The Manuscripts & Archives Research Library continues to add to its research materials. Sometimes these can be substantial and we may know a lot about the donor or subject, and sometimes we receive a small amount of material, with little knowledge about its provenance or author. One such item is a letter from a man only identified by his first name, Joe, about whom we have no other information apart from the fact that he has a brother Patrick, who appears to be living in Bisbee, Arizona. Part of the letter consists of a note from Agnes, who is possibly his wife. In this instance the research value of the letter lies in the fact that it is an account of the author’s personal experience during Easter Week 1916. The letter was discovered by Norman Gardiner, a student in Tucson, Arizona in the 1960s, in a printed book entitled ‘The Insurrection in Dublin’ [by James Stephens] in Victoria, Australia, in 2000. It eventually found its way to Dublin and was transferred to M&ARL by Professor John Horne, Department of Modern History, Trinity College Dublin, a short time later. At the time the letter was written, everyday life had been thrown into chaos. Joe reports that on Easter Monday 1916, he accompanies a woman he refers to as ‘Sis’, presumably his sister, to the train station and comments on ‘…an extraordinarily peaceful city on a very fine day…’ His plan to go to his place of work is thwarted as his tram journey is interrupted when he is ordered to disembark, and his subsequent movements through the city that day are continually blocked; the streets are full of the noise of battle, and dangerous. He writes ‘…I heard that the whole cause of the disturbance was that the Sinn Feiners had revolted, seized the Post Office, Four Courts, City Hall, Castle etc.…’ Much of the remainder of the ten-page letter reports the physical destruction of the city as a result of the Rising, the arrests and detainment of its principal participants, house raids and the disruption of everyday activities.
The catalogue entry, along with a full transcription of TCD MS 9308/648 can be found on the MARLOC online catalogue
Manuscripts & Archives Research Library