• Tom Marshall

The Easter Rising in Colour

Monday 24th April is an important date in the history of Ireland and Britain. 101 years ago, Ireland saw most significant uprising since the rebellion of 1798, and the first armed action of the Irish revolutionary period.

These photographs were lost for decades, hidden in an album within the offices of the Irish Independent, and were discovered in 2015 almost a century after they were taken. Only 18 photographs of the Easter Rising of 1916 were taken by the Irish Independent photographers, as it was deemed to dangerous for the newspaper's staff to be out on the streets. At the time the Irish Independent offices were bases on Middle Abbey Street, Dublin, just around the corner from the GPO which was used as the rebel headquarters.

I was commissioned by Daire Whelan, the Irish Independent's 1916 Project coordinator to colourise some of these photos for a feature which was published earlier this month. The photos are a mixture of the build up to the rising, and the aftermath of the destruction in Dublin.

Personally, it was interesting to learn more about the events of 1916 as it's something that, being English, I was never taught in school, but as well as being a major event in Irish history, it should be viewed as a major event in British history too. Dublin was at the time considered (by the British at least) to be the second city of the British Empire.

As I'm from the East Midlands, I feel it's also important to remember that The Sherwood Foresters Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment were the first soldiers to arrive in Dublin when the rising began. With the war raging in France, these solders were not professionals, but mostly volunteers and many had less than three months of military service. They were unfamiliar with their weapons and had not yet had live firing practice before arriving in Dublin.

I'm British but I don't look at these images with any political bias, more as a historical record of the events that changed both our nations for ever, and I hope you find them interesting.

The captions and historical information on this blog are copied from the Irish Independent's '1916 in Colour' published on 8th April 2017. I would like to acknowledge the Irish Independent's Editor Fionnan Sheahan, Archivist Michael Hinch, 1916 coordinator Daire Whelan and News & Media Editor-in-Chief Stephen Rae.

The colourised images are © Tom Marshall (PhotograFix) 2017. Original images are © Independent Newspapers Ireland / National Library of Ireland Collection. These images must not be copied from this website without written permission.

Prints are available to purchase from the Independent Archives here.

A rally of the Irish National Volunteers in Athenry, Galway, taken on 29th June 1914. The original caption read "View f main section of the massed drill display by 2200 Irish National Volunteers of Co. Galway assembled in Sports Field, Athenry"

Eoin MacNeill (3rd from right) and members of the Irish Volunteers. Originally from Antrim and a Professor of History at UCD, MacNeill had led the public call for the formation of the volunteers in 1913. Members wore belt buckles as a cheaper alternative to uniforms.

Irish Parliamentary Party leader John Redmond addresses a mass rally, c1912-15

Irish Parliamentary Party leader John Redmond presents a flag to a kneeling volunteer at a rally of the Redmondite Irish National Volunteers c1914-15

Sackville Street was the main thoroughfare of Dublin's north inner city. It was renamed O'Connell Street in the 1920s.

Crowds gather on what is now O'Connell Bridge in the aftermath of the rising. Some close up detail shots are shown below:

On Monday 24th approximately 1250 Irish Volunteers, members of the Irish Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan mobilised throughout the city, seizing key buildings, such as the GPO outside of which Patrick Pearse read the Proclamation of the Republic.

The following day martial law was declared as British military forces took up positions throughout the city. The ICA came under heavy attack and shops on Sackville Street were looted and burned.

The rebels had failed to take either of Dublin's two main railway stations or either of its ports, at Dublin Port and Kingstown. As a result, during the following week, the British were able to bring in thousands of reinforcements from Britain and from their garrisons at the Curragh and Belfast.

By the end of the week, British strength stood at over 16,000 men. Their firepower was provided by field artillery which they positioned on the northside of the city at Phibsborough and at Trinity College, and by the patrol vessel Helga, which sailed up the Liffey, having been summoned from the port at Kingstown.

The guns at Trinity College and Helga shelled Liberty Hall, and the Trinity College guns then began firing at rebel positions, first at Boland's Mill and then in O'Connell Street. Some rebel commanders, particularly James Connolly, did not believe that the British would shell the 'second city' of the British Empire.

By the end of the week Dublin was unrecognisable. The events of the Easter Rising and it's aftermath cost 485 lives, including 254 civilians.

Ruined buildings - possibly Henry Street.

The ruins of the GPO (General Post Office) on Sackville (O'Connell) Street. It was used as the headquarters garrison and was destroyed by fire.

The GPO at some time after the previous photo. The walls remained intact and the GPO reopened in 1929.

Ruins, possibly on Henry Street.

The ruins of the Dublin Bread Company premises on Lower Sackville Street.

The ruins of the premises of the Freeman's Journal, located between Princes Street and Abbey Street. The side wall of the GPO can be seen on the right.

Members of the Dublin Fire Brigade working in an unidentified building. I originally colourised this image with navy shirts to match the trousers, but when the image was published earlier this month I was contacted by previous curator of the Dublin Fire Brigade Museum (and 31 year Dublin firefighter) Las Fallon who kindly informed me that they wore red flannel shirts. I have since updated the image correctly with his help.

The ruins of Wynn's Hotel on Lower Abbey Street. In 1913 it hosted one of the inaugural meetings of the Irish Volunteers. In 1914 Cumann Na Mban were founded after meetings in Wynn's Hotel.

Interior shot of the Metropolis Hotel at the junction of Sackville Street and Princes Street. Nelson's Pillar is visible in the background.

Republican prisoners on Bachelors Walk being marched to detention after the Rising.

A crowd outside the city dispensary on Castle Street waiting for bread supplies in 1916. The gates of Christ Church Cathedral can be seen at the top of the picture.

You may also be interested in a previous project of mine, colourising portraits of the key players in the Easter Rising, prints of which an be viewed and purchased here.

The colourised images are © Tom Marshall (PhotograFix) 2017. Original images are © Independent Newspapers Ireland / National Library of Ireland Collection. These images must not be copied from this website without written permission.

Prints are available to purchase from the Independent Archives here.

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