The day the Helga sank.

Come Here To Me!

In the folklore of the Easter Rising, the Helga is said to have brought about the destruction of the city, raining incendiary shells down on the rebels from her fine vantage point on the River Liffey. In reality, there were no incendiary shells (they hadn’t been utilised anywhere by April 1916), and the Helga fired only forty shells during the course of the rebellion. Still, when coupled with the use of eighteen-pounder guns on the streets, she no doubt had an impact. The majority of her shells were fired at Liberty Hall, which unbeknownst to the Helga was empty.

By empty, I mean ‘almost empty’; the caretaker Peter Ennis was on the premises, and thankfully escaped with his life. Frank Robbins, ICA member and author of a memoir of the revolutionary period, remembered that “Ennis told me that when the first shell hit the building he thought that the…

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