Saturday, 9 April 2016

Benburb Street, North King Street in 1916

A postscript to the "Complexions" art project on the hoardings along Benburb Street in Stoneybatter...

Around last February the brightly coloured photographic installation that decorated the hoardings of a site on Benburb Street was taken down. I thought that was the end of it, but last month it was replaced by a second and even better exhibition by the Complex arts organisation.

"Relatives" commemorates the 1916 Rising's Four Courts volunteers. It is simple yet highly effective: each photograph of a Volunteer is coupled with one (by Steve McCullagh) of a living relative, alongside a short extract from the volunteers' witness statements from the Military Archives.

The North King Street massacre

On Easter Monday 1916, Edward Daly led the First Battalion of the Irish Volunteers to nearby Blackhall Street. They occupied key buildings and built barricades to control the streets west of what was then Sackville Street (O'Connell Street). Over 300 Irish Volunteers, Cumann na mBan and Fianna took part.

The most intense fighting of the week took place around North King Street. It was followed by a brutal massacre by the South Staffordshire regiment of 16 civilian hostages - men and boys from the working-class district. The soldiers looted the bodies of many of the victims and buried them in the gardens or hid them in cellars.

Not one British soldier or officer was brought to book for the atrocities. To add further insult, some names of soldiers in the regiment are included in the controversial new "1916 Remembrance Wall" unveiled earlier this month in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Although not a signatory of the Proclamation of the Republic, Edward Daly was executed on 4 May 1916. He was the youngest of the leaders to be shot by firing squad, at the age of 25.

On 30 April the Stoneybatter and Smithfield People's History Project will unveil a plaque to mark the North King Street massacre, with a march starting at 2.30pm outside Kavanagh's pub on Aughrim Street / Manor Street in Stoneybatter and ending in North King Street.

Stuart Reddin, a member of the History Project, gives a much more detailed account of the massacre here.