The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, a large medical school to train doctors and surgeons, has stood on St Stephen’s Green, Dublin for over 200 years.
On Tuesday the 25th April 1916, the nationalist rebels were forced to flee under heavy machine gun fire from St Stephen’s Green Park to the nearby large, imposing medical school.
Countess Constance Markievicz had managed to gain access to the college by threatening the college porter with her gun. He and his family were locked up in their quarters as Commandant Michael Mallin’s company took over the building. They put snipers up on the roof and raised the Irish tricolour flag.
The medical college was closed for the Easter holidays so there was very little food or supplies in the building. Commandant Mallin, a former British soldier who had served in India, organised his garrison in an orderly military fashion. The garrison however came under immense fire as the British moved three heavy machine guns and gunners on to nearby roofs to attack them.
Desperately short of food, Nellie Gifford and the other women in the garrison kept up a constant search to find new food supplies, raiding nearby buildings.
Margaret Skinnider was shot during an attempt to disable a nearby British machine gun post and was brought back to the college for medical treatment for her wounds.
As the situation worsened, Chris Caffrey and Nellie Gifford were dispatched to the Jacob’s Biscuits factory to request much needed food and ammunition supplies for their garrison.
A cache of sixty rifles belonging to the college’s Officer Training Corps was found in the college, but the exhausted and hungry men and women in the garrison were under constant heavy attack from the surrounding British forces.
On Sunday morning, 30th April, Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell – carrying a white flag – came to the college with orders from Britain’s General Lowe and the surrender order signed by Padraig Pearse and James Connolly. She told them that the GPO had fallen and that they must agree to surrender.
With heavy hearts and great reluctance, Michael Mallin and Countess Constance Markievicz agreed to surrender. They took down the Irish flag from the college roof and hid it inside Margaret Skinnider’s coat before she was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital.
As they left the college building, Major De Courcy Wheeler could not believe such a small group had manged to withstand such heavy attack from his forces.
A hostile crowd jeered and taunted them as they were marched through the streets to Richmond Barracks, led by Michael Mallin.