HISTORIANS are publishing a major archive of bulletins from the 1916 Easter Rising to mark the 100th anniversary of this landmark event on the road to Irish independence.
Website www.1916live.com began posting the documents from the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library on Sunday. Twitter users can also follow the releases on the @1916live handle.
The documents span the course of the rebellion, from the outbreak of fighting on April 24 to the surrender of the rebel headquarters on April 29.
Many are time-stamped to the minute, allowing the public to trace the course of events as they unfolded.
Top Dublin Castle civil servant Sir Matthew Nathan compiled the documents for the royal commission of inquiry into the rising in its immediate aftermath and took them out of Ireland in his personal papers after the revolution had been crushed.
They were given to the Bodleian Libraries following his death.
“They give an extraordinarily vivid street-level view of the rising hour by hour,” said Bodleian Libraries head of special collections Mike Webb.
“They include hundreds of Dublin Metropolitan Police messages, scribbled onto pink sheets of paper apparently taken from message pads.
The project has been carried out by a team of volunteers led by journalist Naomi O’Leary in conjunction with the libraries.
“I became fascinated by these documents the moment I first came across them while conducting research for a documentary,” she said.
“Many of them are clearly written in great urgency in the middle of the upheaval of the Easter Rising and their concision and immediacy makes them a gripping account of this key moment in our history.”
Ms O’Leary said it was particularly appropriate to publish the 100-year-old telephone messages on social media as they represent the use of a relatively new form of instant communication at the time.
EASTER RISING AS IT HAPPENED – IN THEIR WORDS
23.4.1916 - Irish politician John Dillon, in letter to Ireland under-secretary Matthew Nathan: “I have heard much disquieting rumours as to mischief brewing — I trust they are without foundation.”
24.4.1916 - The superintendent of G Division in a phone message to Viceregal Lodge, the residence of Lord Lieutenant Lord Wimborne: “The Sinn Fein volunteers have attacked the castle and have possession of the GPO. They have Stephen’s Green Park in their hands and have turned out the people and locked the gates.”
25.4.1916 - Constable Heffernan in a phone message to Dublin Metropolitan Police Chief Commissioner: “While in plain clothes at North King St endeavouring to purchase bread, I was made prisoner by the Sinn Fein volunteers … I did not know any of the volunteers, but think they were all Dublin men and would know them again. Commandant Daly’s name was mentioned. The majority were in plain clothes, wearing green hats.”
27.4.1916 - The police chief superintendent in a phone message to the chief commissioner: “Count Plunkett lives at 26 Fitzwilliam Street and his daughters have been seen getting in large quantities of provisions these last few days and it is believed things are not right there.”
29.4.1916 - The caretaker at the 15 Eden Quay City of Dublin Steam Packet Company offices in telephone message to police: “My wife, three children and myself are starving here and the military will not allow us out. Could you please do something for us?”
The superintendent of the police’s A Division in a phone message to the chief superintendent: “The Citizens’ Army are still in possession of Jacobs and they have hoisted the republican flag for the past hour from the highest tower of the building and they state the truce is only until Monday and that they will not surrender but will start fighting again on Monday when the truce is over.”