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Richard J. Hoskin’s diary account of the Easter Rising

TCD MS 10073 f. 205
TCD MS 10073 f. 205

Richard J. Hoskin’s account of the Rising opens with the words: ‘Monday 24th April. At Ballycorus – Insurrection begun’. It continues until 1 May 1916. The total length is 8 folios. Hoskin uses plain language. His sentences are generally short and filled with abbreviations. He probably wrote in haste. There is a backdrop of some confusion. The phrase ‘said to be’ and the word ‘rumour’ highlight unconfirmed details. Overall, the account has a tone of immediacy and urgency.

TCD MS 10074 Liberty Hall from 'The Rebellion in Dublin' TW Murphy
TCD MS 10074 Liberty Hall from ‘The Rebellion in Dublin’ TW Murphy

Hoskin worked at the Custom House in Dublin as a Customs and Excise Officer Clerk. This meant he had a good vantage point from which to observe events. While making his way there, on Tuesday 25th, he: ‘heard [a] man just shot on steps of Liberty Hall [and] saw blood running down steps.’ Hoskin also gathered information from conversations with others and from newspaper reports. On Thursday 27th, he escorted female friends to Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire) where he ‘Read Daily mail (from sailor) account of Rebellion & Parliament’. Hoskin’s account concludes on Monday 1st May, when he ‘Heard 907 volunteers had surrendered according to Daily Mail’. However, much confusion remained in the city as he noted: ‘Contradictory reports as to Post office Walls only said to be standing & Vol. driven out. – do – as to Clerys and as to who & how fires were caused’.

TCD MS 10073 f. 212
TCD MS 10073 f. 212

The physical situation of Hoskin’s diary account is a little unusual. He wrote in an Irish Builders’ Cooperative Society (IBCS) memoranda book, (TCD MS 10073). Routine notes and invoices fill the rest of the book, which Hoskin held as honorary secretary of the IBCS. Hoskin’s use of this book suggests that he did not routinely keep a diary. It is also a reminder of the Rising’s socio-economic context. The IBCS was formed in 1914 to ease the ‘Revolting Conditions’ of housing experienced by many in Dublin. Its president, Constance Markievicz, was at the forefront of events in Easter Week.

M&ARL has five items which were previously held by R J Hoskin (TCD MS 10071-10075). His grand-daughter Professor Barbara Wright, the former Dean of Arts at Trinity College Dublin, presented these items to the Library in June 1985. Further information is available in the MARLOC Online Catalogue.

Claire Allen
Manuscripts & Archives Research Library

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