DBF Interviews: Darren Kelly

1916 Walking Tour – The Battles of the Easter Rising with Darren Kelly and Derek Molyneux. Here, Darren tells us what people can expect.


Q: When the Clock Struck in 1916 – Close-Quarter Combat in the Easter Rising, the book co-authored by yourself and Derek Molyneux, is the background upon which you base the walking tour you’ll be giving at #DBF2015, but did you always have it in mind to bring to life for people the events of the Rising?

There had been an idea to do walking tours which began when a lot of interest was shown in our Facebook page ‘Dublin 1916 then & now’. But this was put on hold when we decided to write ‘When the Clock Stuck in 1916’. We now have had a great opportunity to work and are still working with Marcus Howard of Easter Rising Stories producing video documentary’s for the different areas where fighting occurred during the rising. Also I think there are already some great tours out there, Lorcan Collins and the 1916 Rebellion walking tour to name but one. We have started work on the second book and are doing various other pieces about the rising outside of Dublin. But saying that it is not out of the question for walking tours in the future.


Q: What sparked your own interest in the 1916 Rising and history in general?

At the age of about ten, it was around 1980. We were living in Cabra at the time. I overheard a conversation between my mother and her friend. My mother said the words ‘their bombs wouldn’t even singe the wallpaper but they still held out for a week’. And that was it, now it did take a few more years before I got my first book about the rising but that was the spark that started it all off in me.


Q: For those lucky enough to have booked a ticket, what can they expect from the tour?

We intend bringing our audience on a brief walk through the streets that form the set to the breathtaking chapters in our book dealing with the sequence of events in Sackville Street – the GPO – and Moore Street. We will stand on the spot where James Connolly was shot for the second time. We will then visit the rebel positions on O’Connell street where they held off repeated assaults from every angle – then on to the GPO to demonstrate how well-organised the evacuation of that building actually was in spite of the escalating carnage all around. We intend to have our listeners ducking from the sounds of artillery, whizzing bullets and collapsing buildings as we follow the evacuation route into Henry Place, where Volunteer Captain Liam Tannan saw some truly unforgettable sights, and where 20-year-old Volunteer Sean McLoughlin took control of an army as things began to finally fall apart in Henry Place. We will tell the stories that leap from the walls of the buildings between O’Connell Bridge and Parnell Street in a shattering and vivid way, focussing on the combat – the burning buildings – the smells – the terror felt by all sides – the tragedy – the exhaustion – the epic story that was Easter Week – up close and personal.