Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
mhifle

Lieutenant Gerald Neilan, Royal Dublin Fusilers

Recommended Posts

mhifle

Hi,

I noticed on Fergal Keane's 'Story of Ireland' broadcast on the BBC that he mentioned Lieutenant Gerald Neilan, Royal Dublin Fusiliers who was killed by a sniper while

advancing along the quays in Dublin while heading to the GPO during the Easter Uprising in 1916. His Medal Card states Died 24/4/16.

They then discovered that his younger brother Anthony was actually fighting as part of the rebels in Dublin at the same time.

I was wondering if anyone had anymore information on these two brothers.

Regards Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GraemeClarke

Will this do

Gerald Aloysius NEILAN

Lieutenant

10th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers

Died in Republic of Ireland on Monday 24 April 1916

Gerald was born on Tuesday 7 June 1881, the second son of John (of Ballygalda, Roscommon) and Eva (nee Kelly) Neilan of 4, Mount Harold Terrace, Leinster Road, Dublin. His father was a farmer and local Justice of the Peace and his mother was the daughter of the late John Kelly of Essex Lawn, Roscommon. He was educated at Clongrowes Wood College, County Kildare. Following her husbands death some time before 1911 Eva resided at Mount Harold Terrace, Dublin.

Gerald enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) during the South African War being severely wounded. From here he was drafted to China were he served for 6 years before leaving the Army.

Gerald joined the Birmingham City Police on Saturday 18 January 1908, serving on the D Division with warrant number 7675, and was appointed on Wednesday 27 January 1909.

Gerald resigned on Sunday 20 December 1914 to rejoin the Army and was immediately given a commission being gazetted to the 24th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, later transferring to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. He was serving in Dublin engaged in recruitment duties when killed not half a mile from his parents house.

Hewas killed on the first day of the Irish Rebellion, Easter Monday 1916, a Republican insurrection against British government, planned to be a nationwide event. The British learned of the planned uprising and on Friday 21 April 1916 arrested the Irish nationalist Sir Roger Casement in County Kerry for running arms for the rebels. Although Eoin MacNeill, the leader of the Irish Volunteers, attempted to cancel the uprising, various factions mobilised resulting in about 1,560 Irish volunteers and a 200 man contingent of the Citizen Army seizing the Dublin General Post Office and other strategic points in Dublin's city centre. A proclamation announcing the birth of the Irish republic was read aloud. For nearly a week Dublin was paralysed by street fighting with British artillery bombardments and fires compelling the Irish leaders to surrender on Saturday 29 April 1916. By this time casualties amounted to about 440 British troops and 75 Irish rebels.

Gerald was killed at the Mendicity Institute on Usher Island, this being a poorhouse on the Liffey quays, when it was attacked and seized by the Irish rebels. The attack was led by Sean Heuston who had orders to hold the building for 2 hours but, as it later transpired, he held it for 3 days. In a memorandum sent by General Sir John Maxwell to the Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, he states of Heuston,

This man was in command of the Mendicity Institute, Usher's Island. One British Officer and nine men were killed by the fire from the building which had to be carried by assault. Twenty-three rebels were captured in it amongst them this man, and large stores of revolver and rifle ammunitions and bombs were found. Orders and despatches were also discovered showing that this man was in constant communication with the leaders. In all of these despatches he described himself and was described as Captain.

Once the uprising had been quelled, the ringleaders, Heuston, W. ODea, P. Kelly and J. Crenigan were tried together by Field General Courts Martial on Thursday 4 May 1916. The first witness, Captain A.W. MacDermot of the 7th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers stated,

On 26 April I was present when the Mendicity Institution was taken by assault by a party of the 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Twenty-three men surrendered on that occasion. I identify the four prisoners as having been in the body of men who surrendered. They left their arms except their revolvers in the Mendicity Institute when they surrendered. Some of them still wore revolvers. One officer of the 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers was killed and 9 men wounded by fire from this Institute on the 24th April. I searched the building when they surrendered. I found several rifles, several thousand rounds of ammunition for both revolvers and rifles. I found 6 or 7 bombs charged and with fuses in them ready for use.

The next witness was Lieutenant W.P. Connolly, 10th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers. He stated,

I was present when 23 men surrendered on the 26th April at the Mendicity Institute. I identify the four prisoners before the court as being amongst them. The leader was J.J. Heuston. I was present when the troops were fired on from the Mendicity Institute on the 24th April, when Lieutenant G.A. Neilan was killed and 6 men wounded to my knowledge. Heuston was without a coat when he surrendered and also had no hat on. He was not in the uniform of the Irish Volunteers. I was present when the building was searched and found arms and ammunition in it and also the documents now before the court. Among the arms there were some old German Mausers. Among the ammunition there were two cardboard boxes of Spange German ammunition.

All four defendants were found guilty with Heuston being shot at 4.05am on Monday 8 May 1916 in the former stonebreakers yard at Kilmainham Prison. His remains were later buried in Arbour Lane Cemetery.

