1900-1919 | Ireland

British soldiers open fire on Dublin crowd after children throw orange peel

The Bacehlor’s Walk massacre as depicted in The London Illustrated News, 1 August 1914, p. 3

26 July 1914

On the evening of Sunday 26 July 1914, three Dubliners were shot dead by British troops on Bachelor’s Walk. They were Mary Duffy, a 50 year old widow, Patrick Quinn, a coal labourer and father of six, and James Brennan, an eighteen year old gas fitter’s assistant.  More than thirty others were hospitalised with serious injuries, including bayonet wounds.1

They were fired on after they had started hissing and booing at a battalion of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers as they returned to barracks. It was also claimed that some in the crowd had thrown stones, although this was disputed by at least three witnesses at the subsequent coroner’s inquest. The first, a harbour policeman, was adamant that ‘he saw no stones or bottles thrown’ and that there ‘was no justification for the soldiers firing.’ The second, a resident of Grove Park, also testified that he ‘did not see any missiles thrown at them’ and the third witness, who was a resident in Bachelor’s Walk,  said that he had seen something thrown, but it was only boys and girls throwing orange peel at the soldiers.2

An official statement was read out to the court declaring that ‘the soldiers had fired without orders,’3 although a question was immediately raised as to how disciplined soldiers would open fire and then charge with bayonets if no such orders had been issued. One witness told the court how he had seen the soldiers act ‘in concert, as if at the word of command, the front rank kneeling and the second rank standing.’ A passing taxi-cab driver recalled that he had seen ‘an officer… with the soldiers, and he had a drawn sword in his hand.’4 The explanation given by Mr Hanna, KC, the counsel acting for the military, was that ‘the men were told to get ready to fire (but) they fired without the final order.’ This official version of events was met by murmurs of dissent from the gallery.

FOOTNOTES

  1. ‘Dublin Street Conflict,’ the Belfast Evening Telegraph, 31 July 1914, p. 3 and “The Dublin Battle – Inquest on the Victims,” the Northern Whig, 29 July 1914, p. 8
  2. Diarmard Ferriter (2015), “A Nation and Not a Rabble: The Irish Revolution 1913-1923,” Profile Books, London, p. 148.
  3. “Dublin Street Conflict,” the Belfast Evening Telegraph, 31 July 1914, p. 3
  4. Quoted in “Dublin Street Conflict,” the Belfast Evening Telegraph, 31 July 1914, p. 3.

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