A daily eyewitness account of the Easter Rising is being made public for the first time.
Written by Arthur Matheson, first parliamentary draftsman of the new Irish State, the account takes the form of an original letter to his sister, Vera.
Offering a day-by-day record, Arthur’s letter begins on Friday, April 28 — the penultimate day of the Rising — and concludes on Tuesday, May 2nd.
Outlining events which he witnesses first hand, or that were witnessed by his father, Arthur shares everything from where food can be sourced to the strain of fighting so close to his family home at 20 Fitzwilliam Square. He jokes with his sister that ‘your Zeppelin raids are nothing beside our experience’.
‘The fighting then appeared to be getting brisk at the bottom of Harcourt Street (at the Stephens Green end) and also to be coming down from Portobello Barracks... there was a lot of shooting and noise which sounded very close. So we went down Hatch Street and so home without adventure, except that there were several shots, which appeared to be within a few yards of us.’
Matheson recalls how his father saw Constance Markievicz ‘marching about in male clothes and was seen shooting at some officers in khaki who were peacefully walking about the streets and also a number of civilians both men and women.’
The letter was supplied to publisher David Knight by Marie Carroll, a relative of Arthur Matheson. It had been in the possession of Charles Matheson, Arthur’s younger brother.
Ms Carroll said: ‘I wanted it to make it public because of the centenary. I dug it out and reread it. It is a fascinating take on the Rising from someone who was there.’
Extracts from Matheson’s letter are included in Willow Publishing’s book Easter Rising 1916, available in Eason and at www.willowireland.com