Josie McGowan was only 20 when she died from injuries
received in a Dublin Metropolitan Police baton charge. A member of
Inghinídhe nah Éireann and later Cumann na mBan, she had taken an active part
in the Easter Rising, fighting in Marrowbone Lane Garrison. She is one of
the 77 Women depicted on the Commemorative Quilt at Richmond Barracks.
After the Rising she remained an active member of Cumann na mBan, paving the
way for what was to follow.
Josie was the first Cumann na mBan member to be killed in
the Irish rebellion, and was posthumously awarded a 1916 and a Tan War medal,
but left no record of her actions.
Mícheál Ó Doibhilín has spent almost 15 years tracking down this elusive young girl’s life. He is the author of several books including “Joe Poole – the sixth invincible?” and “Anne Devlin – the bravest of the brave”, and is currently writing a biography of Josie McGowan.
Date of original lecture: 4th November 2019 at 11am
Robert Barton was a Wicklow landlord from a unionist
background who was elected to the first Dáil as a Sinn Féin TD in December 1918
and played a key role in the struggle for independence that followed the
The time he spent as a British army officer in Richmond
Barracks – where, following the 1916 Rising, he served as officer in charge of
prisoners’ effects – had a profound effect on Barton’s development as an Irish
The talk explores the development of Barton’s political
views, the impact of his time in Richmond Barracks, and the important roles he
played in the independence struggle that followed.
Poetry reading with poet Catherine Phil MacCarthy and historian Fionnuala Walsh
Old documents, paintings, maps and images help us trace the past and uncover our history but poets look at primary documents in a different way to historians. Catherine has been inspired to write poems about various history topics and will reads some of her history poems while historian Fionnuala Walsh contextualises the time for us.
Themes explored include the Post-Famine period, the Land League Movement, the Founding of Inghinidhe na hÉireann and the Growth of Nationalism, the Revolutionary Period & Cumann na mBan and the First World War. Daughters of the House by Catherine Phil MacCarthy was published by Dedalus Press in 2019.
The Housing Crisis 1915-1923 – 11:00 am, Monday 7th October 2019
Lecturer: Cathy Scuffil, Historian in Residence South Central Area, Dublin City Council
“Going through these streets and alleys today… there is little or no evidence … that there are any of the industries left…. I found in Francis street sixty of the houses are marked ‘tenements’ and fourteen ‘ruins’..”
Alderman Tom Kelly’s description in 1909 of housing conditions in Dublin’s Liberties sets the scene for the city’s social housing situation that reached crisis point during the second decade of the 20th Century. This talk looks at how this was addressed despite the troubled times of war and revolution.
Dublin was thriving city in Pre-Reformation Dublin, as the centre of English administration in Ireland. Peadar Slattery looks at the social life in Pre-Reformation Dublin, taking into account its ruling class, wealthy merchants, all-powerful traditional church, and the city’s various personalities, not to mention Dublin’s ‘unwanted Irish’.
Date of original lecture: Monday 2nd September at 11am
This talk discusses the formation of the workhouse system in
Ireland with particular reference to the workhouse of the South Dublin Union in
1840. It describes conditions within the workhouse and its role during the
Famine. After the Famine the workhouse developed into what was described
as a ’vast hospital for the destitute and sick poor’. There were complaints
about the standard of care, and the governors responded by inviting nuns from
the Mercy order to reform the institution.
During the Easter rebellion of 1916 the workhouse was occupied by the 4th Battalion of the Irish Volunteers and two battles were fought in the grounds during Easter week. During the early 1950s, the South Dublin Union was extensively refurbished and became St Kevin’s Hospital. In 1971 St Kevin’s Hospital became St James’s Hospital.
Lecturer: Dr Ciarán Wallace, Department of History, TCD
In 1922, seven centuries of priceless records were lost in the destruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland during the Irish Civil War. The loss has limited Irish historical scholarship ever since. As the centenary of the calamity approaches, however, a new research project involving historians, archivists and computer scientists, is virtually recreating the building and – as far as possible – its contents.
‘Beyond 2022’ has already identified extensive volumes of transcripts, summaries, calendars and indexes created by archivists, administrators and scholars in the years preceding the fire (over 20 million words to date). Digitally reuniting them in a Virtual Reality recreation of the destroyed building offers exciting opportunities to restore Ireland’s lost archival and historical record. https://beyond2022.ie/
Lecturer: Maeve Casserly, Dublin City Council, Historian-in-Residence, South East Area
Marking the 100th anniversary of St. Ultan’s foundation in May 1919, listen to Maeve Casserly, NLI staff member and Historian in Residence with Dublin City Council talk about the innovative work of doctors in St. Ultan’s paediatric hospital – the first of its kind in the British Isles. Work by doctors like Kathleen Lynn and Dorothy Stopford-Price was integral to the eradication of diseases like TB in the National BCG campaign with its HQ in St. Ultan’s.
