Easter Monday April 24, 1916.



































































































Easter Monday is a bank holiday. It is a bright and pleasant day and there is a relaxed atmosphere in Dublin. Large crowds have left the city for the seaside or to attend the Irish Grand National horse race taking place in Fairyhouse that same day. At 11.00 am the rebels start to assemble at Liberty Hall. In total, there is a turn out of about 1,200 men (including about 200 members of Connolly's Irish Citizen Army). This is smaller than had been expected. The cancelling of Sunday's manoeuvres has created a lot of confusion. The loss of the Aud has not helped either and as a result the volunteers are poorly armed. There is nothing very surprising in the sight of armed men on the streets. In recent years, the public has become accustomed to the sight of both the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Irish Volunteers drilling and parading.


Exterior of the General Post Office (GPO) today.

The uprising is scheduled to start at 12.00 noon. In the absence of a nationwide armed uprising, the rebels have decided to seize a number of key locations in Dublin. These include the GPO; Dublin Castle; The Four Courts; Boland's Mill as well as important approaches to the city such as Mount Street Bridge.There are mixed spirits amongst the rebels with many believing that, without adequate numbers and weapons, they are facing certain defeat. Nevertheless, they are determined to press ahead with the uprising. Spirits lift somewhat when The O Rahilly, one of those who drove around the country on the previous Saturday announcing the cancellation of Sunday's operation, arrives. He has a change of mind about supporting the Uprising saying 'I've helped to wind up the clock - I might as well hear it strike'.

MONDAY 12.00

At 12.00, the main group of about 150 led by Pearse, Connolly and MacDonagh makes the short journey on foot from Liberty Hall to the GPO. As well as rifles, some of the rebels carry pikes and even sledge hammers and pick axes. A horse drawn wagon follows bringing food and supplies. The GPO is regarded as an important building particularly as it controls communications such as the telegraph service and the telephones. There are just a few customers inside the GPO including a British Army officer who is there buying stamps. All are surprised to hear the rebels declaring that they are taking over the building. The officer is taken prisoner. The GPO has an armed guard of a sergeant and 6 soldiers. Several shots are fired but luck is on the side of the rebels as it transpires that the soldiers have not been supplied with ammunition!

Interior GPO today.

The rebels now begin fortifying the GPO. Connolly assumes military control. The glass in the front windows is broken and ledgers are piled high in expectation of a counter attack. Surrounding buildings are taken over in case of an attack on the GPO. On the roof of the GPO snipers take up positions. Two flags are hoisted: one a tricolour and the other a green flag with the words Irish Republic. Pearse and Connolly emerge from the building and read the Proclamation declaring the establishment of an Irish Republic. Copies of the Proclamation are then displayed in prominent positions. One is placed on the ground at the base of the Nelson's Pillar column. Onlookers gather and are mystified as to what is going on.

*On the bank holiday Monday, Ernie O Malley went for a leisurely stroll around Dublin. As he walked across O Connell Street he saw crowds of on lookers gathering....
On the base of a pillar was a white poster. Gathered around were groups of men and women. Some looked at it with serious faces, others laughed and sniggered. I began to read it with a smile, but my smile ceased as I read.
- Ernie O Malley On Another Man's Wound

One of the first things to happen is that the police disappear from the streets. In turn, looting of shops begins with sweet and toy shops being particular favourites. Large crowds of onlookers start to gather wondering what will happen next. About 3 hours after the GPO is taken over, a troop of cavalry charges down O Connell Street. Some say they that they are on a mission to retake the GPO while others say that they are unaware of the presence of the rebels in the GPO. They present an easy target for the rebels inside the GPO and several soldiers are killed. Curious onlookers stand about watching and waiting to see what will happen next.

*Mary Louisa Hamilton Norway's husband Arthur was Secretary of Dublin's General Post Office and had overseen its refurbishment. She kept an account of events in Dublin that week. On the Monday, She joined the curious onlookers in O Connell Street to see what was happening.
"At about 4 p.m. N. returned from a tour of inspection, and told me all was quiet in Sackville Street, and begged me to go out with him and see the G.P.O. I quaked rather, but we set off and reached Sackville Street safely. Over the fine building of the G.P.O. floated a great green flag with the words "Irish Republic" on it in large white letters. Every window on the ground floor was smashed and barricaded with furniture, and a big placard announced "The Headquarters of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic." At every window were two men with rifles , and on the roof the parapet was lined with men. H's [Her husband Hamilton] room appeared not to be touched, and there were no men at his windows. We stood opposite and were gazing, when suddenly two shots were fired, and, seeing there was likely to be an ugly rush, I fled again, exhorting N. to take refuge at the club.'
Mary Louisa Hamilton Norway The Sinn Fein Rebellion as I saw it

 Talking Points
Why was there a relaxed atmosphere in Dublin that day?
Why did the rebels want to seize a post office?
Why did many of the rebels think they were facing certain defeat?


The rebels plan was to take control of key locations across Dublin city. As well as their headquarters in the GPO these include Dublin Castle, the Four Courts, St. Stephen's Green and strategic buildings such as the South Dublin Union(now St. James' Hospital), Boland's Mill and Jacobs Factory. Other locations include Mount Street bridge which control entry into the city from Kingstown (Dun Laoire). The rebels meet with mixed success. One of their first targets is Dublin Castle, the seat of British administration in Ireland. A group of Connolly's Citizen Army storm the Castle gate, killing a policeman and capturing some soldiers on guard duty. However, fearing that their numbers are too small they decide against attempting to take over Dublin Castle. Unknown to them, there is a reduced number of soldiers on duty at Dublin Castle on that day as many officers are attending the race meeting at Fairyhouse.

Another target is St. Stephen's Green. A group under the command of Commandant Mallin and Countess Markievicz and immediately order all inside to leave. They barricade the main gates and start to dig trenches. They also commandeer passing vehicles with which to build barricades and block traffic.

Street barricade near St. Stephen's Green

*James Stephens was a writer and poet. He kept a journal recording day by day events of the Rising. He witnessed this incident near St. Stephen's Green
Just then a man stepped on the footpath and walked directly to the barricade. He stopped and gripped the shafts of a lorry lodged near the centre. At that instant the Park exploded into life and sound; from nowhere armed men appeared at the railings, and they all shouted at the man.
"Put down that lorry. Let out and go away. Let out at once." These were the cries. The man did not let out. He halted with the shafts in his hand, and looked towards the vociferous pailings. They, and very slowly, he began to draw the lorry out of the barricade. The shouts came to him again, very loud, very threatening, but he did not attend to them.
"He is the man that owns the lorry," said a voice beside me. Dead silence fell on the people around while the man slowly drew his cart down by the footpath. then three shots rang out in succession. At the distance he could not be missed, and it was obvious they were trying to frighten him. He dropped the shafts, and instead of going away he walked over to the Volunteers.
"He has a nerve," said another voice behind me. The man walked directly towards the Volunteers, who, to the number of about ten, were lining the railings. He walked slowly, bent a little forward, with one hand raised and one finger up as though he were going to make a speech. Ten guns were pointing at him, and a voice repeated many times: "Go and put back that lorry or you are a dead man. Go before I count four. One, two, three, four -
A rifle spat at him, and in two undulating movements the man sank on himself and sank to the ground.
- James Stephens The Insurrection in Dublin

By Monday evening, news of the rising has spread throughout Dublin. One of the first effects of the rising is that the trams stop running. As Easter Monday evening draws to a close, many people returning from a day out find that they have to walk home.

 Talking Points
Were the British authorities prepared for trouble on that Monday?
How suitable were the cavalry to fighting an Uprising in a city?
In your opinion, how would most bystanders have reacted to the shooting of the man?
What was the reaction of ordinary people to the Rising? Why?
There were 300,000 Irish men fighting in Europe with the British Army at the time of the Easter Rising. What might the initial reaction of these soldiers' relatives be to the rebels?

 To Do
Countess Markievicz played a central role in the rising. Find out about the roles played by other women in history. www.lkwdpl.org/wihohio/figures.htm