Civil War picture reversed

Published in Issue 2 (Summer 2001), Letters, Letters, Revolutionary Period 1912-23, Volume 9

Sir,—Referring to the article on the Civil War photographs in the last issue (HI vol.9, no.1, Spring 2001), it should be noted that the picture at the top of page 34 is shown in reverse. It shows a closer view of the same scene as the two lower pictures, but it will be noted that the entrance booth to the Nelson Pillar and the shop at the far side of the street (with horizontal windows on the first floor) appear on a different side of the Pillar in the top picture. A close examination of the plinth of the Pillar will show the inscription reading from right to left.
The answer to the question on the top of page 35 would seem to be almost certainly yes. The gun in the other pictures is pointed at the correct angle to fire diagonally across O’Connell Street towards the upper end of the street on a trajectory low enough to hit the buildings, while firing from the cover provided by the side street. I understand a number of other buildings further down the street were also destroyed on the same occasion. These included the Hammam Hotel, at numbers 11-13. All were later rebuilt and subsequently became (apart from the on-street commercial premises) the main Dublin Tax Offices. The Hammam Hotel site became Hammam Buildings, and also housed Tax Offices, as well as the main automatic telephone exchange. While working in Hammam Buildings from November 1953 to June 1955, I had a first-hand account of some of these events from an elderly tax officer who had witnessed them. He told me that the gun had been firing from the Nelson Pillar.
It is also worth noting that the Gael-Linn documentary film, Saoirse?, contains valuable film footage of the same engagement, including the escape of some of the defenders from the burning buildings.


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