Historical and Reconciliatory Police Society’s Wreath Laying Ceremony – 24 April
On Sunday 24 April, a significant wreath laying ceremony took place at the Cork Hill entrance to Dublin Castle, commemorating the first fatality of the 1916 Easter Rising. The ceremony was organised by the Historical and Reconciliatory Police Society.
As an unarmed policeman on duty at the Cork Hill entrance to the upper yard of Dublin Castle, Constable James O’Brien was the first fatality of the Easter Rising. Born in 1868 in Kilfergus, Co Limerick, he had 21 years’ service at the time of his death.
A member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, he was killed by a public servant, Abbey actor and member of the Irish Citizen Army, Seán Connolly, who was himself shot about an hour later by a British Army sniper. Seán Connolly is believed to be the first member of either the Irish Volunteers or the Irish Citizen Army to die in the Easter Rising.
Wreaths were laid at the gates of Dublin Castle by Constable O’Brien’s great-grand-nephew Michael O’Sullivan of Listowel, Co. Kerry. Ms. Freya Connolly, the great-granddaughter of Seán Connolly laid a bunch of flowers on behalf of the Connolly family. Wreaths were also laid by Mr. Pat McCarthy, President of Historical and Reconciliatory Police Society and by the British Ambassador H.E. Mr. Dominic Chilcott.
The ceremony was attended by serving and former members of the Garda Síochána, representatives of the Garda Síochána Historical Society, former members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, together with descendants of members of the Dublin Metropolitan Police and the Royal Irish Constabulary. The British Military Attaché Colonel Max Walker was also in attendance.
Irish Police historian Mr Jim Herlihy presented Ambassador Chilcott and Colonel Walker with a history of the Dublin Metropolitan Police which includes all members of the Dublin Metropolitan Police killed in the line of duty between 1836 and 1925.
The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) was the armed police force of the island of Ireland under British rule from 1814 until 1922 and incorporated the Peace Preservation Force from 1814 to 1922, the County Constabulary from 1822 to 1836, and the Irish Constabulary from 1836 until 1867, when it was granted the prefix ‘Royal’ in 1867 for the successful suppression of the Fenian Rising.
A separate unarmed civic police force, the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) controlled the capital and its environs Belfast and Derry originally had their own police forces which were incorporated into the RIC.
Between 1836 and 1925, a total of 21 members of the DMP were killed on duty, three of whom were killed during the Easter Rising. During the War of Independence, 535 members of the RIC and 10 members of the DMP were killed on duty.
The names of 17 policemen killed at Easter 1916 are recorded on the new Memorial Wall unveiled in Glasnevin Cemetery on Sunday 03 April 3016. The names include the following unarmed members of the Dublin Metropolitan Police:
- Constable James O’Brien, born in Co Limerick, 1868. Shot dead on Easter Monday, April 24, at the Cork Hill entrance to Dublin Castle by Seán Connolly, Irish Citizen Army;
- Constable Michael Lahiff, born in Co Clare, 1887. Shot three times in St Stephen’s Green on Easter Monday, April 24, and died in the Meath hospital. He is believed to have been shot by Constance Markievicz, Irish Citizen Army, but the evidence of this has been contested;
- Constable William Frith, born in Co Offaly, 1877. Wounded in the head on Thursday, April 27, in a bedroom at Store Street police station and died on Friday, April 28;
- Constable Christopher Millar, born in Co Limerick, 1886. He was the only RIC casualty to die in Dublin. He was stationed in Belfast but was undergoing a course of instruction at Portobello Barracks, Dublin. He was shot dead during a military assault on the post of the South Dublin Union on Thursday, April 27.
View the Flickr Gallery of Photographs kindly provided by Patrick Hugh Lynch