Company boilers mounted on the rear of lorries and deployed around the city centre as makeshift armoured cars.

The other two battalions, the Nottinghamshire men, faced a much graver fate. They were to march straight though the heart of Dublin. Many of the raw young Robin Hoods would never make it. They would never see Belgium or France and never see again the forests of their native Sherwood.

They marched towards their destiny armed only with lee-Enfield rifles and bayonets. There was not a hand grenade between them. At Watford they had left with Lewis machine guns, two to each battalion. A fearsome, drum fed weapon, capable of firing .303 calibre bullets at a rate of up to 600 rounds per minute. But at Liverpool a zealous and bureaucratic loading officer insisted they leave the Lewis guns behind. It was to be a costly error.

The Rebels towards which they now advanced were under the command of Eamon de Valera, the future Taoiseach and President of Ireland.  He and his men had been training for this moment for years. They were on home ground, better trained and more experienced than the oncoming Sherwood Foresters, well armed and superbly positioned in buildings heavily reinforced with sandbags and makeshift barricades. Their task was to hold the Mount Street Canal Bridge and prevent troops entering the city centre to reinforce those already fighting around the General Post Office. They had to stop the oncoming Sherwood Foresters.

At Clanwilliam house, directly opposite the Mount Street bridge, De. Valera deployed some six men armed with a mix of Lee-Enfield’s, German mausers and Italian Martini rifles. The house was a large gracious three story Georgian end terrace, with long elegant windows which gave commanding views over the approaches to the Mount Street bridge. More men were deployed in a school on the south corner of the bridge. And on the approach road to the bridge, at No. 25 Northumberland Road, behind barricaded and looped firing positions were deployed the experienced rebel volunteers Lt. Grace and Lt. Malone. They were to inflict the first and the heaviest of the Sherwood’s casualties and the house, which still stands , bears a commemorative plaque to their efforts. In all some seventeen rebels held the chosen strongpoint’s around the Mount St. Bridge.

The Mount Street canal bridge area is one of the most opulent of Dublin’s suburbs. Graced by large substantial houses. It is in the most sought after residential quarter of the city. But only for the rich for the houses are splendid and today you would pay several million euros for a semi-detached house of the kind in which Grace and Malone now awaited the raw unskilled soldiers of the Sherwood Foresters.

They marched in the fine sunlight of a Dublin Spring. From Kingstown, where they landed (now known as Dun Laoghaire) though the wide tree lined streets towards the Canal bridge.

The Battalion adjutant Capt. Dietrichsen, a Nottingham barrister, was surprised and delighted to find his wife and children amongst those waving and welcoming the marching troops. She was an Irish girl, Beatrice Mitchell, from the noted Dublin wine merchants;  she had left their home Nottingham, in fear of German Zeppelin raids, for the safety of her parent’s family home in Blackrock, Dublin. They embraced and hugged in the pure joy of the surprise.

Some harassing fire was directed at them as they neared the vicinity of the bridge but it was not of any great or determined effect.  It was largely an enjoyable march, for the residents welcomed them and pressed tea and sandwiches upon the soldiers and offered gifts, including maps and field glasses. The battalion scouts riding ahead on bicycles were given detailed intelligence as to the Rebel positions towards which they now approached. Not all the intelligence was accurate.

Captain Dietrichsen was amongst the first of the Robin Hoods to die.  Less than an hour after embracing his family in Blackrock,  just 200 yards from the canal bridge, he, with the advance guard of the battalion, came under withering sustained fire from the rebels in 25 Northumberland Road. Ten Sherwood Foresters fell , amongst them Captain Dietrichsen and his colleague Lt. Hawken. The soldiers fell back into the opposite side of the road not yet knowing from where the shots had come.

They deployed along Northumberland Road in the spring sunshine, returning fire when they could. But street fighting with rifles is an ineffective response to a well positioned urban enemy behind good and organised cover. What you need to get them out is light artillery, or tanks. The Lewis guns, left behind in Liverpool, would have kept the rebel heads down and reduced the now rapidly escalating casualties, but without a heavier and bettor weaponed response then it was always going to be wasteful slaughter. So it was to prove. Whatever these young raw Robin Hoods lacked in military experience and skills, they lacked nothing in bravery.  Number 25 was identified as the source of their comrades sudden death and the remaining officers drew swords and led the men in a ferocious bayonet charge across the road and towards the rebel’s house.

