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Monday 4 December 2023 Dublin: 5°C

1916 Liveblog Day 5: Pádraig Pearse has ordered the total evacuation of the GPO

Moment by moment, is following what happened during the 1916 Rising one hundred years ago.

IT IS THE fifth day of the Easter Rising and things are looking bleak for the rebels.

The British troops have tightened their hold on the remaining buildings held by the rebels, and Pádraig Pearse says the rebels are preparing for a final defence of the GPO.

To mark the centenary of 1916, is documenting the events of the Rising as they happened. Each day this week, you can follow what happened during one of the defining events of Ireland’s history, from the moment the rebels started assembling outside Liberty Hall on Easter Monday, to the surrender on Moore Street the following Saturday. You can catch up here on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and you can see all our sources here.

As ever, we want to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, tweet us @thejournal_ie, send a mail to or send a telegram to The Journal, Golden Lane, Dublin 8.

Good morning everyone and thanks for sticking with us as we cover what’s happening around Dublin and parts of the country. It’s Catherine Devine here on liveblog duty.

Here is what’s happened since our last post on Thursday night:

  • Heavy shelling and fires have caused rebels to abandon their positions at the Imperial Hotel and Clerys and retreat to the GPO.

  • General Sir John Maxwell arrived at North Wall Dock in Dublin at 2am to assume command of British operations in the city.

  • The British have surrounded Éamon De Valera’s 3rd Battalion based at Boland’s Mill and Bakery.

The GPO is surrounded by British troops. Pádraig Pearse has ordered the women of Cumann na mBan out of the GPO for their safety.

Sackville Street (O’Connell Street) is unrecognisable from just a few days ago – it is littered with rubble, bodies, trams, dead horses and burnt-out cars.

GPO bright National Library of Ireland National Library of Ireland

James Stephens, a writer living in Dublin, describes the scene in Dublin:

“This morning there are no newspapers, no bread, no milk, no news.

“The sun is shining, and the streets are lively but discreet. All people continue to talk to one another without distinction of class, but nobody knows what any person thinks.”

UPDATE: Pádraig Pearse has issued a statement from the GPO, saying the rebels are preparing for the “final defence” of their headquarters.

GPO in ruins National Library of Ireland National Library of Ireland

In the statement, Pearse says that the GPO has been “bombarded… by shrapnel and machine gun fire” since last night, and that whole blocks of houses have been burnt down by the British. He says that the British have cut off the lines of communication and the GPO has been unable to contact any of the other rebels since yesterday.

Despite the prognosis, Pearse uses the majority of the statement to pay tribute to the other rebels.

“Justice can never be done to their heroism, to their discipline, to their gay and unconquerable spirit in the midst of peril and death,” he says.

“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.

“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 we accomplish no more than we have accomplished I am satisfied. I am satisfied that we have saved Ireland’s honour.

He describes Eoin MacNeill’s countermanding order on Easter Sunday to call off the rebellion as ‘fatal’ – but adds: “Both Eoin MacNeill and we have acted in the best interests of Ireland”.

Pearse statement National Library of Ireland National Library of Ireland

The caretaker at Stephen’s Green has returned to the park again to feed the ducks, making sure that they don’t go hungry during the conflict. He has done this several times since Monday, despite the gunfire around the area.

The nearby Shelbourne Hotel, where British troops took up a position to fire on the rebels who were in Stephen’s Green, has been badly damaged in the fighting.

Shelbourne 1 National Library of Ireland National Library of Ireland

BREAKING: At least ten people are reported dead after rebels in Ashbourne in Meath attacked the Royal Irish Constabulary barracks in the town.

Reports say that the rebels, led by Thomas Ashe who is one of the founding members of the Irish Volunteers, took the building after an intense gun battle which left 8 policemen and 2 Volunteers dead.

Thomas AShe National Library of Ireland Thomas Ashe National Library of Ireland

A squad from Slane are believed to have joined the Ashbourne rebels in the attack.

Maxwell has ordered some troops to close in on the Four Courts and on the GPO.

Other British troops are marching on Gardiner Street towards Bolton Street.

At this point, the rebels still hold Boland’s Mill and Bakery, the Royal College of Surgeons, Jacob’s factory, the South Dublin Union, the Four Courts and the GPO, but pressure is mounting.

Map of rebel positions - Friday

All rebel-held positions are now surrounded by British troops. There is intense sniper fire and shelling at each of the six locations.

Dead British soldiers are being buried in shallow graves in Rialto. Snipers have momentarily stopped firing, seemingly out of respect to the dead.

General Sir John Maxwell, who arrived in Dublin earlier this morning to command the British troops, has issued a proclamation warning that he intends to do everything he can to end this rebellion.

