Role in Mount St battle inspired future in military

By Maurice Garvey

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THE role that a young man played in the Easter Rising seems to have inadvertently inspired a Ballyfermot family into the military life.

The O’Reilly family in Ballyfermot this week, showcased medals that their ancestor earned in the historic event.

Pam OReilly 1916 resized 

John O’Reilly manned Mount Street Bridge during the Rising, escaped capture, and went on to raise a family.

His son Peter passed away in 2014, and was a respected army Company Sergeant, who helped to establish a support group for ex-army men and their families.

Two of John’s grandchildren followed his military footsteps – including Stephen and Vincent O’Reilly, a Corporal stationed in Baldonnell.

During the Rising at Mount Street, a volunteer outpost manned by 17 men faced the frontal assault of a battalion of British troops.

The rebels there, nominally under the command of Eamon de Valera in Bolands Mill, but under the direct control of Mick Malone, a carpenter, had taken up their positions on Mount Street and Northumberland Road on Easter Monday, April 24.

On April 26, they opened fire on a freshly arrived British regiment, the Sherwood Foresters.

General Lowe ordered the bridge at Mount Street be taken “at all costs” and by the day’s end, the road was carpeted with dead and wounded British troops.

De Valera, with over a hundred fighters two streets away on Bolands Mills, never reinforced the volunteers at Mount Street.

Eventually, the position was stormed when the British brought up machine guns and explosives – four volunteers were killed and the rest slipped away.

Fighting at the Mount Street battle site inflicted 240 casualties – up to two-thirds of the British losses in Easter week.

For the rebels, it showed how they might have made the Rising more bloody for the British if they made better use of small, well-sited outposts at key locations, instead of cooping up hundreds of fighters in large buildings.

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