As they charged towards Number  25 they were caught in a merciless crossfire as the rebels in Clanwilliam house now opened fire. Terrible casualties were inflicted and soldiers fell all across Northumberland Road.   From No. 25, Grace and Malone were firing point blank into the desperate ranks of the Robin Hoods, Grace emptying his Mauser pistol in an orgy of violence in the quiet and gracious suburb.

Northumberland Road was wet with English Blood.

The British infantry had been trained to advance towards enemy lines on the sound of a whistle. It was the only tactic they knew. Now, every twenty minutes, on the sound of a British Army issue whistle, the Robin Hoods again charged their enemy. They charged No. 25 Northumberland Road. They charged the school at the corner of the bridge. They charged the bridge. They charged Clanwilliam House. They charged and charged, and were slaughtered. They were refused permission to flank the rebels with an attack from the right. Only frontal attacks were to be allowed. The attacks were to be pressed home “at all costs”. Frontal charges onto the guns of the rebels.

By late in the day, when the Dublin Military Garrison provided them with a Lewis gun and with hand grenades, they had already lost some 230 men in dead and wounded. They lay all over the quiet suburb, along the grassy canal banks, by the bridge, around the school, the parochial hall, and across the steps of the grand houses.

It was the hand bombs and the machine guns that turned the battle. No 25 was finally overwhelmed with bombs, and one of the rebels shot, the other escaping. The school was taken but no rebels found, only the dead caretaker and his equally dead wife, the bridge was crossed, Clanwilliam house was bombed and burned and here, in the words of the regiments historian, at least three rebels met their death at the hands of the Robin Hoods, the other rebels getting clean away.

From the perspective of the rebels this had been a magnificent victory. So many English dead at the hands of so few rebels. It was the Rorke’s Drift of the Rebellion. Seventeen men had held off two battalions of the British Army.

For the British it was a disaster. Within a twenty minute march of the bridge there were half a dozen other bridges that could have been crossed with little difficulty and which would have delayed the soldiers by no more than half an hour. Instead they had engaged in a full-scale struggle with untrained troops against an well-entrenched and highly motivated enemy. It was the classic example of how not to fight a street battle. Perhaps the first important lesson for the British Military in street fighting tactics.

For the raw dead teenage soldiers it was a tragedy. They must have known when they volunteered for the Great War, that death was a possibility, they knew that they might die in Belgium or in France. But Dublin. Death in Dublin would never have entered their minds.

Had they died in Flanders they would at least have merited a well-kept grave with a noble military headstone. They would be visited, and honoured on Remembrance Day.   Capt. Dietrichsen, perhaps because his family were in Dublin, got a private marked grave, but unlike those of his comrades who lie in the military cemeteries of Belgium and France, his Dublin corner of a foreign field lies scruffy, neglected and forgotten, his name worn to nothing by the passage of time.

Some of the dead soldiers’ lie in decent graves well kept and tendered with proper care and respect by Irish cemetery staff. Military graves, listed in the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, it is the way that military dead should be treated. Others lie in sad untidy plots, scattered around Dublin cemeteries, neglected by age, forgotten by history. One or two of the dead have no graves at all and appear to have been dumped in a mass grave, along with civilian and rebel dead, at Dublin’s Deans Grange graveyard

Perhaps the military performance of the Robin Hoods was considered so poor that they were not and are not recalled with the same degree of honour that we remember the dead from Flanders or the dead from World War II.  That cannot be, for these raw young soldiers were as brave as lions. Their slaughter was not of their own making and any military deficiency in the Mount Street bridge battle came from the poor leadership and direction given by the Generals of the British High Command in Ireland, not from the performance or bravery of the Sherwood Foresters, men or officers.

These were young volunteers, as noble as any soldiers who ever died in military service. This November, this Remembrance Day, think of them when you wear your poppy.

They deserve nothing less.

(c)John McGuiggan