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Dublin: 21 °C Thursday 16 July, 2020
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The story behind the railroad workers airbrushed out of this 1916 picture

Changing attitudes over the past century saw railway workers hidden away.

IF YOU LOOK at the below picture, something quickly becomes obvious.

There are a number of spooky looking outlines loitering in the foreground.

The only person who can be seen clearly is a British soldier standing on an armoured car ready to head into battle.

After_the image received in the 1950s (1) Source: Michael B Barry

The story behind the picture is an intriguing one.

Around Monday 24 April as the Rising began to crank into full gear, the British Army set about beefing up its number of troops and artillery in the centre of Dublin.

To do this they borrowed a number of vehicles from Guinness – who were known at the time for their loyalty to the British crown.

A number of vehicles, known as Damier lorries, were adapted by the workers at the Great Southern and Western Railway Works in Inchicore – and here are the men in all their glory…

KM_C224e-20150907101837 Source: Michael B Barry

The image is included in ‘Courage Boys, We Are Winning: An illustrated history of the 1916 Rising‘, a book by Michael B Barry.

Releasing the picture to TheJournal.ie, Barry explained that it had surfaced in the 1950s when the Bureau of Military History requested that pictures of the armoured trucks be supplied by the CIÉ – the body that oversees transport in Ireland.

The picture was handed over, but with the men blacked out.

“Most likely, relatives of some of those painted out were still working at Inchicore,” Barry explains.

Time had moved on, and it was not ‘popular or profitable’ to be seen to have enthusiastically helped the British war effort in 1916.

The picture revealing the identities of the workers was discovered by Barry during the research for his book.

What work did the men do? 

Even if the men were not working for the most popular side, they were certainly skilled at what they did.

To the lorry supplied by Guinness they added locomotive smoke boxes to the backs. Holes were cut in the sides to allow for firing, and additional fake holes painted on to confuse snipers.

As many as 20 soldiers were able to fit into the backs of the vehicles, and they allowed the army to navigate through areas where they would have been under heavy fire.

Read: Voices of 1916: ‘Crying, terrified children came to us for shelter’

Also: Here’s why you’ll see these women on buses all over Ireland

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