The Durham Irish Association of Canada

History

On this page, you can see stories, songs and poems about Ireland and about the Irish in Canada.

 

16-year-old rebel who played key role in crucial firefight at City Hall

By Cormac Looney

William 'Bill' Oman, pictured above, was born in 1900 and grew up in tenements in Back Lane, Merchant's Quay and High Street, beside Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin's south inner city.

His father, William Edward Oman, was involved in the nationalist Irish-Ireland and trade union movements

 

William Oman

Bill joined the Irish Citizen Army in 1913 and was present at Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa's funeral at Glasnevin Cemetery in August 1915. He sounded the Last Post after Patrick Pearse's oration that day.

Bill's older brother George was also in the Citizen Army, while their uncle Robert 'Bob' Oman was in the Irish Volunteers.

On Good Friday 1916 Bill kept guard, alone, outside a shop on Amiens Street where the leaders of the Rising met to consider their plan of action in the wake of the loss of a shipment of weapons from Germany.

On Easter Monday 1916, Bill used his bugle to sound the 'fall in' at Beresford Place, outside Liberty Hall, as the rebels prepared to march on the GPO.

During Easter Week he fought with three different garrisons - City Hall, Jacob's Biscuit Factory and the Royal College of Surgeons.

At City Hall he engaged British soldiers coming out of Ship Street Barracks. He recalled: "When I attempted to move out a few yards from where we stood, I was fired on by a single sniper."

With their position untenable Bill held off the British soldiers whilst his comrades escaped.

Mob

He then narrowly avoided capture after he was chased by a mob of enraged Dubliners - taking refuge that evening at his grandmother's house in Blackpitts.

The following day Bill reported to Jacob's where Thomas MacDonagh appointed him as his orderly until Bill was sent to help reinforce the Royal College of Surgeons garrison under Michael Mallin and Countess Markievicz.

Bill later stated: "Due to the fact that there were so many injured in the College...no noise or hilarity was allowed. We had to observe a certain amount of quietness, whereas in other posts there would have been singing and laughing".

When Pearse's surrender order came Mallin intended to send Bill out, under a white flag, to notify the British but this ultimately proved unnecessary.

When the Rising ended he was held with others, including Tom Clarke and Sean MacDiarmada, at Richmond Barracks - narrowly avoiding a mob attack while being taken there.

Bill was eventually released due to his young age, of 16 years.

He later joined the IRA and fought in the War of Independence and Civil War.

 

Bill Oman passed away in 1976 and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Details submitted by Niall Oman (great-grandson)

Bill Oman is Jonathan O'Mara's Grand Uncle

 

A friend and songwriter in Ireland, Finbarr O'Reilly, has made a YouTube video protesting a British TV sitcom which makes fun of the Great Irish Famine. Insensitive is not the word. Please take a look at this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mX3WXVDLzTk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irish Poems
and Blessings

 

'Is maith an scéalai an aimsir
Time is a great storyteller' - Irish Proverb

 

 

Here is a link to a page of Irish poetry:  http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~irelandlist/poems.html

 

 

 

   THE IRISH NATIONAL ANTHEM          

    

 

The Soldier's Song  
Written by Peadar Kearney, circa 1907

English translation:  
 
Soldier's Song
We'll sing a song, a soldier's song,  
With cheering rousing chorus,  
As round our blazing fires we throng,  
The starry heavens o'er us;  
Impatient for the coming fight,  
And as we wait the morning's light,  
Here in the silence of the night,   
We'll chant a soldier's song.  
 
Chorus: Soldiers are we  
whose lives are pledged to Ireland;  
Some have come  
from a land beyond the wave.  
Sworn to be free,  
No more our ancient sire land  
Shall shelter the despot or the slave.  
Tonight we man the gap of danger  
In Erin's cause, come woe or weal  
'Mid cannons' roar and rifles peal,  
We'll chant a soldier's song  
 
In valley green, on towering crag,  
Our fathers fought before us,  
And conquered 'neath the same old flag  
That's proudly floating o'er us.  
We're children of a fighting race,  
That never yet has known disgrace,  
And as we march, the foe to face,  
We'll chant a soldier's song  
 
Chorus 
Sons of the Gael! Men of the Pale!  
The long watched day is breaking;  
The serried ranks of Inisfail  
Shall set the Tyrant quaking.  
Our camp fires now are burning low;  
See in the east a silv'ry glow,  
Out yonder waits the Saxon foe,  
So chant a soldier's song.  
 
Chorus
 
 
I thought perhaps the DIA members might be interested in knowing that the National Archives of Ireland (in partnership with the Canadian government) has digitised the Irish 1911 census for all 32 Counties in Ireland. It is FREE for anyone to view.
 
Ireland is unusual among English-speaking census-taking countries in that the original household manuscript returns survived. These are the forms filled out and signed by the head of each household on census night.
 
I think the DIA members will find it very exciting to look up their ancestors in the 1911 Irish Census and see their grandparent's, or greatgrandparent's handwriting and signature. Here's the link:  http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/
 
Enjoy!
Frances