General Maxwell National Library of Ireland General Maxwell National Library of Ireland

It reads:

“The most vigorous measures will be taken by me to stop the loss of life and damage to property which certain misguided persons are causing in their armed resistance to the law.

“If necessary I shall not hesitate to destroy any buildings within any area occupied by the rebels and I warn all persons within the area specified below, and now surrounded by HM troops, forthwith to leave such area.”

The GPO is coming under intense gunfire from the huge number of British troops surrounding it.

Today’s edition of the Cork Examiner is strongly against the Rising, describing it as a “mad project” and a “lamentable outbreak” which is “spreading consternation all over the country”.

“Let the thoughtless and unreasoning on this occasion be confined to a handful of our misguided countrymen,” the newspaper says,  echoing comments made in almost all Irish and British newspapers in recent days.

Cork Examiner National Library of Ireland National Library of Ireland

As pressure continues to mount in Dublin, the scene is very different in Enniscorthy, where rebels have taken the town. Captain JR Etchingham describes the events which have transpired there over the past day:

Rebels Enniscorthy National Library of Ireland Seven of the rebel leaders in Enniscorthy. National Library of Ireland

“We have had at least one day of blissful freedom. We have had Enniscorthy under the laws of the Irish Republic for at least one day and it pleases me to learn that the citizens are appreciably surprised.

“We closed the public houses. We established a force of Irish Republican police, comprising some of Enniscorthy’s most respectable citizens, and a more orderly town could not be imagined. Some may attribute this to the dread of our arms. Yet, strange to state, it is not true.”

The 1916 Easter Rising PA PA

BREAKING: The GPO has been directly hit by an incendiary shell for the first time. The shell hit the roof and has set the building on fire.

British troops from the Sherwood Foresters regiments have been ambushed at point-blank range as they approached the GPO from Henry Street and have been forced to retreat.

Sources near North King Street say one of the Volunteers inside the Four Courts has gone mad and has had to be handcuffed to a bed. The atmosphere inside the building is reported to be tense.

Following on from the Cork Examiner front page earlier, the front page of today’s Daily Express newspaper in London is also focused on the Rising, describing it as a “crazy revolt”. The newspaper says the rebellion is spreading to parts of Galway, Ashbourne and Enniscorthy.

The front page also has a profile of General Maxwell, who, the paper says, has “experience with plotters”.

Express National Library of Ireland National Library of Ireland

We have a received a telegram to the Journal offices asking for news of Dr Henry O’Donoghue, who was last seen going to Dublin Castle from the Royal College of Surgeons, where he had been treating the wounded rebels.

Thank you to reader Brendan Guiden who sent this in to us. British troops have cut off communication lines around the city centre, making it difficult for Dubliners to find missing family and friends, and forcing them to rely on news reports instead.


Dr O’Donoghue (26), who is originally from Kerry but living in Leeson Park in Dublin, has not been seen since the early hours of Tuesday morning, when he went to the Castle to get medical dressings to treat a rebel who had fallen off his bicycle.

He was arrested at the Castle after he was heard speaking Irish and was found to be in possession of Sinn Féin literature. Reports suggest that he has been sent to prison in Stafford in England.

We have asked the authorities at Dublin Castle for further information about the fate of Dr O’Donoghue and the reason for his arrest and detention, but they have yet to respond to our request for comment.

Reports are coming in that Cathal Brugha has been seriously injured at the South Dublin Union, which has been the scene of some of the most vicious fighting of the Rising.

Brugha has been wounded 25 times since the Rising began on Monday and is believed to have fallen unconscious at the scene. There are concerns as to whether he will survive the rest of the day.

Cathal Brugha National Library of Ireland Cathal Brugha National Library of Ireland

General Maxwell has said there will be no negotiations short of an unconditional surrender by the rebels.

North King Street, which is located at the back of the Four Courts, is a scene of chaos right now. British troops trying to get down the street towards the Four Courts are being fired on by rebels who are stationed inside a pub called Langan’s. They are getting support from some Volunteers who are in the nearby Reilly’s pub.

Four Courts view National Library of Ireland National Library of Ireland

A number of British soldiers have been killed at the scene. The survivors are now scrambling back to Bolton Street.

Reports from the scenes of North King Street say that a civilian medical officer who ran into the street to give first aid to a British lieutenant has been shot dead.

The British soldier, named as Lieutentant J Sheppard, has also died after being shot by rebels inside Langan’s pub.

The entire length of Sackville Street is in flames.

Sackville Street burning National Library of Ireland Sackville Street burning National Library of Ireland

The GPO is under constant artillery fire. There are no reports of James Connolly’s condition following his significant injuries yesterday. It is not known if he is alive or dead.

