Wed. Jul 10th, 2024

Plaque in Memory of Sean Foster, First Child Fatality of the Easter 1916 Rising unveiled

Dublin City Council has unveiled a Commemorative Plaque to remember Sean Foster, the first of 40 children killed during Easter Week 1916. The Lord Mayor of Dublin Daithí de Róiste unveiled the plaque to pay tribute to Sean, at Sean Foster Place, North King Street, Dublin 7.

Sean was just two years old when he was hit in the head with a bullet as his distraught mother escaped the gunfire between Irish Volunteers and British soldiers on Church Street, near Father Mathew Hall. It is believed he died instantly, forever marking him an innocent casualty of the conflict.

Whilst it is important that we honour the heroes of the 1916 Easter Rising, it is also important to ensure the innocent dead are not forgotten.  Until now, many of them have gone unnamed, their final resting places unmarked, their sacrifice unrecognised. Today we remember and honour Sean Foster, one of the innocent victims.

Lord Mayor Daithí de Róiste

Sean Foster Place, where the commemorative plaque now stands, has transformed and currently offers 30 new homes.

These residences are part of the Dublin City Council’s pilot project for Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB) as dictated by its Climate Change Action Plan in the Markets Area of Dublin 7.  

North King Street was a focal point of intense fighting during the 1916 rebellion. 16 civilians lost their lives on this street, with nine of them killed on the site of the new development.

International recording artists Foster and Allen performed the song ‘Grace’ at the plaque unveiling ceremony. Mick Foster is a relative of Sean Foster. Sean Foster’s father John and Mick’s Grandfather Tom were brothers. Sean Foster died on 24 April 1916. Mick’s father was born on 1 June 1916 and he was named Sean in memory of his first cousin. 

Sean Foster Place, where the commemorative plaque now stands, has transformed and currently offers 30 new homes.

At the ceremony, Mick Foster said, “It’s a day of mixed emotions, I knew Ted who was in the pram with Sean very well but it’s a proud day that Sean’s name and memory will live on.”

Dublin City Council Central Area Committee following consultation with the local history group in the area, as well as Sean Foster’s relatives, determined that a new social housing development should be named after Sean Foster.

The Central Area Committee also decided that a suitable plaque be erected at the complex, not only to commemorate Sean but also to ensure that anyone living in the area or passing the development will be aware of the circumstances surrounding his death and the development’s name.

The wording on the plaque was agreed upon with the area committee, the local area history group and the relatives of Sean Foster R.I.P. who through the encouragement of broadcaster Joe Duffy,  were contacted and wholeheartedly supported the naming of the development of Sean Foster Place.

Sean Foster’s story

In 1916, Catherine Foster lived in Olaf Road, Arbour Hill with her two baby sons Sean, the eldest, and Ted. She had lived there since 1912 with her husband John Foster who worked for Guinness. 

On Easter Monday morning, 24 April 1916, she put the two children at each end of a pram and made her way through Stoneybatter and along North King St.

On the way, Mrs Foster met people talking about shooting across the city. She carried on towards the Church Street junction, where she saw a group of men in the slouch hats of the Volunteers behind a barricade.

Shots began to ring out between a group of soldiers and then from the Volunteers behind the barricades. Catherine, terrified by the gunfire, ran blindly towards Father Matthew Hall. As she ran, anxious for the safety of her two babies in the pram, she was caught in the crossfire, and a single bullet struck little Sean Francis Foster under the left ear. As she entered the hall, Catherine screamed, “They’ve killed my baby”.

Inside the hall, a priest, George O’Neill SJ comforted Catherine and then ran with little, Sean draped over his shoulder towards the nearby St. Lawrence Hospital. As the priest made his way across the street the child’s uncle watched, horrified, as his nephew’s head bobbed lifelessly on the priest’s shoulder. The bullet proved fatal and Sean Foster became the youngest casualty of the rebellion.

Sean Foster was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. Over the next five days, he would be joined in by 250 men, women and children, all non-combatants, who died on the streets of Dublin during the Easter Rising.

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