The lecture is followed by a Q&A session with the audience.
Lecturer: Bernard Kelly, Dublin City Council, Historian-in-Residence, City Archives
Q&A with Bernard Kelly, Dublin City Council, Historian-in-Residence for City Archives on his April 2019 lecture “From one War to another: Dublin 1916 – 1919’ which looks at the effect of First World War in Dublin, taking into account the wartime effort and the outbreak of the War of Independence.
Lecturer: Mary Muldowney, Dublin City Council,Historian-in-Residence, Central Area
The railway works at Inchicore have played a significant role in the operation of the Irish railway network since they were opened in 1846. Over more than 170 years, the Inchicore works have also been a focal point of the development of the village and the surrounding area, providing employment and housing and contributing to the development of the area. The lecture will be followed by a discussion session, in which it is hoped that local residents will share their memories of living in the neighbourhood of ‘the Works’.
Date of the original lecture: 4th of March 2019 at 11am
In 1919 the First Dáil set up its very own foreign service. Since before the Easter Rising of 1916 Irish republicans had anticipated Ireland making a claim for the recognition of its independence at a post-war peace conference, and to that end the Dáil established a diplomatic mission in Paris. But over the next few years Sinn Féin made use of a wide range of agitators and propagandists scattered across the US, Europe and farther afield to disseminate anti-British propaganda, to lobby politicians, raise money and even obtain weapons for the IRA. The IRA’s guerrilla campaign tends to hog the limelight in discussions of the period 1919-23 in Irish history, but the colourful activities of the Dáil’s very own diplomatic service remains an overlooked aspect of the revolutionary period.
Date of the original lecture: 4th February 2019 at 11am
In response to our recent audio-visual exhibition and online exhibition “You never saw such excitement: the 1918 Election of Countess Markievicz”, Dr Mary McAuliffe will discuss the impact of Markievicz’s ground-breaking election and its legacy in relation to women’s representation in Irish public life today.
We were delighted to have a visit from Robert Gahan to Richmond Barracks recently. He told us stories of his extraordinary aunt, Mary Gahan and her involvement in the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence.
What is also very interesting is the story he tells of her life after the Civil War, the story of her emigration to New Zealand. Here’s a snippet of her activism in the 1916 Rising, but do listen to Robert’s short podcast, it’s well worth it.
“ By 1914 Mary Gahan was a member of the Inghinidhe branch of Cumann na mBan. During Easter Week, Gahan was attached to the Stephen’s Green/Royal College of Surgeons garrison. She served as a courier during the week, ultimately ending up in the GPO. James Connolly sent her to report to Frank Thornton who was stationed at the Imperial Hotel, Sackville Street. Her brothers Mattie and Joe both served with the Irish Volunteers in the GPO and North King Street area. After the Rising she was arrested in Marlborough Street and taken to Richmond Barracks and then to Kilmainham Gaol; she remembered being pelted by ‘bottles and horse dung as she walked to Kilmainham’.
Richmond Barracks 1916: We Were There – 77 Women Of The Easter Rising
Mary Gahan, with her husband and two of her children, Eileen and Robert (1926)
Vicky started working in Richmond Barracks in May 2016. With a background in Electronics, Customer Services and Public Relations, Vicky is the “go to” girl for any techie, creative or DIY issues.
Social History is very important to us here at Richmond Barracks and especially to Vicky, she loves to meet the past pupils of St Michael’s CBS, Keogh Square and St Michael’s Estate and hear their stories.
She can use a bow and arrow, so make sure you stay on her good side!!!
Bernie is a local resident and exceptional musician and singer.
She continues to amaze us as to how she can bring visitors to tears on the “Melodies & Memories” music tours along with her friend Tony Casey.
Unlike her colleague Niall, she loves technology and all things social. She is a dedicated fan of Jack Daniels and according to herself she has no brain to mouth filter.
Although she has hung up her tour guide badge, she still continues her musical tours here on the last saturday of the month. When she is not here, she can be found singing beautiful ballads in bars the length and breadth of the country.
Dublin City Libraries Historian-in-Residence, Dublin North Central
A look back at one of the most consequential general elections in Irish history, held just after the First World War had ended in December 1918. The franchise had increased dramatically, giving some women the right to vote for the first time. The talk will explore the spectacular success of Sinn Féin and the implosion of the Irish Parliamentary Party, as well as the unique circumstances in Ulster where Ulster Unionists won the majority of seats.
This podcast recorded at Richmond Barracks in May 2018, tells the story of Thomas and Denis Shelly, cabinet makers from Dublin, who were arrested and held in Richmond Barracks in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising.
