The Lion and the Shamrock organises tours and talks relevant to the British military legacy, when available. Details below. Visits are also arranged to private sites.
Houses for World War One veterans in Cabra
The houses on Quarry Road Cabra were built for Irish veterans of World War One and paid for the British Government, through the unique Sailors and Soldiers Trust. Their design later became the template for the Irish Government’s large scale expansion of Cabra.
Cycling or minibus tour of the Phoenix Park
The Phoenix Park is a major repository of the British military tradition in Ireland. The tour takes in the Wellington monument, Magazine Fort, Hibernian military school and the former Marlborough Barracks. The tour can be either by cycle, or by mini bus, depending on conditions.
Walking tour of Grangegorman military cemetery, Blackhorse Avenue
This is the main military cemetery in the country, with the graves of many hundreds of ex soldiers : veterans of famous campaigns but especially of World War One. Through a tour of the tombstones, we get the history of the Empire and of the Irish involvement in its development.
Outdoor Walking tour of Collins Barracks
Collins, formerly Royal barracks, is one of the oldest military barracks in the world. Walking through its different squares, we learn about the many regiments based here and where they served overseas. We also learn about the changing life of a modern soldier before proceeding to Arbour Hill cemetery.
Visit to St George’s graveyard, Drumcondra
Within this graveyard – almost completely unknown to the public – is the ornate grave of a Battle of Waterloo veteran and another for a man who survived the sinking of the Luisitania in 1915 only to be killed in the 1916 Rising.
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MORE DETAILS AND PHOTOS HERE :
‘Homes for Heroes’ – Dublin houses for veterans of World War One
As part of the annual Festival of History, organised by Dublin County Council, Eamon gave walking tours of the houses built for veterans of World War One on Quarry road in Cabra, north Dublin. Images here:
Blue skies and Monuments – A cycling (or minibus) tour of the Phoenix Park
This tour, by a group on bikes, or by minibus, focuses on legacy of the British military in Dublin’s famous Phoenix Park, with features going back centuries.
The tour begins at the Park Gate entrance, just beside Phoenix bike rental where we can avail of a special group offer. Others have come on their own bikes. The tour will last an hour.
Eamon begins by describing how important Dublin, and especially north of the Liffey, has been in the history of the military. He points out the close proximity of many institutions, including major barracks.
He indicates, below us, Collins Barracks, formerly Royal barracks. Further up on the left is McKee barracks, formerly Marlborough barracks. To our right is Clancy barracks, formerly Islandbridge barracks.
Collins barracks, formerly Royal barracks, was begun in 1707 and is one of the oldest such institutions in the world. Eamon describes the growth of barracks culture and the overseas Empire which it serviced.
Benburb Street, where the Luas now runs, used to be Barrack Street and was notorious for drinking and prostitution, activities unfortunately associated with military barracks in older times.
As a respite from this activity, a Kerry woman called Elise Sandes (below) created recreation centres for soldiers. One of these is in front of us on Parkgate Street: a red brick building marked ‘The Soldiers Institute’.
Sandes came from a military, but also Christian, family in Tralee, in Kerry, and grew up there next to Lord Kitchener- another military figure with Irish roots ! Her Elise Sandes Homes were created all over the world.
Women have been more involved in military life in the past than one might expect : as nurses, barracks staff and as soldiers wives.
Just beyond the Soldiers Institute, we see the site of the National Munitions Factory, created during the First World War and staffed almost entirely by women, making shells for the Western front.
Directly to our left we see the former Royal Military Infirmary, a special soldiers hospital set up in 1708. In 1912, another such hospital was created and the building became the headquarters of the British army. Padraic Pearse came here to surrender in 1916.
We get on our way and proceed to the Wellington monument
We talk about Wellington, the famous ‘Irishman’ born in County Meath and his military career, fighting Napoleon’s French army in Spain and Portugal and then famously at Waterloo. We go up to the obelisk memorial and look at the bronze reliefs, depicting battle scenes.
Eamon, the son of a bronze sculptor, describes the art works and how they were cast from captured cannon. (Edward Delaney RHA, Eamon’s father, was the sculptor of Irish national heroes like Wolfe Tone and Thomas Davis).
Eamon describes the growth of the British Empire and overseas military involvement, and the major role of the Irish within it. Dublin was the second city of the Empire and troops stationed here were posted to India, Afghanistan and Africa.
The army was a popular occupation and in 1830 over one third of the British army was Irish. The military provided a secure means of living and discipline, and foreign travel and adventure.
Eamon recommends a visit to the National Museum at Collins Barracks which has a permanent exhibition on all of this, called Soldiers and Chiefs, including about the many notable figures that Ireland has produced.
Such as Sir Hugh Gough, commander in chief in China and then India. He lived his last years in Stillorgan but sadly his equestrian statue here in Phoenix park was attacked and eventually removed.
We cycle on to the Military Road towards the Magazine Fort.
We talk about how the Fort, which dates back to the 17th century, was built and developed, its distinctive design and how it was guarded by ten 12 pounder guns and stone embrasures. Also how it was raided in 1916 and again, by Republicans, in 1939.
We continue on the Military Road towards the Furry Glen and stop at the viewing area, which overlooks the Liffey and the Islandbridge Memorial Park.
Eamon describes how the memorial park below which was built to honour the thousands of Irishmen who died in the First World War. It is a beautiful design by architect Edwin Lutyens and was built in the 1920s using the labour of military lveterans.
On the other side of Military Road, we see the open space known as The Fifteen Acres, although it is actually much bigger than that.
This space was once used for drilling and parades – and even for firing practise- but is now full of football pitches and roaming deer. This was where impressive parades of military, cavalry and pageantry were held.
We go on to the former Royal Hibernian school, created to care for the orphaned children of soldiers, many of whom went on to become soldiers themselves. The grounds are now private, but Eamon can arrange access.
We go back over the park, towards Deerfield, which is now the US Ambassador’s residence but was the Chief Secretary’s house.
The Chief Secretary was the most important official administering British rule in Ireland. He was like a mini Prime Minister.
We continue on towards Aras an Uachtarain, home of the Irish President but once the Vice Regal lodge, housing the Lord Lieutenant. The Lord Lieutenant was the ceremonial head of the Crown in Ireland. He went to all the parties, while the Chief Secretary did all the work !
We go on to the north road and come upon Little Lodge House – the former home of the Private Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant.
Its first resident in 1876 was Lord Randolph. He was Private Secretary to the then Lord Lieutenant, his own father John Spencer-Churchill, the 7th Duke of Marlborough. Lord Randolph lived there with his wife and young son Winston Churchill.
Winston Churchill described his four years in the Phoenix Park, from the age of two to six, as among the happiest of his life. Apparently, he developed an interest in the military from watching parades here.
We cycle on and cross over Blackhorse Avenue to visit the Grangegorman military cemetery. This is the main military cemetery in the country, with the graves of many hundreds of ex soldiers : veterans of famous campaigns but especially of World War One.
Here are buried the victims of the sinking of the RMS Leinster torpedoed by Germans in October 1918 off Dun Laoghaire (then Kingstown). Here also lie the remains of Tommy Woodgate, from Kilkenny, the youngest recorded casualty of World War One who was reputedly aged just 14, as well as many graves of Australian and New Zealand soldiers (Anzacs).
We leave the cemetery and go along the back wall of Marlborough barracks. Marlborough (now McKee) was built later than other barracks, in the late 19th century and was named for Churchill’s grandfather. Forays into the city, and around the Park, by its mounted soldiers were an often colourful sight.
The tour concludes in front of the old headquarters of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), next to the barracks, and which is now the Garda headquarters. This police force supplemented the military and from here officers were sent to train in India, Egypt and Palestine.
We conclude the tour here but it now adjourns, if people wish, to the Phoenix Park Visitors Centre where there are cafes and a display of information related to the park. There is also Ashtown Castle, a restored Tower House castle dating from the 15th century.
Outdoor tour of Collins Barracks
Tour guide: Eamon Delaney
This is an outdoor tour of Collins Barracks and the adjoining Arbour Hill cemetery. As such, it is Covid compliant, as participants are socially distant and staying outdoors.
The tour moves through the five squares of the barracks and proceeds to Arbour Hill and the 1916 plot. The growth of the barracks is described and the Empire that it serviced. But so is the Irish nationalist story, with reference to nearby Croppies Acre, Wolfe Tone and 1798, as well as the Fenians and the 1916 Rising.
The tour makes the most of the wonderful site and its many building and outlying structures. The group assembles at Brunswick Square in front of the Museum. The tour opens with us looking down at Croppies Acre and ends at the grave plot of the 1916 Leaders in Arbour Hill.
Croppies Acre is where the rebels of the 1798 rebellion were reportedly buried. They were hanged on Arbour Hill. The area was the old esplanade or drilling ground of the barracks.
