Christopher Mulligan – From Nelson Street to Second Ypres

Name of soldier : Christopher Mulligan

Descendents : Stella Geragthy and her brother Aidan Maher

Nelson Street is a small, narrow street linking Eccles Street with Berkeley Street on Dublin’s North city. It is named after the British naval hero, Admiral Horatio Nelson, whose column adorned Dublin’s O’Connell Street before it was bombed in 1966. In Brendan Behan’s play The Hostage the street is the location for the kidnapping of a British soldier by Republicans in 1958.

Christopher Mulligan lived at No 33 Nelson Street before he left for the First World War. He was about 24 when he joined the army and was trained in Cork. Today his granddaughter Stella Geragthy lives in Malahide and her brother Aidan Maher lives in Point Roberts, Washington, USA. Both have kindly shared below images of Christopher’s army paybook and postcards sent from the Western Front.

According to Stella, Christopher had been working a printing company in 1914. ‘He was told to go and fight for Little Belgium and his job would be there for him on his return. His step brother wouldn’t speak to him when he returned, presumably because of the 1916 Rising !’

Above : No 33 Nelson Street : home of Christopher Mulligan.

Your own name: Stella Geragthy and Aidan Maher

Your relative: Grandfather Christopher Mulligan

Period of activity: World War One

Specific regiment: Royal Artillery

Areas served in : Belgium, Second Battle of Ypres

Above : painting of Second Battle of Ypres

Did you have much contact with him?

No, he died in 1944 before we were born

What are your most striking memories of him?

We don’t remember too many stories about Christie. He played piano at social events and pubs. We were told that in the pubs, men would just leave a beer for him on top of the piano by way of appreciation. This contributed to his heavy drinking which began as soon as he returned from the trenches. He was affected by his experience, as so many were.

Where is he buried?

Glasnevin cemetery

Do you have any mementos of him?

Yes, his army paybook and two postcards sent to our mother when she was 2 years old in 1916 from “somewhere in Flanders”. All are pictured below.

Our cousins sold his sword and hat which we used to play with when we visited our grandmother who lived in Mount Prospect Road, Glasnevin .

Christopher ‘s army paybook, from 1916, above and below

‘Instructions to Soldier’

Above: Officers signatures firmly inscribed.

Above : A check on equipment and clothing

Above : Christopher’s Last Will, hastily drawn in.

Above : Cover of Army paybook.

Postcards home. Christopher was injured in 1916 and moved to France

‘Bon soir’ : inscription on postcard

Above : postcard from ‘Somewhere in Flanders’

Below : Newspaper report on Christopher Mulligan’s funeral in 1944. Note the attendance of the Irish Bookbinders and Paper Rulers Union, of which Christopher had been a member.

Note also, the adjoining newspaper story about the developing suburb of Crumlin, to which people were then transferring from inner city areas and tenements, like Nelson Street. Coincidentally, Crumlin was where Brendan Behan’s family were relocated to.

Below is a drawing of ‘the’ Nelson Street doorway in Behan’s play The Hostage. The drawing, by English artist Paul Hogarth, is from the book Brendan Behan’s Island (1962) which has many fine drawings of Ireland at this time. The book’s text is by Behan.

Below : A similar perspective on a Nelson Street doorway, 2021. Renovations are in progress.

As it happens, the occupants of No 30 and 32, who lived right next door to Christopher, were also in World War One. But they didn’t come home.

William Lawler from No 30 was killed in June 1916 and is buried at Vermelles British cemetery and John Newman from No 32 was killed at Ypres in June 1917 and remembered on Menin Gate. This is a high number of combatants from one small street, not to mention the many who enlisted from the adjoining streets.

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