Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dispatches from the General Post Office, Easter Friday, 1916

Army of the Irish Republic
(Dublin Command),
Headquarters, April 28, 1916.


To Soldiers,

This is the fifth day of the establishment of the Irish Republic, and the flag of our country still floats from the most important buildings in Dublin, and is gallantly protected by the officers and Irish soldiers in arms throughout the country. Not a day passes without seeing fresh postings of Irish soldiers eager to do battle for the old cause. Despite tha utmost vigilance of the enemy we have been able to get in information telling us how the manhood of Ireland, inspired by our splendid action, are gathering to offer up their lives if necessary in the same holy cause. We are here hemmed in because the enemy feels that in this building is to be found the heart and inspiration of our great movement.

Let us remind you what you have done. For the first time in 700 years the flag of a free Ireland floats triumphantly in Dublin City.

The British Army, whose exploits we are for ever having dinned into our ears, which boasts of having stormed the Dardanelles and the German lines on the Marne, behind their artillery and machine guns are afraid to advance to the attack or storm any positions held by our forces. The slaughter they suffered in the first few days has totally unnerved them, and they dare not attempt again an infantry attack on our positions.

Our Commandants around us are holding their own.

Commandant Daly’s splendid exploit in capturing Linen Hall Barracks we all know. You must know also that the whole population, both clergy and laity, of this district are united in his praises. Commandant MacDonagh is established in an impregnable position reaching from the walls of Dublin Castle to Redmond’s Hill, and from Bishop street to Stephen’s Green.

(In Stephen’s Green, Commandant [Mallin] holds the College of Surgeons, one side of the square, a portion of the other side, and dominates the whole Green and all its entrances and exits.)

Commandant De Valera stretches in a position from the Gas Works to Westland row, holding Boland’s Bakery, Boland’s Mills, Dublin South-Eastern Railway Works, and dominating Merrion square.

Commandant Kent [Ceannt] holds the South Dublin Union and Guinness’s Buildings to Marrowbone lane, and controls James’s street and district.

On two occasions the enemy effected a lodgment and were driven out with great loss.

The men of North County Dublin are in the field, have occupied all the Police Barracks in the district, destroyed all the telegram system on the Great Northern Railway up to Dundalk. and are operating against the trains of the Midland and Great Western.

Dundalk has sent 200 men to march upon Dublin, and in the other parts of the North our forces are active and growing.

In Galway Captain [Mellows], fresh after his escape from an Irish prison, is in the field with his men. Wexford and Wicklow are strong, and Cork and Kerry are equally acquitting themselves creditably. (We have every confidence that our Allies in Germany anu kinsmen in America are straining every nerve to hasten matters on our behalf.)

As you know, I was wounded twice yesterday and am unable to move about, but have got my bed moved into the firing line, and, with the assistance of your officers, will be just as useful to you as ever.

Courage, boys, we are winning, and in the hour of our victory let us not forget the splendid women who have everywhere stood by us and cheered us on. Never had man or woman a grander cause, never was a cause more grandly served.

James Connolly,
Commandant-General,
Dublin Division.


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Headquarters, Army of the Irish Republic, General Post Office, Dublin.

28th April, 1916, 9.30 a.m.


The Forces of the Irish Republic, which was proclaimed in Dublin, on Easter Monday, 24th April, have been in possession of the central part of the capital, since 12 noon on that day. Up to yesterday afternoon Headquarters was in touch with all the main outlying positions, and, despite furious, and almost continuous assaults by the British Forces all those positions were then still being held, and the Commandants in charge, were confident of their ability to hold them for a long time.

During the course of yesterday afternoon, and evening, the enemy succeeded in cutting our communications with our other positions in the city, and Headquarters is to-day isolated.

The enemy has burnt down whole blocks of houses, apparently with the object of giving themselves a clear field for the play of artillery and field guns against us. We have been bombarded during the evening and night by shrapnel and machine gun fire, but without material damage to our position, which is of great strength.

We are busy completing arrangements for the final defence of Headquarters, and are determined to hold it while the buildings last.

I desire now, lest I may not have an opportunity later, to pay homage to the gallantry of the soldiers of Irish Freedom who have during the past four days been writing with fire and steel the most glorious chapter in the later history of Ireland. Justice can never be done to their heroism, to their discipline, to their gay and unconquerable spirit in the midst of peril and death.

Let me, who have led them into this, speak in my own, and in my fellow-commanders’ names, and in the name of Ireland present and to come, their praise, and ask those who come after them to remember them.

For four days they have fought and toiled, almost without cessation, almost without sleep, and in the intervals of fighting they have sung songs of the freedom of Ireland. INo man has complained, no man has asked ‘why?’ Each individual has spent himself, happy to pour out his strength for Ireland and for freedom. If they do not win this fight, they will at least have deserved to win it. But win it they will, although they may win it in death. Already they have won a great thing. They have redeemed Dublin from many shames, and made her name splendid among the names of cities.

If I were to mention names of individuals, my list would be a long one.

I will name only that of Commandant General James Connolly, Commanding the Dublin Division. He lies wounded, but is still the guiding brain of cur resistance.

If we accomplish no more than we have accomplished, I am satisfied. I am satisfied that we have saved Ireland’s honour. I am satisfied that we should have accomplished more, that we should have accomplished the task of enthroning, as well as proclaiming, the Irish Republic as a Sovereign State, had our arrangements for a simultaneous rising of the whole country, with a combined plan as sound as the Dublin plan has been proved to be, been allowed to go through on Easter Sunday. Of the fatal countermanding order which prevented those plans from being carried out, I shall not speak further. Both Eoin MacNeill and we have acted in the best interests of Ireland.

For my part, as to anything I have done in this, I am not afraid to face either the judgment of God, or the judgment of posterity.

P. H. Pearse,
Commandant General,
Commanding-in-Chief, the Army of the Irish Republic and President of the Provisional Government.


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Source: Sinn Féin Rebellion Handbook: Easter, 1916. Compiled by the Weekly Irish Times, Dublin: 1917.

On Friday evening, the GPO had to be abandoned. On Saturday, the provisional government of the Irish Republic offered their surrender. Fighting continued into Sunday until all the rebel outposts received the order and agreed to it. A total of 112 republicans were tried and sentenced to death. Executions ended after 14 leaders were killed in Dublin. (Thomas Kent was also executed in Cork, and later Roger Casement in London.) More than 3,000 were arrested and almost all of them transported to prison camps in Britain.