Richard Patrick Carroll, born February 9, 1876 to Richard Carroll, Stonemason and Mary Carroll (née Power), Machinist. The namesake of his father and the eldest of his siblings he was raised at the family home, situate no. 5 Hanover Square, in the Liberties area of Dublin.
As was common at the time in working class communities, Richard left school early – around the age of fourteen and followed his father into the building trade where he was recruited into the trade union. His apprenticeship extended his learning and exposed him to working conditions which by today’s standards could be considered penal.
While there are significant gaps in the history of his formative years there is little doubt that he was imbued with a strong self-belief and a deep sense of justice and fair play which informed his life’s work.
Influences and life experience converged over time creating in him a desire to break down the status quo and bring forth a new and egalitarian Ireland. From an early age the ideal of self-determination was a constant pull towards activism. Famine struck Ireland a number of times in the life time of his own parents. The magnitude of An Gorta Mór (1845 – 1849), placed it among the worst Human Rights tragedies in history. Its impact reverberated and was palpable still, in his early years. It is likely that some transference of sentiment passed from one or both of his parents to the yourn O’Carroll from their experience of that time that, would shape the man he would become – visionary, articulate, profound and egalitarian, possessed of an innate intelligence and obvious ability to draw upon his inner resources.
His work within the Trade Union movement was his first expression of activism. By its nature trade unionism intersects with political and economic processes and the various ideologies and philosophies that inform the agenda of the ruling government and sectoral interests. From early in his working life his participation took hold and quickly gained momentum and by the age of thirty he was focused and making a difference. He understood the critical importance of political processes as a mechanism of effecting change and engaged accordingly.
Not Free merely, but Gaelic as well…
In the early 1900’s with a deepening sense of nationalism Richard joined the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge) and changed his surname back to its original form of O’Carroll.
At Westland Row Church in 1902, Richard married Annie Esther Power, daughter of a butler, of number 27 Haddington Road in Dublin. The couple had 7 children – the youngest child, baby Seán was born two weeks after his father’s death in May 1916 and subsequently died at just eight months of age, adding to the devastating loss endured by the family. Post 1916, the elder son William was sent to be educated at the O’Brien Institute in Dublin’s Fairview. Richard Jnr., just two years old when his father died followed some time later. Their daughters, Eileen, Maura, Annie and Dorothy were sent to a Boarding school in Co. Offaly.
At the time of his death, the family resided in the living quarters above the Brick and Stonemason’s Guild Hall in Cuffe Street, Dublin 2. In 1920/21 Annie was re-housed to the Tenters area of Dublin where she resided until her death following a heart attack on February 19, 1937 aged just 57 years. During her time in the Tenters Annie became great friends with the widow of Thomas Clarke, signatory to the proclamation.
A strong and proud woman, Annie together with Hanna Sheehy–Skeffington, widow of renowned pacifist, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington (another murdered soul at the hands of the infamous Bowen–Colthurst,) refused compensation from the Crown for the war crimes committed against their husbands.
Although a Parliamentary Question was put to the Under Secretary of State for War asking whether an investigation into the circumstances of Richard O’Carroll’s death would be undertaken, there was no investigation and despite there being eye witnesses, Bowen-Colthurst was never formally charged with his murder. Murder charges were pressed in respect of three others however and resulted in a guilty but insane verdict. Bowen-Colthurst was sentenced to a term in Dartmoor prison but was released after one year and promptly immigrated to Canada.
In an interview soon after his death, Annie O’Carroll spoke of her husband’s strong conviction in access to education as a means of empowerment and opportunity for the working class.
Miscellaneous papers relating to Cllr O’Carroll’s death.
Cllr O’Carroll’s wife, Mrs Annie Esther O’Carroll (Née Power, originally of No 27 Haddington Road, Dublin). Their 7th child was born two weeks after Cllr O’Carroll’s death.