Bernadette Marks (b.1939)
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Bernadette Marks (b.1939)


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The Marks family lived at the Green in Swords before relocating to the Drinan Road in the village. Bernadette Marks’s father James ‘Jimmy’ died when she was just six months old. Both Jimmy and his older brother Dick were in the Irish Volunteers, though Dick followed John Redmond and joined the British Army. He served in Salonika during WWI while Jimmy became involved in the 1916 Rising. Jimmy Marks attended the local school and later became an apprentice butcher. Bernadette gathers that he was considered a rebel and she wonders if members of the various organisations in existence around the time of the Rising ever thought that their activities would have serious consequences. Jimmy Marks was sentenced to death after the Rising, but his sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life. He was released from imprisonment in 1917. He worked as a butcher with Murrays of Lusk, and later went on the run during the War of Independence. Bernadette explains that Jimmy met Tomas Ashe at Knocksedan before the men walked into the city centre, answering James Connolly’s call to arms at Easter 1916. Later Jimmy was sent from the GPO to the Mendicity Institute where the young Seán Heuston was in command. After the surrender, Jimmy was first taken to Mountjoy Prison, then on to Kilmainham Gaol and finally to Lewes and Portland prisons. Bernadette discusses a letter he wrote to his mother from Portland Prison in Dorset. During the War of Independence, the Black and Tans came looking for Jimmy Marks, but fortunately they saw his brother Dick’s British Army cap on the kitchen table and left the house. Bernadette recalls her mother, Mary Jo Murphy, teaching her the rebel songs, and she also recalls her maternal grandparents and their life in Skerries and Swords. Mary Jo and her sisters were too young to be involved in 1916, she explains. Jimmy Marks fought on the republican side with De Valera during the Civil War, and Bernadette knows that he travelled to Wexford and Longford for work while on the run. She has his medals, and also a document sent from Douglas Hyde, in her possession. The opening of the The Sluagh Hall in Swords for the RDF in 1938 is recalled. Bernadette remarks that she knows little of her Uncle Dick Marks’ army record. She discusses Jimmy’s letters home from Portland Prison, and a recent oral history project in which she was involved. Her father’s employment history and his difficulty in getting work is mentioned, as is the fact that he had died before statements were made to the Bureau of Military History, though he had applied for the pension. His final resting place is in Swords. Bernadette reads from a document listing the men from Fingal who were tried by courts martial in 1916. She examines some photographs of the Fingal Brigade in 1916. A letter written from prison to his mother by her father in 1917 is read out, in which he expresses his gratitude for receiving books from her, and telling of how well he is learning Irish in prison. Bernadette recalls her childhood meeting with her paternal grandmother. Mrs Marks was very religious and Bernadette remarks on the importance of religious observance to the people of the time. Some of the families from the area, such as the Duffs and Colemans who were involved in the revolutionary struggle, are mentioned.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

51.96 MB

Number of files:
Product ID:



James Marks (Interviewee’s father)

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore