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Saturday 30 September 2023 Dublin: 17°C
National Library of Ireland
1916 Liveblog: 55 dead as rebels take over the GPO, the Four Courts and Stephen's Green
Moment by moment, is following what happened during the 1916 Rising which began on Easter Monday one hundred years ago.

ON EASTER MONDAY one hundred years ago, a group of around 150 people stormed the GPO just after 12 noon.

Minutes later, the Proclamation was read out to the passing crowd on Dublin’s Sackville Street – also known as O’Connell Street – publicly marking the beginning of the Easter Rising.

To mark the centenary, is documenting the events of the Rising as they happened.  Every 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 the following Saturday. 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.

Morning everyone, and thanks for joining us. It’s Christine Bohan here on liveblog duty.

On an exceptionally mild and sunny day across Dublin, there is some confusion this morning among the groups which had been planning to begin a rebellion in the city yesterday.

Eoin MacNeill, the head of the Irish Volunteers, placed an order in the Sunday Independent yesterday appearing to call off the marches which had been planned for Sunday.

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The order has left many of the other leaders baffled. The Military Council – made up of Pádraig Pearse, Thomas Clarke, Seán MacDiarmada, Joseph Plunkett, Éamonn Ceannt, James Connolly and Thomas MacDonagh – met in Liberty Hall yesterday to decide what to do.

Reports suggest that they have made the decision to go ahead with the planned rebellion – but to start it at noon today instead. The postponement will give time for couriers to go around the country informing the Volunteers that the Rising is going ahead – despite the message in the Sunday Independent.

That wasn’t the only bad news in Sunday Independent, by the way: it also contained a reference to the arrest of Roger Casement in Kerry, and news of the accidental drowning of three men on their way to set up a transmitter for signaling to the gun-running boat The Aud.

Members of the Irish Volunteers wearing their uniforms have been spotted gathering around Blackhall Place.

Reports are saying there are around 250 men in total at the scene. A bystander tells us that the commandant in charge has asked any man present who does not agree with the opinions of the Supreme Council of the Irish Republic to return home. No man has left the rank, according to the witness.

Members of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army have now begun assembling outside Liberty Hall, the home of the ITGWU trade union and the headquarters of the Irish Citizen Army.

According to some estimates there are 1,250 volunteers mobilising around Dublin right now, but it is unclear exactly what is happening or what they are planning.

0072 National Library of Ireland Members of the ICA outside Liberty Hall National Library of Ireland

More Volunteers have been seen moving down towards the Grand Canal on Dublin’s southside. They appear to be participating in a march.

BREAKING: A group of around 40 rebels led by Michael Mallin have just run into Stephen’s Green and ordered the people inside the park to leave.

Several shots have been fired into the air to move the members of the public out of the park, where they were enjoying the bank holiday weather. There are reports that a number of British soldiers who were in the park have been taken prisoner.

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The rebels have established a barricade at the entrance to Stephen’s Green using park benches and nearby carts. They are currently setting up a position inside and have begun digging trenches.

WG Smith, a St. John’s Ambulance volunteer who was passing Stephen’s Green just before it was evacuated a few minutes ago, says that the rebels look very young. He describes them as “mere boys, with only about one in ten a man”.

BREAKING: A group of approximately 120 rebels has stormed the Four Courts on the quays, a short distance from Sackville Street.

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They have also taken nearby buildings in North Brunswick Street and Church Street, including Father Mathew Hall and a pub called Reilly’s.

Rebels have just taken control of the South Dublin Union, a huge poorhouse and hospital close to James’s Street where around 3,000 people live. It appears the people living in the poorhouse have not been evacuated, but are trapped inside.

In the last few minutes, rebels appear to have taken control of Jacob’s biscuit factory on Bishop Street, beside Aungier Street.

Jacob's Factory National Library of Ireland National Library of Ireland

They are also reported to have occupied Boland’s Mills and Bakery on Grand Canal Dock and the Jameson Distillery on Marrowbone Lane, as well as houses at 25 Northumberland Road and Clanwilliam House.

BREAKING: A policeman has been shot dead outside Dublin Castle, the administrative centre of British rule in Ireland.

The man, who was the sole guard at the Castle gate, was killed by a group from the Irish Citizen Army, led by Seán Connolly, as they tried to gain entry to the Castle.

Dublin Castle National Library of Ireland National Library of Ireland

BREAKING: The General Post Office has been seized by rebels, and staff and customers have been forcibly removed from the building.

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It is reported that the group of around 150 rebels had marched from Liberty Hall down to Sackville Street. When they arrived in front of the Imperial Hotel, James Connolly ordered the group to charge on the GPO – much to the surprise of bystanders, who had thought that it was a routine march.