There is a fierce gun battle between rebels and British troops at Broadstone Rail Station on Constitution Hill.

Fires have started breaking out inside the GPO and the rebels are finding them difficult to contain.

GPO corner National Library of Ireland Broken windows can be seen throughout the GPO. National Library of Ireland

The battle is continuing at North King Street, with rising casualty numbers on both sides. Wounded men can be seen scattered along the side of the road.

Langan’s pub has come under attack from British machine guns but the rebels appear to have held their position inside.

Reports say that the  British were forced to retreat for the second time in the past few hours as the Volunteers unleash incessant rifle fire.

The British at North King Street have turned their attentions to Reilly’s pub, rather than Langan’s, and began pelting it with machine gun fire – but for the third time, they have been forced to retreat as the Volunteers fire back.

Rifle fire is coming from every direction now. Every inch of ground in North King Street is being fought for.

Liberty Hall National Library of Ireland Liberty Hall National Library of Ireland

Tragic news: A man working in Monk’s Bakery at the junction of North King Street and Church Street has been shot dead as he opened the front door to check if it was safe to leave. He had been working there all week baking bread and rationing it for the locals.

Moore Street, which is close to the GPO, is now being barricaded off by British Army troops from the Royal Irish Rifles and Sherwood Foresters. The soldiers are lining the street with machine guns.

British troops have now taken to the rooftops to try and defeat the rebels in Langan’s pub on North King Street. They are throwing grenades at the barricade outside Langan’s, but their efforts to defeat the rebels there are once again thwarted. The attackers are becoming increasingly frustrated.

North King Street map North King Street is marked by a red line.

Fighting is reported to have ceased in the Battle of Ashbourne, where eight policemen and two Volunteers have been killed after the rebels attacked the RIC barracks in the town this morning.

A source on Moore Street tells us that a three-legged dog was blasted to death by a machine gun as it scampered across the street.

There are reports that Dublin residents are beginning to suffer adverse effects from smoke inhalation in the areas around Sackville Street and the Linenhall Barracks, just off Bolton Street, from the huge fires at both locations.

Dublin tenement National Library of Ireland National Library of Ireland

Many of the tenement buildings in the area are draughty and the smoke is reporting to be permeating through the walls.

Witnesses outside Father Matthew Hall on Church Street tell us screams and groans can be heard from inside where wounded men from both sides are being treated by nurses from the rebel side.

Young men who were enemies at the start of the day are now lying side by side in adjoining beds.

British troops are using armoured cars on North King Street to try to take the rebel positions.

tank National Library of Ireland National Library of Ireland

There are dramatic scenes on Sackville Street, where the GPO and the nearby Metropole Hotel are being blasted by British artillery. Buildings are burning and collapsing all around; there are reports that a large section of the GPO roof has fallen down in the last few minutes.

Eden Quay is a scene of rubble as everything is completely destroyed.

Sackville St Eden Quay NLI The corner of Sackville Street and Eden Quay NLI

Reports from the scene suggest the GPO will not be able to hold out much longer. Tomorrow may prove to be conclusive in this fight.

A group of about 20 rebels have left the GPO, which is still ablaze, and made a break for Moore Street.

GPO courtyard NLI The courtyard of the GPO NLI

However, reports from the scene say that most of the men have been hit by machine gun fire from nearby British troops on Henry Street and there are a number of fatalities.

The Metropole Hotel on Sackville Street, one of the last remaining outposts close to the GPO, has collapsed. The remaining rebels, including Oscar Traynor, have rushed to the GPO.

BREAKING: Pádraig Pearse has ordered the total evacuation of the GPO.

Rebels are reported to be leaving the building in small groups, fleeing down Henry Street towards Moore Street. They are coming under constant fire from the British troops in the area, who have realised that they are evacuating the building.

gpo National Library of Ireland National Library of Ireland

Pádraig Pearse is the last person to leave the GPO.

The rebels have managed to take shelter in a group of buildings on Moore Street. The leaders are discussing what their next move should be.

Captain Michael Collins and his men are setting up firing positions on Henry Place.

mc National Library of Ireland Michael Collins National Library of Ireland

A total of 65 people have lost their lives today, bringing the total number of deaths so far to 284 since Monday.

The number of fatalities today are as follows:

Civilian: 42
British Armed Forces: 8
Police: 8
Rebel Forces: 7

As night begins to fall and bullet fire continues around Dublin city centre, we are going to take this opportunity to try to get home. We will resume this liveblog in the morning and will keep you up to date on all the happenings of this long-awaited but still unexpected Rebellion.

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