Eamon explains the origins of the barracks, when and why it was built and its development, from 1707 on. We go through the stone arch from Brunswick to the bigger Palatine Square.
On Palatine square, we see the wall markings for military drills and exercises.
Eamon describes the life of a soldier, and how it has changed.
We go through a side arch to Royal Square, the biggest of the spaces.
Eamon describes the growth of the British Empire and overseas military involvement, and the major role of the Irish within it. Troops stationed here were posted to India, Afghanistan, Africa and the First World War.
We pass the Asgard building, holding the famous boat, and talk about the illicit arms shipment by Erskine Childers. Childers is a good example of someone who was from the Imperial military tradition but who was also an Irish nationalist.
We move towards Cavalry Square. We see the former officers quarters, cook house and saddle rooms.
Eamon describes the development of cavalry in military culture. He lists the many cavalry regiments which have been stationed here, including the Hussars, Lancers and Sherwood Foresters. He particularly focuses on the Lancers regiments and the colourful history of the 16th Lancers.
We move into Horse Square
We see the coach houses, and behind them the stables. Eamon refers to the Museum booklet and the various maps describing the buildings.
Notable figures in the British military have come from Ireland and these are described, as they are depicted inside the Museum. Such as:
Lord Roberts of Kandahar, Kabul and Waterford (to give him his full title !) – a major figure in the wars in Afghanistan and South Africa.
Sir Hugh Gough, commander in chief in China and then India. He lived his last years in Stillorgan but his equestrian statue in the Phoenix park was attacked and eventually removed.
Also relevant here is Lady Butler, who painted dramatic battle scenes – especially cavalry scenes – popular with a Victorian audiences. She lived at Bansha Castle, Tipperary and later at Gormanstown Castle.
We proceed towards Arbour Hill and the old graveyard.
We see the gate to the tunnel into the prison where the captured Irish revolutionary Wolfe Tone was taken. Éamon tells the story of Wolfe Tone, his political activities and how he (apparently) cheated the hangman.
Eamon’s father sculpted the official statue of Wolfe Tone, on St Stephen’s Green and he describes its controversial history.
We proceed into Arbour Hill and pass the Garrison Church, which is now the Irish Army chape
Eamon points out the UN Garden and relates Ireland’s history in the UN, including as military peacekeepers. (Eamon was a former diplomat and an Irish delegate to the UN General Assembly in New York)
We go towards the 1916 plot and on the way pass the old tombstones, commemorating soldiers in the British army. Eamon explains some of them : with their distinctive regiments and dates.
At the 1916 plot, we talk about the Easter Rising, its effect and context and how it changed the political landscape. This was also the continuation of the Republican seperatist tradition dramatically begun by rebels of 1798 and the Croppies whose burial ground we saw at the beginning.
This is thus an appropriate place to end the tour : in a beautiful old cemetery which contains the final resting place of soldiers, and rebels, from the two traditions on the island, reflecting our complex history.
There will also be visits to unusual and hidden away sites. Details on some of these below
Where Wellington got married and Joyce’s father died
Whitworth Road is the long narrow road connecting Drumcondra to Glasnevin on Dublin’s northside. It runs alongside the railway and the Royal Canal.
Half way down is the old Drumcondra Hospital which now houses the National Council for the Blind. Before this, in 1793, the site was briefly that of St George’s church, until St George’s was moved to Temple Street where its spire has become a famous landmark.
However, a graveyard remains at the site. It is now closed and not visible from the road but it is host to some intriguing features – and a tangle of coincidences.
Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, was due to be married here in 1806 while inside the cemetery is a grave for a veteran of Waterloo, which occurred 9 years later. Waterloo was the famous battle at which Wellington presided and settled the European rivalries for a generation.
In front of the building is a memorial bench erected in honour of John Joyce, the father of James Joyce, who died in the hospital. John Joyce lived on nearby Claude Road and died in the hospital here. It was a long standing wish of the writer that such a memorial bench be erected.
As it happens, Joyce was very interested in Waterloo, which features prominently in his novel Finnegans Wake. In 1924, the writer and his family visited Waterloo battle site of Waterloo outside Brussels and were observed by American writer Thomas Wolfe.
Another coincidence : the spire of the subsequent St George’s church on Temple Street is a recurring feature of Joyce’s Ulysses and of his short story The Boarding House.
Also : Whitworth Road is named after the Earl of Whitworth who was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at the time of Waterloo.
