Saint John Ambulance Brigade of Ireland
In O’Connell Street, on the central island between where Nelson Pillar used to stand (where stands the Spire today) and the Parnell Monument stood a small cream painted hut. This was probably the last standing First Aid Post of the Saint John Ambulance Brigade of Ireland. It vanished when O’Connell Street was modernised some years ago.
This First Aid Post was one of two established in 1922, the other was in Foster Place. Both of these played major roles during the Civil War period. The First Aid care provided to the people of Dublin from these posts was very significant. The work of the O’Connell Street Post had to be transferred to the Metropole Hotel for a period due to the heavy fighting in that area.
The O’Connell Street Post continued to provide a First Aid Service for many more years, being staffed daily but from the 1950s the service operated each evening and on Sunday mornings. It was used as a base during major events such as the military parades at Easter and the industrial parades on St. Patrick’s Day.
The Brigade over the years had many First Aid Huts from Dollymount Strand, Merrion Strand at the railway station (the remnants of the long closed station disappeared with the arrival of the DART rail service), Killiney Beech, Bray Promenade and at the football pitches in the fifteen acres of the Phoenix Park. In addition posts were established in the Zoo and at the show grounds of the Royal Dublin Society.
The story of the St. John Ambulance Brigade is a rich source of information about the social history of Ireland. Some examples will show the importance of its work, a mother and childcare scheme for new babies was provided, this included dinners and baby clothes; a blood transfusion service was set up and this predated the National Blood Transfusion Service. This year 2011, being the 70th anniversary of the bombing of the North Strand in Dublin brings to mind the major input of the Brigade in the Air Raid Precautions organisation. The City Manager requested the Brigade to be the official emergency first aid service for the city.
The St. John Ambulance Brigade in Ireland was founded in 1903 as part of the British Order of St John. In 1945 at the request of the Government the Brigade became an Irish organisation and it continues, actively, to serve the people of Ireland to the present time. Initially, service in the Brigade was recognised by the award of the service medal of the Order of St. John. This medal on the obverse had the head of Queen Victoria. The ribbon had alternate black and white stripes Since the Brigade became an Irish organisation a revised service medal was introduced, this has a Maltese cross with shamrocks between the arms of the cross on the obverse and the new ribbon has green edges outside the black and white stripes. It is awarded in silver for fifteen year and in gold for fifty year’s service.
“Air Raids on Ireland during the Second World War”, David J.Murnaghan, Medal Society of Ireland Journal, No.86, December 2009.
“Air Raids on Ireland during the Second World War, An Addendum”, David J.Murnaghan. Medal Society of Ireland Journal, No.89, September 2010.