Gerald is buried in Glasnevin (Prospect) Cemetery, County Dublin in Grave St. Bridgets. SH. 20.5.-21 and is also commemorated on the Birmingham City Police War Memorial, West Midlands Police, Lloyd House, Birminham, on a memorial panel in the Abbey Presbyterian Church, Parnell Square, Dublin and at The Sacred Heart Church, Roscommon. He was unmarried.

His brothers Charles James and Alan Joseph saw service during the war as Doctors in the Royal Army Medical Corps in Mesopotamia and France.

Ironically another brother, Anthony, took part in the uprising against the British and was arrested and served a sentence in Knutsford Detention Barracks.

Regards

Graeme

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mhifle

Hi Graeme,

Thanks for that very detailed information.

Regards Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GraemeClarke

Mark

No problem, I researched him when I researched the WW1 and WW2 from Birmingham City Police KiA.

Would anyone, perchance, have a photograph of this man ?

Graeme

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
corisande

There were 2 Lieutenants in the column of 10th Battalion RDFthat left Royal Barracks to relieve Dublin Castle, Gerald Neilan was one, my grandfather was the other.

I have a first hand account of Neilan's death from my grandfather's diary, and I also have a first hand account of one of the men in the Mendicity Institute who shot at the column.

There is a full account about a third way down this page on my grandfather. The essence from the IRA man is

..... Reflection of this kind came suddenly to an end when my eye caught signs of movement across the Liffey on the quays. Incredible to relate the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Regiment were coming out of the Royal Barracks headed by an officer carrying a drawn sword in columns of fours with their rifles at the slope. The column erupted suddenly on the quay and continued to pour its khaki bulk out like a sausage coming from a machine. No advance guard - no scouts thrown out in advance to give warning of enemy forces lying in wait. Stepping smartly in time as if on a ceremonial parade the column came nearer to us, and to add to the air of festivity a tram came running along the tracks from the Park.

The Tommies had reached halfway between Ellis's Street and Blackhall Place, when possibly the strain becoming too much, someone downstairs fired. At that reaction of the rest of us was instantaneous, and we all let go. If Sean Heuston blew his whistle its sound was lost in the thundering reverberations that beat about our ears as the echo of the rifle explosions came back across the river from the houses opposite. I fired with the rest at nothing in particular, and suddenly became aware that I was pulling on a trigger and there was no recoil. I had emptied the magazine of the Lee Enfield in a wild unaimed burst of firing quite automatically and unconsciously. I filled the magazine again, put one in the breech and bringing my eyes into focus I saw that the tram was stopped, and had emptied itself of its passengers. The khaki column had scattered. Here and there in the doorways the soldiers crouched, some could be seen taking cover behind the river wall, others were making sudden jumps for the cover of the tram. The corners still had their clumps of curious and interested civilian onlookers.

My grandfather wrote

I received orders to take B Company, about 50 men to the Castle. No further orders and there was no inkling that rebellion had broken out. I proceeded at the head of the party down a narrow street to the quays, where on turning a corner into Bridgeford Street, we received a volley of rifle shots which scattered our party.The officer following me, Lt Neilan, was killed,as were five or six men, and several more were wounded. I re-assembled the party, leaving the injured on the road, and sent out an advance party of six men. The party proceeded across Aran Street Bridge and up Winetarven Street to James Street, along Christchurch Place in the direction of the Castle, The rifle firing in the adjoining neighbourhood had become intense from the South Dublin Union which was being subject to heavy attack. A few shots passed over us without any effect.

I often reflect that such is the lottery of life, if my grandfather had been shot and not Gerald Neilan, then I would not be here writing this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mhifle

Hi,

Thanks for all the information.

I thought Fergal Keane's 'Story of Ireland'did quite a good job considering the limited time available, an hour broadcast for each broadcast.

Regards Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BrendanLee

Does anyone have anyinformation on Anthony Neilan, there is no Anthony Neilan on the 1916 Participants list although there is an Arthur Neilan. The 1901 and 1911 census shows anArthur but no Anthony.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mhifle

I think he was the son of John Neilan, of Ballygalda, Roscommon if that helps

Regards Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BrendanLee

I think he was the son of John Neilan, of Ballygalda, Roscommon if that helps

Regards Mark

Hi Mark,

I have found several references to Arthur and initials such as in Gerald's obituary his brother A J Neilan which could be Anthony but could also be Arthur. I can find Arthur living at home with his Father aged 6 in 1901 and at 16 in Clongowes College in 1916 but I have been unable to find anymention of Anthony.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
corisande

My feeling is that Anthony is not correct and that Arthur is the right rendering

I have a guide which you can feel free to correct on this link

Irish GRO only gives Arthur, Anthony does not appear to yield anyone that he could have been. I am not sure of the provenance of "Anthony" as I have not dug into that side of the story. From Irish GRO Arthur Neilan b1895, died 1944 in Dublin.

I have also updated my notes on Gerald Neilan, but do not have a photo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jdoyle

Hi Mark,

I have found several references to Arthur and initials such as in Gerald's obituary his brother A J Neilan which could be Anthony but could also be Arthur. I can find Arthur living at home with his Father aged 6 in 1901 and at 16 in Clongowes College in 1916 but I have been unable to find anymention of Anthony.

the A J Neilan could be either Arthur James Neilan or his other brother Dr/Captain Alan Joseph Neilan, RAMC (1888 - 1859).

