On Easter Sunday (28 March 2016), a new documentary featuring letters from the Letters of 1916: A Year in the Life collection will be aired on RTÉ One at 7pm. ’16 Letters takes us back into the heart of history by exploring the first-hand accounts of ordinary citizens who were caught up in the Rising.
In the Easter bumper issue of the RTÉ Guide, Donal O’Donoghue talks to the documentary‘s presenter Ryan Tubridy about the letters, all sixteen of which are taken from the Letters of 1916 collection at Maynooth University.
I’m always moved by such documents because they bring you so close to the past in such a physical way.
– Ryan Tubridy
The article features transcriptions of three of the sixteen letters in the documentary which can also be viewed on letters1916.ie.
This letter from Patrick Blair Carphin to his sister, Joanna Carphin, written on 28 April 1916, describes how he and his family were attempting to make their way home from the city centre when their daughter, Doreen was shot in the leg, and he himself was shot in the ankle.
In December 1915, Marie Martin was working as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) in a field hospital in Malta. On 27 December 1915, she writes to her mother following the news that her brother Charlie had been wounded and is missing in action on the Salonika front.
Back in Dublin, Sarah Harden writes to her nephew Donald Harden who was then in England. The letter was written over a period of days. Sarah began writing on 27 April and continued to add to the letter until 3 May by which time the postal system had resumed. She gives a detailed description of her activities during the Rising, what she had seen and heard, rumours and stories told to her by others. She refers regularly to friends, relations and neighbours.