The entire nation of Ireland and the diaspora around the world are commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising this year and more importantly the nation is being re educated about Ireland’s history, the characters and its meaning.
Children are largely at the center of Ireland’s commemorations in 2016 as the nation is called on to imagine Ireland’s future. Among the publications released to educate, inform and entertain children about the Easter Rising is Patricia Murphy’s “The Easter Rising 1916 - Molly's Diary.”
The novel tells of the tale of the Easter Week from the point of view of a 12-year-old Dubliner, Molly O’Donovan. Her own family is plunged into danger on both sides. Her father, a technical officer with the General Post Office dodges the crossfire as he tries to restore the telegraph lines while her wayward brother runs messages for the rebels.
Molly a trained First Aider, risks her own safety to help the wounded on both sides. As violence and looting erupts in the streets of Dublin alongside heroism and high ideals, Molly records it all - the Proclamation at the GPO, the battle of Mount Street, the arrival of the British Troops.
Encouragingly the novel is outselling David Walliams’ children's’ books and the Wimpy Kid, which usually dominate the market.
Murphy told IrishCentral “It is a word of mouth bestseller up against the big majors, and has been helped by kids, parents and teachers taking to social media to recommend it. It’s also selling well on Amazon, which suggests it is being picked up or overseas too.
She continued “The novel takes a humanitarian view of the Rising, focusing on a child’s eye view. And as a mother myself, I’m also very conscious of how we can help the second generation Irish of the diaspora understand our history.”
Here’s an extract from “The Easter Rising 1916 – Molly’s Diary”:
I bolted into the main entrance of the GPO and enquired after my father. One of the counter staff said he might have left with Mr Hamilton Norway who had an urgent meeting at the Castle. But another said he might still be in the Instrument Room, as there were a few problems with the wires. I joked with the clerk that some people have nothing better to do than buy stamps on a holiday.
I was one of them! I quickly purchased a postcard and stamp for my mother and wrote a brief message saying how much I missed her.
The clerk was ushering me towards the lift when the marchers from outside suddenly surged in.
“Everybody out!” shouted a tall good-looking man. It was “The Big Fella”, Michael Collins.
Several people looked with amusement, as if it was a joke or some kind of game.
The woman in front of me, a large lady in a colourful hat, sighed in annoyance. “I’m sorry but my daughter is getting married in six weeks and these are the wedding invitations,” she insisted. “I am not leaving here without my stamps!”
She got the message when a rebel poked her gently in the backside with his pike. Then the clerk vaulted over the counter and ran for the door. That was like a signal. A sudden understanding swept through the room and it was bedlam! People rushed towards the main doors in a frenzy, coats flying, bodies bumping into each other.
A British Lieutenant was held on the end of a pike as Michael Collins searched him. It was the officer who had earlier sneered at them.
“Stop this nonsense at once! I am Lieutenant Chalmers!” he shouted.
Collins looked at him coldly. “Am I to be killed?” said the officer. “You are being held as a prisoner of war,” said Collins. They tied him up with telephone cord and put him in the tall wooden telephone cabinet with the clock on top, the centerpiece of the new public area. I thought the soldier would die of fright!
There was so much turmoil that some of the rebels were nearly pushed out the doors themselves. I got the impression that some of them didn’t realize themselves what was going on. At first it was comical but then, as guns were brandished, fear gripped me like ice in my veins. I felt my legs glued to the floor by the counter.
“Smash the windows!”
The yell broke through my stupor. There was a hellish racket as axes, rifle-butts and hammers smashed into the beautiful big glass panes all around the building. Shards of glass flew up into the air like icicles.
A woman outside shouted, “Glory be to God! Would you look at them divils smashin’ all the lovely windows!”