Listen to a fascinating account given by Thomas Shelly’s son, Seamus (age 92), of his father’s involvement in the Rising, and of the time spent in prison at Richmond Barracks. Listen out for the complex history, present in so many families at that time, and see their family photo of Thomas and Mary Shelly and their sons, Denis and Seamus.
Listen to Josie McGowan’s nephew, Claude giving a very moving account of how he found his aunt’s grave and erected a head stone in her memory at Glasnevin cemetery. He also showed us the medals she was awarded posthumously for her service in the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence
Josephine ‘Josie’ McGowan
Born: Dublin, 1898
Organisation: Cumann na mBan (Inghinidhe branch)
Position during Easter Rising: Marrowbone Lane Distillery
As a member of the Inghinidhe branch, McGowan was attached to the Marrowbone Lane garrison during the Easter Rising and was among the twenty-two women from that garrison who were arrested and held in Richmond Barracks and Kilmainham Gaol after the surrender. After her release from prison she rejoined her comrades in Cumann na mBan and was involved in helping with their many activities at the time.
Josie McGowan died on 29 September 1918, the death certificate stated that she died of pneumonia, however, according to family history she was injured in a baton charge and on being taken to the Dublin Mountains to be treated she died. Both of these stories may actually reveal the truth behind her death. According to the pension application of Priscilla Kavanagh (née Quigley), who had served with McGowan in Marrowbone Lane Distillery during the Rising, members of Cumann na mBan, including the Inghinidhe branch, were involved in a protest meeting at Foster Place. The women were campaigning against the ill treatment of female prisoners Kathleen Clarke, Countess Markievicz, and Maud Gonne McBride, incarcerated in English Gaols and the manner in which republican prisoners in general were being treated in prison by the authorities. Speakers at the meeting included Helena Molony and Hanna Sheehy Skeffington. According to Kavanagh, the women were surrounded by the police who, while observing the situation, broke up the meeting with a violent baton charge. Some of the women were arrested. As a member of the Inghinidhe branch McGowan would have been present. According to her family she received severe blows to her head during the baton charge and was taken to the Inghinidhe branch first aid station in Ticknock, Co. Dublin. Newspapersat the time verify the story of the protest meeting and the rough treatment the women received.
Josie McGowan was only 20 years old at the time of her death. She was buried in a pauper’s grave in Glasnevin Cemetery. Her father Charles died seven days later and was buried with his daughter. Today their grave is marked with a headstone erected by their family. Josie McGowan received posthumous medals for her contribution in the Easter Rising and the War of Independence, the latter medal has the ‘Comhrac’ (Fighting or Active Service) bar.
(We Were There, The 77 Women of Richmond Barracks, Dublin 2016, Four Courts Press, Mc Auliffe, Gillis)
Listen to John Dorney, author of The Civil War in Dublin: The Fight for the Irish Capital 1922-1924, answer questions on how the city became the site of a nine month long guerrilla war, in which over 250 people were killed and 500 wounded in the Dublin area. While the cycle of executions, atrocities and reprisals was taking place in the city, ordinary citizens tried to get on with their daily lives.
Since its invention in 1839, photography has been used to record and commemorate the dead. Did this happen in Dublin? Examples are rare; however, evidence shows that the city’s photographers provided such a service. Drawing on mortality statistics, newspaper accounts and detailed case studies this talk will examine post-mortem portraits of Dublin children who died in the early twentieth century.
In 1935 The Criminal Law Amendment Act was passed in the Irish Free State. It dealt with sexual crime and sexual activity. Molly’s talk will outline the context that led up to the Act, it will examine how women were viewed in the act, and the impact that had on the women of Ireland.
The talk will also discuss the way in which the purity of women became an essential part of the how the new State viewed itself, thereby branding sexually active women as “deviant”. This Act was a crucial episode in the development of relations between men and women in Ireland and was a missed opportunity to address the real problem of increasing sexual assault.
This talk explores execution in Dublin city and county in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Public execution was the norm in the medieval period and some executions could draw large crowds. The modern expression Gala Day is derived from the Anglo-Saxon gallows day, confirming that these were public events from a very early period. This talk will discuss where the gallows were located in Dublin, why people were executed, as well as examining the different methods of execution used in the medieval city and county.
Historian-in-Residence with Dublin City Council – South East Area
Listen to Maeve Casserly as she retraces the footsteps of the some famous (and not so famous) women of Dublin’s South-East area. Delve into the interesting world of the women who lived and worked in this historically rich area. From Dr. Kathleen Lynn’s home practice in Rathmines to the stained glass studio of An Túr Gloine founded by Sarah Purser in Ringsend – and everything in between!
