Who was Anne Devlin.

For anyone living in and around the red Luas Tram line may have noticed a bridge that goes over the canal between the Rialtlo and Suir Road Luas Stop called the Anne Devlin bridge. This bridge was built in 2004 so the Luas Tram could cross the canal and head up towards Golden Bridge, and or the Tallaght areas or come back down towards Rialto onto the city. This bridge in very recent times has become a bit of an interest to some local people who pass it on a regular basic or in some cases rarely. As pointed out the bridge is now in its fourteen year up there and like many a local I have crossed it thousands of times on the trams without knowing what the bridge was actually called and most importantly who was or who is Anne Devlin.

Anne Devlin, was an Irish Republican who acted as a housekeeper to Robert Emmet who led a rising in Ireland in 1803. Anne was born in a village known as Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, Ireland, In 1780.

Anne was born into a very Irish Nationalist family. Anne left Rathdrum, and moved to an area outside Dublin called Rathfarnham. It was here that she met Robert Emmet who was renting out a house in an area called Butterfield Lane, from where he was planing his up and coming rebellion.

Because of the nature of the rebellion it was feared that the authorities may notice the people activity at this house and there cover would be blown. In search of advice Robert Emmet contacted Anne’s Father a Mr. Brian Devlin, who himself was released from jail in Wicklow in 1800 after another uprising of 1798. After the meeting between Robert Emmet and Brian Devlin it was agreed that one of his daughters would enter this house on Butterfield Lane and act as a housemaid to give the household an appearance that all was well in the house and to convey some form of normality.

Anne was not the first choice to act as the household maid but once this was noted Anne herself volunteered her services after another daughter was thought to be to timid for the job. Although the ruse proved successful and the rising seemed to have taken the authorities by surprise, the lack of support among the people and some confusion in the rebel ranks led to its collapse and disintegration into a night of bloody street clashes. Shortly after the rising was quashed.

A party of yeomen, The Kings Soldiers, aka Yeomen of the Crown, arrived at Butterfield Lane, seizing Anne and her eight-year-old sister. Anne was interrogated, including the use of half-hanging a form of torture which was used to get information out of suspects they did this by placing a noose around the victims neck and pulling on the noose till the victim passes out, the noose is loosened the victim is brought back from unconscious then the process is repeated. But finding out little of consequence, the Kings Soldiers eventually departed. Shortly after returning to live in her family home in Rathfarnham the entire family was seized by the military, having been informed on by a neighbor.

Her importance and central role in the conspiracy was noted and Anne was interrogated in Dublin Castle by Henry Charles Sirr, Chief of Police in Dublin and arrestor of Lord Edward Fitzgerald. She refused bribes and resisted threats to inform on Emmet. She was then sent to Kilmainham Jail, and further interrogated where Emmet himself urged her to inform on him to save herself as he was already doomed. She was kept in squalid conditions and subjected to brutal treatment but consistently refused to cooperate despite her entire family being jailed in an effort to break her, which resulted in the death of her nine-year-old brother from illness brought on by the conditions of his confinement.

She was eventually released in 1806 and later married William Campbell in 1811, having four children. Although financially supported by sympathizers for a number of years following her release, she ended her days in poverty, and died in obscurity in the Liberties area of Dublin in 1851. She is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Here in Dublin in a grave she was moved to by historian R.R. Madden and friends in 1852. There is now a large Celtic cross on her grave, and the grave is in the care of the National Graves Association.

Anne’s husband William remains buried in the original grave which Anne purchased on his death in 1846. There has been a memorial service held for Anne Devlin in St. Catherine’s Church, Meath Street, Dublin every year since 2005, on a Sunday near the date of her death, organized by Mícheál Ó Doibhilín, originally and now continued by Cuimhní Anne Devlin.

Now the next time you cross this bridge on the red Luas Line either going to Tallaght, Saggarth, or coming down into the Rialto Area or into town the name Anne Devlin may mean a little more to you today than it did yesterday. Anne Devlin was a hero and she deserves her place in Irish History along with Robert Emmet and all the greats that Ireland has produced in the years of all the uprisings.

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