Many of the people in the GPO – both staff and customers – were similarly surprised and it has taken several minutes to force them all to leave.

Further groups of rebels have been dispatched to the Imperial Hotel, Clery’s, and other buildings along Sackville Street (also known as O’Connell Street).

A very rowdy crowd of women are banging against the main gate of the Jameson’s Distillery on Marrowbone Lane in protest against the rebels inside who have beaten up the caretaker of the building as they were occupying it.

One of the rebels has been shot dead as he tried to climb through a window to get into the barricaded GPO. The shot is believed to have been fired by a British officer from a window in the nearby Metropole Hotel.

Volunteers have attacked the British Army’s magazine fort in the Phoenix Park, where army weapons are stored. The rebels were reportedly disguised as footballers heading to the nearby green for a match.

The attack has failed – but the son of the Fort’s commandant has been killed. He was chased down and shot on his front doorstep as he tried to get inside.

The rebels managed to seize some guns and ammunition from the magazine fort.

We are receiving reports that a 29-year-old policeman from the Dublin Metropolitan Police called Michael Lahiff has been shot dead at Stephen’s Green.

Lahiff had tried to approach the closed gates of Stephen’s Green and climb over and was warned by the rebels to leave the area. He continued to try to force the gates – and was shot dead a few minutes ago after one of the rebels fired at him twice.

Some reports say that it was Constance Markievicz who fired at Lahiff but there are no witnesses to back this up.

Capture Sean Sexton Collection Constance Markievicz Sean Sexton Collection

This didn’t take long: the British have begun responding to what’s happening around Dublin city.

A patrol from the British Army has been dispatched to Sackville Street, while three battalions of the Dublin garrison have been sent to defend Dublin Castle. There has also been a request for the cavalry at the Curragh barracks to be sent to Dublin.

The rebels have now seized the Mendicity Institute on Dublin’s south quays, one of Dublin’s oldest charities which aims to alleviate poverty. All of its homeless inhabitants have been turfed out into the street at gunpoint.


British reinforcements have been sent to defend the magazine fort in the Phoenix Park, after rebels managed to gain access and take some weapons earlier, and the Viceregal Lodge which holds the King’s official representative in Ireland.

One of the leaders of the rebels, Pádraig Pearse, who is a teacher and a barrister, has appeared outside the GPO and is reading out a document called the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

Pearse is declaring “the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland.” He says that the “Irish Republic is a Sovereign Independent State” and claims “the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman.”

Pearse says that the rebels have established a provisional government.

As he finishes reading, James Connolly, who is another one of the seven men who signed the document, shakes his hand in front of the crowd and says: “Thanks be to God, Pearse, that we have lived to see this day.”

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Copies of the Proclamation have been stuck up around the GPO using post office stamps.

The reaction to the reading of the Proclamation is mixed. There’s bemusement from some of the people on the street, but others have started throwing stones at the rebels and hurling verbal abuse.

Volunteers led by Liam Mellows have begun to gather in a number of areas scattered around Galway.

Our reporter at the scene tells us that the rebels have raised two flags above the GPO: the tricolour and a green flag with the words Irish Republic over a gold harp.

There is also third flag flying across the road over the Imperial Hotel, showing a starry plough.

Irish Republic National Library of Ireland National Library of Ireland

We’re told the tricolour was chosen for its symbolism. The green represents the Gaelic tradition of Ireland, the orange represents the followers of William of Orange in Ireland, and the white represents the aspiration for peace between them. It was introduced in 1848 by the independence movement, the Irish Confederation, and was first flown by Thomas Francis Meagher in Waterford in that year.

Constance Markievicz has been seen at Stephen’s Green, armed with a gun. She is co-commander of the rebels there, along with Michael Mallin.

Volunteers have seized buildings around Fumbally Lane and Malpas Street, close to St Patrick’s Cathedral.

The rebels have now taken a number of key buildings around Dublin city centre.

As well as taking control of buildings, rebels are securing control of bridges around the city, including O’Connell Bridge, possibly in a bid to control the main routes in and out of the city.

Annesley Bridge between Fairview and North Strand has been taken by the rebels in the last few minutes.

There are bloody scenes outside the GPO right now.

A number of soldiers in the British cavalry attempted to retake the GPO by charging down Sackville Street – but they weren’t successful.  Three British lancers have been killed at the scene after being shot by the rebels, and another is so badly wounded that it seems unlikely that he will survive.

The dead soldiers and a number of dead and wounded horses have been left lying in the street for now.

The rebels, led by Seán Connolly, have retreated from Dublin Castle. They seem to have met a stronger resistance than they expected, even given the fact that many of the British soldiers are off at the Fairyhouse races today.

