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Sites of 1916: The GPO
The GPO in the aftermath of the Easter Rising Photo: National Library of Ireland, KE 121

Sites of 1916: The GPO

By Dr John Gibney

The General Post Office (GPO) on Dublin's Sackville Street (O'Connell Street) is the most famous location associated with the Easter Rising. Originally opened in 1818, the GPO was seized by members of the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army led by Patrick Pearse and others early on the afternoon of 24 April 1916.

The rationale for seizing it remains unclear, but the GPO was a key communications hub in Dublin. It was also a very visible symbol of official authority north of the River Liffey, and its location on the wide expanse of Sackville Street ensured that its seizure, and thus the outbreak of the rebellion itself, would be widely observed. It had both a practical and propaganda value, and the GPO became the headquarters garrison for the insurgents. In the early days of the Rising many observers noted an almost surreal atmosphere, complete with looters and sightseers, in the vicinity of the GPO, but as the week wore on Sackville Street and the GPO came under heavy bombardment, and fire broke out in the commercial district around the building. The building itself was hit by shells towards the end of the week, and was abandoned by the garrison.

Having been gutted by fires, it did not reopen until 1929.

Dr John Gibney discusses the events around the GPO during Easter week 1916

Eyewitness accounts

Listen to Séan McGarry describe his experience in the GPO during the Easter Rising

Listen to Liam Daly talk about his experiences in the GPO during Easter week

Read Fintan Murphy's account of the events surrounding the GPO during Easter week

Read Frank Burke's witness statement of the fighting around the GPO

Read Charles Saurin's account of the events around Sackville street and the GPO

Read An tÓglach January 16 1926 - How the Irish Troops took the GPO


Century Ireland

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