Destroyed Easter 1916

Early on Monday morning, 24 April 1916, roughly 1,200 Volunteers and Citizen Army members took over strongpoints around Dublin city centre. A joint force of about 400 Volunteers and Citizen Army gathered at Liberty Hall under the command of James Connolly before marching on the General Post Office on O’Connell Street.

Using the GPO as the rebel headquarters, the Volunteers hoisted two Republican flags and Padraig Pearse read a Proclamation of the Republic. Elsewhere, rebel forces took up positions at locations around the city centre including the Four Courts, Jacob’s Biscuit Factory, Boland’s Mill, and the South Dublin Union hospital complex. But the epi-centre of the Rising was very much on Lower O’Connell Street and this area became the target of the British forces.

The headquarters garrison at the GPO, after days of shelling, was forced to abandon their headquarters when fires on Lower O’Connell Street caused by shelling from the gunboat Helga spread to the building. They tunneled through the walls of the neighbouring buildings in order to evacuate without coming under fire and took up a new position in 16 Moore Street. Eventually on Saturday 29 April, they surrendered from this new headquarters, after realising that they could not break out of this position without further loss of civilian life.

As the Hibernian Fire & General Insurance Company map (right) shows, the damage between the GPO and the river was significant with well-known Dublin landmarks destroyed by artillery and fire. Among the major losses was the fashionable Metropole Hotel; the original Clerys & the Imperial Hotel which was housed in the upper floors; and the Dublin Bread Company. Other buildings lost included the Coliseum Theatre on Henry Street which had only opened on Easter Monday 1915.

The rebuilding process was to take several years, and was nearing completion when fighting in the Civil War meant considerable damage was made to the eastern side of Upper O’Connell Street. O’Connell Street as it exists today is a result of the reconstruction after the street’s destruction from both these events. The street was redesigned as a cohesive series of blocks by the city architect Horace O’Rourke with consistent parapet lines and similar façade treatments and materials.