We work in a charming Georgian townhouse on Upper Pembroke Street at Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin. The DHO rents a series of offices in here and it isa very pleasant surround. The neighborhood is a busy one, but largely of pedestrians and of tourists. Over the past few weeks we have all been commenting on how many tourist photos we must now be appearing as they let off busloads to marvel at the colourful doors and ornate doorways. There is a large green area in the centre of the square with dense trees surrounding it and charming grassed areas in side. The Georgian terraces are quite impressive and give real sense of a Dublin of days past.
For all of the wonderful architecture, I had, to my chagrin, not dug any deeper into the historical connections with the area. That is, until today. There is a lovely closed park in the centre of Fitzwilliam Square, and I couldn’t figure out how to get in. Well…as it turns out, it is a private park only available to the householders surrounding the park. I am now trying to see if we qualify as such as I can get in. I have just heard back that we do and this feels all so clubbish.
However, when I was wandering about websites to discover the bye laws surrounding the park, I discovered that our address has some greater notoriety. Many of the buildings in the area have little plaques on them, noting famous personages that were born or lived in the the area. Our address is a little more tragic. 28 Upper Pembroke (as well as a couple other houses) were targeted by Michael Collin’s squads during the sweep of Sunday 21 November 1920. These early morning lightning raids were intended to decapitate the british intelligence efforts in Ireland. Throughout the city, british agents whose addresses and whereabouts had been obtained in the weeks previous were hunted down in homes, parks and cafe’s. In the case of 28 Upper Pembroke, a certain Captain Fitzgerald was killed here and papers were found in his possession detailing the movements of senior IRA figures. Apparently four agents were gunned down in this townhouse alone. For those of you that may have seen Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins, these same assassinations were followed by the wanton slaughter of innocent civilians and players at Croke Park during a GAA match.
The War of Independence was fought right on our front steps. Perhaps I will give second thought to working late in the office here. Ohhhh…scary!