Housing Development  Named After First Child Victim Of The 1916 Rising

by Alex Greaney
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Alex Greaney 

Many of the men and women of 1916 have been rightly commemorated, and one of the first children killed during the rising (Seán Foster) will be commemorated when, thanks to Joe Duffy’s research and a motion proposed to DCC by Cllr. Nial Ring, a new DCC apartment development in North King Street, near where Seán was killed was officially named Seán Foster Place at a plaque unveiling ceremony on Thursday, October 26th. This is unique as it is the only public building named after a child and a civilian victim of the 1916 Rising. 

“Throughout 2016 the role of men and women was commemorated and it was only when Joe Duffy’s brilliantly researched book “Children of the Rising” was published that we were reminded that 40 children were also killed during the rising” Cllr. Nial Ring who spearheaded the campaign to have the new development named after Seán Foster said. 

The Irish rebellion of Easter week 1916 lasted for six days during which, or as a direct result of the violence, 485 people lost their lives. Over three quarters were non-rebel fatalities and just over half of those were civilians, most of whom were accidentally caught in the crossfire. Many, particularly women and children, were in fact shot inside or at close proximity to their own homes. The youngest recorded civilian death is a child of 22 months, while the oldest fatality was 82-years-old. Most of those who died were interred at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. 

“The Lord Mayor and Joe spoke at the event and reminded us how two-year-old Séan was killed by a gunshot to the head, as his terrified mother wheeled him in his pram, as she fled the crossfire between the Irish Volunteers and British forces at Church Street, outside Father Mathew Hall,” Cllr. Ring explained. 

Cllr. Ring continued: “When a new development on North King Street, only yards from where Sean was killed, was proposed I immediately contacted Joe Duffy to ask him to get in touch with Seán’s relatives and get their agreement to have the complex named after Seán. I also sought support from my fellow central area councillors and the local history group, chaired by Terry Crosbie, and everyone gave full support to the initiative. 

“Joe also arranged for Terry (Terence) O’Neill, Seán Foster’s first cousin (Sean’s mother, neé Kate O’Neill and Terry’s father, Joseph O’Neill were brother and sister) to attend and speak at the unveiling of the plaque and his presence was very poignant as it was a powerful reminder of how close that period of history is to us.”  

The Lord Mayor, Daithí de Róiste unveiled the plaque with Terry, and the event was rounded off with some music from another relative of Sean, Mick Foster, and his Foster and Allen colleague, Tony Allen. 

Not all of those who died in the Rising were ever formally identified. Two of those ‘unknowns’ were taken for interment from the City Morgue. At least one is known to be interred in the poor plot in Glasnevin Cemetery in the north of the city. 

According to the Glasnevin Trust, 16% of all fatalities of the Rising were rebel forces, 29% were crown forces and police and 55% were civilians. 

“The naming of the complex and the erection of the plaque is a lovely commemoration of a child whose life was cut so short. It is good to know that anyone living in or passing the development will be aware of the circumstances behind his death and the choice of name for the complex. For a child to be remembered in such a way is unique and hopefully will encourage other such commemorations and namings.” Cllr Ring concluded. 

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