Robert Monteith, 6 Palmerston Place

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 4 (July/August 2011), Letters, Volume 19

6 Palmerston Place, Dublin 7—once the home of Robert Monteith, commander of Casement's Irish Brigade in Germany. (Brigid Fitzgerald)

6 Palmerston Place, Dublin 7—once the home of Robert Monteith, commander of Casement’s Irish Brigade in Germany. (Brigid Fitzgerald)

Sir,—On reading an account of Robert Monteith, commander of Casement’s Irish Brigade in Germany during the First World War, a detail caught my eye. As a consequence of his political activities and loyalties, the account written by his daughter tells how
‘. . . he was dismissed from his post at the Ordnance Depot. He was not allowed to go back to his desk for his coat or pipe . . . Later that night two men from the G Division came to his house and read him a deportation order which stated that “R. Monteith, of 6 Palmerston Place, Broadstone, Dublin, shall not, except with permission in writing from me or other competent naval or military authority, reside after twelve o’clock noon, on the 14th day of November, 1914, within the Metropolitan Police District of Dublin”.’

Being an avid reader of History Ireland, even of your pugnacious editorials, that address looked familiar. It took only a minute to confirm that your editorial office not only generates some of the finest pensées on Irish history but was itself the scene of one of those footnotes that bring it to life! Moreover, Monteith even had a small printing press there, which he used to turn out leaflets and handbills for his political activities.
Monteith was a working-class Protestant, a former soldier in India and South Africa, a trade union activist, atheist, writer, Irish Volunteer captain and probably an IRB member. In the absence of anyone more suitable, he was recruited by Tom Clarke to take command of Casement’s brigade and smuggled to Germany. Following the failure of the brigade, he accompanied Casement by submarine to Banna Strand at Easter 1916. It is unlikely that he ever again visited Palmerston Place, as he escaped to the US, but perhaps his spirit lingers on.—Yours etc.,
SEÁN BOYLE
London

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