From the Howth gun-running in 1914, through the Easter Rising in 1916, to the War of Independence until 1921, Marino was a hub for revolutionary activity. F Company, also known as ‘MacDonagh’s Own’ was based in the area, Tom Clarke lived locally, and Croydon House (HQ of the Irish Citizen Army and home of James Larkin) was less than a mile from the Casino.
Irish Volunteers marching with rifles from the Asgard at Howth in July were confronted by British military in Marino. The guns were subsequently hidden throughout the old estate until it was safe to collect them later.
During the Easter Rising, F Company (Irish Volunteers based in Dublin 3 and pictured below in front of the Casino) were split between Jacobs Factory and defending two strategic local bridges.
A number of nationalists, including Harry Colley, were living in flats in ‘Charlemount House’, once the great house of Marino, which was still standing at this time.
The first two Thompson machine guns in Ireland were demonstrated in the tunnels attached to the Casino, by Michael Collins and two Irish-Americans, to members of ‘the squad’.
We were stopped and the police officer demanded that we give up the rifles. There was a short struggle between the men in front and the police, and the remainder of us were ordered into the Marino Estate, the walls of which adjoined the road at that time. Some shots rang out and a soldier fell near me. Stones were also thrown from behind a wall. In the field of the Marino Estate word was passed round that we were to get away if possible across country and I proceeded in what I thought was the direction of the city. On my way I picked up two rifles that had been discarded by other men and I eventually found myself behind a hedge bordering a road with three rifles in my possession where I remained for nearly an hour when I decided to ask a passing car or motorist for a lift.
Somewhere about this time a few cars were seized from the Army and Navy Canteen Garage and, after the seizure, I remember we were in a fix to find a garage for one. Fortunately I knew of a large shed in the grounds at Charlemount House, Marino, which was not in use at the moment. At that time the grounds of Charlemount House were used by allotment holders to help the drive for food. We formally applied to the Corporation, using fictitious names, for the use of the shed for storing tools for allotment holders. The car was only two nights in the shed when I was raided at my home in Charlemount House – a flat to which I had only removed a few weeks before. There was a hole in the side of the shed which we had not yet repaired. The number of the car could be read through this hole and I was sure it would be discovered. Yet it escaped.
The photograph above was taken in the 1940s, and shows members of F Company posing on the steps of the Casino. This reunion was likely organised by Oscar Traynor, who was Minister for Defence at the time and who had established the Bureau of Military History in 1947. The Casino may have been chosen as it was (as it is now) the last remaining building of the eighteenth-century Marino estate where Howth guns had been hidden in 1914, where nationalists lived in flats in the big house in 1920, and where Michael Collins tested the Thompson guns in the Casino tunnels in 1921. Some leading members of F Company are described below. Others, such as Harry Boland, had died during the struggle for independence, and therefore do not appear in the photograph.
Frank Henderson 1890 – 1959
Frank Henderson captained F Company, and had been involved with the Irish Volunteers since the initial rally in 1913. He was just twenty-six years of age during the Easter Rising, and lived in Windsor Villas. He was a member of the Gaelic League, the GAA, and was a close friend of Sean O’Casey. His brother Leo captained B Company.
Harry Colley 1891 – 1972
Harry Colley joined the Volunteers after the shootings at Bachelors Walk in 1914. He was twenty-five years old during the Rising, and was imprisoned in England after it. Colley was a founding member of Fianna Fáil in 1926. He held a seat in Dublin North-East from 1943 until he was defeated by Charlie Haughey in 1957. His sister Gertie was active in Cumann na mBan.
Oscar Traynor 1886 – 1963
Oscar Traynor, a professional football player, was F Company’s lieutenant. He also joined up after the incidents on Bachelors Walk. He was twenty-eight during the Easter Rising. Anti-treaty in the Civil War, Traynor later joined the government as TD, rising to Minister for Defence in 1939. A local road in Coolock is named for him.
The first two Thompson machine guns were brought into Ireland from America by two Irish-Americans with military rank, whose names I cannot recall. One I believe was Colonel Dinneen. These guns were, I think, shortly after arriving here, brought to the Squad at Morelands in Abbey St where I remember were had a very happy time dismantling and putting them together and learning their mechanism. The Colonel and his friend gave us instruction on them but we learned all about them very rapidly as we were in our own rights, something of specialists in the use of small arms generally. In fact I was an instructor for the 2nd Battalion in small arms and automatics.
It was decided to take the Thompsons to the Casino at Fairview, in which there were a number of tunnels, and one afternoon some of the squad and myself and I believe Mick Collins and Oscar Traynor tried the guns out at the Casino. We fired live ammunition from the small vertical and large round magazines. The tunnels were well below ground and some members of the squad went outside watching and listening but very little sound could be heard. We succeeded in completely familiarising ourselves with these two guns.
…The first time i think that the Thompson guns were brought into action was shortly after testing them at the Casino when we endeavoured to ambush the military train conveying troops from the North Wall to somewhere in the north of Ireland, on the Drumcondra main line. The first attempt was made on the Drumcondra road.