Pádraig McNulty (b. 1932) and Úna McNulty (b. 1968)
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Pádraig McNulty (b. 1932) and Úna McNulty (b. 1968)


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Pádraig McNulty recalls his father, Peadar McNulty, who was born at 155 Phibsboro Road in Dublin. His father, James, who was born in Rathoath, had been left to care for a young family following the death of his wife. Pádraig’s daughter Úna describes James McNulty’s background. Peadar had two sisters, Elizabeth (Lil) who was a member of Cumann na mBan, and Margaret, and a younger brother Mícheál. Pádraig describes the reasons why his father and his Uncle Mícheál left home to take part in the Rising, and mentions the support given them by their father. Úna details the family history in Rathfriland and Philadelphia. Mícheál had joined the Irish Volunteers at the Rotunda in 1913 and Peadar joined in August 1914. Peadar saw his first day of action at the gun-running at Howth in 1914, while Mícheál remained on guard duty in Dawson Street. Pádraig feels that his father would not have supported Home Rule. He was in employment prior to the Rising but because of his activities he was later unable to earn a living. Pádraig explains that his father was imprisoned in England and later released. He went on the run during the War of Independence and was involved on the anti-Treaty side during the Civil War. Úna discusses her grandfather’s copybook notes in which he described Redmond as misguided. He was proud of A Company because so few men left to join Redmond’s faction, which he called the ‘Irish Party’ Volunteers. During the Rising, Peadar and his brother Mícheál were with the Four Courts Garrison. He worked closely with Michael Staines in moving ammunition into position. Pádraig recalls a story told to him by his father about an incident at the barricades at North King Street. A British soldier was badly injured and the Volunteers called to the enemy, offering to hold their fire so that he could be evacuated. Unfortunately, the British did not trust the Volunteers and the injured man remained where he lay until he was collected much later that day. Úna recalls the fact that on the Thursday of Easter Week, Mícheál McNulty retreated with Ned Daly to the Four Courts. Peadar remained with Paddy Holahan in O’Reilly’s Fort until the following Sunday when they surrendered. Mícheál was brought to the Rotunda by the authorities but Peadar was taken directly to Richmond Barracks. Pádraig again refers to the story about the injured British soldier, and to the fact that this incident was to have a profound effect on his father. Peadar never spoke about what the surrender meant to him but he did refer to the jeering public while the men were being marched for transportation to England. Úna recalls a story involving Margaret McNulty during the War of Independence. She was carrying a sack of ‘War Flour’ (a euphemism for explosive) for use in the manufacture of bombs. Her sister Lil was also involved in the War of Independence and the Civil War. Úna explains that the family discovered from the Military Archives statements that Mícheál McNulty worked underground from his hardware shop in Capel Street. The two McNulty brothers were detained at Stafford Prison and at Frongoch after the Rising. Pádraig recalls the fact that his father learnt Irish at the prison camp and would later help him with his Irish homework. In the 1940’s, Peadar did some work on his memoirs in relation to this period of his life. Pádraig describes his discovery of his father’s memoirs, and Úna emphasises the importance of the manuscript. She describes the meeting of her grandparents, Peadar McNulty and Aileen Collins. Aileen’s brother Patrick was also active in republicanism and Pádraig remembers his part in the Howth gun-running. Aileen Collins’s grandfather was a member of the RIC. Her grandfather’s role in the Civil War is remembered by Úna, as she explains that Paddy Holahan was the Commanding Officer who tried to break through to the Four Courts from Capel Street with his group, which included Peadar McNulty. They were arrested and brought to Wellington Barracks. Peadar was imprisoned at Newbridge Prison. After the Civil War he lost his job and was unemployed for four years. Pádraig reflects on the reasons why his father opposed the Treaty, and Úna has the impression from her grandfather’s writings that he made his decision on principle rather than on the basis of personalities. In 1921 he became Officer in Command of A Company 1st Battalion IRA. Michael Staines’s name occurs several times in Peadar McNulty’s writings. Úna recounts the story about the Collinstown aerodrome raid in which her grandfather took part. Pádraig describes his father’s character and physical characteristics, and he says that he never gave the impression to his children that he was in any way disillusioned. He bought the Irish Press every day and was a supporter of Éamon de Valera. Pádraig never heard him speak bitterly about the Free State or display any enmity to the English in general. He was active during the years 1914 to 1923. He was one of the men involved on Bloody Sunday and Úna details his movements on that day. When he married Aileen Collins in 1931 he was over forty years of age, and Pádraig recalls his mother’s constant support of her husband. Peadar was an auctioneer and valuer and was working for Battersby’s during the period 1916-1923. During Pádraig’s lifetime he worked in a similar position for Thornton and Aston, mainly as a valuer. He was appointed President of the Auctioneers and Valuers Association. Úna considers a letter from Dick McKee’s sister to her grandmother, and Pádraig explains the relationship between the McKees and the McNultys. Peadar’s sister, Lil McNulty, was a member of Cumann na mBan and Pádraig remarks that she was very proud of the fact that she was a messenger for Seán Lemass. She was a member of the Colmcille Branch of Cumann na mBan and was active in the War of Independence and the Civil War. Pádraig remarks that Lil took care of Count Plunkett on his deathbed, and he considers some connections he had with the Plunkett family. At one time, Mícheál McNulty mentioned that his sister Lil had been active down the country with land mines, Úna recalls, adding that she has Mícheál’s medals and the certificate relating to Peadar’s involvement in the Rising and War of Independence. She mentions that her grandfather was Steward in the 1st Dáil at the Mansion House and says that the photograph of the 1st Dáil is still in the family. Pádraig tells an anecdote about a grenade being hidden in a glass of Guinness and the men escaping from a British Army raid. He mentions his half Iranian grandson Kiyan, who recently was proud to tell his school class in Austria about his great-grandfather Peadar McNulty.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

50.11 MB

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Product ID:



Peadar McNulty (Interviewees’ father/grandfather), Mícheál McNulty (uncle/ granduncle) and Lil McNulty (aunt/grandaunt)

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