The Connolly House Siege

Memoirs of an unlikely attacker!!

I had attended the evening mission on Monday 27 March 1933 at the Pro-Cathedral, during the period of Lent where the preacher was a Jesuit. The cathedral was full. He was standing in the pulpit talking about the state of the country, I remember him saying – which scared me – “Here in this holy Catholic city of Dublin, these voile creatures of Communism are within our midst.” Immediately after the sermon everybody then began leaving singing and gathered in a crowd outside, we must have been a thousand singing “To Jesus Heart All Burning” and “Faith of our Fathers, Holy Faith”. We marched down towards Great Strand Street, to the headquarters of the socialist and anti-Fascist groups in Connolly House. I was inspired, if you could use that expression, by the message of the Jesuit. There was no attempt by the police to stop us.

When we got there, the mob attacked and tried to destroy the building. I was pressed up against the wall opposite Connolly House. I couldn’t see what was happening at first – we were told that they were spitting on a statue of the Blessed Virgin inside. I remember the fire brigade coming up and stopping in between us, people blocking the brigade, throwing things at them. These were hitting the wall behind me, thrown back from Connolly House. As the injured were taken to the nearby hospital in Jervis Street, I tried to get a good look to see if they had big beards as they were portrayed by the priests. I stayed there watching this for an hour or so and then walked home. I only lived up the road.

I was present only at the first attack. The next morning I was shocked and ashamed to read on the Irish Press billboards: ‘Hooligans Burn Connolly House’. I was one of the hooligans. I went along to Phoenix Publications to see Sean Murray, a veteran guerrilla fighter in the war against the British and the Civil War, and an outstanding public speaker and socialist. I wanted to find out about his emerging Communist Party of Ireland.

Extract from pages 32-33 of Bob Doyle’s memoirs Brigadista: An Irishman’s fight against Fascism, Currach Press, Dublin, 2006.

Bob was at this stage a 17 year old member of the Republican Movement who went on the following year to join the Republican Congress.

Other articles about these events

Eugene Downing, with the defence

The Storming of Connolly House. Written by Brian Hanley - an historian's report.