On Easter Monday, Captain Seán Heuston was ordered to occupy the Mendicity Institute on the south side of the city. The aim was to prevent British troops coming from the Royal (Collins) Barracks towards the city centre.
Once inside the Mendicity Institute he and his men immediately set about fortifying the building. Volunteer P.J. Stephenson, a member of the garrison, recalls what happened.
Glass was smashed out of the sashes, sofas and chairs piled into the windows with curtains and cushions rammed in for sandbags.
They were soon in action when they fired on a party of troops going from the Royal Barracks to Dublin Castle across from their position. Seán Heuston was only meant to hold the Mendicity for a few hours to give his Commanding Officer Edward Daly enough time to secure the area around the Four Courts. Heuston and his men would go on to hold the building for three days.
P.J. Stephenson was a member of ‘D’ Company, 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade, Irish Volunteers.
P.J. (Paddy Joe) Stephenson was interviewed for the series 'They Remember 1916' broadcast on Radio Éireann, 4 April 1956. Photograph of P. J. Stephenson courtesy of Jimmy Stephenson.