Custom House Talks: Dan Head

Dan Head – the boy in the picture.

On May 25th, 1921, the last major action by the IRA in the War of Independence took place when almost 300 men and many women took part in an attack on Dublin’s Custom House, the financial heart of British rule in Ireland, intent on burning all documentation therein – the culmination of a concerted plan of attack on tax offices throughout the country.

The action was a complete success, the building was burned and most documents within, at great loss to the British regime. However, success came at a cost – five of the attackers lost their lives.

One was ‘the boy in the picture’, Dan Head – just 17.

Dan Head’s photograph is the iconic and tragic photo of the Custom House attack.

Regrettably, it is also his last – lying sprawled face down on the pathway, ignored by those passing him, their hands in the air, as his life’s blood spilled out from beneath him.

But few know the full story behind the picture – what brought this talented soccer player and carpenter to this place – his family life and the effect his death had on that same family.

Dan’s story – and that of his family – is one of hope and tragedy, love and grief, travel and separation. In his brutally honest and highly praised biography of Dan, author Michael McKee was aided by a memoir written by his uncle and Dan’s brother, Antoine Head.

In this talk, Michael will reveal Dan’s story – his Soccer goalkeeping skills, his prize-fighting father, his Flemish-speaking sister, and the family connection to an undertaker.

But the heart of this story is that of a brave young lad, a talented footballer and carpenter, who gave his life to free others – a life that ended as ‘the boy in the picture.

Available *here*

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