Like many Irish people in this centenary year of the 1916 Easter Rising I have delved into my family's history to see if there was any participation or stories of O'Loughlin or Byrne (my Mum's maiden name) rebels in the GPO. Unfortunately nothing! All my grandparents were just barely teenagers in 1916, and I have found nothing on my great-grandparents (my great-grandfather James Byrne (Burns) was in the British army getting ready to go over the top for the Battle of the Somme during the Rising. So sadly - no stories to tell, no mementos in the attic, nothing really to write about.
My wife Roma's family are different - plenty of Fenians there! Roma's grand-mother and grand-aunt (Gabrielle and Eileen Ryan from Castlebar) were very involved (as much as women could be) in the Rising. Roma has kindly allowed me to share some of her family heirlooms on this site.
The story in Roma's family is that the Ryan sisters helped to sow on badges and patches for the rebels before they marched to the GPO. Being women, they were not allowed to fight. Eileen had gone to St Ita's School on Oakley Road in Ranelagh - this was the less successful girls version of Patrick Pearse's St Enda's School for Boys in Rathfarnham. Eileen Ryan died on 29th July 1923 at just 29 years of age from TB. Her sister Gabrielle kept all her mementos which were passed on to her son Billy (Roma's Dad).
We know that Eileen lodged with the Pearse family in Oakley Road. The story is that the Ryan family became friendly with the Pearses when Willie Pearse and his father James were working on the altar and communion railings for the Church of the Holy Rosary in Castlebar, which was completed in 1901. From the Eileen Ryan Collection, below are scans of some photos that have been passed down to Roma from 1916. More memorabilia this week.
Please do not reuse or download these photos without permission.