May 5th 1916

A second letter from Mrs Norway has been received, covering the events of April 27th-29th in Dublin.

28/2/16. “Yesterday was the worst day we have had, as there was desperate fighting in Grafton Street at our back and the side streets and several volleys in our street. In the morning I was sitting on a big settee in the window of the Lounge, looking out, and listening to the firing in Grafton Street when some shots were fired just outside our windows, and the Manager rushed in and said “We must shut all the shutters, it is getting a bit too hot,” so all the shutters were closed and I moved up to the drawing room, which also overlooks the street. Just then, the Red Cross sent in to call for volunteers and several men, including Nevil, went off.”

The situation improved in the afternoon, although Mrs Norway witnessed considerable looting from a nearby fruiterer’s shop:

“I never saw anything so brazen: the mob were chiefly women and children with a sprinkling of men; they swarmed in and out of the side entrance bearing huge consignments of bananas, the long bunches on the stalk, to which the children attached a cord and then ran away dragging it along; other boys had orange boxes which they filled with tinned and bottled fruits, women with their skirts held up received from the windows showers of oranges and apples and all kinds of fruit, which were thrown down by their pals…”

The following day (April 28th) was a day of considerable stress for Mrs Norway:

“I am still rather shaky from a fright I got last night. It is too long a story to write in detail, but we had reason to think that Nevil, who is working with the Red Cross Ambulance, had fallen into the hands of the rebels, and we spent an hour I don’t even like to remember and that unnerved me more than I like to think possible. The thing was unfounded and we found out he was all right, and this morning he turned up to breakfast and has now gone off again.

He is, of course, safer attached to the Red Cross than roaming the streets making rescues on his own, but the risks are many and great: among other things, they enter houses where there are known to be wounded Sinn Feiners and bring them out. This Nevil was doing yesterday…”

Nevil has indeed shown a lot of pluck for a boy of his age – but having lost her older son already to the war, Mrs Norway’s resolve is also to be marvelled at.

The night of the 28th was no easier for Mrs Norway and fellow residents in the Royal Hibernian Hotel. Bullets came through windows in an annexe, which had to be evacuated. All of them had to take refuge in the hotel’s lounge, fearing all the time that the hotel might be set on fire by the rebels. Only later could they venture to bed:

“Things quieted down and about 11.30 we crept up to our room and lay down in our clothes.”

In the morning an officer visited the hotel to try to persuade everyone that it had been the military whose bullets came through their windows the previous evening. Mrs Norway felt this to be the case.

“People were constantly pulling up their blinds with the lights on, probably servants and residents, to look at the fires, and the military have orders to fire on anything that resembles signalling, without asking any questions, and I expect that this is the true version.”

Mrs Norway rounded off her letter with the news of the rebels’ surrender:

29/4/16 4pm. “Sir M. Nathan has just rung up to say that the rebels have surrendered unconditionally. We have no details and the firing continues in isolated parts, but if the leaders have surrendered it can only be a question of a few hours before peace is restored and we can go forth and look on the wreck and destruction of this great city.

And so end six of the most terrible days in the history of Ireland, comparable only to the Indian Mutiny.”

 

 

 

 

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