Nurse Margaret Kehoe was a native of Orchard, Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow, Ireland. She was shot dead at the South Dublin Union (now St James Hospital) on Easter Monday 1916. She was the first civilian casualty of the Easter Rising of 1916. At the time of her death Nurse Kehoe had been working at the hospital for almost twenty years.
Margaret Kehoe was born on March 17th 1867. Her father Patrick was the coroner of Co Carlow. Her mother Marion died when Margaret was just nine years old. Margaret was the grandniece of Captain Myles Kehoe who served in the Papal wars in Italy. He also served in both the Civil war and the Indian wars in the United States. Captain Myles Keogh died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn during the Great Sioux War of 1876.
Margaret Kehoe began working as a nurse at the South Dublin Union in 1896. The South Dublin Union was a complex of hospitals and workhouses. When the hospital was commandeered by the volunteers on April 24th 1916 there were 3,282 people including patients, doctors, nurses and ancillary staff on the site. The volunteers established their headquarters in the Nurses Home. They were led by Éamonn Ceannt and Officers Cathal Brugha, Con Colbert and W T Cosgrave. Cosgrave would later become Taoiseach. The patients and staff were not evacuated during the fighting. In order to dislodge the rebels, the British Army attacked the Union on the afternoon of Monday April 24th. The situation for staff and patients became perilous and many people lost their lives.
A Mr James Cribbin who was a native of Prosperous, Co Kildare had been employed as ‘Diet Clerk’ at the hospital for 30 years. In an interview with the Kildare Observer Cribbin stated: ‘I was in charge of the place on Easter Monday morning, the Master and the Assistant Master having gone to the races at Fairyhouse. The Sinn Feiners – about a hundred in all – entered and took possession of the buildings’. He went on to say that they helped themselves to supplies of food from the stores.
When talking about the casualties Cribbin described Nurse Kehoe as a ‘popular, capable and conscientious officer. She opened a door to cross a passage in search of one of her patients when she dropped with a bullet through her heart’. Along with others who died in the fighting Nurse Kehoe was buried in the grounds of the hospital. Her remains were later exhumed and reinterred in Ballinabranna cemetery, Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow.
Nurse Margaret Kehoe, a native of Co Carlow, became the first civilian casualty of the Easter Rising when she was shot dead whilst on duty in the year 1916 On This Day.