Book: The Insurrection in Dublin by James Stephens
Publication date: 1916
Source: Kindle ebook
Summary: Poet and novelist James Stephens wrote this account of the events of the Easter Rising in 1916 in the days following the event. It reads more like a diary than history. The lack of perspective is balanced by an immediacy that pulls the reader into the event.
Thoughts: I was fascinated by the keen curiosity by Dubliners attempting to gather news while displaying a lack of interest in taking sides. It must always be like that for most people experiencing conflict in their own towns, but usually the story is told by the people who took sides so I forget that the vast majority of folks would be keeping their heads down.
A few days in, Stephens noticed that the men in the street retained a neutral stance but the women expressed more disapproval of the rebels. He didn’t seem to curious as to why, but I think events like this probably played a major role:
Small boys bolted in to see these sights and bolted out again with bullets quickening their feet. Small boys do not believe that people will really kill them, but small boys were killed.
Of course, what I found most interesting were the mentions of buildings and sites that I saw while I was in Dublin. In particular, a lot of fighting happened around St. Stephen’s Green including shots exchanged between the Green and Shelbourne Hotel where we stayed.
Trinity College windows and roof there was also sniping, but the Shelbourne Hotel riflemen must have seriously troubled the Volunteers in the Green.
As I went back I stayed a while in front of the hotel to count the shots that had struck the windows. There were fourteen shots through the ground windows. The holes were clean through, each surrounded by a star—the bullets went through but did not crack the glass. There were three places in which the windows had holes half a foot to a foot wide and high. Here many rifles must have fired at the one moment. It must have been as awkward inside the Shelbourne Hotel as it was inside the Green.
Appeal: The Insurrection in Dublin by James Stephens will appeal to travelers to Dublin and fans of 20th century Irish and English history. It also makes an interesting sidebar to explorations of World War I since it takes place during that time.
Challenges: I already finished my Ireland Reading Challenge, but I’m continuing to read Ireland books and to add them to the growing list of titles that we’ve developed. This is my fifth book.
Have you read this book? What did you think?