Jimmy Stephenson (b. 1948) and David Kilmartin (b. 1963)
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Jimmy Stephenson (b. 1948) and David Kilmartin (b. 1963)


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Jimmy Stephenson and David Kilmartin are first cousins, and Jimmy explains that his grandfather Paddy Joe Stephenson married Mary ‘Mamie’ Kilmartin. She and her brother Paddy had a tough beginning to life, he says. Their father Daniel was a cattle drover at Stoneybatter, who earned extra money by wrestling in the Phoenix Park. Jimmy recalls the unfortunate fact that he also engaged in drinking contests and was to die as a result, leaving Mary a young and pregnant widow. She went on to establish a business, Kane’s of Stoneybatter, which is still trading. Mary Kilmartin’s ardent republicanism, which she passed to her children, is discussed. Her daughter Mamie and son Paddy grew up in a strongly republican household, and she encouraged Paddy to join the Irish Volunteers, which he did on the night of its foundation. David describes the Stoneybatter area at this time, remarking that it was a poor, working class area and a hotbed of republicanism. In 1916 his grandfather, Paddy Kilmartin originally went to George’s Place off Dorset Street but could not locate the rest of his unit. He knew that another unit was located up at North Circular Road behind Phibsboro church. They were manning barricades and blocking British troop reinforcements advancing on the city. He later volunteered to visit the GPO Garrison to acquire dynamite and other war materials, with plans to blow up trains, signal boxes and railway lines around Cabra and Broadstone. His granduncle, Paddy Joe Stephenson, was based at the Mendicity Institute and with the GPO Garrison. His grandaunt, Mamie Kilmartin, was with the Four Courts Garrison. Jimmy describes the marriage of Paddy Joe Stephenson and Mamie Kilmartin in 1917. Their best man was Seán MacLoughlin who was also involved in the Rising. Fortunately his grandfather kept a record of his activities during his life, and Jimmy has his handwritten account of his activities during Easter Week. Jimmy’s father, Patrick Heuston Stephenson, recorded much of Paddy Kilmartin’s activities, which was fortunate, as the latter kept no personal record. Jimmy discusses Paddy Joe Stephenson’s activities on Easter Sunday 1916, which began with a céilí he attended with his girlfriend Mamie Kilmartin. That night he remained at the dancehall to protect the arms which had been stashed there. The following day he was sent to Liberty Hall, reporting to MacDonagh, and details are provided on what occurred during that day. Details of Paddy Kilmartin’s involvement that Easter weekend are recounted by David. Paddy’s first engagement was at North Circular Road, where the men blocked the road for a few days. After some very sharp encounters with British troops, they were attacked with sniper and machine gun fire, and mortar rounds coming from Grangegorman. Some of the Volunteers escaped from there to scatter to support various other garrisons, and those who remained were forced to surrender eventually. David reflects on the fact that the statements made by his grandfather are sparse and that he rarely spoke about this time. Following the Rising, he was running the Kane’s of Stoneybatter business and his boys were attending boarding school, so little opportunity arose to learn about the details of his life. On the other hand, Paddy Joe Stephenson did talk about his activities, and his grandson Jimmy enlarges on the details. Paddy Joe gave a Radio Éireann interview in 1955, and because of this the family can still hear his voice. Jimmy remarks on his interest in and his pride in his grandfather and the role that he played in the Rising. The Radio Éireann interview is played at this point in the recording, featuring Paddy Joe Stephenson speaking about the events of Easter Week. He and Paddy Kilmartin were heavily involved in the War of Independence. Jimmy describes Paddy Kilmartin as a ‘fixer’ who stashed many useful items in Kane’s business premises. The shop was often raided as a result. Paddy was also director of transport so he organised vehicles for operations. David recalls that Paddy Kilmartin held contracts to supply British military establishments with fruit and vegetables, and on his delivery trips he would take the opportunity to seize whatever guns and ammunition he could. He would also acquire