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Dublin: 2 °C Tuesday 28 January, 2020
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Charity boss reckons he's still owed €48k for Easter Rising damage

He’s not entirely serious, mind… The events at ‘The Mendo’ in 1916 are depicted in a new play.

THE MANAGER OF one of Dublin’s oldest charities maintains his organisation is still owed around €48,000 for damage caused during the 1916 Rising.

Charles Richards, who runs the Mendicity Institute in Dublin 8, insists the sum of £104.14s in the currency of the time has now reached almost €50k.

His method of measurement?

“The pint index,” is his tongue-in-cheek response.

How many pints then versus how many pints now… It doesn’t take into account excise duties. It’s quite a generous allowance.

Not that Richards holds out any real hope of being granted the funds anytime soon – by the Irish government or anyone else.

“The chances? None at all I wouldn’t think,” he laughs.

I’m calling for a grandiose gesture.

The Mendicity is one of a raft of Dublin companies, organisations and charities that have been marking the Rising as part of the ongoing centenary celebrations.

Relatives of the small band of rebels who occupied the Liffey-side charity 100 years ago this month attended events at the ‘Mendo’ (as it’s known in the locality) during the Easter celebrations.

Those who took part in the insurrection will also be remembered this Sunday, as the country marks the actual anniversary of the start of the Rising.

Source: CenturyIreland/YouTube

So what happened? 

The Mendicity Institution was one of the busiest charities in the city back in 1916, serving meals to some 16,000 people.

The building that housed it at the time was occupied for its strategic importance: a group of volunteers led by 25-year-old Sean Heuston raided the charity, with orders to ambush any soldiers being sent into the city from the barracks across the river (now Collins Barracks).

The main aim of the deployment was to allow other rebels, around the Four Courts, to hold their positions without coming under attack from the British forces.

rising2 A surprisingly matter-of-fact entry in the Mendicity's minute book, covering the 1916 Rising. Source: Charles Richards

Paupers forced out

Around 40 people who had gone to the charity for an Easter Monday meal were forced out by the band of rebels.

As Richards explains:

They put out the paupers who were in there having lunch – which as you can imagine wasn’t particularly appreciated.

Heuston’s initial instructions were to hold out for three or four hours in order to delay the advance of the British troops. However, his group of less than thirty men managed to hold the location for two days.

Surrounded the following Wednesday, Heuston surrendered. He was executed by firing squad on 8 May 1916.

The young rebel leader’s band of volunteers had also killed the first ‘British’ officer to die in the Rising - Gerald Neilan of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, who was born in Rathmines.

moira house

The Joyce connection 

Debuting tonight, a new play written by Richards and combining the events of the Rising with the work of James Joyce will be performed at the Centenary Hall in Dublin 6.

Essentially a sequel to Joyce’s The Dead, which was set in a house next to the Mendicity, the production moves the action in the writer’s famous work from the Feast of the Epiphany in 1904 to Easter 1916.

Set at a wake, the characters become trapped in the house “between the British on the quays and the Rebels in the Mendicity – and they can’t leave,” says Richards.

The charity organiser, who also adapted Joyce’s original story for the stage in 2012, hopes the play will give people an insight into the events of the time and how they were perceived in the city.

There’s a member of Cumann na mBan in the house – so you get the reactions of the time without the benefit of hindsight, which as you know was quite anti- the Rising.

‘Usher’s Island’ will be performed at Centenary Hall, Leeson Park, Dublin 6 tonight, tomorrow and on Saturday. Tickets are €10 (with concession) and €12.

Read: Beautiful weather, smiling faces and emotional moments as Ireland remembers 1916

Read: 1916 victory: Moore Street has been declared a ‘battlefield site’

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