Carol Walsh (née Coughlan)
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Carol Walsh (née Coughlan)


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Henry Randolph Coughlan grew up in Clontarf in Dublin and was the youngest member of his family. His father, Patrick, was a Customs Inspector. Carol reads the names of the members in the household from the 1911 Census. She explains that Henry’s brother Gus emigrated to Seattle and that his sister Margaret lived with another sister Brigid and her husband on Dromcondra Road. Carol’s mother’s family were related to the Brinleys in Ashbourne. Carol does not remember much discussion about the Rising during her upbringing. Her parents had married in 1935 and Carol now recalls her father and his upbringing. In later life Henry had a shop on Mobhí Road and Carol recounts an anecdote about a difficulty he encountered in the 1970s relating to the sale of An Phoblacht. At that stage he was in his late 60s and this period, involving the rise of the IRA, caused him anxiety. Carol regrets that she and her sister know very little about their father’s activities. She has a certificate stating that he was active in the 5th Battalion Engineers, Dublin Brigade Old IRA. She reads the other names on the certificate which is signed by Thomas Keegan, who became a friend. Henry was involved in the War of Independence and he later worked as a detective in the Garda Siochána. A tour of the Republican plot at Glasnevin Cemetery, when Carol spoke to an old gentleman she met there on the occasion, is recalled. She explains that shortly after his marriage, Henry left the police force and set himself up in business. He was in receipt of Army and Garda pensions. She recalls a frequent visitor to the shop who used to comment on how ‘ignorant’ the Irish were, which she now understands, though at the time she did not. A boyhood photograph of her father is examined, along with some others. Every Easter Sunday the family would visit Kilmainham Gaol for the service and a 21-gun salute by the Army. She recalls seeing the holes in the prison yard wall where the men of 1916 were shot. Carol remembers the military parade in the commemoration year of 1966. She says that her father always managed to get access to a window on O’Connell Street so that they could watch, in comfort, the ceremony to mark the 1916 Rising. He appears to have been the only one in his family to have got involved in the struggle, she says. Henry died in 1978 and is buried in St Fintan’s Cemetery with his wife and elder daughter. Carol remembers the Army firing party at the graveside. Henry was a supporter of Michael Collins. It became his view that supporters of Fianna Fáil were promoted in the new State more quickly than others. From the beginning of the new State he was a member of the Free State Army. Carol recalls the stories her father told about the training he received in the Dublin Mountains and about one of his commanders who was strict and abusive. She describes her father as an honest and decent person. As to religion, she describes him as a Christian who attended Mass regularly at Christmas. In his shop he ran a lending library, with the books renewed every month. Carol remembers people standing around chatting and Henry described some of them as ‘craw-thumpers’, having come from the various religious ceremonies. As may be seen from the names on the 1911 Census form, Henry’s family appear to have had an English influence. Carol explains that her father’s view of the Treaty was that it was a better option than Home Rule, and he reinforced this view by joining the Army. She admits that she does not know what rank he held but apparently he carried an officer’s weapon. She remembers his uniform hanging in the wardrobe and the tricolour flag, neither of which unfortunately are now in her possession. She does have two War of Independence medals and a 1916 medal which are very important to her, and she intends wearing the medals at Easter 2016. She is pleased that her nephew is now interested in the family history. The Coughlan family home in Mobhí Road is recalled, where they lived over the shop. After her father’s retirement the business was sold and he and his wife moved to Raheny.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

36.78 MB

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Henry Coughlan (Interviewee’s father)

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore