by jdurney on November 15, 2013

The Kildare Observer 5 June 1916




Mr. M. A. Coughlan, of Newbridge, returned from Dublin in the early part of the week, having spent an exciting time there since Easter Monday. He witnessed some of the fierce fighting in the region surrounding Wynne’s Hotel, where he was obliged to stay having failed to get to Newbridge after Fairyhouse races on Easter Monday.
He tells an interesting story of being called from his room after he had retired on Tuesday night of last week by the screams of the maids, who rushed along the corridor. On enquiring the cause of the commotion he was informed that two of the girls had been shot. On investigation he found that what had occurred was that a bullet passing into the hotel by one of the windows had struck the wall, knocking portion of the plaster in all directions. One of the maids was hit in the arm by the flying fragments and another rather badly cut in the neck, but it took same persuasion to induce them to believe that they had not been struck by bullets.
The maids having not been quieted, Mr. Coughlan returned to his room and tired to snatch a little sleep, but a bullet entering the room through an open window buried itself in the wall over the bed, and put sleep out of the question for that night.
On Thursday the condition of things was so bad that Mr. Coughlan and some other men in the hotel decided that it was time to seek quarters elsewhere. From a window it was observed that heavy guns were being got into position by the military in Abbey street, preparatory to shelling some houses in the vicinity, of which the rebels had possession. Bullets flew in all directions up and down the street. It was decided that the only alternative to risking death from the rain of bullets in the street was to chance a like fate from fire or the destruction of the hotel by shells. Many of the visitors determined to remain where they were rather than expose themselves to the immediate destruction which they feared would overtake them if they dared to appear on the street. Mr.Coughlan, however, determined to chance an effort to escape from the hotel. Procuring a white tablecloth he hung it from a long brush handle and walked into the street followed by the terrified maids and some of the men. One of their number was struck in passing a bye-street on the march towards the military. Still they kept on their way, the military withholding fire as they marched along under the improvised white flag, and they managed to reach a spot from which the shelling was about to take place in safety.
The situation was explained to the Major in charge of the military, who imagined that the party was a detachment of Sinn Feiners who had come out to surrender.
Mr. Coughlan informed the major that there were others in the hotel, which had by this time caught on fire from an adjoining buildings, that had in turn been set alight by a burning barricade fired on by the military. He very pluckily volunteered to return with the white flag in order to in due those who had remained in the hotel to leave it, and the Major ordered the guns not to fire in the meantime. Mr. Coughlan succeeded in getting safely to the hotel and back again to the military with the little band of visitors, whom he had previously told he would return to if he got away safely with the first batch.
For thirty-six hours the party remained at the Custom House with very little in the way of food, though the military shared their supplies with them. Finally, when things became quieter they were given permits to leave the city. Mr. Coughlan was recognised at Amiens street by one of the men who had seen him carrying the white flag two days previously and who was still under the impression that he was a rebel. Despite his possession of a pass he was ordered to return. Things were subsequently set right on meeting the Major and he was allowed to leave, going to Clontarf, where he remained the weekend with some friends.
There can be little doubt that were it not for his pluck and forethought many lives would have been sacrificed, Wynn’s Hotel becoming a complete ruin.

Mr. M. A. Coughlan, of Newbridge, witnessed some of the fierce fighting in the region surrounding Wynne’s Hotel, during the Easter Rebellion

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