Autobiography of Charles William Grant, b.1881

This story is a first person document written by C.W. Grant, my grandfather, in 1961, when he was 80 years old. I have edited it in order to make it more readable. The original was a combination of typed and handwritten documents, quite rambling, and in many places duplicated.  The originals have no paragraphs, which makes them even more difficult. In many ways he presents, or attempts to present, himself in a way that was at odds with picture that I hold in my mind of him, and what I know of his life in reality.

I suppose inevitably we all wish ourselves to be seen, or remembered in a way that does not necessarily agree with what actually happened to us in life, and how our relationships with other people actually fared. His words also suffer from the sin of “omission”, in other words he fails to mention things that may alter how people viewed him. In particular he does not mention the fact that his grandparents, Stephen and Mary Ann Grant, were gatekeepers on the Ashtown estate at Woodlawn in Galway. Nor does he touch on problems that his own father, Thomas, would had had in his early life. Nor does he mention any of his uncles or aunts, nor any of the other relations in Tipperary, Offaly, Galway, Dublin, England, Australia or the USA. Nor does he talk about the difficulties of his own marriage, his relationship with his only son. nor his precipitous remarriage to his second wife shortly after the death of his first wife.

So on to the autobiography:-

I am putting down the following which may be of interest to members of my family. I have kept, alas, no diary or personal records, so these are random thoughts which come to my mind as I write, without regard to time or sequence (the editing has tried to correct this problem). I regret very much that I have failed to keep a diary, as through life, and in my official career, I have had opportunities of witnessing many interesting events which changed the picture. I was just an ordinary being and had no claim whatsoever to celebrity and that members of the family that might scan through this might not think that I was a conceited being.

I have now reached 80 years of age and my memory of past days is not as active as in days of yore. My time is running out (in fact he died 9 years later) and I hope that the family who may read what I have set down will regard it as the submissions of a humble man. I have had through life the experiences of ups and downs, in what on the whole has been a happy life. I have still a happy life, good health, good friends, a certain element of success, for which I am grateful to the Almighty.

I was born in Dublin on 26th May 1881, my sister Mary Elizabeth Grant was born 8th June 1885, and my sister Ethel Laura Grant born on 31st January 1893. His father Thomas Grant was a police constable , who had joined the Dublin Metropolitan Police in 1871 from his home in Woodlawn, Galway. Thomas had married Marie Watson at St Paul's Church, Portarlington on the 25th August 1880. Policemen were required to be unmarried on joining the force, and had to serve some time before they could get the required "permission" to marry. According to Thomas' police record he was promoted every 7 years, with the exception of 12 years as inspector. This would mean that he would have been a sergeant, then a station sergeant, as his children were growing up. His address is given as 166 Townsend Street, Dublin when Charles was born in May 1881.

Growing up

My mother was particular in looking after our appearance and conduct, in which she was strongly supported by our father. Both my parents were determined that we children should get the best education within their means. We were a really happy family, and our home was always bright and cheerful. We had many friends, both young and old, who were always welcomed. In a measure we had what might be described as an open house. It is with happy memories that I can look back to the days in the house with my parents. Although we had not the freedom which predominates particularly among young people today, we enjoyed our pleasures notwithstanding.

We realised for the most part that there was the shadow of parental supervision. Until we were grown up, when we went out, our parents expected us to have their permission or at least to know where we were going. Every morning we appeared at breakfast, which was at 8 o’clock, washed and tidily dressed ready for school. Immediately after breakfast we would have prayers. My mother would lead us in prayers if my father’s duties necessitated him being away. The practice of family morning prayer was not unusual, and its disappearance to a great degree is to be deplored.

7 Newbridge Av circa 1890
7 Newbridge Av in 2008

Our home in early days was at 7 Newbridge Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin. It was near the beach, and we spent much time paddling and bathing in the safe waters. From the shore along the coastline from Sandymount to Kingstown a long breakwater can be seen extending out into Dublin Bay. From Ringsend the South Wall, as it was then known, was extended and the Pigeon House and the Portbeg Lighthouse were built on the wall, which was some 6 miles long. It stretched from the River Liffey on the north side, running out into Dublin Bay. The Rowing Clubs from Ringsend, The Dolphin, Neptune, Commercial and a few others trained their crews on this part of the Liffey. There was bathing off the south side of this wall either off the Wall or the beach on the shore to Kingstown. On the Wall, mid way between Irishtown and the Pigeon House, there stood a Coast Guard Station manned by men of the Coast Guard Service of the Royal Navy. To small boys like me it was a treat to spend many hours in the company of the sailors, whose main duty was to check on ships entering and leaving Dublin. A little further on towards the Pigeon House was a delightful bathing place known as Half Moon Battery. I remember as a boy there were several small parties of men who in the early summer mornings rode out on bicycles to the Half Moon for an early morning bathe, before taking up their daily duties. My father and I regularly enjoyed pleasure there. About a mile further along the road there was the Pigeon House Fort which was occupied by a Royal Artillery Battery and a company of infantry for the protection of the harbour. There were also attractions for small boys here. The troops allowed us to play around the guns. I remember no live shells  being fired in my youth, but the noise of the explosions of blanks gave us pleasure. Occasionally the battery was used in exercises for purpose of attack by troops stationed in Dublin. For days after such an event we small boys were on the look out along the shore for odd ammunition which had been dropped by soldiers. Efforts would be made to cause them to explode by means which were certainly dangerous. On a Christmas day when I was about 12 years old, the family were settling in the dining room of our home, when I found a round in my pocket and thoughtlessly threw it on the fire, with the  result that an explosion blew the burning fire all over the drawing room. Naturally I received castigation. , but if it had not been Christmas day, I would certainly have received some severe bodily punishment. The closing down of Pigeon House Fort in 1897 (it was sold to the Dublin Corporation and used as a sewerage disposal works) was a great disappointment for us boys, as no longer would the troops from Beggarsbush and other barracks enliven our martial spirits with their various maneuvers. Further round the neighbourhood of Sandymount many officers and men with their families helped to enliven us.

As we grew older and could swim, a great pleasure was to row out into Dublin Bay and dive into the sea off the sides of the rowing boat. On one occasion we were enjoying ourselves so well that we did not notice the Holyhead steamer approaching the mouth of the river. Suddenly we heard the hoot of the steamer and found ourselves right in its path. I recall the passengers cheering and laughing as we tried to scramble back into our rowing boat, This was no easy task as we were naked, and it takes some effort to get over the side of a boat in deep water, The passengers cheered loudly when we got back into our boat, but the ship’s officers certainly were not amused, as the incident resulted in the late arrival of their steamer at the North Wall.

In my boyhood days bicycles came into common use by both adults and young people of both sexes. My earliest memory of women riders was to see them wearing bloomers instead of skirts. This fashion only had a short run as the ridicule and jokes they brought to the wearers was to say the least embarrassing and by no means polite. Bloomers gave way to the divided skirt, and later when the back wheels were covered with netting suitable skirts came into being.

As May & I grew older, we were encouraged to bring our friends to the house, and we were encouraged to participate in outside interests. 

School started at 9.30. May and I attended schools in Dublin and we were given a tram fare of 4d a day to get to and from school. There were several of my companions going to the same school, and I remember that we often walked to school and pocketed the fare.  Even before we started school my mother had taught me the rudiments of reading and writing. I was first sent to a local national school for about three years, and here I was fortunate in having good teachers, Mr Logan and Mrs Rawson, who must have done good work with me.

As a small boy I remember seeing Charles Stewart Parnell’s funeral in 1891 from a friend’s house in Blessington Street in Dublin. Parnell’s remains were interred with much ceremony in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin. The funeral cortège extended for several miles through the city. It consisted of supporters of the numerous Irish Clubs in Ireland, farmers and men of all parts, Men of various orders in full dress, top boots and staves. Irish Members of Parliament, many of whom had betrayed him in the work he did which brought security to the Irish peasantry. Parnell died in Brighton, in his wife's arms, of a heart attack brought on by rheumatic fever, near midnight, 6 October 1891 in their home in Brighton. Though an Anglican, he was buried in Dublin's largest Roman Catholic cemetery, Glasnevin. Such was his reputation that his gravestone of unhewn Wicklow granite, erected in 1940, carries just one word in large lettering: PARNELL.

I also remember Donnybrook Fair, which in olden days had provided revel for the Dublin populace. The crowds gathered on a Bank Holiday from all parts of Dublin to Irishtown Green, which was not far from my home in Sandymount. Outside cars, long cars, and every type of conveyance brought them to Irishtown during the Easter and Whit holidays. The scenes were appalling, especially in the afternoon when early arrivals had been overcome by drink. Fights were to be seen on all sides, and blood often flowed. The cockle and shellfish sellers were much in demand. Stalls were set out with all kinds of the most awful looking food and hygiene was definitely absent. When the local public houses were overflowing with customers, there were ways and means of getting drink on the Green. Dancing and flirting took place all round, and love making took place publicly. At night it was a sight to see the number of celebrants lying round sleeping and trying to recover from the excitements of the day.

After sixty years I can still recall the disgusting scenes that were openly seen during the holidays. At the stalls the younger people were able to purchase what were called “treacle tillies”, an awful looking piece of pastry with a scrape of treacle. The youngsters either licked these or wandered round the Green dabbing them on their colleagues or anyone else that took their fancy. Law and Order tended to get forgotten, and the Police had a rough time in preventing things going to extremes. In due course Irishtown as the venue for excitement gradually faded away, and by 1900 it had become a thing of the past.

In 1902 the family moved to 24 Rathgar Road, Dublin, and Charles lived with his parents there till he left on joining up in 1916.

The red uniforms of the British troops added colour to the city. The uniform was like a magnet to the girls along Sackville Street. Royal birthdays and occasions of national importance were celebrated by a special parade of troops at barracks and other venues. On the occasion of Queen Victoria’s birthday a parade of troops was held on 24th May on fifteen acres in Phoenix Park. After the inspection the troops marched past the flag post with colours flying. After this a sham battle was mounted in which troops fired blank ammunition from both large guns and rifles. The citizens turned out en mass to watch.

This was an occasion looked forward to by school boys, who after the programme of the day was complete, searched the grounds for blank ammunition dropped by the troops in the hope of setting off explosions of their own.

There were no motor cars, or mechanically propelled vehicles in those days. Horses were the only means of transport, and donkeys and even half starved ponies were to be seen trundling round loads in two wheeled carts. Four wheeled cabs were drawn by horse, and outside cars, on which the driver sat on what was known as the “dickey” which was in the centre directly behind the horse. Many of the cabs were of a filthy type drawn by worked out horses. On side cars the passengers sat on the sides, back to back. The geniality of the horses was on the whole good, and driving on them was really exhilarating The fares fixed by the police were reasonable. But woe betide the passenger who failed to give a tip. Some of the drivers were downright dishonest, and unless a policeman was near, often charged extravagant fares, and the drivers had many tricks. One morning on going into town by the train from Lansdowne Road, I got off at Westland Row. There was a big crowd assembled round a jarvey A passenger had landed from England on the morning mail, and on being approached by a jarvey, asked to be taken to the Grosvenor Hotel (he did not know that the hotel was close by just outside the railway station). The jarvey took him on as a passenger and after driving all round the City and Phoenix Park finally landed his passenger back at the Grosvenor Hotel, and demanded £1 for the journey, and why not as he must have driven the passenger seven or eight miles. A row started, and fortunately there was a policeman on the scene. When the jarvey thought to get away, the constable held the reins of the horse and made the jarvey go with him to the police station. Many years later I recalled this incident when I arrived at Kingsbridge railway station from Cork on a Bank Holiday, and I hired a jarvey to take me to Rathgar Road. Instead of taking me by the direct route, he took me on a long drive via Crumlin. I was in no hurry and enjoyed the drive. On reaching Rathgar Road I handed him three shillings (half a crown standard fare plus a six pence tip) He threw it on the seat and spoke of the distance from the station. You should have seen his face when I told him off and threatened to call the police

Jaunting car drivers were sometimes called "carmen" but a more common name for them was "jarvey". This word dates back to the 17th or 18th century, when jarvey was the term used for a London hackney coachman. The term's origin is obscure. One explanation links the word jarvey to St. Gervais given that the saint's symbol was a whip. The Oxford English Dictionary states that jarvey derives from a coachman named Jarvis who was hanged. By the 1880's "jarvey" had passed out of fashion and was replaced by the more familiar "cabby", but it remained popular in Ireland. Joyce uses the word over twenty times in Ulysses.

I was then entered for a scholarship at the Merchant Taylor’s School, Dublin, and although the minimum age, I was successful. I attended this school for about three years during which time I sat for the preparatory examination of the Intermediate Examination Board for Ireland. I secured only a pass certificate, which my father which my father did not consider good enough. So I was withdrawn and entered for the Diocesan School, Molesworth Street, Dublin, which had just been established under the headship of Mr James Moore, a friend of my father, and of good reputation as a teacher. The aim of the school was to prepare boys for the Civil Service professional entrance examinations. There were about 100 boys at the school, of ages from 12 to 18 years. As I look back Mr Moore (or Black Jimmy as he was called by the boys on account of his jet black hair) was an ideal head master. He made us attend to our lessons, and woe betide the boy who turned up with work badly prepared. He constantly rubbed into us that it was our duty, with an eye to the future, to make the most of our opportunities. He was a kindly sympathetic man, although a strict disciplinarian and expected the best from his assistant masters. If he found them lacking in the standards he required, he did not hesitate in replacing them

In due course I decided on a Civil Service career and I was placed in the school form for aspirants to the Civil Service. Unless by impositions, or extra work, junior masters were not permitted to punish boys. I remember on one occasion being sent down to the head by a class master to report some misdemeanor that I had perpetrated. The usual course in such a case was to knock on the Heads study door. On entering the Head asked why I was there. I responded “I do not know”, rather than the expected “To report, Sir”, I got six of the best and told to go back and ascertain why I was to report. I came back and told him, whereupon I received another six of the best upon my “sit upon”, and was dismissed back to my form. This was the only occasion that I was sent down to report. My father was keen on my education, and whilst at school, each week I had to do extra work that he set me.

