Every body knows the main story of the Easter Rising of 1916 – that is to say of the events involving Pearse and the proclomation in the GPO. And although most people know the Eamon de Valera was the leader of another group of rebels fighting in Bolands Mill, barely anyone knows why he occupied that building, or of the events that transpired there during that famous week.
Luckily, here at Cat Malojin, whilst recently looking for books of pictures of farm machinery in our local library, we discovered the previously unknown diary of the unnamed security guard who was on duty at the mill during that week, which outlines the events in great detail.
As part of the Easter Rising Centenary celebrations, we are delighted to be able to publish this account word for word now.
Monday, 24th April 1916
Back in those days of course, Easter was a much bigger deal. People observed it properly, like all good God fearing Catholics should. Not being a good Catholic, (I am God fearing – especially of crazy Old Testament God), I had spent the most of it in the pub, so I landed into my job as head of security at Bolands Mills on Easter Monday a little blue under the gills. I was therefore understandably not really in the mood to be accosted by the sight of twenty rifle carrying uniformed gentleman as soon as I turned the key in the door.
I approached the rakish fellow who seemed to be in charge and asked him his name and what they wanted.
He replied proudly ‘My name is Eamon de Valera, and I am a commander of the 3rd Section of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. As such, as part of a city wide rebellion to end British rule in the island of Ireland we are hereby occupying Bolands Mill!’
‘Thats all well and good’ I replied (it was neither of those things), ‘But why in the fuck are ye occupying a mill?’
‘Well, Citizen’ replied de Valera ‘the IRB has decided not to occupy buildings with any strategic value – a move which the British would expect – and instead occupy iconic buildings. I’ve decided that this mill is the perfect place for my section to occupy, as Bolands are a leader of industry in this country, and the brand name is a source of Irish pride.’
‘If that’s the case why don’t you occupy the actual Irish Pride mill down the road?’
‘Hmmm, do they make biscuits there too?’
‘No, I don’t think so….’
‘I think we shall be staying here then.’
Tuesday, 25th April 1916
De Valera woke up the next morning with the rosy faced bliss that only bingeing on multipacks of cream filled sandwich style biscuits can give a person. ‘You know Citizen, I believe that when I become the leader of the Irish republic, I shall make these Jersey Creams the national food, and rename them Geansaí Creams.’ I was going to point out that Jersey Creams were named after the Protestant island and not the Protestant pullover, but I realised it was probably a moot point.
Later that day, a lad of about twelve appeared on the courtyard in front of the mill.
‘Stop where you are, in the name of the Irish Republic’ warned one of the rebels and leveled his rifle at the boy from a front facing window.
‘I’m looking for Commander de Valera’ replied the boy.
The man in question approached a window.
‘I’m De Valera. What do you want?’
‘Well I’ve come from the GPO. Mr Pearse is a little bit confused as to why you’re here holed up in a mill. You were supposed to attack Dublin Castle.’
‘I looked into it and decided this was a better target. They have huge guns there and loads of soldiers and stuff. No way was I attacking that. You’d want to be gone in the head.’
‘Sooo…Shall I tell Mr. Pearse you haven’t really attacked anyone then?’
De Valera panicked.
‘No, no, no. Don’t tell him that. We got word that there was a battalion of British soldiers down here up to no good, so we came down and ratted them all out. Scya scya scya. They had to take the first ferry back to Liverpool the doing we gave them, they did.’
‘A whole battalion? You ratted out a whole battalion?’
‘If not two.’
‘Well do you see any British soldiers around here?! And they won’t come back either if they don’t want a good hiding!’
‘Fair play to ya Dev boy, I’ll tell Pearse the news and that the day is saved!’ shouted the boy, as he started cycling back towards the GPO.
‘No, no, no. Ah Christ, don’t be telling him that! They’ll start sending over British soldiers over here if you start telling people that’ shouted Dev, but alas the messenger boy was long gone.
Dev turned slowlt, his face scrunched up like a man eating a raw turnip, clearly stressed about the probable ruminations of the lies he had just told.
‘Can some fucker get me a pack of Kimberley Mikado’ he screamed.
Wednesday, 26th April 1916
By Wednesday morning I had managed to ingratiate myself completely with the rebels. It wasn’t difficult. They gathered around me like I was Jesus at the Sermon of the Mount whenever I started talking about biscuits.
‘See the problem with Polo biscuits’, I started ‘is that they don’t know whether they’re one thing or another. Don’t get me wrong – the bumps provide grip, but they’re neither a thin biscuit or a Rich Tea type affair. For my money, the Marietta is twice the biscuit. Stick a good tablespoon of butter between two of those and you’re in for a real treat.’
At least two of the rebels started furiously to take notes.
‘Saying that, the Polo biscuit may come into its own on the likes of polar missions, where biscuit grip probably becomes of utmost importance.’
More note taking.
‘Duh, why do my Maryland Cookies get soggy so quickly?’ piped up a particularly dunder-headed chap.
‘There’s no love there. Look at the way they’re made. Just chocolate chips lashed into the batter in any aul way – No sign of a nice design at all, it doesn’t surprise me in the least that the scum who make those cookies haven’t so much thought about the issue of latent moisture.’
‘Nice with tea though.’
‘That’s the shame. That’s the real shame.’
A few hours later the streets rumbled as an armoured car rolled into the courtyard, followed by a few hundred foot-soldiers, and five pieces of heavy artillery.
‘Any requests then Paddies, before I start slaughtering you?’ shouted a British officer, in a particularly sneering way. He didn’t seem to be in a good mood at all. In fact, he was downright rude.
