During the historic week of the 1916 Easter Rising hundreds of rebels, soldiers and civilians were injured and killed. Included in these casualties were a number of medical personnel who disregarded their own safety to help the wounded where they fell in the streets around Dublin.
Charles Hachette Hyland was a practising dentist living in Percy Place close to Mount Street in 1916. He was the eldest of five children and had attended Catholic University School on Leeson Street. He graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons Dental School in 1907. He married Kathleen Slyne of Slyne Couturiers, 71 Grafton Street. His father, also Charles, was the manager of the Gaiety Theatre.
Charles had been a successful student at the Incorporated Dental Hospital of Ireland, where he won senior prizes in Dental Mechanics and in Dental Surgery. He was one of the assistant staff of the Dental Hospital
..where his efficiency, modesty and courtesy gained the admiration and good will of all who were brought in contact with him.
- British Dental Journal 1916 pg.479
On Easter Monday the Irish Citizen Army took up strategic positions around Mount Street, Northumberland Road and Haddington Road. They fired upon soldiers who were returning to nearby Beggars Bush barracks after weekend manoeuvres, causing many casualties. Two days later, they opened fire on British reinforcements who had just arrived in Ireland. Many of the new arrivals were with the Sherwood Foresters regiment. The British suffered heavy casualties against the small number of well-positioned insurgents. With their home close to the fighting, Hyland had sent his wife, Kathleen, and their young son to safety in Blackrock but he remained to help the wounded.
Nurses in the residence at 97 Lower Mount Street attached to nearby Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital witnessed the fighting. The matron of the hospital said that the nurses ‘could see the soldiers falling and they felt they must go out and try to rescue them.’ During brief ceasefires, Hyland donned his white coat and joined the nurses and other staff from Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital as they tried to help the wounded soldiers. They used quilts as stretchers and, at one stage, Hyland enlisted the help of a young man with a cart to transport injured men to the hospital.
He [Hyland] worked gallantly for several hours, rendered valuable aid to the wounded men and assisted the unfortunate victims of the battle into a place of safety.
- Sinn Féin Rebellion Handbook Easter 1916 Irish Times, 1917 pg.266
On Thursday, 27 April, Charles Hachette Hyland was shot dead on Percy Place. He was one of several civilians killed during the battle at Mount Street Bridge.
Apart from Charles’ signature in the RCSI Roll of Licentiates no other material evidence of Charles existed in our collections. As he was one of the surgeons to feature in the College’s 1916 commemorative exhibition Surgeons & Insurgents: RCSI and the Easter Rising, a call was put out through social media to try and locate any relatives who may be able to put a face to the name. The week the exhibition was being installed we received an email from a relative in London who had some photo of Charles and his wife, Kathleen. These were couriered over and put on display beside Charles’ feature panel in the exhibition. By letting people gaze on Charles’s face it briefly brought him back to life 100 years after his life had ended so abruptly.