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Bullets, blood and childbirth: Emergency services and the 1916 Rising

It’s all in a logbook that was bought by Dublin City Council.

IMG_7238 Source: Aoife Barry/TheJournal.ie

A BOOK DETAILING the work of a Dublin ambulance service sheds new light on what happened during the Easter Rising.

The logbook from 1916, which was recently bought by Dublin City Council, gives an in-depth look at the calls that the ambulance service had to answer during one of the most pivotal weeks in Irish history.

The 1916 Rising began at 12 noon on Monday 24 April 1916. The logbook shows that the Tara Street ambulance was called out to Charles Street at 1.52pm and brought three soldiers from the 6th Lancers dead and two wounded to Jervis Street Hospital.

  • The first civilian casualty attended by the Tara Street ambulance was John Reilly of Rathfarnham.  He was collected in Abbey Street, and was described as “wounded in Stomack”.
  • The first female casualty for the the Tara Street ambulance was Alexandra Wilson (18) of 23 North Brook Avenue. She was collected in North Earl Street, suffering from a bruised shoulder struck by rifle.
  • The first child collected by the ambulance during the 1916 Rising was James Hoare (13) of 26 North Cumberland Street. He was cut on his nose when plate glass fell on him.

IMG_7239

Dr Mary Clark, Dublin City Archivist, said that the book originally belonged to Dublin City Council, and was part of the Dublin Fire Brigade collection. In the 1930s, instructions were given for only seven years of records to be held by DFB, and this book was retained by a member of the fire brigade.

It was then passed on to his family, who later decided to sell it. That was when DCC stepped in and bought it.

The book sheds some new light on the Rising, said Dr Clark:

The 1916 Rising has been very carefully researched by so many different historians that I think it was generally believed that all the sources for the Rising had now been explored. But this is of course a brand new source which hasn’t been seen since it was created nearly 100 years ago.

The ambulance service kept a daily record of every single call-out that they had. The logbook shows that on 24th April 1916, there were some staff members on leave. No one working knew what lay ahead.

“The Rising starts at 12 noon and suddenly at half past 12 the phones were hopping. They did have phones then, which is surprising,” says Clark.

“So the ambulance service has to go out, and of course they don’t know there’s a rising. They are called out and when they get there they find there’s members of the public who are suffering from bullet wounds. And also soldiers, some of whom are dead.”

[image alt="IMG_7246" src="http://cdn.thejournal.ie/media/2014/11/img_7246-630x420.jpg" width="630" height="420" title="" class="alignnone" /end]

“It’s very immediate – it gives people a sense of almost being there,” she says.

Dublin City Mayor Christy Burke agrees. “I can imagine being there,” he says.

“But you can imagine the articulation of whoever was writing into the book, they were doing it by fountain pen, and the phone ringing, and the mayhem. You just got a sense of reading there that you were in it. It’s the best piece of work that I’ve seen in relation to 1916 thus far. It’s so emotional.”

The logbook also shows that Guinness sent their in-house fire brigade to help with the fires that broke out.

Clark said that the book demonstrates the professionalism of the ambulance staff. “They just kept on doing their job, no matter what. Which is remarkable,” she says.

DCC plans on scanning the logbook and putting it online at DublinHeritage.ie. It is also hoped that the council will make contact with family members of those named in the book.

First published 20 November 

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