intelligence from military personnel at these locations. A local network in Stoneybatter helped with storing this haul, and David speaks of talking with descendants of these people at meetings of the 1916 Relatives Association and learning more in this way. He discusses an occasion when the Black and Tans came looking for Paddy Kilmartin, but they fortunately had an incorrect surname. The split at the time of the Civil War is remembered. Jimmy explains that both Paddy Kilmartin and Paddy Joe Stephenson refused to take up arms against former friends and colleagues, though the Civil War did affect the family. Jimmy remarks that his great-grandfather, Paddy Joe’s father, was an ardent loyalist, a supporter of King and Country. He had nine children and his sons Samuel and Paddy Joe were members of the Gaelic League. When this was discovered the two young men left home. Another son, Edward, joined the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and fought in WWI in France. Jimmy recalls an incident which occurred while Paddy Joe Stephenson was at the Mendicity Institute. During this time, his father was shot dead by a British soldier for breaking the curfew. Edward Stephenson was given compassionate leave, and when he discovered how his father had been killed he deserted the British Army and moved to Tralee. David discusses the lives of Paddy Kilmartin and Paddy Joe Stephenson after Independence. Paddy Joe was one of the founding trustees of Kilmainham Gaol, and Paddy and his daughter Maureen were very much involved with the restoration project . Paddy Joe was a member of the Old Dublin Society and Jimmy recalls the fact that his grandfather called for a movement to be formed in 1957 to restore the prison. The importance of caring for 1916 projects as a legacy for future generations is discussed. David serves on the committee to restore Richmond Barracks and to make it available as a tourist attraction. He would like to see a Roll of Honour plaque at each garrison site, and at Richmond Barracks. Another wish is that a national holiday be reserved to remember and respect those who fought in 1916. Jimmy would like Paddy Joe Stephenson and all the other “ordinary” Volunteers of Easter Week to be remembered as great Irish patriots. Jimmy discusses an Irish prayer-book, used by Samuel Stephenson and inscribed in Irish at Frongoch in 1916. David explains that he has Paddy Kilmartin’s medals. He discusses a brochure issued in 1938 by the Kilmainham Gaol Restoration Committee to raise funds for a memorial to Seán Heuston. Jimmy provides detail on the formal foundation of the Kilmainham Gaol Restoration group from 1957. Paddy Kilmartin’s and Paddy Joe Stephenson’s desire to commemorate the men who fought during Easter Week is recalled. David talks about his researches into Paddy Kilmartin’s history, and Jimmy remarks that his family were fortunate that Paddy Joe Stephenson did write his own memoir about Easter Week. Paddy Kilmartin joined the Irish Army after Independence. He rose to the rank of Captain in Transport and Logistics and retired just after WWII, returning to the family greengrocery business. David recounts the story of the rearing of their first grandson Fergus Kilmartin in Dublin by Paddy and his wife Florrie. Jimmy reflects on his own love of Irish history and is pleased that his youngest daughter is now instilling this love of Ireland in her children. He recalls his grandaunt, Mamie Kilmartin, and her involvement with the Four Courts Garrison as a member of Cumann na mBan. He remembers her as a strong woman who had five sons, all of whom forged successful careers. Jimmy’s father, Patrick Heuston Stephenson, became a director of Irish Shell, Daniel became managing director of Norths Auctioneers in Dublin, Desmond was an accomplished Irish artist who died at the age of 42, Noel ran one of the largest insurance companies in Ireland, and Sam became one of Ireland’s renowned architects. Jimmy describes Mamie’s attitude to her husband’s role as a member of the Communist Party of Ireland. David recounts a story relating to the period when Paddy Kilmartin was interned in Arbour Hill Prison in 1916.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

52.26 MB

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Mamie Kilmartin and Paddy Joe Stephenson (Interviewees’ grandparents/granduncle) and Paddy Kilmartin (Interviewee’s grandaunt/grandfather)

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore