Nuala Breslin (b. 1927)
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Nuala Breslin (b. 1927)


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Nuala Breslin’s four grandparents came from Co. Kildare, and her father, John Fitzharris, was born and reared in Seville Place in Dublin. He joined the Irish Volunteers and was very much involved in the cultural and nationalist activities at 100 Seville Place. During the Rising he was stationed at the GPO. Nuala recalls the fact that her father described to her the bravery of James Connolly and how the insurgents evacuated through the back of the buildings. Nuala is not aware of where her father was taken after the surrender, but she remembers his description of onlookers who jeered and mocked the men as they were marched to the boat for England. John Fitzharris was detained at Stafford Prison and at Frongoch. He was not bitter about his treatment by the British, his daughter says. She knows that he was one of the last foot soldiers to be released (on Christmas Eve 1916) and that his mother had previously petitioned for his release. Nuala was 7 years old when her mother, Christine Losty, died of pneumonia at the age of 40. Ten years later her father John died and she explains that much of what she knows about the 1916 period she learnt from her father’s mother. Her grandmother told her about the house in Seville Place being raided by the Black and Tans and also by the regular soldiers. During the War of Independence, John Fitzharris was present at Croke Park on Bloody Sunday where one of his close friends, Paddy McDonald, was playing for Dublin. Nuala describes how McDonald tried to protect her mother and her father’s concern because Paddy was wearing a team jersey and could have been vulnerable to attack. She remembers her father as non-judgemental, and a man who considered Michael Collins as a hero but who could also see de Valera’s position. He never supported one side over the other, she says. His friends Michael Colgan, Paddy McDonald and his brother Stephen, the Lawless brothers and his best friend Larry Mackey are mentioned. John Fitzharris was very athletic. Each Sunday he and his friends would meet on the Short Stand at Croke Park, accessed from the Jones Road entrance. George Fitzharris, her paternal grandfather, was quite bitter about his experiences during that the revolutionary period, and she explains that he and some other men were locked up overnight in St Barnabas Church on the East Wall. These men were all fathers of those who were active. George Fitzharris worked with the Dublin Port and Dock Company. After Nuala’s mother died, he and his wife moved from Seville Place to live with their son John and his family. Nuala has her father’s medals in her possession. John Fitzharris received a military service pension and she has read his application papers. She reads aloud information about his membership of the Irish Volunteers, his role in 1916 and in the War of Independence and his membership of the O’Toole’s Football Club. He had left his position at the Dublin Woollen Company at Bachelors Walk prior to the Rising. He requested a reference from the company and Nuala now reads this document which is dated March 31st, 1916. He later took up employment again with the company, and he died at the age of 50. Nuala recalls her father’s funeral in 1944 when she was only 17, and she says that she found the military aspect of the event very upsetting. She explains that her father was proud of his Irish roots and heritage and was immensely proud of his friends and comrades who made such great sacrifices. He was a great lover of sports of all kinds, and a keen follower of rugby, despite the GAA ban with which he did not agree. He was a regular at matches in Lansdowne Road but his passion was always for GAA. She remarks on the importance of the O’Toole’s GAA Club in the area as an example of neighbourly solidarity, and she remembers her father going to matches on Sunday mornings and spending time with his old friends.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

40.02 MB

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John Fitzharris (Interviewee’s father)

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore