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The Guns of Easter

Whelan, Gerard

Dublin: O’Brien Press


The Guns of Easter

Plot Summary

The Guns of Easter is a children's historical fiction about an impoverished 12-year-old Dublin boy named Jimmy Conway.

When Jimmy and his family find themselves trapped in their home in the tenements of Dublin during the Easter Rising of 1916, it is impossible for them to direct their political sympathies in any particular direction. Jimmy’s father is in the British Army—he joined reluctantly because he needs money to feed his family—but this means that as a result of the storming of the General Post Office, Jimmy’s family is left without the separation allowance that would have come in the mail from his father. But while Jimmy’s father is in France, Jimmy’s Uncle Mick is part of the Citizen Army and has his own role to play in the Rising.

Jimmy soon learns firsthand that those on both sides of the battle are capable of kindness and humanity. Since the family is without food or money and his mother is suffering from a terrible flu, Jimmy is forced to walk across Dublin to find his Aunt Ella, with whom Uncle Mick has left money to buy food. Along the way, he is stopped by British soldiers, who give him money after he tells them his plight. Later, when Aunt Ella’s drunken husband attempts to rob Jimmy and beat him to death, a group of insurgents step in and save Jimmy’s life so that he can continue his journey to collect food from Aunt Ella’s. After battling a flu of his own with the help of a homeless man, Jimmy arrives home bearing food and money for his family, who is overjoyed at his return.

Main Characters

  • Jimmy Conway

Significant Minor Characters

  • Lily Healy

  • Mick Healy

  • Ella Healy

  • Ella’s Husband

  • James Conway

  • Sarah Conway

  • Charlie Fox

  • Josie Conway

  • Mrs. Doyle

  • Tommy Doyle

  • Mr. Meyer

  • Jimmy Martin

Publication History

The novel was first published in 1996 by the O’Brien Press in Dublin. Subsequent editions were reprinted by the O’Brien Press in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2006. Novel is currently in print.

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