Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Book Review: "Courage Boys, We are Winning: An Illustrated History of the 1916 Rising" by Michael Barry #361

I have read many books about 1916 and some of the participants, and I received a present of two more 1916 books this past Christmas. The first of these is named after a famous quote from James Connolly "Courage Boys, We are Winning". Michael Barry is a photographer and he has produced an interesting book of photographs based on the lead up to, and including, the Rising.

Image Source: Amazon.
The book is a mix of well-known photographs, a few I had not seen before, plus some present day photos (by Barry himself). Each photo is given a caption and explanation, which is almost - but not quite a narration of the Rising. I found the photos of the damage to O'Connell Street (then Sackville Street) and its surroundings, plus the maps, to be the most interesting. The carnage caused by 18-pound shells and fire was devastating. Many of the buildings were demolished after the Rising, but it is interesting to see what Dublin looked liked at the time. I had no interest in the photos of buildings and streets as they are today. However, this may be because they are already very familiar to me as I live in Dublin. For those outside Dublin this will be of more interest. 

The book is limited by the dearth of photos from this time period - for example, it includes the only two known photos from inside the GPO during the Rising. It gives a flavour of the time, but is a long way short of a complete illustrated history of the Rising. Perhaps the photographs just do not exist, possibly explaining why Barry padded the book out with more recent photos. This book is €24.95 in Easons, and while is is a great present to get to add to my collection of 1916 books, is it very expensive for what you get. 


  1. Eugene, I did a stint of work experience in the National Archives in Bishop Street when I was studying for my History Degree and while there had freedom to wander the stacks and see what was on the shelves. I came across a series of beautiful architectural colour renderings - water colours IIRC – of every building in Sackville Street as it was just before the shelling in 1916. These were produced and submitted as part of the insurance claims for the property owners to show the building that they were seeking to rebuild. I've often thought it'd be great to publish those, you'd have a panorama of both sides of the street, in full colour, just before the rising.

    1. Hey John - many thanks for your comments. MAybe Google could do a reconstruction of Sackville Street before the Rising?