The 1916 Children: Death of O’Toole

The 1916 Children: Death of O’Toole

Jacobs Factory-1916 ChildrenThe team at Timeline carried out some of the research for the Joe Duffy documentary, Children of the Revolution, which aired on RTE on Easter Sunday 2016.  The documentary looks at the circumstances in which children were killed during the 1916 Rising.

One child who died during the Rising was a young man named O’Toole (no first name given). On 24th April 1916 O’Toole’s body was brought into the Adelaide Hospital, close to the Jacob’s Biscuit Factory,  the cause of death was gunshot wounds to the chest and head.  He was described as 14 years of age with his surname given as O’Toole.  This was the only information recorded on his death certificate, his age, surname and cause of death.

The Adelaide Hospital

David Mitchell’s book A ‘Peculiar’ Place; The Adelaide Hospital, Dublin Its Times, Places and Personalities 1839 to 1989 cited the annual report for the Adelaide Hospital for 1916 which stated:

“Messrs Jacob’s factory, which is separated from the Hospital only by a narrow street, was occupied by a strong force of Sinn Feiners, and there was a good deal of fighting in the immediate neighbourhood.  Many wounded, some dead, soldiers, civilians and Sinn Feiners were brought in, and to approach or leave was a matter of difficulty and danger…Dr. Peacocke and Mr. Gunn …. lived in the Hospital during the fighting and assisted the Resident Staff…No one in the hospital was injured and the damage to the buildings was not serious.”  

The annual report recorded that four soldiers and one civilian were brought into the Adelaide Hospital already deceased.  The civilian was most likely O’Toole.  The question is, who was the young man named O’Toole?

His name must have been known to the person who brought him into the hospital, unless his name was recorded on his clothing or on something in his possession. His age was also given when his death was registered, this information may also have been known to the person who brought him in as anyone in a position of authority was unlikely to have just guessed his age and recorded it on an official document.

According to the Sinn Fein Rebellion Handbook, which reported on the burial of casualties following the Rising (which included some of the 1916 children),  no bodies were interred from the Adelaide Hospital.  This means that private arrangements may have been made for the burial of O’Toole.

The 1911 Census

According to his death certificate O’Toole was born ca.1902, which would make him aged between about 7 and 11 years at the time of the 1911 census.  We set about trying to identify this young man who was fatally shot near the Adelaide Hospital on 24th April 1916.

Firstly, a search was made of the 1911 census to identify all male O’Toole (and variants) children residing in Dublin City who were born between 1900 and 1904, as each one of these children could potentially have been the child brought into the Adelaide Hospital.  As Dublin City families were quite mobile and could have changed address between 1911 and 1916, we accounted for children in all parts of the city, even though it was most likely that O’Toole was living in the vicinity of the Adelaide Hospital.  Although the city streets were their playgrounds, most children did not tend to stray very far from their home.

The search identified 13 male children with the surname O’Toole who were in Dublin City in 1911.  Using the Dublin City Electoral Rolls and Thoms Dublin Directory, each household was traced forward to try and confirm where the family was residing by 1915, just before the Rising.

Finally, a search was made of the records of civil registration in the General Register Office, for a marriage or death certificate for each of these children.  Evidence of their deaths were also sought in family burial plots in the records for Glasnevin Cemetery and in one case, a reference to the child was found in the will of his father, held at the National Archives of Ireland.  Using these various sources, it was possible to prove that 12 of the 13 identified children lived beyond 1916.

Joseph O’Toole

Joseph O’Toole was born ca. 1904 the son of Michael O’Toole and in 1911 was residing at 12.1 Newmarket Street, Merchant’s Quay Ward in the house of his grandfather, William.  Joseph O’Toole of 11 Newmarket Street married Elizabeth Loftus on 13th August 1931.

Henry V. O’Toole

Henry Vincent O’Toole was born ca. 1903 the son of Christopher O’Toole, a railway auditor and Katherine.   In 1911 this O’Toole family were residing at Richmond Avenue, Drumcondra.  Christopher O’Toole died in 1950 and was buried at Glasnevin.  His will, written and witnessed on 29th April 1946, named his son, Henry Vincent O’Toole as one of his beneficiaries.

Leo O’Toole

Leo O’Toole was born ca. 1902 the son of John O’Toole and Elizabeth.  In 1911 he was residing at Chamber’s Street, Merchant’s Quay Ward.  Leo O’Toole married Katherine Watkins on 3rd December 1928.  He died in 1944 and was buried at Glasnevin.

Michael and John O’Toole

Michael O’Toole was born ca. 1902 and John O’Toole was born ca. 1900, the sons of Michael O’Toole and Elizabeth.  In 1911 they were residing at 34.4. Merchant’s Quay, Merchant’s Quay Ward.  The boys had a younger brother, Benedict Lawrence O’Toole who married and settled in Dublin.  The descendants of Benedict were located and confirmed that Michael and his brother John both survived the 1916 Rising.

