Robert Norton (b. 1945)
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Robert Norton (b. 1945)


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Robert Norton’s granduncle, Peter Norton, was 46 years old in 1916. His brother, Willie Norton, was a member of the Fingal Brigade. He had joined the Volunteers in 1914. When the Rising began, Willie was sent home as he was considered too old to take part in the action. Robert talks about his granduncle Joe Norton who died in Lewes Prison in 1917, having apparently contracted pneumonia. Robert says that he has read some witness statements which contain mention of the death of Joe Norton. Joe, Willie, Peter and Dick Norton came from near Lispopple in north Co. Dublin. Their father died in 1913. Peter Norton was one of the twenty men sent from the Fingal Brigade into Dublin city centre during the Rising, and Robert discusses the different accounts of events which he has read. After the surrender the men emerged from the Mendicity Institute. Peter was shot by a sniper and is buried in the grounds of Dr Steeven’s Hospital. As far as Robert knows, his relatives at the time were afraid to claim the body and it was a few weeks before his parents discovered where he had been buried. Peter Wilson, Robert Norton’s maternal uncle, was the only member of his family to speak to him about earlier times. He joined the Free State Army in March 1923, and Robert remembers him well. He feels that his uncle was not content in his career, and thinks that perhaps this was because of the sides taken in the Civil War. He was a teenager during the War of Independence and he cut telephone wires to disrupt communication. He told Robert some stories about the Black and Tans, and his brother Jack is mentioned here. Robert discusses the fact that Willie Norton was sent home at Easter Week as he was considered too old to fight, and explains that two other men were considered too young. He describes a photograph of his mother, Elizabeth Norton. She was invited every year to the Arbour Hill commemoration in honour of her uncles, Joe and Peter Norton, whose medals she would wear for the occasion. Robert Norton joined the Army in 1963, and he recalls the commemorative Easter parade in which he took part each year from 1963 to 1969. Included were personnel from the Irish Army, the FCA and Civil Defence. The parades were discontinued following the outbreak of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and he feels that the military parade should now be resumed. Robert’s career in the Army, both at home and overseas, is discussed. He recalls a good friend who was killed in the Lebanon by the Christian Militia. Joe Norton is buried alongside his father in a treble plot in Swords, and no headstone marks his burial place, probably due to the cost involved, Robert feels. Joe’s brother Dick, who served in the British Army, is also buried there. The hard lives of earlier days are discussed, and Robert talks about the lack of social welfare structures at that time, particularly for single men. During his childhood times were hard, he explains, but fortunately the family had an acre on which vegetables were grown. He believes that the Norton family home was raided on a few occasions during the War of Independence. A photograph of the released prisoners taken outside the Mansion House in June 1917 is examined. Robert remembers his uncles talking about their teacher, Thomas Ashe, at Corduff National School. The Nortons were not members of the Black Raven Band, and Robert says he never heard Irish being spoken at home.  

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

39.02 MB

Number of files:
Product ID:



Joe and William Norton, and Peter Wilson (Interviewee’s grand-uncles)

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore