Reprinted with permission from Dublin Committee, Anti-Internment Committee, Ireland (posted on their FB page 9th September 2017.
DUBLIN COMMITTEE HOLDS PICKET TO HIGHLIGHT ONGOING INTERNMENT OF REPUBLICAN ACTIVISTS 9th September 2017.
On a Saturday afternoon alternating between showers and sunshine, the Dublin Anti-Internment Committee held their awareness-raising picket at the busy junction of Thomas Street and Meath Street.
They erected banners at the junction and distributed leaflets, including some about the Craigavon Two.
Tourists(on their way to and from the Guinness brewery museum) and local people passing took leaflets with interest and good humour.
Less welcome was the Special Branch Garda (police force of the Irish state) who wanted the picketers to give him their names and addresses. Several refused to do so. The Garda went away to his car, drove back heading west, halting in the middle of the road in order to photograph the picketers and blocking the traffic coming out of Meath Street as he did so. (There was no need, Garda, we’re posting our photographs on here ).
The Garda then carried out an illegal and somewhat dangerous U-turn, briefly turning on his blue light and drove eastwards at speed.
The Committee refuses to be intimidated, holding regular peaceful pickets in different parts of Dublin and will be holding another one soon.
A HISTORIC AREA
The Thomas Street area, bordering on the Liberties, has a long history and is represented “in song and story”. The United Irishmen at the end of the 18th Century enjoyed much support here.
Not ten minutes walk away eastward from where the picket took place today is Taylor’s Hall, the site of the “Back Lane Parliament” and down by the Liffey, in Bridge Street, is the site of Oliver Bond’s house, where most of the Leinster Executive of the United Irish were arrested in 1798.
In hiding, Edward Fitzgerald, one of the main leaders of the United Irishmen, was moved between houses in the area, one of them being No.158 Thomas Street, where on 19th May he was located by Major Sirr through paid informers. Fitzgerald was ill but grabbed a knife and jumped out of bed, wounding Captain Ryan and Major Swan, the latter mortally. Major Sirr (who, according to folklore, was wearing a steel vest) then came in with more soldiers and shot Fitzgerald in the shoulder which facilitated his overpowering and arrest. Fitzgerald died of his wound some weeks later (4th June 1798).
A little to the east along Thomas Street is where most of the fighting in the brief and aborted Emmet uprising took place in 1803. Lord Kilawarden was heading into town for his safety but ran into the insurgency, was dragged from his coach and piked. He was found later it is believed in Vicar Street, still alive but died soon afterwards.
Further west along the street is St. Catherine’s Church, outside which the scaffold was erected in 1803 and Robert Emmet was hung in public, his head being then struck off. It is said in Dublin folklore that his relations attended the execution and shed not one tear in public, determined not to give the Crown and its followers the satisfaction of witnessing their grief.