New Light on Naylor Tragedy

image for Margaret Naylor_01

NewsFour put a call out last summer, on behalf of Councillor Paddy McCartan, for a source on the life circumstances and personal history of Margaret Naylor. She was the first female casualty of the battles that took place during the Easter Rising of 1916.

Margaret was shot on the Ringsend Drawbridge (as it was then) at Boland’s Mills. By a dark coincidence, Margaret died the very same day as her husband John Naylor, who was serving with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in Hulluch, France (1916 of course being halfway through World War I). Margaret died at approximately nine in the morning while out buying bread for her children, shot by a dum dum hollow point rifle bullet.

It is a matter of debate whether she was killed in crossfire between volunteers and British troops, or whether she was targeted by a volunteer acting on rumours that British troops were passing through barricades unmolested by disguising themselves as women. Either of the possibilities is tragic, although the latter seems especially macabre. There are also conflicting accounts as to whether she was alone, with her children or with her sister.

Information forwarded to Councillor McCartan’s office indicates that Margaret was born Margaret Roe, to James and Honor Roe, of Navan, in 1878. Her husband-to-be John left no record of his birth but turns up in the 1901 Census, aged 22 and living with his parents in James’ Place, South Docks.

Margaret was 23 when she married James. She had painful misfortune in her life before her killing: three children died in childbirth. However, she and John fathered three girls, who were taken in by her sister Mary Bridget Liscombe. Margaret was buried in the Grangegorman British Military Cemetery on Wednesday 3rd May 1916.

Image from the Evening Herald: Margaret with her three children, taken in late 1915, left to right: Tessie age 10 months, Margaret age 6 and Kitty age 3.

Also shown in photo are details of John Naylor, Private Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Killed in Action 29th April 1916 Hulluch, France. Remembered in Loos Cemetery, France.

By Rúairí Conneely