Kevin O’Toole

Kevin O’Toole was born ca. 1902.  In 1911 he was residing at York Road, Rathmines & Rathgar ED.  Kevin died on 31st October 1918 at 22 York Road, a 17 year old bachelor, who died of influenza.

Edward O’Toole

Edward O’Toole was born ca. 1902 to Joseph O’Toole and Mary.  By 1911 Edward O’Toole was residing in the house of his widowed mother, Mary at 4.1 Sarsfield Quay, where Mary O’Toole was a 47 year old draper.  Edward O’Toole was buried in Glasnevin in the same plot as his mother.  He died on 11th June 1957, a commercial traveler and widower.

John and Anthony O’Toole

John (b. ca. 1902) and Anthony O'Toole (b. ca. 1900) were brothers born to James O’Toole, a corn porter and Mary.  At the time of the 1911 Census they were residing at 33 Wellington Street, Upper Inns Quay. Anthony O’Toole married Jane McClean on 1st October 1928.  In 1943/4 John O’Toole appeared as a registered voter in the Dublin City Electoral Rolls in the house of his mother at 33 Wellington Street.  He died on 10th March 1948, a widower residing at 33 Upper Wellington Street.

William O’Toole

William O’Toole was born ca. 1900 the son of Arthur O’Toole and Sarah, he had a brother, Arthur Edward O’Toole.  At the time of the 1911 census he was residing at King’s Inns Street, Rotunda Ward.  William O’Toole was present as a witness to the marriage of his brother, Arthur, on 20th April 1920.

Stephen O’Tool

Stephen O’Tool was born ca. 1900 the son of Joseph O’Tool and Magey McNally.  In 1911 he was residing at Francis Street, Wood Quay Ward, but his family moved to Wall Lane by 1913.  Stephen O’Tool married Brigid Freer on 26th December 1932.

Gerard O’Toole

Gerard O’Toole was born ca. 1900 in Dublin City.  In 1911 he was residing at 4 Townsend Street with his widowed mother, Bridget (nee Russell).  Gerard O’Toole died on 6th October 1928 aged 27 years and was buried in Glasnevin with his mother and infant siblings.

Christopher O’Toole

The only child that was located in the 1911 census, but was unaccounted for after 1916 was Christopher O’Toole, who appeared as C. O’Toole in the North Dublin Union Auxiliary Workhouse in Cabragh, Castleknock in 1911, aged 10 years.  C. O’Toole was born ca. 1900.

A search of the Admission and Discharge Registers of the North Dublin Union Workhouse and the Board of Guardian Minute Books, identified C. O’Toole as Christopher.

Christopher O’Toole was born ca. 1900 in Dublin.  His mother was Catherine or Kate.  He had a brother, Patrick (b. ca. 1898) and a sister, Alice (b. ca. 1901).  On 9th March 1906 Catherine O’Toole entered the North Dublin Union Workhouse with her three children.  On entry she gave the surname McBride, but in the admission register this name was crossed out and the family were recorded as O’Toole.

Catherine O’Toole was described as a 30 year old married woman residing at Bishop’s Court in 1906.  

According to the admission and discharge register, Catherine O’Toole and her daughter, Alice,  were discharged the following day to find accommodation.  Catherine’s sons, Patrick and Christopher remained within the workhouse system.  Patrick O’Toole was admitted to the Mater Hospital in 1910.

On 12th September 1910 Kate McBride (O’Toole), who was residing at 2 Henrietta Street, wrote to the North Dublin Union Board of Guardians requesting custody of her son, Christy O’Toole, who was residing in Cabra.

Christy O’Toole was not released to his mother and after this request, seven months later, at the time of the 1911 census, C. O’Toole was residing in the North Dublin Union Auxiliary Workhouse in Cabragh, Castleknock.

On 2nd October 1912, the Master’s Report to the Board of Guardians notes that ‘old clothes’ were granted to Chr. O’Toole (age 12).  According to the discharge register, Christopher O’Toole was discharged to his mother on 24th September 1912.

We have not been able to establish what happened to Christopher O’Toole following his discharge from the workhouse.  He is the only child for whom a marriage, death or burial record has not been found and neither has any evidence been found of his siblings or his mother.

Although it is possible that the young man who died outside the Adelaide Hospital in 1916 came from outside of Dublin City after 1911, or was not enumerated correctly in the 1911 census, it is also possible that he was Christopher O’Toole.  Christopher had been institutionalised since 1906 and may have had his name written on his clothes, which might explain how his name was recorded on his death certificate.  His family appear to have been in difficult circumstances and by 1916 he may have separated from his mother and been looking after himself.  This may explain why his disappearance was never reported following the Rising.

We cannot state with any certainty that Christopher O’Toole was the child who was brought deceased into the Adelaide Hospital on 24th April 1916.  But we can say that he was the only young man of the correct age who appeared in Dublin City in the 1911 census, who has not been accounted for after 1916.