I was only in central Dublin a matter of minutes before I saw my first army troop carrier. Its boiled cabbage paintwork and squat body was as evocative of the years around World War I as a red poppy in a buttonhole.
Later that afternoon I was sitting inside one of the especially adapted trucks owned by the 1916 Freedom Tour, sitting on an authentically hard bench.
Audio visual displays relayed the sounds of Dublin a century ago, but it was the guide and the driver that gave a feel of what it must have been like to live through the Easter Rising, six days that turned a bustling, congested city into a battlefield. Dressed in period uniforms from both sides of the conflict, the tour includes key locations such as Mount Street Bridge, Jacob’s Factory and Dublin Castle. We heard about the daily ceasefire that allowed the park keeper to feed the ducks on St Stephen’s Green, the mistakes made and the 40 children killed.
The story is told through the eyes of combatants and the ordinary men, women and children of Dublin and it is done without taking sides. Harder still, it is made relevant to audiences that could include experts as well as those who only have a vague idea of the importance of the Easter Rising.
There is something about the physicality of the hour long tour that opens up the mind. Knowing it was from that particular window a sniper’s shot rang out and along these streets that soldiers marched brings it to life and turns history into a human story, making it a perfect introduction to the 1916 Commemoration.
The orginal article was published in The Irish post on March 26th 2016. You can read it in full HERE
I was the guest of Failte Ireland and stayed at the Fitzwilliam Hotel on St Stephen’s Green
1916 Freedom Tour
The tour runs seven days a week four times a day and starts and finishes from Merrion Square West. Adult tickets cost €20 but numerous discounts are available.