VISIT US AT THE GPO
Your history. Your heritage. Live it.
GPO Witness History Visitor Centre
GPO Witness History is a brand new permanent visitor attraction in the iconic GPO building on O’Connell Street, Dublin.
This highly immersive and engaging exhibition puts you right inside the GPO during Easter Week in 1916.
History will come to life as you experience events from both sides of the conflict and through the eyes of bystanders caught in the crossfire through electronic touch screens, video, audio visual booths, sound and authentic artefacts – many previously unseen.
You’ll be immersed in the action as you compose newspaper reports, examine the original copy of the Proclamation and send Morse code to declare the Irish Republic by radio.
After the exhibition, you can relax and reflect in the café and retail store overlooking the courtyard. The courtyard is also home to a commissioned sculpture called ‘They are of us all’, commemorating the forty children who died during the Easter Rising.
The General Post Office is the centrepiece of Dublin’s grandest ceremonial street – O’Connell Street.The GPO was designed by Francis Johnston in 1814. He wanted to build a handsome, distinguished building that would cater for postal business and customers, add to Dublin’s architectural beauty and emphasise the important role of the Post Office in Irish life.
There was a fine public office at the front, a courtyard for the mail coaches at the back and an imposing façade complete with classical columns and statues on the roof.Since then, the layout of the building has changed many times and everything except the front was destroyed during the 1916 Rising.
Today, the GPO continues to hold a unique place in the hearts of Irish people. Considering all that it has witnessed, it is truly remarkable that this building retains its original function two centuries on.
The GPO and the 1916 rising
The events of Easter Week shaped this country’s history and the GPO was at the centre of it all.
Just after midday on Easter Monday 1916, a band of rebels stormed the GPO. They ordered staff and customers to leave and seized control of the building, making it their headquarters during the fierce fighting of Easter Week.
Ireland was declared a sovereign nation on the front steps of the GPO when rebel leader Patrick Pearse read the Proclamation of Independence on Easter Monday.
In the face of considerable military opposition, the rebels held the GPO for almost a week. With the building on fire and crumbling, the rebels tunnelled through the walls of neighbouring buildings and retreated to nearby Moore Street. On Saturday, Pearse, realising the futility of further fighting, took the decision to surrender.
The historic and tumultuous Easter Rising set into motion an unstoppable chain of events which would ultimately lead to the creation of the Irish Republic.