Patrick Joseph Stephenson

(10/05/1895 - 06/04/1960)

Patrick Joseph Stephenson, born on 10th April 1895 in Dublin, Ireland, was a librarian, Irish Volunteer, and a key participant in the 1916 Easter Rising. He was the second of nine children born to Patrick Stephenson, a coachman, and Alice (née Tynan). Known as ‘Paddy Joe,’ he attended O’Connell School and began working as a brush maker before becoming a stationer’s assistant at W. Curwen printers in Nassau Street.

In 1912, at the age of 17, Stephenson started his career in Dublin Corporation’s public libraries as a library assistant at the Thomas Street branch. He became involved in the nationalist movement shortly after leaving school, joining the Gaelic League at the Archbishop McHale branch in Dorset Street around 1910. By 1914, he had joined D Company of the Irish Volunteers’ 1st Dublin Battalion, and his role evolved into that of a company quartermaster, responsible for arms and ammunition procurement.

During the Easter Rising in 1916, Stephenson played a significant role, starting at the Mendicity Institution in Usher’s Island. Despite being outnumbered, the Mendicity garrison held their position for fifty hours. He continued to actively participate in events, such as delivering supplies to the GPO and defending the Four Courts. After the surrender, he was detained, sent to Knutsford Prison, and later to Frongoch prison camp in Wales.

After his release in September 1916, Stephenson resumed his involvement in D Company, the Irish Volunteers, and later joined Fianna Éireann, rising to the position of adjutant general. Balancing his family life, full-time work at Thomas Street library, and dedication to the national cause, Stephenson engaged in various activities during the War of Independence, including field operations, arms raids, and anti-conscription efforts.

He married Mary ‘Mamie’ Kilmartin in September 1917, and they had five sons.

In 1950, Patrick Joseph Stephenson became the Chief Librarian for the City of Dublin, succeeding Róisín Walsh. His tenure was marked by efforts to consolidate centralised services and expand collections, particularly the Dublin collection. He implemented a popular book reservation scheme in 1950, enhancing library services. Stephenson, a man of literary and cultural interests, was actively involved in the preservation of Dublin’s history, serving as the president of the Old Dublin Society and contributing to the Dublin Historical Record.

The connection to Walkinstown is notable in the context of his library career. A 1956 report drafted by him to Dublin Corporation’s cultural committee shows his plans to expand and develop library services, including branches at Walkinstown and Ballyfermot.

Patrick Joseph Stephenson passed away on 6th April 1960, just days before his sixty-fifth birthday and his retirement.  Stephenson’s legacy extends beyond his involvement in the Easter Rising and the War of Independence to his contributions to the development of Dublin’s library services and the preservation of its cultural heritage.

Person Photo
Connection with area: Librarian and Irish Volunteer who was instrumental in expanding the library services introducing a library at Walkinstown.