War of Independence at the GPO

On Easter Monday morning, 24 April 1916, Catherine Foster put her two children either end of her pram and proceed to make her way along North King Street.  The city was alive with talk about the shootings across the city.  At Church Street junction, she saw a group of Volunteers in the Rebellion and immediately recognised one of them as her brother, Joseph O’Neill and stopped for a chat.  She realised he was dressed as a soldier that there was something serious going on, so she carried on through Church Street.  Close to Fr. Matthew Hall, shots were fired and she started to run but got caught in the crossfire and baby Sean was killed.  He was the youngest casualty of the rebellion.  A cousin of baby Sean Foster, Mary Christian is still alive, and was recently spotted standing outside the GPO.  These are just some of the interesting stories at my recent visit to the GPO museum.

After the rebellion, the ceremonial re-opening of the GPO took place at noon on Thursday 11th July 1929 by President W.T Cosgrave.  Speaking at the ceremony, Cosgrave commented “The restoration of the building is symbolic of the new Order.  As this building has come back to us, renewed and beautiful so is the Irish nation progressing in the path of prosperity and peace.”  The GPO was the central hub for all forms of communication and it was important to restore it and commence work as soon as possible.

President Cosgrave

Hand-written accounts were on display from people telling their relatives and friends about the activities of Easter Week.  The rebels cut communication lines so news spread very slowly about the Rising.  They succeeded  in cutting the cables between Dublin Castle and the barracks around the city which connected Dublin to the outside world.  They failed in breaking the link between The Crown Alley telephone exchange and London.

As I read all the accounts of the Rising, a short movie was shown telling the story of the Rebels and the War of Independence.

The GPO, situated on Dublin’s widest boulevard O’Connell Street (initially known as Sackville Street) hosts many parade pageants celebrations and sporting events.  The funeral of the Irish National leader Charles Stewart Parnell passed by the GPO in 1891 with 200,000 mourners.


Eamon De Valera (as seen in the photo) had a long career in Irish public life, and this was due to his position as the sole surviving commandant of the 1916 Rising.

It may be over 100 years since the War of Independence, but a visit to the GPO and History comes alive.

For more information log onto http://www.gpowitnesshistory.ie

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