Drumcondra Hospital was used to treat the wounded of WW1 and the graveyard contains interesting graves from both World War One and Two – more details below. It also contains he grave of a man who survived the Luisitania sinking in 1915 only to be killed in the 1916 Rising.
Below : view of the old hospital from. across the canal
The gate to the graveyard, now locked
Below is the tombstone of Robert Anderson Mackenzie, who survived the sinking of the Lusitania by the Germans in 1915 only to be killed in his shop during the Easter Rising.
There are differing accounts of Mackenzie’s death: either that he was deliberately killed by rebels. Or that he was killed in the crossfire. The latter seems more likely, given how close his store was to the action. More details here:
Mackenzie’s shop was at the O’Connell Street end of Parnell Square, now Lily’s cafe. One can see how it would have been very exposed to the intense action of the Rising in this area.
The graveyard also contains the grave of a Battle of Waterloo veteran : an honour from the inscription clearly emblazoned on his tombstone.
This illustrates how famous Waterloo had become, almost as soon as it had happened. Some soldiers even remained in Belgium as battlefield tour guides and the novelist Walter Scott has described souvenir hunters roaming the field for trophies – himself included!
Below are World War One graves.
This family lost two sons, a not uncommon tragedy. One at the start of the war, another at the very end.
Another fatality of the First World War here is Robert Hurst, who died in 1917, aged 25. He was the son of Richard Hurst and Kathleen Hurst, formerly Lomax, was born on 4 June 1891, at 7 Mountjoy Cottages, Dublin.
His father was a Prison Warder. His mother later moved to 15 Ardee Terrace in Sligo, a veteran’s house.
There is also a Second World War grave for Noel Francis Boxwell, an air gunner. He was killed in a tragic accident at Chipping Norton in England in preparation for action against the Germans. Commemoration ceremonies of the incident are still held in the area.
More details here : http://www.chippingnortonbritishlegion.com/
A war records website gives the following details :
3845 Sergeant Noel Francis Boxwell
Wireless Operator/Air Gunner
The Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Son of Ambrose Harvey Boxwell and Margaret (née Carmichael) Boxwell, of Dublin, who were married in Dublin in 1919.
Published in The Irish Times, Saturday 5 September 1942, page 11.
BOXWELL – August 21, 1942, Killed in an air accident, England, Noel Francis, Sergt, R.A.F., aged 19, second son of
Mr. and Mrs. A.H. Boxwell, Strangford Gardens, Dublin.
On 21 Aug 1942 two aircraft, a Vickers Wellington bomber (on a crew night training exercise from No.15 Operational Training Unit based at RAF Harwell) and an Airspeed Oxford trainer (on a pilot training flight from No.6 Advanced Flying Unit based at RAF Little Rissington), collided in mid-air near Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire. Both aircraft were destroyed in the accident; and the two airmen on the Oxford and the six airmen on the Wellington all perished.
Division: No.6 Advanced Flying Unit [RAF Little Rissington]
The crew aboard the Oxford Airspeed Mark 11 serial No T1339 that night were:
Sergeant Stanley Edmund Downs RAF VR
Sergeant John MacDonald Rankin RAAF.
Division: No.15 Operational Training Unit [RAF Harwell]
The crew aboard Wellington T2557 were:
Pilot Officer Alan MacDonald Henderson RAF VR.
Pilot Officer Albert Wyndham Stilwell RAF VR.
Wireless Operators/Air Gunners.
Sergeant Malcolm Stevenson Haynes RAF VR.
Sergeant Noel Francis Boxwell RAF VR.
Sergeant Frank Gillard RAF VR,
Sergeant Patrick O’Brien RAF VR
From their ages, it would appear that,
Henderson, the Pilot, and Haynes, the Wireless Operator, were providing training to their colleagues Stilwell and Boxwell.
O’Brien was probably giving gunnery instruction to Boxwell and Gillard.
Noel Boxwell’s name is recorded on the following War Memorials.
The High School War Memorial,
formerly at Harcourt Street, Dublin, now re-located at Rathgar, Dublin 6.
Ferns Cathedral War Memorial,
Ferns, Co. Wexford.
St. Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny.
in Grangegorman Military Cemetery, Dublin.
Drumcondra Parish Church, Dublin.
North Strand Parish Church, Dublin.
St George’s exudes the peaceful calm one usually inds in such cemeteries, enhanced here by the closed off and overgrown aspect with soft grasses and frequent birdsong. But there is a ghostly quality too, as if the graves here could tell many stories