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Sites of 1916: Arbour Hill
The burial plot in Arbour Hill, Dublin. Photo: Century Ireland

Sites of 1916: Arbour Hill

By Dr John Gibney

Arbour Hill prison is located behind Collins Barracks (formerly the Royal Barracks) in Arbour Hill, north of the River Liffey and adjacent to the Phoenix Park. Since the construction of the barracks in the 1700s, this area was strongly associated with the military. The prison itself was originally built in the 1840s as a military prison. It was one of a number of military installations used to hold republican prisoners detained after the Easter Rising. It was also chosen as the location for the graves of the 14 men executed in Dublin for their involvement in the Rising, including the seven signatories of the Proclamation, who were buried in a mass grave with quicklime. Remarkably precise instructions were issued for the burials, which took place in the exercise yard of the prison, out of public view. This was a deliberate decision to minimise any propaganda value that the graves might have; as the military governor, General Sir John Maxwell observed: 'Irish sentimentality will turn these graves into martyrs' shrines.'

The burial plot was laid out in its current form by the Office of Public Works in 1956, and incorporates a limestone wall with the text of the Proclamation in both Irish and English.

Dr John Gibney explains how Arbour Hill was used as a prison and burial plot for those involved in the Easter Rising.


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.