‘Well now that you mention it, can you put the gas supply to the building back on, and maybe send in 40 litres of milk. All these biscuits are awfully dry without a drop of tea, and sure you know yourself biscuits and water is no sort of a meal at all at all.’ replied Dev.
Shelling of the mill commenced immediately.
‘So….Is that a yes or a no on the milk?’ yelled Dev, over the explosions.
Thursday, 27th April 1916
Not much sleep was had on Wednesday night, but the shelling didn’t do much damage to the building which, as the head of security, made me proud. ‘ Sure, we suffered worse damage than that during the Biscuit Wars of ’96 from that shower at Jacobs!’ I thought to myself. I didn’t say it aloud though, as the scars from that conflict were still raw. Besides the relationship between Jacobs and Bolands was one of mutual admiration and respect these days.
It was a rough morning for Dev though, as he started suffering from day terrors. He darted continously round the room, in an terrible sweat repeating, ad nauseam ‘I have plenty of biscuits now, mother! I will not eat my greens if I don’t want to mother, I’m a grown man!’ It was pretty funny at first but it got annoying after maybe an hour or two. Then it gone funny again.
We found that the only (To be fair it was the first thing we tried, nor did we did try anything else) way to calm him down was to inject him with a syringe full of a mixture of biscuit filling – 1 part Bourbon, 1 part Custard Cream, 2 parts Lemon Puff – straight to the heart. Extracting the filling from the custard creams and lemon puffs was pretty straight forward, but bourbons are of course the most structurally sound of the sandwich biscuit family, so they proved a real challenge. Luckily I was up to the task.
By mid afternoon Dev was right as reign again, and chirpier than before. It was likely as a result of the massive sugar intake.
‘Now lads’ he started, ‘We need to shape into gear. We’re going to be here for the long term and one thing that won’t happen under my watch is soldier ill health. To that end, and to stave off any chances of scurvy, starting immediately each soldier shall be strictly limited to one pack of Coconut Creams per day ONLY.’
Mass groans overflowed from the rebels mouths like, I dunno, 3 litres of water in a bucket of only 2 litres capacity. I was never very good at similes.
‘I know, I don’t like it either,’ he continued ‘but logic dictates that Coconut Creams have the highest amounts of Vitamin C. We all have to make sacrifices for Mother Ireland. This is the ultimate sacrifice – you can be sure that no one will know suffering this week as much as us.’
While this bickering was going on I decided to check the biscuit storeroom to make sure no rodents were getting at them, but when I got there I was shocked to see that the room was almost empty. I can’t overstate how big of a room this was. Massive. It had storage capacity for over 10 million cuboid biscuits with additional capacity for another 2 million cylindrical biscuits. I imagine the reader is thinking to himself now that that can’t be right. It is right though. Do you think I’m just plucking numbers out of the air? Shameful. Anyways, I was so taken aback that I didn’t hear Dev creep up behind me and hit me over the head with the sole of his shoe (Shoes had better build quality back then). I fell to the floor, and remembered no more.
Friday, 28th March 1916
Dawn had just broken when I came to. I looked around – it was just Dev and myself left inside the mill. I was tied to a chair.
‘Aight homes, good to see yo not dead.’ said De Valera in a barely comprehensible New York accent.
‘Where is everyone? What happened to the biscuits?’ I asked.
‘Everyone had to split, homes. As for the bis-quits, well they’re nice and safe – At the bottom of the Grand Canal.’
‘What? What the hell is going on?’
‘Aight, I’ll tell you only cos I like you, homes’ started De Valera. ‘It’s like this see. The Jacobs massive (Props to the Jacobs massive) paid me and the boyzzz to come in here under cover of the rebellion and destroy Bolands storage of bis-quits, thereby drastically upping their market share and the value of their bis-quits. We’ve been surreptitiously dumping crates and crates of the stuff in the canal while you weren’t looking. Mad respect for you homes, but you don’t seem to be a very observant security guard.’
Suddenly it was all becoming clear to me. Mainly because of the last paragraph De Valera had said.
‘All that’s left for me to do is surrender to the Brits. A slap on the wrist, a night or two in gaol and I’ll be back on the streets, rolling in those Jacobs dolla bills yall….. And don’t worry’ winked Dev as he took off his army uniform to reveal a NY emblazoned collarless shirt and peaked cap ‘Imma from South Bronx, the English can never hurt me, homes.’
He moved my chair over to the window.
‘Now you’ll be able to watch the whole thing unfurl, just as I’ve said it will.’
‘Just answer me one thing’ I demanded, ‘Did you fake your panic attack too? I can’t believe I actually worried for you at the time.’
‘Naw bro, some times I let my anxiety and self doubt get the better of me. I think it as a result of a traumatic childhood, but perhaps that is the easy thing to say and I refuse to address it in a healthy manner. It is one of my failings. Nya mean?’
As he proudly marched out the front door of the mill I couldn’t help but admire this man’s audacity even if I didn’t understand either his needlessly complicated plan or gibberish American jargon. In a way I had a feeling that he didn’t really understand them either. Peering out the window I soon seen the British soldiers rushing towards him, bayonets pointed, demanding him to put his hands behind his back.
‘Be cool dawgs, be cool.’
But the soldiers weren’t at all cool. The first two grabbed Dev by his arms while a third turned his rifle around and swang its hilt into his midriff. However instead of the expected sickening thud of wood on flesh, a loud crunch sounded out around the courtyard which was quickly followed by the unmistakable sight of biscuit crumbs falling out from under his shirt, onto the cobblestones.
‘Shit man, you done crushed my secret stash.’