In the police force, apart from efficiency in police duties and law, promotions were made on the results of a Civil Service Examination. So my father had knowledge of what would be required if I were to gain a place from the competitive examinations for entrance to the Civil Service. Unless I prepared the work that he had assigned to me, I was not allowed to take part in football or cricket matches. This I regarded as serious. I had developed into a sturdy rugby player, and was on a senior team. The disgrace of being obliged to declare off a match, and the reason being known, made me keen to do the extra work for him. This extra work paid dividends. Previously I seldom got above the middle of my class in the annual examination, now I came out near the top.

I recall an incident which gave me embarrassment. A governor of the school gave a prize of £5. I managed to win the prize, although I was only in the 5th form, and against boys in the 6th form. When the results were announced, I remember the 6th form boys looking at me, as I blushed in taking the prize from them. Mr Moore was a friend of my father, and knew that I had to do extra work for my father. I purchased my first bicycle with this prize.

Mathematics was one of my father’s strong subjects. I had to do weekly problems in advanced mathematics, which I now realise were actually a bit beyond my father. In later years my mother handed to me a book that had the answers to the problems that he set me. She told me that often, after I had gone to bed, the old man used to get the book of answers out, and study the set problems so as to be able to explain them to me. This extra work proved a great help to me later on as well, as it helped make things easier for me when I went for higher examinations in later life.

The Civil Service

I think my decision to try for the Civil Service as a career was due to my father having so many friends in the Civil Service, holding good positions with security and who seemed to enjoy their lives with good holidays. I was sent to a “grinder”, Mr Sparkhall Brown, who had formerly been a master of the Civil Service form at the Diocesan School.

He was certainly a conscientious teacher, and managed to get success for his candidates. The examinations were open competition from all parts of the United Kingdom for the Second Division of the Civil Service. These examinations took place twice a year, and around 500 candidates would compete for between 100 and 150 vacancies available in both Great Britain and Ireland. I competed 2 or three times without success, until at last I was lucky in getting a place in each of two examinations – one Outpost Class of Customs and the other Second Division Civil Service. I rather favoured the Customs appointment as it would have given me the opportunity to see the world. But eventually I decided on a Civil Service post with the Local Government Board of Ireland, based in Custom House, Dublin.

1901 census

For a short time prior to my passing the required exams, I had been working as a temporary employee at the offices of the Intermediate Education Board and the Irish Land Commission. Now I took my new Civil Service post on 1st January 1901. This appears to be with the Board of Works as a Clerk HU.CS from the 1901 census taken a few months later. I was appointed to the legal department of the Local Government Board, which was under Sir George Vauston K.C. and Mr A Quekett, U.A. Legal Assistant. This appointment was only temporary, and was to replace a Clerk who had been promoted to another department. I liked the work and my superiors; I determined to make my position permanent.

 I realised that if this were to be accomplished then I would require a good knowledge of Local Government law and procedures. Professional qualifications were a necessity. I first took the matriculation examinations of the Royal University of Ireland, as matriculation was required before one could start any professional studies.

Following this I qualified as an accountant, and became an Associate and later a fellow, of the Corporation of Registered Accountants (FCRA)

Charles Grant 1911
1911 census shows him living with his parents at 24 Rathgar Rd, Dublin.

In 1912 I was admitted as a student of the Honourable Society of Kings Inn, and proceeded on a three year course for call to the Irish Bar. In 1914 I sat for the Honour Examinations held in October, and awarded a certificate for superior answering in the History of Law, Jurisprudence, The Law of Real Property, and The Law of Personal Property. On this result, I was spared the need for the third year of study which is normally necessary for a call to the Bar. I was immediately called before the judges of the High Court of Ireland.

My search for qualifications over the years was, I admit, strenuous and demanded a sacrifice of both time and pleasure. In addition to my legal studies I realised that accountancy was important too. I attended evening classes three nights a week at the Rathmines School of Commerce in order to acquire experience in accountancy. From various examinations, I was awarded certificates in Advanced Bookkeeping and Accountancy, Company Accounts of Procedure, Adjustment of Partnership Accounts, Partner and Executor law,  Rights and Duties of Liquidators and Trustees. In December 1911 I passed the final examination as MCRA, and in August 1912 FCRA. At that time I little thought that the acquiring of accountancy qualifications would in later years lead to me taking up the financial side of Local Government, when I was appointed Senior Government Auditor in the Ministry of Home Affairs for Northern Ireland on 21st December 1927

In the years 1912, 1913 and 1914 I just about gave up sport while I was studying for the Bar, and which required just about all my free time. I would get up a 6 a.m. and study till 7.45, when I took a cold bath before breakfast. After breakfast I went to my office at the Local Government Board. As opportunity arose during the day I always made the most of the legal text books that were in the department. The lectures at Kings Inn, to which I had permission to attend, were conducted in the afternoon. I arrived home around 6 p.m. and after a meal usually studied until 9.30 p.m. when I went out for a walk or a run, getting home in time for bed around 10.15 p.m. I found studying in the morning was the best time. It also gave me the opportunity from time to time to partake in social life in the evenings. There were many dances to which I was invited. My sister May often accompanied me and we had a number of friends. May was very popular.

Prior to the introduction of the electric tramcar in about 1900, tramcars drawn by two horses were in operation and covered the journeys between Dublin and the suburbs. Nelson’s Pillar was their starting place. Later the electric trams were introduced, then ran on lines and linked up with the surrounding districts of Pembroke, Rathmines, Rathgar, Kingstown and Dalkey. There were 1d, 2d, and 3d fares principally. The fare to Kingstown (now Dunlaoghaire) was 3d single, and to Dalkey 4d. The stages from Kingstown to Dalkey were particularly attractive, and from Dalkey to Killiny Park was a beautiful walk. Tea and refreshments were available. When I was studying for honour examinations for the Bar my only break was to get the tram at Rathmines and sit on the top to Dalkey, then tea before returning home. Replete with the lovely view of Dublin Bay and back to the legal text books upon which so much was depending.


In 1903, before I had taken up studying seriously, I joined the South of Ireland Imperial Yeomanry, in which I served for 4 years until the termination of my engagement. The Regiment was formed after the South African War, and I trained as mounted infantry. (On December 13, 1899, the decision to allow volunteer forces to serve in the Second Boer War was made. Due to the string of defeats during Black Week in December, 1899, the British government realized they were going to need more troops than just the regular army, thus issuing a Royal Warrant on December 24, 1899. This warrant officially created the Imperial Yeomanry. The South of Ireland Imperial Yeomanry was formed in Jan 1902 ) Harold Aylward, Ian Cunningham, Billy McWilliam and I were just about the first to join. My regimental number was 46. We decided to enlist together. Each of us was attracted to the horses, as we had from time to time done some riding. We had to attend a certain number of parades and riding school with the 21st Lancers at Marlborough barracks in the Phoenix Park. The Marquis of Waterford was the colonel; the officers were mostly from cavalry regiments and had served in the South Africa War.

Charles Grant Yeomanry

In the Yeomanry the officers bore a rank less than they held in the army. We had army colonels as majors commanding squadrons and captains as troop commanders. The officers were wealthy men and saw to it that no expense was spared to provide the best for the troopers. I enjoyed the riding school and the riding course. The Rough Riders certainly did not spare us, we got a good deal of the rough that they handed out to their own troops. I attended five training camps on the Curragh plus one of the All Ireland Maneuvers with the army. We received five shillings a day pay whilst in training, but this money went to the regimental fund. This paid for our messing, all of which was provided by contractors. The army regularly inspected our canteen arrangements and on one occasion when food was not up to the mark, a trooper, when the usual question “Any complaints?” from the Orderly Officer, replied “This food tastes as if someone has eaten it before”. Thereupon the Orderly Officer tasted it himself and reported unfavourably. The colonel then ordered the food destined for the officers’ mess to be served to us.

On 24th January 1908 I took my discharge on termination of engagement, my certificate stating that my conduct and character while in the Imperial Yeomanry had been exemplary.

In 1914 my old friend Major Harris, who was adjutant of the Dublin University Officers Training Corps persuaded me to join the corps. The corps were going on an Easter trek through North Wales and wanted someone to do contingent Quartermaster who would be able to look after stores, feeding and so on. He was not keen for one of the cadets to discharge the duties, as they were mostly young students of TCD. I went on the trek, though the work was hard, I enjoyed the march. We crossed by steamer to Holyhead, then marched to Conway and over the mountain to Betsy--Coed. My pal Ian Wakeley, who was also studying for the bar was Sergeant Major. There were about 60 cadets on the march. We camped the night at Conway, and on Sunday were allowed into Llandudno. The weather was just perfect and everything went well till we got to Betsy--Coed where a number of cadets stripped and got into the river for a swim, minus swimming costumes.

After going on this trip I could not hold out against George Harris, so joined the OTC and attended the annual training and camp at Fermoy in August 1914. My promotion was rapid, in a short time I was platoon sergeant. I got to know and make friends with a number of cadets, several of whom laid down their lives in the early days of the war. And since then many more have passed away.

The 1914-1918 Great War broke out within a few weeks after the OTC returned from camp. Needless to say it created anxiety and men flocked to the colours from all directions. A large number of cadets applied for commissions, I amongst them. However orders were issued by the government that in the case of Civil Service applicants then permission to join was required. The war necessitated the formation of new departments to meet the contingencies of a new character that arose to meet conditions arising out of the war. In this connection the Local Government Board was largely affected as many of the matters associated with the well being of the country were controlled by the Boards, who became responsible for the administration of relief schemes and the general well being of the people. My application to join the army was deferred with others, and several of us were appointed to control and administer schemes. I continued to be attached to the OTC, where I became a sergeant instructor and later Cadet Sergeant Major and Cadet Quartermaster. I won the OTC prize as the unit’s “most efficient” member in November 1915

All this time I was unsettled and discontented. My close friends had joined up. So I again applied for permission to join the army, which was given with a grudge. I applied for a commission through the OTC, and was gazetted to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers 10th Battalion, which had been newly formed.  I was sent to an officers’ school of instructors at Government House, Cork for some weeks.

On his application form, dated 15November 1915, he had applied for a commission in the Garrison Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles, but was assigned to the 10th battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers by the army.

dublin Fusiliers Badge

After examinations I joined the 10th battalion at the Royal Barracks, Dublin, which was agreeable and convenient as Elsie and I had become engaged, and our homes were in Dublin. I was attached to B Company under Captain Palmer and given charge of a platoon. I found my training with the yeomanry and OTC helpful in adapting myself to the life of a company officer. I was sent on various courses: bombing course at Elm Park Merrion, musketry course at the Bull Clontarf, company Commanders course at Richmond Barracks, gas course at Elm Park. I questioned the reasons why I was being sent on so many courses and the adjutant told me that I was the officer who could get distinctions on the courses and the Co made it a boast concerning these distinctions with other battalions. The CO was Col Esmonde, he was no soldier, a political nationalist puppet and he held a low opinion of anyone who did not think like him in politics and religion.  I was appointed Battalion Bombing Officer, and the instructing of officers and men on this subject fell to me. In addition, for some time I acted as Garrison Bombing Officer. Each battalion at this time had a "platoon" of bombers, consisting of a Battalion Bombing Officer, a Sergeant and 32 other ranks. The Battalion Bombing Officer in World War 1 was really any Officer who conducted trench raids. The importance of using hand grenades in the close-quarter battles that usually took place in trench warfare had increased by this point. Although several patterns of grenades were in existence at the time, the recently introduced Mills Bomb was considered to be the best weapon available. To assist the bombers in their training, they practiced carrying out attacks on dummy trenches.

Throughout Ireland men of both loyalist and republican sympathies were drilling and training. The Government seemed to take no particular notice. There were the shootings on Bachelors Walk, the importation of guns and ammunition, drilling in military formation in all parts of the country; even the murderous attacks on loyal citizens did not provoke definitive action by the Government. The most that was done was that a picket should always be available in barracks. Yet when the Irish Rebellion did break out on Easter Monday, 24th April 1916, it appeared to be an unexpected bolt from the blue to both the officers and men of my battalion, and indeed to the Government.

The Irish people seem to thrive on generations of grievances, real or imaginary and the country had always been in a disturbed political climate, which the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland did little to allay and in many parts I declare made life and conditions for Protestants very difficult. I use the word “bigotry” with sadness, and it extends generally in some form or other throughout the country. From the earliest days, going right back to the conquest of Ireland, continuous antipathy to British control existed.

The Sein Fein party had been active for many years. Rebel regiments had been drilling all over the south of Ireland. Arms and equipment had been landed in Howth, and in spite of being challenged by a large party of men from the Kings Own Scottish Borderers, much of the consignment had evaded the British troops. In a short time the Sein Fein troops openly occupied themselves in military training, which for some reason the government seemed only to look on and took no active measures to suppress them.

Royal Barracks Dublin (later Collins Barracks and now part of National Museum of Ireland)

I was serving with the 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and based at the Royal Barracks, on the day rebellion broke out at Easter 1916. (there were 467 officers and men of 10th RDF in that barracks that day) The battalion was under orders to join the army in France. On that Easter Sunday I had spent the day with my fiancé and at midnight walked back to the Royal Barracks through the Coombe Slums of the city. Beyond small gatherings of people apparently chattering at various points, I noticed nothing unusual. On Easter Monday I was detached to give a lecture to officers and men of my battalion on trench bombing and the use of explosives. At 11 a.m. we were assembled on the grass slopes of the barracks facing the River Liffey. Shortly after this rifle shots were heard from the city, and on hearing the bugle alarm call, I doubled the party into the barrack square. Here I found about 50 men of the regiment assembled with two staff officers and other senior offers of the regiment. Orders were given for troops to be equipped and armed. A party of men from A Company were marched out of the barracks.

(there were thirty-seven officers and four hundred and thirty men of the 10th Battalion RDF in the Royal Barracks at that time. The DMP phoned the Military HQ at |Parkgate at 12.10 to say that the Castle was under attack by armed Sinn Feiners. Col Cowan then ordered man from Royal, Richmond and Portobello Barracks to march to the relief of the Castle)

I received orders to take B Company, about 50 men to the Castle. No further orders and there was no inkling that rebellion had broken out. I proceeded at the head of the party down a narrow street to the quays, where on turning a corner into Bridgeford Street, we received a volley of rifle shots which scattered our party.

"Easter Rebellion by Max Caulfield "has an account by Lucy Stokes, a VAD nurse on her way home. When she got to the Quays near the Royal Barracks she saw a large body of soldiers running out of the Royal Barracks and taking cover behind the opposite wall of the Quay.An advance party of soldiers ran over the bridge with fixed bayonets, under fire from rebels in Guinness Brewery. Two officers politely suggested to her that she found a safer way home along the north bank of the Liffey. She saw these men, whom she identified as 10th RDF edging their way cautiously towards Dublin Castle. Although the advance party had crossed the river, the main party continued along the north bank, with the intention of crossing via a lower bridge, and making a direct assault up Parliament Street to the gates of the Castle. However they came under fire from the rebels in Mendicity Institue under John Heuston. The rebel fire scattered the soldiers. but they were able to leave a strong party to cover, from behind the Quay Wall, the rest of the RDF as they advanced. The main party continued toward Queen Street Bridge, which they crossed under heavy fire. At 1.40 the first military relief arrived at the Ship Street entrance, 180 men in total, 130 from RDF and 50 from Royal Irish Rifles

B Company 10th RDF in 1916

The officer following me, Lt Neilan, was killed,

Lieutenant Neilan, was reported as being shot by a sniper on Ushers Quay. His younger brother Anthony was taking part in the rising. Lieutenant Gerald Aloysius Neilan, 10th Bn Royal Dublin Fusiliers. KIA at the Mendicity Institution on Usher Island, Dublin.Aged 34. Son of John Neilan, of Ballygalda, Roscommon. Buried at Glasnevin Cemetery, Co. Dublin. Official reports show two RDF officers killed that day Lt. G.A. Neilan and 2nd Lt G.R. Gray (4th Royal Dublin Fusiliers), with a further 5 RDF offers listed as wounded. At the court martial of Sean Heuston who had been later captured by the British, the 1st witness was Captain A.W. MacDermot (7th Royal Dublin Fusiliers) who stated "On 26 April I was present when the Medicity Institution was taken by assault by a party of the 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Twenty-three men surrendered on that occasion. I identify the four prisoners as having been in the body of men who surrendered. They left their arms except their revolvers in the Mendicity Institute when they surrendered. Some of them still wore revolvers. One officer of the 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers was killed and 9 men wounded by fire from this Institute on the 24th April. I searched the building when they surrendered. I found several rifles, several thousand rounds of ammunition for both revolvers and rifles. I found 6 or 7 bombs charged and with fuses in them ready for use." The 2nd witness was Lieutenant W.P. Connolly (10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers) stated "I was present when 23 men surrendered on the 26th April at the Mendicity Institute. I identified the four prisoners before the court as being amongst them. The leader was J.J. Heuston. I was present when the troops were fired on from the Mendicity Institute on the 24th April, when Lieutenant G.A. Neilan was killed and 6 men wounded to my knowledge. Heuston was without a coat when he surrendered and also had no hat on. He was not in the uniform of the Irish Volunteers. I was present when the building was searched and found arms and ammunition in it and also the documents now before the court. Among the arms there were some old German Mausers. Among the ammunition there were two cardboard boxes of "Spange" German ammunition. When cross-examined by Sean Heuston, Lieutenant Connolly was not able to say exactly where, in the building, he had found the message books.

as were five or six men, and several more were wounded. I re-assembled the party, leaving the injured on the road, and sent out an advance party of six men. The party proceeded across Aran Street Bridge and up Winetarven Street to James Street, along Christchurch Place in the direction of the Castle, The rifle firing in the adjoining neighbourhood had become intense from the South Dublin Union which was being subject to heavy attack. A few shots passed over us without any effect.

Mendicity Instutute Dublin

This is where this action took place. The Mendicity Instute is the building on the centre of this old photo.
The 10th Dubliners came along Aran Quay in the foreground then turned over the bridge.

I have now found a contemporary account from inside the Mendicity Institute on a website about Paddy Joe Stephenson who was one of the men in the Mendocity firing at the Dublins. Paddy Joe's gandson put those details together has has allowed me to quote from the book.

"Heuston came into the room. He inspected the barricading of the windows, and then told us that the Irish Republic was to be proclaimed at 12 noon at the G.P.O., and that our job was to hold the Mendicity and engage any troops that would come out of the Royal Barracks across the river in Benburb Street until such time as the 1st Battalion, under Commandant Ned Daly, had taken over the Four Courts and had established itself there.... He ordered us back to our posts at the window and said: "When the troops move out of the Barracks wait until they are right opposite to you before opening fire. A single blast on my whistle will be the signal to fire". I turned the armchair with its back to the window, knelt in it and pushed my rifle out through the window using the top of the back of the chair as a rest and waited. The trams were still running along the North Quay across the river, and crowds of people of both sexes and all ages were clustered at the corners of Ellis's Street, Blackhall Street, John Street and Queen Street. Their faces were directed towards the Mendicity, nobody moved along the quays in front of the building. They were waiting for something to happen....

..... Reflection of this kind came suddenly to an end when my eye caught signs of movement across the Liffey on the quays. Incredible to relate the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Regiment were coming out of the Royal Barracks headed by an officer carrying a drawn sword in columns of fours with their rifles at the slope. The column erupted suddenly on the quay and continued to pour its khaki bulk out like a sausage coming from a machine. No advance guard - no scouts thrown out in advance to give warning of enemy forces lying in wait. Stepping smartly in time as if on a ceremonial parade the column came nearer to us, and to add to the air of festivity a tram came running along the tracks from the Park.

The Tommies had reached halfway between Ellis's Street and Blackhall Place, when possibly the strain becoming too much, someone downstairs fired. At that reaction of the rest of us was instantaneous, and we all let go. If Sean Heuston blew his whistle its sound was lost in the thundering reverberations that beat about our ears as the echo of the rifle explosions came back across the river from the houses opposite. I fired with the rest at nothing in particular, and suddenly became aware that I was pulling on a trigger and there was no recoil. I had emptied the magazine of the Lee Enfield in a wild unaimed burst of firing quite automatically and unconsciously. I filled the magazine again, put one in the breech and bringing my eyes into focus I saw that the tram was stopped, and had emptied itself of its passengers. The khaki column had scattered. Here and there in the doorways the soldiers crouched, some could be seen taking cover behind the river wall, others were making sudden jumps for the cover of the tram. The corners still had their clumps of curious and interested civilian onlookers.

The intermittent shooting from the Mendicity now sounded as if each shot had a purpose and a target. From where I lay in the window the rear platform of the tram showed a gap of daylight between it and the roadway and clearly underneath could be seen the boots of the soldiers coming from Ellis's Street in single file into the tram. Through the gap that lay between the rounded roof of the tram and the side could be seen the movement of the Tommy as he crawled along towards the front of the tram. It was just a matter of waiting until he was at full stretch to let one go. The crawling stopped simultaneously with the sound of the shot. While he was being dragged back at the top of the tram the boots under the platform offered a too inviting target and by the time the eyes focussed again on the gap at the top another victim was waiting and got it. Then the space under the front platform presented its sandy-coloured target and you let another go. For a long while this kind of grim triangular target practice went on without a single shot being fired back from the tram as it stood there mute and immobile. Then the sound of a whistle came across the river and the sandy coloured figures withdrew into the side streets, and silence beat down on your head and drummed in your ears. In those first short sharp minutes we had been made into soldiers. The first round was to us.

A check up revealed no casualties in the small garrison of 15 men. Murnane had gone out and could not get back, so he joined Daly in the Four Courts. The only damage so far were bullet holes in the back walls of the occupied room, and the window sashes....It was now very quiet outside the Mendicity, the curious foolhardy spectators were still on the corners; there was no traffic moving and not a sign of soldiers....Some time after he had gone a squad of Tommies without rifles or equipment, but carrying picks and shovels wheeled around the corner of Blackhall Place onto the quay heading for Queen Street Bridge. We immediately opened fire on them and they retreated on the double back into Blackhall Place out of sight. One or two of them staggered as if wounded. One fell on the corner and was dragged out of sight.

The next move against us came much later but this time from Queen Street. Moving out from the Barracks, possibly by Arbour Hill and Queen Street, the British were under cover of the houses until they reached the quay, and so were able to concentrate a large force in Queen Street without the slightest chance of our having a crack at them. We got the first sign of the new moves against us with a burst of fire from a concealed machine gun from the direction of Queen Street. We were down under the cover of the window sills in a flash, and for a while lay there stunned by the appalling din as the machine gun continued to rake the front of the building without ceasing. It seemed as if some giant steel whip was lashing the stone work with a tremendous vindictiveness.

Heuston shouted to us to hold our fire, but in truth all we could do was to lie watching the back walls of the room being riddled with bullet holes, and the plaster float around the room in a fine grey mist. He crawled across the landing and beckoned to me to come out. Crawling across the floor on my hands and knees I reached the landing outside safely. We collected a paint can bomb and a candle each, and getting down again on our hands and knees crawled into the long room near Queen Street. We took up our positions, one on each side of the third and fourth windows. The thickness of the walls and the bevelled sides of the windows gave us perfect cover and a slant-wise view of the outside was easily gained by keeping close to the window edge.

The giant steel whip was still lashing away, and under cover of the intense fire the Tommies began to rush across the high back of Queen Street Bridge. Heuston struck a match, lit his candle and stuck the long piece of the fuse of the bomb into the flame. He beckoned to me and I followed suit, and there we stood with the bombs under one arm with the fuse in the candle flame waiting for the rush through the front gates which we anticipated was to come. After what seemed like eternity the machine gun stopped firing, and I could then hear Heuston saying: "Don't throw it out until they are in the courtyard".

Looking out of the window I could see the round top of the helmet of the first Tommy, who, bent down under cover of the plinth, had come from Queen Street Bridge. When he came to the front gate he jumped across the opening like a rabbit and was gone towards Watling Street. After him came the rest of the attacking force in single file. How many of these rabbits hopped across that opening I could not tell. They seemed to be innumerable, and all the time the fuses of the bombs were in the candle flame, but no sign of them taking fire. At last there were no more hopping Tommies and incredible as it seems even now, nothing happened, and quietness settled down again on the area. The expected assault had not materialised.

At this time there were just l3 of us, as McLoughlin had not had time to return. If instead of hopping across the gate they had blown it open and rushed into the courtyard we would have been overwhelmed by weight of numbers alone. Amazed at our miraculous escape, I relieved myself of the weight of the bomb and returned to my post in the next room, thinking to myself, that if the bomb would not blow up it was at least heavy enough to knock a Tommy out if you got him in the right place.

There was nothing now to do except keep a look out, and listen to the sound of shooting in the distance; picking out the sharp wasp-like crack of the Lee Enfield and the deep boom of the Howth gun from the waves of sound rolling over the city and announcing to the world that for the seventh time in three hundred years the Irish people were asserting their right to national freedom and sovereignty in arms. The Tommies appeared to have gone back to the barracks, so we examined our rifles, cleaned them and pulled them through.....

As night had fallen by this time the city was in complete darkness, for the street lamps whether gas or electricity were not lighting. As the night wore on the houses opposite and the river disappeared into a black mass. The streets were silent and so were the guns. We talked quietly in undertones in the darkness, speculating on the possible course of events...

I met Colonel Tighe of the Royal Irish Fusiliers making his way to the Royal barracks. This would appear to be Lt-Col M A Tighe of Royal Irish Regiment

He joined our party, and as senior officer took command.  Passing Christchurch Cathedral a few revolver shots were fired. We entered a street running along the side walls of the approach to the entrance to the Lower Castle Yard. Here we came under heavy fire from rebels in the City Hall, which resulted in a further 20 wounded. The colonel decided that we should divide the rest of the party. He proceeded with his group down the long steps to the Ship Street entrance to the Castle. I took my group of about 10 men round by Ship Street Barracks, where we entered the Castle, having got them to open the gate for us and re-joined the rest of our original party.

Dublin Castle showing Royal Chapel
Ship Street Entrance to Dublin Castle

On entering the Castle we found very few troops in occupation, and to best of my knowledge we were the only troops in control at that time. So we decided on placing sniper posts at various vantage points in order to curtail the sniping that we were receiving from houses overlooking the Castle. Sergeant Burke, who was an army schoolmaster, was killed when he and I were climbing a ladder to get up on to the roof to establish a point to deal with snipers. Burke was the finest type of man. He and I were great friends. He was a good soldier and it was sad that he should pass out in the way that he did.

25692 L/ Sergeant Frederick William Robert BURKE 10th Battalion and enlisted in Gravesend, died 28 April 1916 age 21 buried Grangegorman Military Cemetery. Connolly and his small force had scaled the iron front gates of City Hall and installed themselves in that building. Connolly had previously been employed there in the Motor Taxation Office and would have been familiar with the layout of the building. On entering, he deployed half his men on the ground floor, proceeding himself with the remainder (including his brother Matthew) to the roof circling the huge dome. Shortly afterwards a troop of British soldiers arrived at the Ship Street barracks and began to concentrate fire on City Hall. Snipers from surrounding high points began to pick off the rebels one by one and Connolly himself was reputedly shot around two o’ clock by a sniper operating from the Castle clock tower. According to some reports he slid down the roof after being shot and the Citizen Army medical officer, Dr Kathleen Lynn, tried to reach him on the parapet but was unable to do so.

The necessity arose of providing for the protection of the Castle in case of attack by the enemy in force. An SOS was sent out from Military Headquarters and at about 5 p.m. the Cavalry Brigade from the Curragh arrived, bringing with them food, ammunition and machine guns. Reinforcements from the regiments also arrived. And numbers of troops on leave in Dublin reported for duty. It then became possible to attack the strongholds of the rebels in the city. The first task was to clear the rebels out of the City Hall, which overlooked the Castle, and which they were using to fire on troops in the Castle. About 9 p.m. in the evening the City Hall was attacked by a determined effort by our troops. They were strongly resisted, but we managed to get them to surrender after hand to hand fighting. Casualties on both sides were high and many rebel prisoners were taken. A thought that came to my mind when I saw the amount of female clothing lying around was the possibility that were making a get away clothed as women.

Interestingly this is true about womens clothing. Sean Connolly's death left Kathleen Molony, a lieutenant in the ICA, as senior officer in charge of the outpost. The small force, now without their commandant, came under heavy fire from the Castle. Helena Molony and Molly O'Reilly went to the GPO to ask for reinforcements but there were none to be had. City Hall and the Evening Mail offices were assailed by heavy machine guns. Matt Connolly's memory of that night was awakening to find that, the building seemed to shudder and vibrate with explosions and machine gun fire. Glass crashed, doors and woodwork were being shattered, and somewhere in the distant part of the building a woman screamed. Helena Molony and her female comrades were the cause of some confusion to the troops. "The British officers thought these girls had been taken prisoner by the rebels." Eventually the troops realised that the women were combatants. Helena Molony and the other women were then led to a dirty barrack room on the Ship Street side of the castle and imprisoned. It appears that the British Army took the ground floor of City Hall around 9 pm on Monday night, and completed their taking of the City Hall on Tusday morning

The official information for that day was that the first objectives for the troops that day were to recover possession of the Magazine in Phoenix Park, where the rebels had set fire to a quantity of ammunition, to relieve the Castle, and to strengthen the guards on Vice-Regal Lodge and other points of importance. The Magazine was quickly re-occupied, but the troops moving on the Castle were held up by the rebels who had occupied surrounding houses, and had barricaded the streets with carts and other material. Between 1.40 p.m. and 2.0 p.m., 50 men of 3rd Royal Irish Rifles, and 130 men of the 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers reached the Castle by the Ship Street entrance. At 4.45 p.m. the first train from the Curragh arrived at Kingsbridge station, and by 5.20 p.m. the whole Cavalry Column, 1,600 strong, under the command of Colonel Portal, had arrived, one train being sent on from Kingsbridge to North Wall by the loop line to reinforce the guard over the docks.

The prisoners were taken to Arbor Hill Prison, and many others, particularly leaders, were escorted to the Castle to be examined by experts. The Rebels had taken possession of the General Post Office and the Telephone Exchange, so that communications were cut off. At Stephens Green the Rebels had taken possession of the buildings of the Royal College of Surgeons, behind which there was Jacobs Biscuit Factory and other buildings which they had fortified, and from which they covered the neighbourhood with continuous rifle fire. Woe betides anyone wearing uniform or any policeman who came within the line of fire, or wandered into the area.

During the Easter Rising of 1916, a group of insurgents made up mainly of members of the Irish Citizen Army, under the command of Commandant Michael Mallin and his second-in-command Constance Markievicz, established a position in St. Stephen's Green. They confiscated motor vehicles to establish road blocks on the streets that surround the park, and dug defensive positions in the park itself. This approach differed from that of taking up positions in buildings, adopted elsewhere in the city. It proved to have been unwise when elements of the British Army took up positions in the Shelbourne Hotel, at the North East corner of St. Stephen's Green, overlooking the park, from which they could shoot down into the entrenchments. Finding themselves in a weak position, the Volunteers withdrew to the Royal College of Surgeons on the west side of the Green.

At around 7 p.m., I was next ordered to take a small party on a reconnaissance trip round Stephens Green and Grafton Street area. Near Jacobs’s factory the party was recognised and the question arose as to how to get back to the Castle. In front of St Matthias Church I saw a number of men in military formation, and I went back down Harcourt Street, and in front of the Children’s Hospital I noticed a number of rifles in the windows of the upstairs apartments. I was turning over in my mind as to a safe route to take, when suddenly a man walked the hall of a tenement house near Montague Street where we had halted. I covered him with my revolver, got all the information I could out of him, and realising he was of the neighbourhood, asked him if he could guide us back to Dublin Castle. He agreed to do this, and as I knew the streets round well, took him and told him if we were attacked we would shoot him immediately. I placed him in charge of Sergeant Robinson, my platoon sergeant, whom I knew would not hesitate in acting should anything untoward arise. Our prisoner was shaking with fright and could as a result scarcely speak. As I knew in a general way how to get back to the Castle, and warned him with a revolver in my hand, that any move to give us away would be devastation for him. He brought us back through alleys which I was not aware of, and guided us to the back gate of the Castle. I had not much money on me, but I gave it all to him, and told him not to mention the guidance that he had given to anyone

Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin

At about 10 p.m. I was summoned to Headquarters at the Castle by military staff. On entering the room the General said that I knew Dublin well, and ordered me to select 12 men and proceed to the Shelbourne Hotel. My job was to clear the front of the hotel of all people and to report if there were Rebels on the premises. With the aid of the manager I entered every bedroom facing the front, and had an embarrassing job, first to request the occupants to leave the rooms, and if they did not willingly comply with my request, to get them out by force if necessary. Being a Bank Holiday, and many visitors having returned from the Curragh Races, needless to say carrying out my job, I came across visitors who were keen on preserving their identity. In doing so there were many who thought it well to quietly comply with orders. At the same time I directed the members of my party to barricade the entrances to the hotel with heavy furniture. My orders having been carried out, I returned alone to the Castle, leaving the men to guard the hotel. I slipped out of the back door of the hotel into Kildare Street where I occupied the attention of snipers. I ran down Kildare Street like a hare and into Molesworth Lane and into Molesworth Street, as a number of rebels were marching along Darwin Street. I got into cover under the front outside wall of the Diocesan School and lay on my tummy for about 20 minutes until the rebels had passed, after which I proceeded back to the Castle without interruption.

It was a doubtful advantage to me to know Dublin so well, for after midnight I was ordered to guide a machine gun party to the Shelbourne Hotel. The party was furnished from the Cavalry Brigade which had arrived from the Curragh during the afternoon. It was under the command of a fat major, who was slow in his movements, and as speed was necessary the poor chap was almost exhausted. I am afraid I made the pace too fast for him. We managed to get through to the Shelbourne without any mishaps. We were lucky as Rebel patrols were all around. His job was to prevent rebels from occupying the hotel. I went round with him, and as all the front rooms had already be cleared by me earlier, it was decided to place a machine gun crew in the windows of advantage points, and arranged that the men were not to show themselves, and were to await a whistle signal to fire. At around 6 a.m. I managed to get the RDF men, whom I had left at the Shelbourne earlier in the day, back to the Castle.

A number of online references are made to a Captain Carl Elliotson of the Curragh Mobile Column being in charge of the machine guns at the Shelbourne Hotel , but I cannot verify that

The Green was occupied by many Rebels, there were women there, but no exception was made as women had already been found using rifles and taking part in the rebellion. Camp fires and trenches were in the Green. At about 5.30 the signal to fire was given. It was a cheerful but sad sight to see the campers scattering and running out of the far side of the Green. The College of Surgeons was occupied by the rebels under Madam Markievitz. Later in the day army reinforcements attacked the College, and Madam Markievitz surrendered, walking out in a man’s attire, sword in hand. I remember seeing her, de Valera and Collins with the other rebel leaders, being marched into the Castle Yard under heavy escort. The General Post Office, which was all this time still occupied by the rebels, kept up a heavy fire. Sackville Street, or O’Connell Street as it later became, was one sheet of flame. Liberty Hall, which was the headquarters of the republican unions, had been subject to shell fire from a gunboat in the Liffey, and was surrendered by Thomas Connolly, their leader. Connolly was wounded in the attack and was brought to the Castle Hospital. The rumour got around the Castle that an attempt was to be made to rescue him and the other leaders by attacking the Castle. The result was that guards were doubled and the troops were more or less at “stand too” all night

During the rebellion, I found many opportunities of nosing into places in Dublin Castle that were normally off limits to all but a very few. I knew some of the history of the Castle to appreciate the opportunities. For example, on a couple of nights, with a few of my troops, we slept in the pews of the Royal Chapel, on the cushions on which some of the highest in the land had sat during divine service. In the chaos that arose during the rebellion, it was a case of seizing any opportunity which would give one a respite.

Leading rebels were examined, and in due course transferred to various prisons to await trial. Many were sentenced to death by Courts Martial. On the cessation of the fighting in the city, after about 6 days, I was posted to the Court Martial Court, which was held in Richmond Barracks. My job was censor to prisoners’ correspondence, which in parts proved interesting and amusing. Some of it contained reference to extramarital family affairs, and affairs of the heart. I saw in the course of my duties all the leaders of the rebellion.  During the rebellion I kept a notebook in which I entered interesting instances connected with the rebellion. I thoughtlessly left it on my table, and it disappeared, and although I made enquires, it could not be found.  

A diary entry by 2nd Lt Robert Barton confirms this ". Some days later, he [Colonel Esmonde in the Royal Barracks] received an instruction from the Provost- Marshal in Dublin Castle to send two officers to Richmond Barracks to report to the officer in charge there for duty in connection with the prisoners in Richmond Barracks. I reported to Colonel Frazer. Another officer was sent with me, Lieutenant Grant. He took charge of the post office, that is, of letters coming for the prisoners, and acted as censor and distributor. Colonel Frazer instructed me to take over the duties of officer in charge of prisoners' effects. He made some statement to the effect that the War Office was greatly concerned because the troops in Dublin had been looting, an offence for which they would be shot if they were in France, and that the War Office wanted this situation cleared up."

One afternoon the Chief Officer of the Court Martial summoned me to his room. On entering it, he said we had met before, but at first we could not work out where it might have been. It suddenly occurred to me that I had met him before the war in Dublin and Cambridge playing rugby. We ultimately became friends. The weeks of the rebellion resulted in great destruction in the city of Dublin Throughout Southern Ireland there were spasmodic outbreaks and flying columns of rebels roamed though the countryside.

After about three weeks at the Richmond Barracks I was relieved to my battalion at the Royal Barracks. It was preparing to go overseas. At the end of July 1916 we received orders to embark for England, en route to Pirbright Camp. Fortunately during the interval before leaving the Royal Barracks, I had many opportunities to visit my parents in Rathgar Road. My mother was very ill and I wondered if I would see her later. Her illness was a long one and I am thankful to say I was spared to see her on my return from the army. She eventually passed away on 29th May 1922. The devotion which she received from my father and sister during her long and tedious illness, I will never forget.

I had become engaged to Ethel in the previous September and we had the pleasure of meeting during my time at the Royal Barracks. In August 1916, we marched out of the Barracks and embarked on the steamer for Holyhead. We had a great send off. The city was lined with people. It was sad to see the relatives of many of the men following the troops, and the sad thought arose that few would see them again: and such was the case that many of my comrades laid down their lives in France.

We arrived at Holyhead where we boarded a special train. We travelled through the night and arrived next morning at Woking, where we detrained and marched the two miles to Pirbiright Camp..

The war diary of 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers (W0 95/3118) states that the battalion was initially `2nd Reserve Bn' RDF, but became the 10th Bn on 11 February 1916, while it was in Dublin. It crossed to England on 6 August, completed its mobilisation at Pirbright and went to France on 18 August, joining 63rd (Royal Naval) Division. The assignment of the 10th Dubs to a Naval Division and not the 16th (Irish) Division caused much concern amongst members of the Irish Nationalist Party. According to Redmond, the 10th Dubs was, ‘One of the finest battalions ever raised in Ireland.’ The possible cause for this assignment of the 10th Dubs to a Naval Division must be analysed against the background of the unfounded mistrust the British High Command had of Irish regiments following the Easter Rebellion. This mistrust of Irish regiments had no foundation. No Irish regiment ever mutinied during the Great War.

10th RDF became part of 190th Brigade, 63rd (Royal Naval) Division. On 3 October they arrived at Acheux. To Lealvilliers (4 Oct), Hedauville (7 Oct), Mailly-Maillet Wood (8 Oct), front line Redan sector (11 Oct), Lealvilliers (17 Oct), Puchevillers (19 Oct), Hedauville (21 Oct), bivouaced near Englebelmer (30 Oct), billeted in Englebelmer (31 Oct), front line Hamel left sub section (3 Nov), Varennes (7 Nov), Puchevillers (9 Nov), Hedauville (11 Nov), Moved forward to Englebelmer to assembly positions in Robert's Trench (12 Nov). Attack on Beaucourt (13 Nov). Strong points cleared (14 Nov) - assisted in rounding up over 400 prisoners. Casualties 242. To camp on Englebelmer-Martinsart Road (16 Nov). Clearing battlefield Gordon Trench (17 Nov). Via Englebelmer by buses to Authieule (18 Nov).

The Battle of the Somme finally came to an end in November 1916. During the final attack on the 13th, the 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers helped to capture Beaumont Hamel, one of the objectives for the first day. They had 50% casualties.

Whilst at Pirbright, Elsie and my sister May came over for a few days to see me. The regiment then went overseas. We crossed to Boulogne from Folkestone, on 18th August 1916, (the war diary records that Lt CW Grant and 28 men were left at Pirbright on 18th August when battalion went to France, and that he and the detachment re-joined the Battalion at Mesnil les Ruitz on 29 August ) and spent the night at a camp outside Boulogne for the night, before proceeding up the line in cattle trucks. Our first stop was at St Pol, followed by Maisnil les Ruitz and Boypelle (?), where we had a gas course. We marched and did training en route until we reached Callone from which we entered the battle line for the first time. It was a quiet part at that time, but during our tour of 8 days we had many casualties. (B Company was in the trenches from 4th to 11th Sept 1916, and were attached to 13th Royal Fusil;iers for training) The battalion was attached to the 63rd Naval Division. At first experienced officers of other regiments were attached to us, and took us out on patrol into “no man’s land”, and took us up to inspect the German wires and get some idea of how strongly they were occupied. The enemy were active and several casualties ensued in this our first experience of actual warfare. Up and down the line from Belgium, along the whole front, we were in and out of the battle front, following the practice that it was not usual for fighting troops to remain for a long period in a particular sector.

(War diary for Sept 1916 and Oct 1916 for Dubliners. Having been relieved on 11 Sep, 10th Dubliners were billeted at Maisnil, then marched to Dieval on 20th Sept, and on to Ostreville on 23rd Sept. They train there till 3rd Oct. Then by train to Lealvillers. On to Mailly Maillet Wood East where they train till 11th Oct. They then relieve the Bedfords in the line - they appear to be in trenches "egg", "buster" and "freddie south" "chatham", "fox", and opposite Redan Crater. They are relieved on 17th Oct. On withdrawing from the line, they are billeted at Lealvillers, then Puchevillers, then Hedaville till 30th Oct. They move then to Englebelmer, until they relieve 4th Bedfords in the Hamel section on 3rd November. They are in the line until 7th November. They return to the line on 12th November for the big attack )

Whilst in the line, every night patrols, under the command of one or two officers, were sent out to get information concerning the state or changes in the enemy lines. It was necessary that activity by the enemy should be reported and information obtained as to whether its forces were being strengthened with a view to attack. At times we managed to get through the wires in front of their lines and to take prisoners. During such raids hand to hand conflict could ensue in the German trenches, while we were taking prisoners. We would then take the prisoners across to our own lines, were they would be subject to close interrogation with a view to getting intelligence. They would then be taken back for internment in prisoners lines in the rear. Casualties ensued and many good companions failed to return. One of these unfortunately was Tom Boyd, a close friend of our family who was captured and taken back by the Germans to work in a Salt Mine. I was in command of the party at the time, and had to leave behind some seven men including Tom, some were killed fighting, some including Tom were captured. It was my painful duty to inform his mother, who I knew well in Ireland. (War Diary gives 13 Oct 1916, White City, 6.30 pm, 2 officers and 6 OR went out with bombs. The left bombing post was attacked also when it got into position. 10.15pm 1 officer and 5 OR went out with bombs to search for the missing men and with the original right post continued the search without result. 1 officer (Lt Mount and 3 OR reported missing and 1 LG lost) ...then on 29 Oct 1916 reports news received that Private Boyd of the LG party missing 13 Oct was a prisoner of war in Limberg, Germany).

The Battle of the Ancre was the final part of the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Launched on 13 November 1916 by the British Fifth Army of Lieutenant General Hubert Gough, the objective of the battle was as much political as military. The Allied commanders were due to meet at Chantilly on 15 November and the British commander-in-chief, General Sir Douglas Haig, wanted to be able to report favourable progress to his French counterparts. Gough planned an attack on either side of the Ancre River, a small tributary of the Somme River which flowed through the northern sector of the battlefield. South of the Ancre was the village of Thiepval, which had been recently captured by the British during the Battle of Thiepval Ridge, and St Pierre Divion, which was still in German hands. North of the Ancre were the villages of Beaumont Hamel and Beaucourt sur Ancre; this sector has not seen major operations since the opening of the Somme offensive on 1 July.

By November the British had learnt many lessons about planning, preparing and executing an attack in trench warfare. Supported by tanks, artillery and a machine gun barrage, the 51st (Highland) Division captured Beaumont Hamel while on their left, the British 2nd Division advanced along Redan Ridge. On the right, attacking across the low ground between Beaumont Hamel and the river, was the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division which reached Beaucourt and the first day and secured the village on 14 November.

The opening attack: 13th November 1916. Immediately north of the River Ancre the 63rd (Naval) Division attacked with 190 Brigade deployed on its left. 190 Brigade included 10th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers. 1 Royal Marines were the first wave, 2 Royal Marines the second wave and 10 Royal Dublin were the third wave as the reserve battalion.

The system of attack was for the first wave to take the German front line and to remain and consolidate it whilst the Battalions in the second line moved on to the preliminary objective in a leap-frogging motion. The change of leading troops would continue until all three objectives (green, yellow and red) had been achieved.

On the 13th of November 1916, the 10th Dubs had a battalion strength of 24 officers and 469 other ranks. On the 12th of November, X Day as it is recorded in the battalion diary, the battalion assembled outside the village of Engelbelmer which is approx two miles west of Hamel. They spent the night in the open. The next day they attacked the Germans facing them in the Hamel section. They started from Gordon and Roberts trenches.

At 05:45 hours under the cover of the artillery barrage the leading battalions made good progress but at the cost of severe casualties from enfilading fire. The assault commenced over a depressing and dripping battlefield that was shrouded in fog. This effectively covered the movement of the troops who burst upon the surprised Germans. In a driving snow storm which turned to sleet and then rain, the 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers supported by two tanks which stuck in the chalky mud, moved forward.

190th Brigade was then ordered to press forward, to occupy the trenches vacated by the Royal Marines, and the intermingling of units on the hillside occurred. In the190th most battalions had become intermixed with other units. At zero plus 46 minute they moved across in four waves, and kept direction well in the fog. They reached the Sunken Road with few casualties. The early advance of 10/RDF was between the Green and Yellow Lines working up towards the Beaucourt-Beaumont Road. The 10/RDF ran into a very strong German redoubt and took a lot of casualties from it and also from their left where 51 Div had not kept up momentum and opened RDF to enfilading fire from German machine guns. Men took shelter in the shell holes along with the dead and wounded of the Royal Marines.

The British front line was where you will find the Ancre Cemetery today. Almost immediately between here and the Station the Germans had their first trench system - a maze of front line and communication trenches wrecked by shell fire. From the railway station there is a road which runs up the ridge from the café towards Beaumont. Just above this is a ridge running behind the road which formed the Germans' 3rd line of defence and the Division's first objective on what was annotated on maps as the Green Line.

The Commanding Officer, Lt Col E J St G Smith tried to get his Battalion headquarters forward from Buckingham Palace Road into the German trenches. He got through a gap in the front line with his headquarters staff, but he lost his adjutant Lieutenant Bailey (the adjutant must have been wounded, rather than killed, as he was the best man at my grandfather's wedding a few months later in Dublin). The attack was able to reorganise and push on to the second line. It was now 9am. However the advance could not make progress against the German third line. By dusk the third line had not been breached and the remnants of the six British battalions lay decimated in front of the German wire.

The top of the ridge at the Beaucourt Trench formed the second objective or Yellow Line. From, here the Division was to press on to the Red Line and its final objectives which were the village of Beaucourt itself and the Muck Trench behind it. The entire attack would be uphill and within the field of fire from machine guns from both flanks - one of the major reasons for the 36th's inability to advance on the 1 July across exactly the same terrain. However unlike the hot summer’s day on which the opening attack had taken place on 1 July, the ground in November 1916 was a quagmire of mud.

Bringing forward the support battalions made little difference, although about 400 men of the Hood and Drake had dug in short of Beaucourt. Throughout the day, bombing attacks were made against a strongpoint on Beaumont Hamel Spur but by nightfall, the furthest advance was into the German support line. 63rd Div renewed it’s attack on Beaucourt Trench at 6.20am.on 14th Nov.190 Brigade troops were assembled at Beaucourt Station with a hodgepodge of men from the previous day. They pushed into the village and formed a line around the eastern edge of the village. The earlier attack resumed in conjunction with this advance and occupied Beaucourt Trench.

Two tanks were then sent from Auchonvillers to support the attack on the Strongpoint in Beaucourt Trench, still held by the Germans. The two tanks broke down but the second was in range of the strongpoint which it bombarded with it’s 6-pounder gun. The Dublin Fusiliers took 400 German prisoners when the strongpoint surrendered. By 10:30 hours Freyberg could report that he was in control of Beaucourt. They suffered 51% losses, i.e. 242 men killed or wounded or missing. The statistics read as follows. Officers killed in action, six; Officers wounded, nine. (2nd Lieut. Boyd suffered shell shock but remained at duty). Other ranks killed in action, thirty two; Died of wounds, three; Wounded 132. Shell shock, three; Missing, 57.

On the night of the 17th November it started to snow and the final assaults of the battle of the Somme were launched the following morning. The Official History records... “the assault was delivered in whirling sleet which afterwards changed to rain. More abominable conditions for active warfare are hardly to be imagined...”

At this point, the battle of the Ancre could be considered a success for the British and Haig was satisfied with the result however Gough was, as ever, keen to continue further, a characteristic of his command that was loathed by the men who had to serve under him. On 18 November, II Corps was expected to drive north towards the village of Grandcourt and the river. North of the river, V Corps was meant to secure the remainder of Redan Ridge. Neither attack was successful. When Gough called off the battle of the Ancre, the battle of the Somme had effectively ceased. Both sides now settled down to endure winter on the Somme in which the weather was a common enemy.

In the Battle of the Somme my battalion went over with the Division in the big attack at Beaumont Hamel, which was supported by other divisions. For days the battle front was subject to heavy artillery fire from both sides . The Division as a whole moved into the frontline the night before the attack, which was due between 4 and 5 a.m. The order was given to advance. I was in command of the bombing section on the right of the battalion. The enemy apparently anticipated the attack, as immediately we crossed into no man’s land we came under heavy fire, which lost us time to get to the wire entanglements on the Bosch line. Our army brought heavy fire to bear on the German line and its rear. After some hours of severe fighting the German trenches were taken and the enemy forced back for some fifteen miles.

We took over the former German line, and around 6 p.m. I received orders to go to Headquarters and report the position. I found the General and his staff. He offered me a whisky, which I took. I also asked him for a drink for my runner, which he gave him. We had had neither food nor drink since early morning, so the whisky had some effect. I then left to rejoin the battalion. We were in such a good mood that we sat for a short time amid the shambles of the wounded, and watched the Jerries giving a shell dump some miles away a terrible artillery pounding. They got their target and the explosion together with the blowing up of a tunnel created such a scene as to remind me of the old fashioned pictures depicting the “last day on earth”. On reporting back to my regiment,  I received further orders to take a party of 30 men from several regiments in the Division (units in the big attack had got mixed up with other regiments) to go to the village of Hamel where I would find a staff party, and receive further instructions. I (here a page is missing, his writing stops like this in mid flow - there is no mention of his movements in the War Diary for that day)

His official record says that he was wounded on 13th November 1916, and was suffering from "neurasthenia". It states that "he was buried in a shell hole, but was contributed to by being under shell fire in the course of his duties as bombing officer and also by septis resulting from injuries received from barbed wire in September or Oct 1916 at Mailly-Maillet" (probably 8th Oct 1916). 5 officers and 76 men from 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers were killed in action on that date.

Soldiers who were diagnosed with 'shell shock', 'neurasthenia', and 'war neurosis' in the hospitals and casualty stations on or near the battlefields, were sent back Britain for treatment. The War Office used the term 'shell shock' to describe soldiers who were so traumatised that they were unable to carry out their duties on the battlefield. Early in the war, these soldiers were accused of being 'cowards' or 'deserters' and were shot, and by 1918 the War Office had eradicated the term from its documents. It was not just a British phenomenon - German doctors called the symptoms of their soldiers kriegsneurose and the French described the illness as la confusion mentale de la guerre. The experience of shell-shock was a major influence on the development of psychiatry and psychology. It forced the realisation that otherwise normal people would break down under sufficient stress.

Neurasthenia' was a term used by an American neurologist called Charles Beard in 1869. He described Shell Exploding patients as neurasthenic when they were depressed and inert. The term 'shell shock' was first used by Charles Samuel Meyers, a Cambridge psychologist, in an article he wrote about the cases he had been treating. Shell shock was literally the shock felt by a soldier near to an exploding shell and the feelings of having one's senses assaulted by the detonation flash, heat, displacement of the air and the ground tremors as the shell formed a crater in the earth. Meyers argued that soldiers suffering from 'mental shock' fell into one of three categories: hysteria, neurasthenia or mental disorder. Meyers also pointed out that soldiers did not actually have to be in proximity to an exploding shell in order to succumb to 'shell shock'. Soldiers acquired shell shock through constant exposure to war.

Official British figures claim that 80 000 cases of shell shock passed through the various medical facilities during WW1 but many cases were covered up by sending psychiatric cases to ordinary hospitals and the true figure could be around 200 000 cases. Until the end of 1916, the majority of shell shock cases were sent to England for treatment, then special centres were created in France to treat these patients and only the very worst cases were sent back to Britain. It was estimated that, by December 1914, 7-10% of all officers and 3-4% of other ranks in the British Expeditionary Force were 'nervous and mental shock' casualties. There was an epidemic rise from July to December 1916, during the Battle of the Somme, when 16 000 cases were recorded in the British army alone.

Probably 60-80% of shell-shock patients displayed 'acute neurasthenia', subsequently termed acute war neurosis, about 10% had conversion symptoms such as mutism, fugue, paraplegia, and abasia astasia, and 5% were considered to have concussive brain injuries. The epidemic of acute psychiatric casualties, which nearly paralysed the British Army after the Battle of the Somme in July 1916, forced upon the medical establishment the desperate need for prevention and rapid treatment. The British Army could not cope with this 'human wastage'. In the year to April 1916, 24 000 of these casualties had been sent back to Great Britain. Some 40% of casualties in the Battle of the Somme were shell shocked, adding enormously to the loss of manpower.

The British Government had another reason for alarm—the huge impending pension bill entailed by those who did not recover. It favoured a psychological model that blamed the individual rather than the external factors, and by mid-1916 the Army viewed shell shock as a contagious psychological response of the 'weak' to protracted fighting. After a few hours, days or weeks, symptoms usually resolved spontaneously with rest and time, and irrespective of physical and psychological therapies, provided that the symptoms had not been behaviourally reinforced.

The next part of the chronology is his wedding on 15th January  which was fitted in to a 7 day leave in Dublin, after which he returned again to the front)  (The War Diary records Lt CW Grant proceed on leave 11 Jan to 21 Jan 1917)

I then came home on 7 days leave, but while passing through London called at the War Office for an extension of leave. I had never been to the War Office, and at the entrance I was stopped by an orderly and asked my business. After persuasion, and telling him my business was private and important, I was passed to a Staff Officer, to whom I told the some tale. He was adamant in refusing me. On going out into the corridor, another Staff Officer stopped me, and asked if he could help me. He took me into his office and looked through a bundle of papers on his table. Apparently not getting the one he required , he asked me to tell him what I wanted and without further comment gave me two days extra leave, which he said was the most he could give me. Needless to say I immediately thanked him, and on receiving the leave authority, I got out of the War Office as quickly as I could. I was disposed to think that he thought he was dealing with the application of another officers and thought I was the one concerned.

After our wedding on 15th January 1917, which was on the 2nd day of my leave from France,  I only had 5 days leave unexpired before I had to return to France. We spent a couple of days in the Royal Hotel, Kingston, then crossed to London for 2 days before I crossed back to France. On eventually getting back to my battalion in France, my Commanding Officer sent for me. When I entered the Orderly Room, he inquired in an irate way what I meant by overstaying my leave, and proceeded to give me a ticking off. On producing my authority for extended leave, he cooled down and dismissed me. I had proceeded a short way from the Orderly Room when I heard the CO calling my name. He came up and asked me how I had managed to get the extended leave. When he heard, he laughed and told me that he had tried to get extended leave when last in London, and had been turned down. So all was well.

My regiment was by then on a march back to the lines, and I was ordered to take over command of B Company. We rejoined the 63rd Division on the Somme and went into the attack, during which I received a bullet wound and further injury from the explosion of a shell. I was wounded in early 1917 3 weeks after my return to France in the attack on part of Bapaume.(this is the only reference I can find in his writings to when he was wounded. He must have returned to the line about 21st January. The Battalion reentered the line in the support trenches at Beaucourt on 27th January 1917. His official record shows he was hospitalised on 28th January 1917. A letter he later wrote to the War Office states the "I continued in the discharge of my duties until 28th January, when my health completely broke down owing to the hardship and the heavy shelling we were subjected to while in the line. I was sent to hospital on that date.")

Miraumont was a little reported battle that was extremely costly in casualties. The Battle of the Somme effectively continued into the New Year of 1917 as the generals required that the line advance around Miraumont. The rested Royal Naval Division suffered severely in this attack. Ironically the Germans ceded much land around here a few weeks later without a fight in their March withdrawal. The RND moved into the line around Grandcourt at the end January 1917 , and prepared for an offensive action towards Miraumont.

I was some weeks in hospital in France, before being transported home. (He was in hospital from 28th January 1917 in France and was invalided back to England 26th Feb 1917, suffering from "septic poisoning and shell shock as a result of injuries received on active service"). Then followed time in hospitals in England and Ireland. In Liverpool I spent four weeks in the Hospital for Officers, which was at Lord Sefton’s home, Croxteth Hall. After this I was transferred to Sir William Wheeler’s Hospital for Officers at Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin.

A photo of other patients at Croxteth Hall from Simon Heyes whose uncle Strang Graham is sitting on the left. I believe that there were only about a dozen officers there at any one time

Whilst I was at Croxteth Hall Elsie was staying with an old family friend, Miss Gerrard, at Sefton Park, Liverpool and she was given every facility to see me, and for us to go out together. One morning at about 9 a.m. the Matron told me that she had received orders that I was to be transferred to Dublin. There was no opportunity for her to avoid the order. I could not contact Elsie. However I delayed the taxi en route to do some shopping, and arrived at the railway station a few minutes too late for the train, and I was able to contact Elsie, who crossed with me on the night boat.

On arrival at Sir Williams Hospital, I was met on the steps by the matron who shouted “Charley Grant, where have you come from?” She had been instructed that I was due at the hospital the previous evening, and did not notice my name on the list of officers sent to her. I had known her for many years before the war, and she was a great friend of my cousin Lillie Lazenby. They were most kind to me at the hospital, and most days permitted me to go out with Elsie and visit her home in Kenilworth Square, and my father’s home in Rathgar Road. She managed to get me transferred to Lady Desart’s Hospital, Talbot Inch, Kilkenny, where for six weeks I enjoyed the beautiful country all around. ( Situated on the Freshford Road, about two miles from Kilkenny City, Aut Even Hospital was built in 1912 by Lady Desart. She was known in Kilkenny for her extraordinary generosity.For the location of her hospital she chose a beautiful site overlooking the River Nore, this she named “Aut Even” which was the anglicised version of the Irish “Ait Aoibhinn” - a beautiful place. He had a Medical Board on 6 Sept 1917, which resulted in him staying in hospital.)

Lady Desart called to see Elsie almost every day and often had her to her own home. There we met charming county people who entertained us and took us out to many places in the area. I was again fortunate in this hospital in knowing the Matron, Mrs Lumley. I knew her before the war, and she had recently married a TCD friend of mine, who was now in France as a MO with the RAMC. Lady Desart arranged for Elsie to book two rooms in a delightful villa in the grounds of her house. The hospital itself was a cottage hospital erected by Lady Desart. Some 20 officers, like me, convalescing cases, were looked after. Plenty of tennis was to be found, and as Elsie was a keen tennis player she was invited out two or three times a week. Unfortunately I was unable to play tennis or move around much, so I was merely a spectator.

My fellow officers were really good types, and the best spirit operated between us. There was one charming officer of my regiment there who had several leg wounds and who was the only one of us who had been found breaking rules. He came from horsy stock in Tipperary and occasionally went on a binge. After a couple of breaks, the Chief Medical Officer of Irish Command was called in to hold an enquiry and confirmed the sentence of hospital confinement. He called one morning to see us at Elsie’s house with a couple of other officers. He was on his crutches. Whist this chap was with us, another local visitor dropped in to see us on his way to the Curragh Races. My invalid visitor, notwithstanding all our persuasion decided to join him and go to the races. Not even the fact that he had no cap, nor a Sam Browne, he got into the car and off. On arriving at the races the first person that he met was the Chief Medical Officer. By lunchtime a telegram came through to the hospital instructing them to place my friend under arrest when he returned from the races. Another Court of Inquiry was held a day or two after, which dispatched him to a military hospital. There was nothing ing else to be done as he was suffering from severe wounds.

I was at Kilkenny for around 3 months, and then moved to the Castle Hospital in Dublin, where again I had a Medical Board. (The Medical Board resulted in him being granted sick leave from leaving Monkstown House Auxilary Hospital on 13th October 1917, until 13 March 1918. An interim medical examination in Dublin on 20th November 1917 states "since last seen on 6th September 1917, he has distinctly improved, but still complains of tremor, nervousness excitability and mental confusion, hesitation of speech, pulse 100. Though all these symptoms, except the last were less severe" ) and received orders to my battalion at Aldershot for light duties in March 1918. This was in the orderly room on Court Martial work. Within three months of arriving at Aldershot my active service came to an end. (He petitioned the regiment and the War Office a number of times with requests to be gazetted out with the honorary rank of Captain . His CO, Lieutenant Colonel G. A. M. Buckley recommended that he be gazetted out as Captain, but to no avail, he was gazetted out as lieutenant) The Local Government Board in Dublin wrote to the War Office supporting his request for demobilisation, saying in their letter of 1st March 1918 "...the legal branch of the office, in which Mr Grant was engaged at the time when he joined His Majesty's Forces, is particularly pressed by work arising under the the Representation of the People Act 1918. In these circumstances the Board direct me to inquire whether in the event of Mr Grant being found unfit for further active service, the Army Council will be willing to permit him to relinquish his commission and resume his civil employment instead of assigning him non-combatant duty in the army."

 I joined Elsie at her parents home at 28 Kenilworth Square, followed by a month at Bray. As our baby, Alan, was on the way, it was necessary to find a definite home pending his arrival.

Charles and Elsie Grant with Alan

We rented a flat, 18 Earlsfort Terrace, from Mrs Allingham. It was a beautifully furnished home, and we were comfortable and happy there. Alan was born at a nursing home on Lower Baggert Street, Dublin. Elsie was attended by Dr Glen, a leading gynecologist, and a friend of the Proctor family. Shortly after, Elsie and Alan returned to Earlsfort Terrace.

18 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin in 2008
12 Galtrim Rd, Bray

At this point we were offered the use of 12 Galtrim Road, Bray, as the Rev Boyd, whom we knew, was going on a year long world trip. We agreed to pay the very reasonable rent suggested, and we took up residence there on 1st October 1918, and we later bought the house from the owners.

"This is a well preserved Edwardian house, which forms part of one of Bray's most complete and most attractive terraces. Terraced two-bay two-storey house, built in 1907 as part of a uniform row of thirteen properties. To the front elevation there is a full-height square bay topped with a gable. The façade is finished in brick to the ground floor level, unpainted roughcast to the upper level, and mock timber framing to the bay. The tiled pitched roof has a slight overhang with exposed rafter ends and plain bargeboards, decorative ridge tiles and a shared brick chimneystack with corbelling. The entrance consists of a semi-circular headed opening with moulded archivolt, which fronts a recessed porch, within which is a part glazed timber door screen. The windows are flat-headed and have mullioned and transomed timber frames, with casement and top-hung openings. The upper lights of the frames are filled with small panes, some leaded. Cast-iron rainwater goods. The building has a street frontage, but is separated from the street by a garden which is enclosed by a rendered and brick wall, and a decorative wrought-iron gate which has square brick piers with cement-rendered, pediment-like caps."

On my demobilisation I also resumed my position with the Local Government Board. After demobilisation in 1918 I entered Trinity College Dublin, where I attended lectures incidental to the Art and Law degree of the university, and in 1920 I completed the course of study required, and the degrees of B. A. and LL. B. were conferred on me in October 1920. In Ireland the country was in a state of insurrection. Loyalists were in a precarious position and subject to arracks from Sein Fein supporters. In the Local Government Board Sir George Variston looked after my interests while I was on service and I was promoted to the position  of Legal Assistant to the department.

Custom House, Dublin in 2008

Burning of the Custom House, May 1921

On 26th May 1921 the Custom House in Dublin was attacked  by a strong force of rebels who burnt and gutted the building. Some weeks before the attack leaders of Sein Fein had penetrated the buildings and offices in the Custom House, and took notice that military guards had been withdrawn from the protection of the premises and that only a few police patrolled the front and rear of the buildings. Plans were drawn up for attacking the Custom House and put into operation on 25th May. At about noon that day the attack was opened by the IRA troops with grenades, rifles and machine guns. The Custom House was cut off from all communication from the outside world at a time when most officials were out at lunch and only a skeleton staff was on duty. Large quantities of paraffin oil had been commandeered in the city and transferred to petrol tins which the IRA troops brought into the buildings. They saturated everything with the oil, including papers and other inflammable materials. In a short time the whole building was one mass of flame. I was alone working in the legal department, and I went out onto the landing facing the Liffey. I was immediately stopped by two armed men and escorted down to a room on the basement floor. In that room I found a number of Inland Revenue and LGB staff, both male and female, who told me that the Custom House had been attacked. This was certainly apparent from the noise of explosions and rifle shots. We were held there by IRA sentries on the door for some time, till suddenly the window of the room was broken in by police wit the butts of their rifles. We were ordered to put up our hands, and the rebel guards disappeared. The police asked us questions as to our identity. I fortunately had my army papers on me which I produced. In a few minutes they ordered us to get out of the building. I told the police officer that I knew the Custom House layout and offered assistance to guide them round. With a few of his men he came with me to my office. I noticed through the window that flames from the opposite side of the court yard had spread, and now the woodwork on my office window was alight. I realised that I ought to try to save many of the documents from the strong rooms of the office. With the aid of the police I threw papers down onto the Quays. After some time the woodwork round the windows was really blazing and the police ordered me to get out. The documents lay on the Quay for some time until retrieved by officials from Dublin castle.

On leaving the Custom House via a side door onto the Quays I found Mr Ernest Leach

Assistant Secretary to the LGB and Mr Frank McCauly LG Inspector identifying a party of officials to military and other Government officials. I was told to get away as quickly as I could. I proceeded to move away when I was told that it would not be safe to go through the watching crowd of spectators.  An ambulance was standing by, and I was instructed that the driver would take me out of the area. I thought that TCD would be a good quiet pace to be dropped off at, and the ambulance took me there via the Lincoln Place Gate. We entered the grounds of TCD and seeing that there was nobody around, I stopped the ambulance and slipped out. I made for Westland Row Railway Station where I took a train to Bray and from thence to my home at Galtrim Road.  Some time later I heard from the District Inspector that he had especially reported on my services and help on that eventful day.

In Bray a tennis party given by Mrs Hornsby was in full swing. Elsie was playing tennis completely unaware of the trouble at the Custom House. Although some there had heard rumours of the disturbances, not a whisper had reached Elsie. They were aware that I was working in the Custom House and had refrained from letting her know, so as not to worry her. In the evening Elsie went to our home but the Hornsbys would not hear of me returning home.  They prevailed on me to stay the night with them, as the rebels had shot many people in their own homes over the previous few weeks. At 18 Earlsfort Terrace, two officers had been shot in front of their wives.

His memory is a little out here. On Sunday 21st November 1920 Sgt. John J. Fitzgerald, born 15 March 1898 at Cappagh, age 22, of the Royal Irish Constabulary, alias "Captain Fitzgerald" or "Fitzpatrick," whose father was a doctor from Co. Tipperary, was shot and killed at 28 Earlsfort Terrace while recovering from an arm injury. He had survived a previous assassination attempt when the bullet only grazed his head. This time he was shot twice in the head. He was the son of a Tipperary man. At this address, according to the assassins report, the documentation found detailed the movements of senior IRA members, proving that the British Secret Service was planning an operation similar to the IRA's of that morning. On the morning of Sunday 21 November 1920, the IRA carried out one of its most successful counter intelligence operations. The British Cairo Gang (so-called probably because they used the Cairo Cafe near TCD for meetings) had been established because of Sir Henry Wilson’s demand that the IRA’s Intelligence Department be eliminated. Living unobtrusively in boarding houses in Dublin, the British agents prepared a hit list of known republicans for assassination. But the IRA’s intelligence network was a step ahead. Frank Thornton obtained the names and addresses of all the senior British secret service men sent over to Dublin. An IRA agent in the DMP stationed at Donnybrook, Sergeant Mannix, was the source. The operation had been carefully planned by many of the IRA’s most senior activists, including Michael Collins. They may have got the wrong man with Fitzgerald.

The following day I went into Dublin in order to find out the position as to the Local Government Board and found that the staff were being housed temporally in Jury's Hotel, where I now took up duty.

In 1920 the Government of Ireland Act was passed  with the object of appeasing the rival political parties in Ireland by setting up the constitution of the Northern Ireland Government, a factor which caused such anxiety to Civil Servants who had been appointed by the Imperial Government They were given the option of electing to serve in the Northern Ireland Government or to take a pension from the Imperial Government, which  their service entitled them to.

My decision as to what to do next was made easy when I was offered the Principalship of the Local Government Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs in Northern Ireland, which I accepted and took up my duty in August 1921.

Northern Ireland

In Belfast the government was busy in organising the services which had been transferred to the Northern Ireland Government. We spent long days for months organising the work of the ministry and allocating the staff. I held the position of Principal of the Local Government Division from 1921 to 1927.

In 1923 I answered an advertisement in the London Times inviting applications for the appointment as Town Clerk in Wellington, New Zealand. I was interviewed by the representative of the New Zealand Government in London. They had also received many applications from highly qualified and experienced candidates over a period of six months. After three interviews I London, I reached the final cut of two candidates, but on the last selection the position was given to my rival. Having got so far in the selection process, I was at first disappointed but as events turned out with my service in the Ministry of Home Affairs, I consider that I was lucky not getting the appointment in New Zealand.

On 10th July 1924 I was invested with the Order of the British Empire at Buckingham Palace by his majesty King George V. (Charles appears to have been living at Ardmore Terrace, Croft Road, Holywood for most of his residence in Northern Ireland)

Charles, Elsie and Alan circa 1925 Charles Grant outside Ardmore, in Holywood, in 1936

I continued in the position of Principal of the Local Government Division until 1927,

Ardmore, Holywood
Ardmore Terrace 2007

when on the death of my old friend George Bryan, I became Inspector of Local Government Audits and Chief Local Government Auditor. My duties involved the supervision of the other Local Government Auditors who had been assigned to audit various local authorities in Northern Ireland. I must admit that I enjoyed his appointment.

In the autumn of 1938 arrangements were being made for the protection of the population in the event of war. I accepted the position of Chief Air Raid Warden for Holywood. It was necessary to recruit the various services – wardens, Red Cross, salvage, demolition. We had to educate the population as to what to do in the event of air raids. Shelters were erected throughout the area, and measures introduced for the protection of home and people. On the outbreak of was the district was patrolled nightly by wardens. All lights were forbidden, with not even a chink allowed from any house. The Royal Ulster Constabulary assisted the wardens in seeing that this was carried out, and it was not popular when police prosecuted householders who failed.

In addition there was a special appointment to myself of the audits of the accounts of the Belfast Corporation, of the Belfast and District Water Committee and of the Down County Council. I nearly came into conflict with the Belfast Corporation whose accounts I criticised adversely, and made several surcharges of expenses against some of its members. My reports were commented on favourably by the press and Boards in Belfast, with the result that in April 1942 certain powers were taken from the Corporation by Act of Parliament and transferred to three Administrators, Sir William Robinson, Charles Neil and myself. As I was the only one of the Administrators familiar with the affairs and finances of the Corporation, a burden of responsibility fell on me. The City Administrators operated for three years, when the Corporation was reverted with the powers taken over by the Administrators, and I retired on a pension. I am of the opinion that the Administrators did a good job within their limitations, but feel that with full powers could have done a better job. And although there were differences between the Administrators from time to time, I can say that good fellowship and friendship existed amongst us.

In 1946 I accepted, after much persuasion from David Keir, the Vice Chancellor,  the task of raising £250,000 for the Queens University Centenary Fund.  After a long palaver I agreed to do so, and had the assistance of an office and staff. I raised the required amount, and I was quietly relieved to get the job done in good time. I received many compliments on its success.

From 1946 to 1947 I held the position of Treasurer of Mixed Union Clubs at Bryson House, until I accepted an invitation from the Northern Ireland Minister of Labour to become a member of the National Arbitration Tribunal. I served on their committee 1947 to 1957, and during that period I sat on some 300 tribunals before retiring on an age limit

In 1952, on the invitation of the NI Hospitals Authority, I became a member of the Committee of Management of Forster Green Hospital, and served on that until 1960, when again I had to retire because of the age limit. At a luncheon on my retirement, they presented me with a framed formal document appointing me a Honorary Governor of the hospital.



Both my sister May and myself received music lessons, to which May fully responded and became a fair pianist, able to read music.  I fear in that respect I failed to develop. As regards the piano, my pleasure was in playing from ear, and I developed in the direction of strumming popular arias and vamping songs of the day. Our music teacher was strongly opposed to my attitude and discouraged me with the result that in time I lost the art. To my mind this was a mistake, and in after life I regretted giving up the piano. The proper desire of the teacher to train me, and her abhorrence of playing by ear discouraged me. I did not want to become a perfect theoretical musician, and I feel that her attitude deprived me of what would have been a pleasure to me in later life.

 I have been told that I have a passable singing voice, which was often called for when something light was required, and in particular songs of the day, which I had the knack of quickly picking up, which appealed to gatherings of club members and non high brows. From an early age and up to the 1914-1918 War, May and I were members of the Parish Church Choir. May had a nice soprano voice. There was a surplice choir and I enjoyed participating in the service. On several occasions as a boy I took part in soprano solos, and on Christmas Day when the man who was to take the solos in the Carols was unable to turn up, the organist called at my home before breakfast and persuaded me to take his part. So for an hour before the service he rehearsed the solos with me. At the service I understand that I did not disgrace either him or myself. At the time I had a high baritone voice, alas it passed away in later years.


During my years of studying prior to World War I I played hockey, tennis and football and in addition did some rowing.

I played for several years on Monkstown Football club 1st XV, a senior team. I had the pleasure several times of playing against varsity teams from Oxford and Cambridge, from United Services, from the Navy and the Springbok Varsity Team in 1908. I enjoyed Monkstown club immensely, and organised tours to play teams in England. I found the club most generous in providing for comforts of its players while on tour, and accommodated us in good hotels. On those tours we played with teams who had given us games in Ireland. We played Oxford and Cambridge Universities, the United Services at Portsmouth. At each of our venues the teams entertained us sumptuously, I suppose acknowledging the good time we had given them in Dublin. I made several good friends, with whom I kept in contact for years. Then alas war broke out in 1914 and many of them made the “great sacrifice”.

I rowed for two years in 1906 and 1907 with the Dolphin Rowing Club. Our crew in 1907 won the Visitors Cup at the Metropolitan Regatta, and I still have the gold medal our eight won there. I did not have the time for full training, but enjoyed the rowing with crews and doing some sculling on the Liffey.

Im summer I played tennis at the Grosvenor Tennis club in Kenilworth Square, of which Elsie was also a member. She was a good player and we often played mixed doubles, which I believe resulted in us doubling up for life.

My Grandfather Stephen Grant

Stephen Grant, born 1811

Stephen Grant, born 1811, Charles' Grandfather

My father Thomas Grant was born on the 16th July 1851 in Tipperary, and as a boy his parents went to live in Galway. His father Stephen Grant was born on the 4th August 1811 and died on the 7th June 1886, the day Mr Gladstone’s last Home Rule Bill for Ireland was defeated in the Imperial House of Commons. The progress of the Bill was watched with anxiety by Irish Unionists, particularly the Protestant class. During my grandfather’s last illness he continually spoke of the Bill, and his last words to my father before he died were “Thank God” when he was told that the Bill had been rejected.

My grandmother Mary Ann (nee Piper) was born on the 5th October 1821, I believe in Tipperary. She died on the 28th March 1903. Both my grandparents were of farming stock (they were in reality peasant, rather then farming stock) 

My father Thomas Grant and mother Maria Grant

My father joined the Dublin Metropolitan Police at the age of 20, in the year 1871, and after a period of instruction and training, he was assigned to B Division, which covered a large portion of the city south of the Liffey. A large number of residences of wealthy people were to be found within its area. These were the lovely squares with the old Georgian houses, the principal banks, business houses and financial interests, Dublin Castle, in fact the wealth of the city. Then there was the contrast of the lower slums and tenement houses where lived the very poor in the most awful poverty and dirt. Here were to be found the haunts of criminals, and in some areas it was a danger for respectable citizens or even guardians of the law to appear unless protected.

Charles and Thomas Grant in 1923

It was also an age of political strife in which the most diabolical crimes were concocted and carried out all over Ireland. The age of Gladstone’s Home Rule Bill and land ownership movement which resulted in many murders throughout the whole of Ireland, week in and week out. The cry of the newspaper boy was often heard giving echo “another landlord shot” to encourage the sale of their papers. Then there were the Phoenix Park Murders, where at an early hour of the morning, a newly appointed Chief Secretary and his companion were murdered while walking on the main road of the park in 1881. In such a district my father started his career.

In the course of duty he obtained several favourable records for the performance of duty. There was to be found the scum of Dublin, and the rough and tumble that the police experienced through the streets and byways from the bad element which occupied the tenements, was I have been told, such as to require courage and a stout heart  on the part of the police. The area included the shipping portion of Dublin on the south side of the quays, where members of the crews of ships found plenty of  public houses, places of ill repute and poverty of the worst. It was in a state of perpetual disturbance and daily called for action by the authorities, and in the ultimate formed a good training ground for young policemen in dealing with crime.

This was a period of political unrest, arising out of land agitation which erupted all over Ireland, promoted by the Irish National Party, under Mr Charles Parnell, their leader.

In the police force all promotions were made from the ranks, and as a result of good service and on the success of examinations, my father at an early stage realised that if he were to expect promotion, it would be necessary for him to study as much as he could during his leisure hours. A practice which he kept up until he reached the rank of Superintendent, and which in due course was reflected in ensuring that his children should receive the best of education. In a few years my father was promoted to Sergeant, and in due course passed through the ranks of Station Sergeant D Division, Inspector of B and E Divisions. He was Inspector at Headquarters Dublin castle for some time, until he reached the rank of Superintendent in E Division., which position he held until he retired on a pension in 1912.

I must mention the dear friend of the family, Miss May Fry (daughter of William Fry, solicitor) to whom our family is much indebted for much kindness and sympathy in our early days. Just before my father joined the force, Miss Fry had taken up her work within the police, and met my father whist he was a recruit at the training depot. She had formed the Christian Association for the Police, and my father was one of the first members. My father met her soon after he joined the police. She was interested in Christian work with the Dublin Metropolitan Police and their families. When a young recruit joined the force she sought him out and extended to him friendship and opportunities of finding recreation and spending his leisure time in good surroundings. At 10 Dolier Street she provided a home where they could associate. She conducted a bible class and invited them to meetings and social assemblies at the Merrin Hall.

Her great friend, Miss Sanders, did similar work amongst soldiers, and was the founder of the Sanders Homes which in time were to be found at the Curragh Military Camp, and indeed in places all over Ireland where soldiers were stationed. Here attempts were made to give men a home where they could find good friends, recreation and accommodation in Christian surroundings. Where men were disposed to fall under evil influences, Miss Fry and Miss sanders sought to help and bring them back to the straight path. When police married Miss Fry interested herself in their wives and families. In times of sorrow, anxiety, illness or distress, she was a true friend to them. She was a close friend of my father and mother and I know that my father could always depend on her help. She was a very close and dear friend to my father over 60 years, until his death. She visited Elsie and me several times at Holywood whenever she came north on holiday with her companion Miss Harding.

My father Thomas Grant married Maria Watson, the second daughter of William Watson and Elizabeth Blong (of Huguenot extraction), at St Paul’s Church, Portarlington on 26th August 1880. The ceremony performed by Rev Dean Worseley (a relative of General Worseley). Grandfather Watson came from Harristown, Co Kildare, a farmer. After marriage they went to live in Portarlington at my grandmother’s home.

St Paul's Portarlington is one of Ireland's most historic churches and celebrated its 300th anniversary in 1996. The tercentenary of "The French Church" which was consecrated in 1696, was marked with a series of special events. "The French Church" was built to serve the Huguenots - French Protestants who had fled persecution in their native land and who fought on the side of William of Orange in his defeat of the Jacobites. The Huguenots brought with them their hallmarks of industry, architectural style and culture. So strong was their influence that for about 150 years records at the French Church were written in French rather than English or Irish! These fascinating books have been preserved to this day in the church and the information they contain is much sought after by scholars world-wide.

As a small boy I can recall seeing him frequently studying with his head in text books, studying history, geography and mathematics as well as law, whilst preparing for the Civil Service examinations necessary for promotion. Apart from this, he was a keen gardener, and useful with his hands in making improvements in the home. He seldom spoke of his experiences in his early days, but from many of his friends I have heard from time to time expressions of his efficiency and courage in many difficult positions.

He was Inspector at Headquarters Dublin castle for some time. Under the old regime, the Lord Lieutenant ruled from Dublin Castle and had a residence at Vice Regal Lodge in Phoenix Park. It was customary in those days for the Lord Lieutenant in taking up office to make his entry into Dublin on horseback, accompanied by a large escort of cavalry. Flags and bunting were hung from houses along the route, and the streets were lined with troops. The streets through which he made his approach to Dublin Castle were thronged with people of all classes. A thought on such occasions that often came to my mind was that many who cheered were opposed to our British connection, yet took part in the cheering, and were ever ready to forget for the moment their political opinions to share in a joyful excitement.

Dublin Castle was the official residence of the Lord Lieutenant, and in addition the Castle was the centre of government with many government departments. When he was in residence, a military band played daily in the Upper Castle Yard in front of His Excellency’s apartment. There was a daily guard mounting and on occasions parades of the Colours of regiments stationed in Dublin. There were ceaseless rounds of entertainments, levees and “drawing rooms” after the fashion of those that took place in Buckingham Palace. At the levees, officials and members of the aristocracy appeared in court dress(tail coats, knicker trousers, silk stockings, buckled shoes, cocked hat, and carrying court swords) and were presented to His Excellency. Levees usually took place in the forenoon.

The Throne Room was in white and gold and said to compare favourably with the one in Buckingham Palace. St Patrick’s Hall had an elaborate painted ceiling, and it was here that the State Balls were held. My sister May and I used to be smuggled into a high gallery from time to time when father was stationed at the Castle. We were placed behind the flowers and shrubs in the gallery and we were warned neither to make a noise nor to speak loudly.  I remember the general surrounding of white and gold with brilliant lighting, the glitter of the various uniforms of many regiments, the officers of state in levee dress. I remember the sparkle of the diamonds and the beautiful dresses and trains of the ladies. It is a sight I have never forgotten and it is a sight very few people alive today have ever seen. It was fascinating to see so many  beautiful young women together at the same time. They were a marked contrast with the dowagers and elderly men and women whose figures had not improved with time and age. This tends to happen to most of us who are spared to a good age.

During his service he was associated with many important cases and leading government and citizens of the city. He had responsibilities in connection with visits of royalty and others for whom special police arrangements were necessary. On the occasion of the visit to Dublin of Queen Victoria in 1902, she was received by the Dublin Corporation at Leeson Street Bridge, which was the boundary of E Division. Such visits necessitated special protection in these stirring times. I remember the pageantry associated with the visit. The large number of troops in full dress uniforms which lined the streets, and the bright uniforms of the Deputy Lieutenants, sheriffs and others including the Corporation in robes and representatives of the professions and the Church. I was fortunate in getting a good view, as my father maneuvers me to a perfect position between troops at a prominent point of view. My father was ever thoughtful to us, and where official invitations did not extend to us, he in a quiet way would find a suitable vantage point for us.

In 1903 a public meeting of prominent people from various parts of Ireland was held, and it was decided to hold an International Exhibition in Dublin. A site between Ballsbridge and Morehampton Road of around 20 acres was acquired for the exhibition. These formed a portion of Herbert Park. And ultimately 52 acres were used for the palaces and buildings of the exhibition. These buildings were used to house exhibits from all over the world. They included pictures, art, products from all parts including industries, separate sections being allocated to Italian, French, Dutch, German, Hungarian, African, British, American, etc. Apart from the exhibits, bands, amusements and other entertainment were provided. There were excellent dining and refreshment facilities. The exhibition became a rendezvous for both young and old.

The exhibition was opened on 4th May 1907 by His Excellency Lord Aberdeen, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and the Countess of Aberdeen, attended by the Vice Regal household. Also present were many of the fashionable and prominent people from all over Ireland. The Exhibition remained open till 9th November 1907.

Every day vast crowds of visitors attended the Exhibition. Excursions from all parts of Ireland came to Dublin. It drew visitors from abroad, and I often heard foreign languages spoken. Many people purchased tickets that gave them admission for the entire period of the Exhibition. During its 6 months in operation, it was the centre for both culture and entertainment. Everything was laid on, the best of music, excellent facilities for dancing, skating, and numerous shows.

The occasion of the visit of King Edward VII on 10th July 1907 was not one to be easily forgotten. The royal party, accompanied by a sovereign’s escort of cavalry, the 11th Prince Albert Hussars, on their way from the royal yacht moored at Kingston, received a triumphal welcome right along the route to the Exhibition, flags flowing and bunting showing on all sides. And the grounds of the Exhibition itself were also magnificently decorated with flags and bunting. At the entrance to the Exhibition, the royal party was met by the President of the Exhibition, members of the government, leading citizens and visitors to the Exhibition. Loyal addresses were presented. After lunch in the Palace Restaurant, the royal party visited many parts of the Exhibition, moving through the crowd, who gave them a right loyal reception. After leaving the Exhibition, a garden party was held at the Vice Regal Lodge, and their progress through the city was well received by the crowds who lined the streets.

My father, under the authority of Lieutenant Colonel Sir John Ross of Bladensburg, was responsible for the police arrangements for the entire period of the Exhibition. To quote from the report of the Exhibition Committee of the 22nd November 1907

“The actual administration and supervision of the arrangements lay with Superintendent Thomas Grant, chief of E Division within whose district the Exhibition stood. Mr Grant with the inspectors, sergeants and constables under his command, by their tact and vigilance largely helped to make Herbert Park the delightful place of recreation it proved to be to the hundreds of thousands who came between May and November. It will be readily understood that the duties imposed on the Superintendent, his officers and men, were constantly highly responsible”

During the six months the police closely controlled the movement of the crowds both with men in uniform and in plain clothes all over the grounds. They gave suspicious characters, pickpockets and other undesirables little scope to pursue their objectives. The evening of the close of the Exhibition was the only time that real trouble was experienced. After the elderly, staid visitors started leaving for home, an organised attempt was made by juvenile members of the crowd to express their feelings in a more vociferous and less restrained manner, by participating in rough and tumble play through the grounds, and causing extensive damage. At the first appearance of hooliganism the police went into action and after some effort, the grounds were cleared, without much damage. The press reported that because  the good humour in which the matter was handled by the police only a few arrests were made.

He was always popular with the students of TCD, who in periods of excitement, he handled humorously when they interfered with traffic in the city and upset the usual course of law and order. Apparently the manner in which he handled them at the close of the exhibition was appreciated. On Christmas Eve 1907 a parcel was handed in at 24 Rathgar Road, addressed to Superintendent Grant. When opened there was no name or means of identifying the donor, but a very nice ebony walking stick was enclosed, with a silver mounting engraved with “To Superintendent Grant from a few students at TCD Nov 1907”

My father retired from the police and went on a pension in 1912. From many directions people expressed their regard for him and the services which he had rendered to the community over a long period. He was summoned one afternoon to Countess Aberdeen at Vice Regal Lodge, where he had tea with her and Lord Aberdeen, Viceroy. After tea she presented him with a gold breastpin, which she pinned on his tie. He was the recipient of several acknowledgements from business and personal friends.  He was also, on retirement, entertained to a dinner by the men of his division, who presented him with an illuminated address (I have this in 2007), a salver and a tea service. In his reply speech of thanks, one of the things he said was that he intended to live a long time in his retirement in order to draw a pension as from the good old British Government for very many years.

For some years before his retirement my mother had been in delicate health, and on retirement he devoted himself to looking after her and Ethel. My mother passed away on 28th May 1922. My mother was a petit type, about 5 feet tall. In her prime she was a good housekeeper, and her husband adored her, and to we children, she was a good and thoughtful mother. She was fond of her family, who were always her first thought. She was a good needlewoman and made a number of our clothes when we were youngsters.

My father died on 15th February 1940 at Kingston Lodge, 24 Rathgar Rd, Dublin. The remains of both my parents are interred at the family grave at Mount Jerome.  I decided there was no alternative but to sell the home in Rathgar Road and invest the proceeds for the benefit of Ethel, and for this purpose I was appointed trustee of Ethel’s property on the advice of my father’s solicitor, William Fry of Lower Mount Street, Dublin. I look to see that Ethel is comfortably cared for when I pass on. (My parents  doubted the veracity of this, they understood that Charles had effectively gained control of money the Thomas wanted used for Ethel, and that Charles profited from the transactions after Thomas’ death)

Marriage to Lizzie Proctor

I married Lizzie (or Elsie as she was known) Proctor, daughter of the Rev William Proctor and his wife Bathia Proctor of 28 Kenilworth Square, Rathgar, Dublin. Elsie and I were married on 15th January 1917. Mr Proctor, assisted by several clergymen married us in the Church of Scotland Church, Abbey St, Dublin, of which Mr Proctor was minister for almost 40 years. Dorothy Bigger, a very old friend of both Elsie and me, was her bridesmaid, and Charley Bailey, adjutant of my regiment, was my best man.

It happened that Charley Bailey was home on sick leave at the time. He was an old pal from my rowing days at the Dolphin Club. I had wired him “Will you do the needful for me?” from France. When I arrived home I heard that he had been to 24 Rathgar Road and had intimated his willingness, and also a wedding present, a silver jam dish and tray, on which he had engraved “from fed up”. He frequently used those words in France to all and sundry when he was busy. Also Charley Bailey is no longer alive. He died some two years after his demobilisation. After our wedding Elsie and I went to stay at the Ross’ Hotel in Kingston for two nights, after which she crossed to London with me. Here after one more night, we parted and I returned to France

Our only child, Alan Proctor Grant, was born on 27th July 1918 when we were living at 28 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin. Elsie died on 15th January 1947 at Ardmore, Holywood, Co Down, where we had our home. Her remains were interred in the family grave in Holywood cemetery.

After Alan was born, Elsie and I went to live at 12 Galtrim Road, Bray on my discharge from the army. We continued to live there until we went to live at Ardmore, Holywood, Co Down following my appointment to the Northern Ireland Government in the spring of 1921.

Elsie Grant circa 1945

Elsie Grant circa 1945

For the last nine or ten years of her life she had been in delicate health, and had wintered at Southsea, Portsmouth, where Mr William Martin and his sister were every kind to her.

The question of Alan’s education arose, and with the view of pleasing her, it was decided to send him as a boarder to Eastman’s Preparatory School, Southsea, where he remained until he obtained a scholarship to Trent College, Long Eaton, Derbyshire. About 1934 he entered the medical school of Queens University Belfast and completed the course for the MB degree with honours in 1939. After which he was commissioned into the Royal Army Medical Corps and served with the Eighth Army in North Africa and Italy until demobilisation in 1945. On coming out of the army he went back to the university to study for the MD degree which he got with honours. Then followed examinations for Membership of the Royal College of Physicians in both Ireland and in London. .In a short time he was appointed Consultant Physician at the City Hospital, Belfast

While on active service in Africa, he became engaged to a nursing sister, who has as many war ribbons and medals as himself. So:-

“On the 27th April 1944 at Christ Church, Naples, Italy, Sister Jane Pugh T.A.N.S., the eldest daughter of Mr & Mrs Evan Pugh of Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent and Bangor, North Wales, was married to Captain Alan Proctor Grant R.A.M.C., the only son of Mr & Mrs Charles W Grant, Ardmore, Holywood Co Down. The service was conducted by Rev Senior Chaplain Cross. The bride was given away by Captain Lloyd Owen R.A.M.C. of North Wales. The best man was Captain J Gilmore R.A.M.C. of Northern Ireland. At the organ was Captain Vernon Rees R.A.M.C. of South Wales. After the reception at the Allied Officers Club, the young couple left for a short honeymoon at Amalfi and Capri before returning to their different units”

Seventeen years, almost to the day have passed and I am rejoiced to feel that their marriage has been a happy one, and between us all a quiet affection exists. Ones thoughts for each others welfare are always to the fore.

Charles& Isabel Grant with Alan, David, Charlie and Fiona in 1953

These are the children of the marriage, David, Charles and Fiona. And ones earnest trust is that every success, happiness and blessing will always be there.

My Sister, May Grant

After the death of my mother, May took to the running of the home and looked after everything  associated with it.

My sister May and my wife Elsie were very close friends, and regularly exchanged visits between homes in Rathgar Road and Holywood. May had not been too well and came up to stay with us at Ardmore. Our family doctor was called in at once to see her, and had her removed to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where she passed away four days after her reception there. She died on the 13th September 1936. Her remains were taken to Dublin and interred in the family grave in Mount Jerome. By Elsie and myself she was dearly missed.

The passing of May was a great shock to my father, from which he never recovered.

Elsie made arrangements for a housekeeper, and we regularly visited him

My Sister Ethel

My sister Ethel lived with my father and May in Rathgar Road, but when May died the question arose as to how to best care for her. She was in delicate health and required care. The question of her welfare arose. Elsie wanted to bring her to Holywood, but my cousin Phoebe Luttrell offered to look after Ethel and take her to Portarlington. Phoebe, from the time Ethel was a baby, was always fond of Ethel and often had Ethel to stay with her. So arrangements were made for Ethel to go to Phoebe.  So from 1936 she has done so. The kindness of Phoebe is such we can never forget. Ethel is very happy with Phoebe. Phoebe is getting on in years, as far as I can judge she is 75 yeas of age. It is a sacred trust to me to look after Ethel, and in this I am indebted more than I can express to Phoebe. As long as I am spared, my object will be to ensure that Phoebe also is looked after. And it is my earnest desire as long as she lives that she will be provided for, and that those of my family who survive me will see to it. There will be sufficient in my estate to ensure this being done.

Marriage to Isabel Young

On the 2nd December 1947 I married Isabel Young, born 23 September 1901 in Holywood, daughter of the late Hugh Young of Ardnagrena, Ardlee Avenue, Holywood. The marriage was at Trinity Church, Glencraig, Co Down. The ceremony was performed by the Rev Eric Barber, Rector of Holywood. Babs Woods, a lifelong friend, was Isabel’s bridesmaid. My son Alan was my best man, and right well he did his duty as after so many years Isabel and he are the best of friends.

Charles and Isabel Grant

Charles and Isabel Grant

Although I twice made the marriage venture, I have been very lucky, and in each of my wives found good and true loving partners who poured out on me great affection and care, and whose company gave me a happy life.

After my marriage to Isabel we ultimately decided to go and live at her home Ardnagrena in Holywood, where she has given me a happy life. It is my earnest wish we both may still be spared many more happy years together in married bliss and in good health.

Charles Grant died 7th March 1970 and was still receiving a World War I disability pension for 30% disablement of £159 per year.

Return to Thomas Grant, born 1851, his father