An overview of South Circular Road on the Eve of World War One which focuses on the social and economic life of the area based on the 1911 census and the subsequent years and introduces us to some of the people that lived there.
Julia Grenan was born in inner city Dublin; she was the daughter of Patrick Grenan and Elizabeth Kenny. Her father was a joiner and the family had a two room flat in a tenement house in Lombard Street. In 1911 she was already in the home of Elizabeth Farrell. The 1901-1911 censuses were great, because if you could get the parents names. You could find them in 1901 & 1911. She is living with Elizabeth, they were educated both of them by the Sisters of Mercy. But from 1906 they are involved in Inghinidhe na hÉireann, they are involved in Irish Women Workers’ Union, among the first members of Cumann na mBan, they also were involved in the Irish Citizen Army. So their politics are very radical they are also first rate feminists, members of the Irish Women’s Franchise League. So all of those archives, and all of those records come together to form a picture of two women who spend their lives together but also spent their lives as political activists. And they are true to their ideologies, ideologies that they form in their youth. And this is what we see among these women and the stories that their families told.
When I came to Rosie first, years and years ago, all I knew about Rosie is she was an activist in 1913, she fought in 1916, she gave the bureau of military history witness statement. That was it.
In the course of doing the research on these women particularly firstly on the bridge campaign and then she is one of the 77 women. We found her family, her nephew, John McGray, a lovely man, discovered that they have lots of stories about Rosie Hackett, they also have an old taped interview with Rosie that John had done with her about her life. She spent her life in the trade union she ran the SIPTU shop or the ITGWU first shop beside Liberty Hall until she retired in the 1970’s she was given a gold medal by the Trade Union for her long service. But everybody thinks that Rosie was a 1913 Jacobs factory girl that went out on strike and a 1916 fighter, rebel in the royal college of surgeons. And she was so much more than that and she deserved to have the bridge named after her. She was one of the reorganisers of the Irish women’s workers union after the rising, the reorganiser of the Irish citizen army after the rising. In 1917 she and Jennie Davis and Helena Maloney and Jennie Shanahan, Rosie and Jennie best of friends. On the 12th may 1917 they barricaded themselves into what was left of liberty hall, it had been pretty much damaged in 1916 and hung a big banner off the wall saying “James Connolly murdered 12th May 1916” and held off, Rosie says in her witness statement, 400 police men, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but they held off the police for 4 hours and a huge crowd gathered on the other side, so you could say that Jennie Shanahan, Rosie Hackett, both of them ex Jacobs factory workers, inner city working class women who had very basic education went out to work at 14/15 took on the might of the policing power in Dublin City for hours on the 12th May 1917 and made one of the first commemorative actions, that was the first commemoration of 1916. They were also a part of a whole crowd of women at Easter 1917 who tried to go round the city and put tri-colours at various places where the rising happened, GPO, College of Surgeons. They were all in Kathleen Lynn’s car, she was one of the few women who had a car and they did that.
Rose McNamara was the commander of the Inghinidhe na hEireann branch of the Cumann na mBan which was based on the south side of the city, actually in this area. This was their area from which many of their recruits came. she would have been one of the older ones born in 1885 her mother was a shop keeper, she joined Inghinidhe na hEireann in 1906 and she went into Cumann na mBan in 1914. Inghinidhe na hEireann were more organised along military branches than the other branches of Cumann na mBan, they had commandant, a quarter master, they had section commander, Rose McNamara was vice commandant, she is the one that brings the Inghinidhe na hEireann branch of Cumann na mBan to Marrowbone lane in 1916, there were 22 of them. And when the surrender comes in 1916, they were told by the commander to put down their guns and sneak away, so they won’t be arrested they refused. Then when the British officer comes, he doesn’t know what to do with them they refused to disperse, they march along to Richmond Barracks, they are not really arrested. They just come along with the arrested soldiers from Marrowbone Lane. They still have their guns on them because they weren’t searched and actually when they come into the married quarters here apparently the stories in the family histories from the women of Marrowbone Lane are that they put the guns up the chimney. They tell the story of comradery and sisterhood. McNamara continues to be active in Cumann na mBan after 1916 fundraising for the national aid and volunteers dependants. During the war of independence, she was promoted captain of Inghinidhe na hEireann, she becomes one of the organisers of a vital thing that Cumann na mBan did during the war of independence, they set up first aid stations in hidden places around the city, they had one in the Dublin mountains as well. They were told by leaders of the IRA of impeding actions that were going to happen, ambushes etc, of course people would get injured, men would get injured, and they can’t really be taken to hospitals because they would be arrested. They were taken to these first aid stations where the Cumann na mBan women are ready to deal with injuries caused by these actions.