On the centenary of the 1916 rebellion, it seems fitting to recognise the part played by some of the people associated with the school in that conflict, as well as in the Great War.
School legend has it that the sons of Irish Volunteers’ Commander, Eoin MacNeill, went missing from school in St Mary’s around the Rising, but were marked ‘present’ in order to give them an alibi.
Both William Morris, employed as a butler, and Joseph Byrne, described as a gardener, were arrested for taking part in the 1916 Rising. Their address is listed in records as St. Mary's College, Rathmines. They were held in Richmond Barracks, Inchicore, and were transferred on 6/6/1916 to Knutsford Prison in England. Both men were held there until subsequent release.
Sean lived with his family in Harold's Cross, attending Patrick Pearse's St. Enda's school in Cullenswood House, Ranelagh, until it relocated to Rathfarnham. He then joined St. Mary's for about three years, leaving in 1913. His academic career took him to the fledgling NUI (UCD) where he studied Arts and became lightweight boxing champion. He then switched course to Dentistry, which was to become his life-long profession. Seán maintained his connection to the Pearse family, holidaying with them in Rosmuc, Connemara.
In 1916 he fought in the South Dublin Union (St. James' Hospital) area, more specifically, Roe's Distillery in Mount Brown. He is listed on the Roll of Honour for his part in this action. Seán was not captured or arrested and went on to play a part in further conflicts.
Rory was born in Kildare Street in 1883 and entered St. Mary's in 1892. He stayed for three years, before departing to complete his secondary education at Clongowes Wood College, leaving in 1901. In 1906 he received a B.A. from the Royal University, followed by an Engineering degree from the NUI in 1910. Rory then spent four years in Canada working for the Canadian Pacific Railroad Company before he returned to a job in Dublin Corporation. In his work there he is credited with the planning of one of Dublin's prettiest boulevards, Griffith Avenue. In the 1916 Rising Rory was an Intelligence Officer in the GPO. He was wounded in a reconnaissance near the College of Surgeons. Following surrender, he was held at Richmond Barracks and transferred to Woking Prison. He too went on to play a major part in further conflicts.
John Gerard Gogan
Born in 1892, John was one of five brothers that attended St. Mary's College. The family lived in 194 Rathgar Road. John came to St. Mary's in 1900, aged eight. He took part in the 1916 Rising, seeing action at Roe's Distillery (like Seán Dowling). At one stage he was detached to guard approaches at Cromwell's Quarters. He also is listed on the Roll of Honour. Following the Rising John was interred in Frongoch Camp, North Wales where he was a member of the General Council of prisoners. Released in 1917, he went on to be President of the Past-Pupils Union in 1937. He was father of Fr. Gerry Gogan CSSp (now living in Marian House, Kimmage Manor) and Larry Gogan of RTÉ fame.
Gerard joined St. Mary's in 1899 and left circa 1905. In 1916 he saw action in the GPO area, taking a suicidally-exposed position in a tram at Nelson's Pillar in order to halt the charge of the Hussars from O'Connell Bridge. With others, he then withdrew to the Hammam Building opposite the GPO. Following surrender, Gerard was interred in Frongoch, sentenced to ten years imprisonment. He was released after five years due to ill-health.
A distinguished sportsman in St. Mary's at the turn of the century, Frank was involved in the Howth gun-running in 1914. (Another gun-runner was past pupil Bernard Reid, see below). In 1916 Frank played an active part in the Rising. He had sons in St. Mary’s and went on to become President of St. Mary's College Rugby Football Club in 1958.
Bernard Reid was an exceptional character, born in Dublin in 1886 and coming to St. Mary's before the close of the century. On leaving school, he entered the National University, St. Stephen's Green (later UCD). He partook fully in college life, becoming editor of 'The Nationalist Student' newspaper and President of the College 'Literary and Historical Society'. He was also a founder member of the Irish Volunteers. He holidayed on the continent, becoming fluent in French. In his College circle were Arthur Cox and Tom Kettle. Other literary correspondents and friends were Hilaire Belloc and George Moore. In 1912 Bernard, like Synge and Yeats, travelled to the west of Ireland to live for a time.
Bernard participated in the Howth gun-running in 1914 but, probably swayed by the fate of the small nation of Belgium, opted to fight the Germans in World War One. He attempted to join the French Foreign Legion, but they insisted that he, as a British subject, enlist in a British regiment. He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and sent to fight in the trenches on the Western Front. Bernard was killed on 28th June 1916 at Loos. He is buried in the British Cemetry at Vermelles. His letters home to his parents, Michael and Sarah Corrigan Reid of Tower Hill road, Dalkey, show his literary promise.
“Our artillery had just broken its hell upon the night. Presently we shall pay for this, we were all thinking, they'll surely answer in a few moments and they did. The first crashes came as we waited huddled against a wall. The bursting shells threw up earth that descended in showers, shrapnel and other shells came roaring along, you hear them, you can judge the direction by the sound. I was looking out over the open space for them. We dare not move. The men were quiet, not a move out of them, except for the whispering of one to the other. One chap I heard saying, ‘It’s awful maybe being killed without being able to strike a blow for yourself.' This one is going to the right, this one to the left, this seems right for us, but it stops short and it is a dead shell, it does not explode. I keep telling the men these things and then you hold your breath as one rushes right over you and drops just behind, crashing through the broken roof and knocking some brick-dust around you. There is nothing for you to do....”
“Along a trench, in which you feel safe after the experience of a bombardment, we stumbled rather than walked for an interminable distance, till with some consciousness of a new starting of things and some strange curiosity, partly devoted to the weary figures passing out, we arrived at the trench proper. In spite of our fatigue, we move with our eyes and senses all curious for what life here is like, what way we are to spend the two days there. The sleeping figures of the men we pass, huddled on the fire steps or under improvised shelters, a waterproof sheet covering them from cold and rain, provokes one’s mind, their weariness and their powers of contentment.”
Michael Paul Richardson
Michael was born in 1895, the eight child and youngest son of John Paul and Ellen Courtney Richardson of Pembroke Lodge, Dundrum. His father was a well-known Dublin building contractor. Michael first appears in the St. Mary's school register in 1910 and is credited with being a fine rugby player. He joined the 7th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers 'D' Company 'The Pals' . His Service Number was 14784. The Battalion were stationed right of 'Chocolate Hill' at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, late in that campaign. Michael was killed by a shrapnel shell exploding overhead on 4th September 1915, just before the Battalion left Suvla. He was the only casualty on that day. He was 20. Michael's body was eventually buried in Green Hill Cemetery, Gallipoli. His father paid for the headstone inscription, 'Thy Will Be Done.'