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Mark Wilson. An Athy man in the Easter Rebellion

James Durney

In series no. 1041 of ‘Eye on the past’ Frank Taafe queried the identity of an Athy man, Mark Wilson, who according to the statement of Patrick Colgan (Maynooth) was a ‘source of great encouragement’ to him and other captured volunteers in Dublin in 1916. According to Karel Kiely, and the records of Kildare Genealogy, Mark Albert Wilson was born, on 31 August 1891, to Robert and Juliana Wilson, of Russelstown, Athy. Sponsors were Laurence Heffernan and Margaret Kenna, probably relatives on Juliana’s side. Robert Wilson, a van driver and a native of Co. Wicklow, married Juliana, or Johanna, Heffernan, of Leinster Street, Athy, in 1887, in the civil register district of Dublin South. In 1901 the family of Robert Wilson were living in Berkely Road, Inns Quay, Dublin; in 1911 they were in Fontenoy Street, Inns Quay. Robert and Juliana had five children living from a total of eight births and in 1911 recorded that they had been married for twenty-one years. Mark, the oldest, was nineteen in 1911 and employed as a tea mixer. He married Annie Elizabeth Salmon, of Summerhill, in the Roman Catholic parish of St. Michan’s, Halston St./North Anne St., on 3 August 1913.
Mark Wilson joined the 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade, Irish Volunteers, some time prior to 1916. Volunteer units were self-financing and Mark would probably have bought his own uniform. During Easter Week 1916 Mark Wilson was part of the Four Courts garrison, under the command of Commandant John Edward ‘Ned’ Daly. The 1st Battalion mobilized in Blackhall Street on Easter Monday. The turnout of 250 men was less than a third of its full strength. At noon, after formally announcing the republic had been proclaimed, Daly marched his main force through North King Street into Church Street, where they occupied a series of premises and set up barricades. The North Dublin Union was occupied, although no attempt was made to take control of the nearby Broadstone Station. Daly set up his headquarters first in North Brunswick Street, and later in Father Matthew Hall near the northern end of Church Street. At the southern end, on the river, some of his men occupied the Four Courts garrison, among them was Mark Wilson.
The British military cordon cut off Daly’s force from the GPO, leaving them in effect surrounded. Like the rest of the battalion commanders Daly ran out of options other than preparing more buildings for defence and strengthening barricades. On Friday morning the long–awaited British attack began as troops arrived in makeshift armoured lorries. Fighting was heaviest around North King Street, where many civilians were killed. The surrender and the march to captivity came on Saturday and Sunday. Comdt. Ned Daly was tried and executed in Kilmainham Jail, on 4 May. Mark Wilson was removed from Richmond Barracks, Dublin, on 8 May 1916, and deported to England, where he was lodged in Stafford Detention Barracks on 9 May. His address was given as 48 North Great George’s Street (2 North King Street) Dublin.
Mark Wilson was well known in army sports circles and retired from the Defence Forces as a captain after a long and distinguished career. In the army he trained the Curragh boxing team and was on the I.A.B.A. panel of referees. He was associated with the St. Vincent’s Football and Hurling Club and his son, Mark, was a member of the 1958 All-Ireland team. He died in December 1971, aged eighty-one, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. His obituary in the Irish Press, on 23 December 1971, stated he was a native of Athy, Co. Kildare; lived at Shanowen Road, Santry, and was survived by his wife, Annie, and two other sons, Ronald and Desmond, and one daughter, Mrs. Sean Jordan.

In series no. 1041 of ‘Eye on the past’ Frank Taafe queried the identity of an Athy man, Mark Wilson, who fought in Dublin in 1916

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