Full Name: George Joseph Dowdall
Address: 13 St Patrick’s Terrace, Russell Street, off North Circular Road.
Unit: F Coy, 2nd Battalion, Dublin Brigade; transferred to A Coy in December 1920.
Born: 23 February 1900 in the Rotunda Hospital (home address 35 Richmond Place).
Parents: George Dowdall Senior (a Post Office Sorting Clerk and Telegraphist originally from Co. Cavan) and Augusta Rosa Haines (or Haynes) who was born in Bristol.
Siblings: Mary Ellen and Augusta Rosa (later Smith).
Military Service: George joined F Coy in late 1917. His Volunteer activities interfered with his employment as a chemist’s apprentice with Hayes, Cunningham & Robinson’s. It also meant he had to give up his pharmacy studies. He became an acting Lieutenant and Red Cross Instructor with 2nd Battalion before a transfer to A Coy as Adjutant at Sergeant Major rank at the end of 1920. After his Custom House arrest he lost his job. With the National Army he served as a Lieutenant then Captain under the command of Ned Broy in the Air Service at Baldonnel Aerodrome.
In 1925 he was awarded a Military Service Pension based on 7 years service (Military Archives file 24SP4710).
During The Emergency, George applied for a Disability Pension on the grounds of an unspecified illness contracted in Kilmainham. He claimed the British brought him to KGV Military Hospital for an operation which he refused. He was taken back to the Gaol but his condition worsened. This led to his release on parole after a strong protest by his comrades. With the approval of Dublin Brigade he was admitted to the Mater Hospital for urgent surgery. He had two further relapses, both requiring operations.
Although his health had deteriorated so badly by the 1940s as to leave him unable to work, his application was turned down since it had not been made within the allowed timescale. His chemist supply business was also badly affected by the wartime economic situation.
Personal Life: George was Best Man in 1918 for his sister Augusta when she married Michael Smith, a Farmer from Co. Cavan. In March 1922 his mother died leaving his father an elderly widower. George himself married Eileen Mary O’Mahony at Terenure church on 8 September 1925. He was recorded as a Chemist from 13 St Patrick’s Terrace. They had two sons and three daughters – Pauline, Kevin, (George) Raymond, Colette and Joan.
All-in-all the 1940s were very bad times for the Dowdall family. In 1940 came the death of George’s father in his native Cavan where he’d gone to farm after retirement from the Post Office. Then came George’s own serious health and business difficulties. On 21 October 1947 George Dowdall died suddenly aged 47 at his residence 307 Clontarf Road, Dollymount. He was a married Wholesale Chemist. George was buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery with full military honours. Táiniste Sean Lemass and Minister for Defence Oscar Traynor were among the funeral attendees.
Short obituaries and a funeral report were published after his death. Here is one example.
His widow Eileen eventually received a Military Dependant’s Pension in 1971 before passing away ten years later.
Remarks: While a prisoner in Kilmainham, George wrote a ‘memo’ to the editor of the Evening Herald who published an extract on the front page of the edition dated 27 July 1921.
Who knows but George may have been the man who lost the ball and his ‘punishment’ was to make the appeal? Sadly we don’t know if the Lads got a replacement.
There is no known photo of George Dowdall but he did make an entry dated 6 August 1921 in Dan Rooney’s autograph book. Looks like he was being sarcastic about the jail’s food.
He does not appear in Dan Rooney’s subsequent autograph book with later dated entries; nor is he identified in any photos of the prisoners taken a few months further on in 1921. This seems to support his claim about having been paroled early on the grounds of illness.
In later years George Dowdall was a trustee of the 2nd Battalion Association, Old IRA for many years and was also a member of the Custom House Memorial Committee. Sadly he did not live to see the Memorial installed.
Relatives: Michael Smith is a great grandnephew of George who was his grandmother Augusta Rosa’s brother.