April 11, 2015

Day Six of the Easter Rising - By James Stephens

James Stephens and James Joyce in Paris, circa 1934.
James Stephens was in Dublin during the Easter 1916 Rising. He documented his take on events in 'The Insurrection in Dublin'I have republished his account of Easter Monday, Easter TuesdayWednesdayThursday and Friday. You can read his account of Saturday April 29 1916, Day 6 of the fighting here, where James Stephens wrote:
"This morning also there has been no bread, no milk, no meat, no newspapers, but the sun is shining. It is astonishing that, thus early in the Spring, the weather should be so beautiful. 
It is stated freely that the Post Office has been taken, and just as freely it is averred that it has not been taken. The approaches to Merrion Square are held by the military, and I was not permitted to go to my office. As I came to this point shots were fired at a motor car which had not stopped on being challenged. Bystanders said it was Sir Horace Plunkett's car, and that he had been shot. Later we found that Sir Horace was not hurt, but that his nephew who drove the car had been severely wounded. 
At this hour the rumour of the fall of Verdun was persistent. Later on it was denied, as was denied the companion rumour of the relief of Kut. Saw R. who had spent three days and the whole of his money in getting home from County Clare. He had heard that Mrs. Sheehy Skeffington's house was raided, and that two dead bodies had been taken out of it. Saw Miss P. who seemed sad. I do not know what her politics are, but I think that the word "kindness" might be used to cover all her activities. She has a heart of gold, and the courage of many lions. I then met Mr. Commissioner Bailey who said the Volunteers had sent a deputation, and that terms of surrender were being discussed. I hope this is true, and I hope mercy will be shown to the men. Nobody believes there will be any mercy shown, and it is freely reported that they are shot in the street, or are taken to the nearest barracks and shot there. The belief grows that no person who is now in the Insurrection will be alive when the Insurrection is ended. 
That is as it will be. But these days the thought of death does not strike on the mind with any severity, and, should the European war continue much longer, the fear of death will entirely depart from man, as it has departed many times in history. With that great deterrent gone our rulers will be gravely at a loss in dealing with strikers and other such discontented people. Possibly they will have to resurrect the long-buried idea of torture. 
The people in the streets are laughing and chatting. Indeed, there is gaiety in the air as well as sunshine, and no person seems to care that men are being shot every other minute, or bayoneted, or blown into scraps or burned into cinders. These things are happening, nevertheless, but much of their importance has vanished. 
I met a man at the Green who was drawing a plan on the back of an envelope. The problem was how his questioner was to get from where he was standing to a street lying at the other side of the river, and the plan as drawn insisted that to cover this quarter of an hour's distance he must set out on a pilgrimage of more than twenty miles. Another young boy was standing near embracing a large ham. He had been trying for three days to convey his ham to a house near the Gresham Hotel where his sister lived. He had almost given up hope, and he hearkened intelligently to the idea that he should himself eat the ham and so get rid of it. 
The rifle fire was persistent all day, but, saving in certain localities, it was not heavy. Occasionally the machine guns rapped in. There was no sound of heavy artillery. 
The rumour grows that the Post Office has been evacuated, and that the Volunteers are at large and spreading everywhere across the roofs. The rumour grows also that terms of surrender are being discussed, and that Sackville Street has been levelled to the ground. 
At half-past seven in the evening calm is almost complete. The sound of a rifle shot being only heard at long intervals. 
I got to bed this night earlier than usual. At two o'clock I left the window from which a red flare is yet visible in the direction of Sackville Street. The morning will tell if the Insurrection is finished or not, but at this hour all is not over. Shots are ringing all around and down my street, and the vicious crackling of these rifles grow at times into regular volleys."
See source here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...