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From one war zone to another: Dublin to France, 1916-17

Defending the College during the Easter Rebellion were some British Army soldiers who happened to be on leave in Dublin. South African Garnet King was one of these.

The silver cup, one of two in the Library.

The Library has just acquired one of the silver cups were presented to individuals who had taken part in the defence of the College during the Easter Rebellion of 1916. It was presented to Private Garnet King of the South African Scottish regiment who happened to be in Dublin on leave. It is one of only two in the Library collections and given the story behind it, it is fitting that it should have come back permanently to the College.

The Library produced a blog/online exhibition during the centenary year of 2016 and in her post  about the presentation of cups and swords colleague Felicity O’Mahony wrote:

In August 1916 two large silver cups were presented to the College in recognition of the services rendered by the Officers’ Training Corps (OTC) during the Easter Rebellion. Speaking at the ceremony Provost Mahaffy expressed his regret that the College had to be defended from “the dangers of home rebellion”’. Those involved in the defence of the College, which including academics, students and College employees, were joined by soldiers in the British army on leave in Dublin.

Garnet Douglas King (27) the son of Annie Maria King of Crofton Lodge, Stanger, Natal, South Africa was a civil servant who had seen military service in the Bambatha Rebellion of 1906. He had been educated in Pietermaritzburg College and enlisted during WWI in January 1916. He left Cape Town in March of that year and taking his furlough in April, found himself in Dublin just as the hostilities commenced.

The illuminated deed of gift which accompanied the presentation. MS 5949

Later, writing on the eve of his leaving England for France, Private King asked the OC of Trinity’s Officers Training Corp if the silver cup could be sent directly to his mother. In September the response came back that due to ‘the uncertainty of transit and the high cost of postage’ the OTC proposed retaining the cup ‘for present’. Alas, ‘the present’ extended interminably as Private King, who arrived in Rouen in August and proceeded to the Front in October, was wounded in action on 14 April 1917 and died of his wounds four days later. He is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery.

It is unclear if the cup ever made its way to King’s mother; however, given the poignancy of the story it is fitting that, if it could not remain with his family, it should be afforded an honoured position in the Special Collections of the Library.

Dr Jane Maxwell