Johnny

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
corisande

I did a bit more digging

1. The widowed mother Eva is in 1911 living at 4 Mount Harold Terrace Dublin in the census

2. Easter Rebellion Handbook gives " A Neilan of 4 Mount Harald Terrace, Clerk" as being among a group of 200 sent on 1 May 1916 to Knutsford Detention.

It does not define which A Neilan, but it does prove that one of them really was detained.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jdoyle

Alan Joseph Neilan's medal card has him as entering Mesopotamia 31/7/1916.

appears to have been wounded in 1918

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2340367/pdf/brmedj06947-0023.pdf

Boer War casualty records for G Neilan

Name:G NeilanCasualty Type:WoundedCasualty Date:6 Mar 1902Casualty Place:BushmanRank:PrivateForce:South Africa Field ForceRegiment:Sherwood ForestersBattalion:2nd BattalionNumber:6358

Name:G NeilanCasualty Type:PrisonerCasualty Date:12 Feb 1902Casualty Place:Klip RiverRank:PrivateForce:South Africa Field ForceRegiment:Sherwood ForestersBattalion:2nd BattalionNumber:6358Remarks:Released

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dublin Fusilier

The two Neilan brothers are buried in the same grave in Glasnevin Cemetry in Dublin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gabrielle Shortland

 Eleven years too late I've noticed your queries about the Neilan brothers. I daresay you have researched Arthur Neilan by now. There is a certain amount of info on the net. But, for what it's worth: Despite the fact that they were a Catholic family, the Neilans had a strong loyalty to Britain. Arthur was 13 years younger than Gerald. Though he had three brothers serving with the British army, aged 18 he joined the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Republican Brotherhood. In 1916 was sent to join the Four Courts garrison, some members of which also took over the Mendicity Institute on the opposite side of the River Liffey. Lieutenant Gerald Neilan was shot dead by bullets from the Mendicity Institute as he led Fusiliers along the river towards Dublin Castle. Later Arthur discovered his brother Gerald had been killed by members of his own unit. Following the surrender, Arthur was arrested and sent to detention in England. Then was released in 1917, under the terms of an amnesty. He later fought in the Irish War of Independence. His family shunned him because he supported the republican cause. He was never even mentioned. However, his mother used to leave food out for him on the doorstep at some stage. And he died in her home in 1944. After heated arguments the family buried him beside Gerald in the renowned Glasnevin Cemetery. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Michael Pegum
On ‎13‎/‎06‎/‎2011 at 12:33, GraemeClarke said:

Will this do

Gerald Aloysius NEILAN

Lieutenant

10th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers

Died in Republic of Ireland on Monday 24 April 1916

.......

Gerald is buried in Glasnevin (Prospect) Cemetery, County Dublin in Grave St. Bridgets. SH. 20.5.-21 and is also commemorated on the Birmingham City Police War Memorial, West Midlands Police, Lloyd House, Birminham, on a memorial panel in the Abbey Presbyterian Church, Parnell Square, Dublin and at The Sacred Heart Church, Roscommon. He was unmarried.

.........

Graeme

 

Just noticed this post. In fact, Gerald Neilan is not commemorated in the Abbey Presbyterian (Findlater's) church, Dublin. However, it is correct that he is named on a panel in the Sacred Heart church, Roscommon town. It can be seen here. It is quite unusual for a Catholic church in Ireland to have a war memorial.

 

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GraemeClarke

Morning,

 

Grateful for the correction,

 

Regards,

 

Graeme

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Don

Hi Graeme

This might be of use to you

Regards Gerry  

Neligan.pdf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Michael Pegum

I should have added that Gerald Neilan is also commemorated at Clongowes Wood College (on the same panel as my cousin, Joseph) and at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen

 

Some readers outside Ireland may not be aware of the apparent anomaly of these colleges, one Catholic, one Protestant, both having the same commemorative plaque. It is because of Fr. John Sullivan, who was brought up in the Church of Ireland (Anglican), and went to Portora. At the age of 35 he became a Catholic and joined the Jesuit Order, and later went to teach at Clongowes.

 

Saintly in life, he is now well on the way to being declared a saint. The two colleges have collaborated in celebrating his life.

 

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
corisande

Michael

 

Fascinating about the two memorials.

 

I lost the thread in the plot. Did Gerald Neilan go to Portora, and what was Neilan's connection with Fr Sullivan?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Michael Pegum

Gerald Neilan went to Clongowes, and appears on their war memorial. A duplicate of this memorial has been set up in Portora, because of their recent link with Clongowes. This link is because Portora is pleased that one of their former students may be declared a saint.

 

Fr. John Sullivan, who has been beatified (one step below sainthood, but promotion is not automatic), was a student at Portora and, later, taught in Clongowes. As it happens, he was at Clongowes from 1907 to 1933, so it is quite likely that he taught Gerald Neilan and my cousin.

 

Sorry about the confusion, Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...