The rebels have instead decided to occupy City Hall next door, and the Daily Express and Evening Mail building across the road.

This map shows some of the buildings held by the rebels as of now:

Google map Google Maps Google Maps

Rebels have taken control of Harcourt Railway Station, the only major transport terminal in the city that they have managed to seize so far.

The rebels attempted to block the lines with locomotive trains but the station’s signal man locked himself inside the signal box and blocked all the points.

There is tragic news coming in from near the Four Courts: A two year old boy has died after he was shot in the crossfire on Church Street just before noon.

The boy has been named as John Francis Foster from Manor Place in Stoneybatter, and he was shot in his pram as he was being wheeled along by his mother, Catherine Foster.

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The firing in the area broke out after British soldiers on horseback were ambushed by the rebels at the Four Courts. There is no word yet on the other injuries, although it appears there are wounded men and horses lying in the street.

23 policeman and 2 lancers have been locked in the basement of the Four Courts.

There is intense gunfire around City Hall between the rebels, who are on the roof, and the soldiers who are on the streets around it. If you’re in the area take extreme care and stay indoors, if possible.

BREAKING: Seán Connolly has become the first casualty on the rebel side after being shot and killed while trying to raise the rebel flag over City Hall.

Sean Connolly NLI Sean Connolly NLI

Connolly was an actor and singer and had led the group of rebels who had tried to storm Dublin Castle before retreating to City Hall.

Dr Kathleen Lynn, the chief medical officer among the rebels at City Hall, attempted to treat him but his injuries were too severe.

A second policeman has been shot just outside St Stephen’s Green.

So far six policemen have been shot, two of them fatally.

The insurgents appear to be armed with an assortment of rifles and revolvers. They don’t seem to have any heavy equipment, although it appears they have home-made bombs or ‘rifle-cans’.

The rebels have also been making use of any equipment that they find. This photo from the Four Courts shows the rebels using furniture as a barricade at one of the entrances:

Four Courts

The GPO has become something of a magnet for many of the Volunteers who were looking for somewhere to go. The original number of 150 has grown steadily over the past few hours since this all started and it is now the biggest concentration of rebels anywhere in the city.

0642 NLI A map showing the GPO and the area around it NLI

It’s not just the rebels who have joined the fight, though: two seamen, one from Sweden and one from Finland, who had just arrived in Dublin with their ships have turned up at the GPO and taken up arms.

Neither of the two speak much English, but they have reportedly communicated to the rebels that they wanted to take up a cause which they believed in. They compared Ireland’s situation with Britain to the way that their own countries are governed by the Russian empire.

A company of British soldiers from the Royal Irish Regiment, many of whom had just arrived back from action in France, have been ambushed by a group of rebels at the South Dublin Union near James’s Street as they marched towards Dublin Castle.

It briefly looked as though the British soldiers had gained the upper hand in the battle at the South Dublin Union, but they have been stopped by gunfire from the nearby rebels in Jameson’s distillery.

Vicious running battles are taking place in the hospital wards at the South Dublin Union, with staff and patients caught in the middle.

As the number of casualties grows around the city, Dublin Fire Brigade is working hard to cope with the volume of injuries and fatalities.

The majority of those being picked up by the DFB ambulance are being treated for gunshot wounds and are being taken to nearby hospitals.

Three hours after this uprising began, here’s everything we know so far:

  • More than one thousand rebels from the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Irish Citizen Army and the Irish Volunteers have stormed a number of buildings and bridges throughout Dublin city, including the GPO, the Four Courts, Stephen’s Green and Boland’s Mill.
  • According to the Proclamation read by Pádraig Pearse outside the GPO, the rebels are looking for an independent Ireland.
  • A number of British army forces, rebels, policemen and civilians have been killed.
  • Rebels in Ashbourne, Co Meath, are marching to Dublin City. There are also reports of 600 poorly armed troops gathered in Co Galway.

Pádraig Pearse has issued an order than no unarmed men, even in uniform, are to be shot at, following an incident on Northumberland Road.

map Google Maps Google Maps

The elderly, unarmed Georgius Rex group of the Veteran Defence Force, also known by their nickname The Gorgeous Wrecks, have marched into a rebel ambush on Northumberland Road. Four were killed and several were wounded by snipers in surrounding buildings.

The group were attempting to get back to their barracks in Beggar’s Bush after exercises in the Wicklow hills.

Speaking of Pádraig Pearse: he has requested a priest to come to the GPO to hear the confessions of the men there.

Here is the note that he sent from the GPO to the nearby church on Marlborough Street:

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The note reads:

Please send a priest to the GPO to remain an hour or two and hear the confessions of some men.

Signed P.H. Pearse


Looting has begun around the city in response to the apparent lack of law and order.

It appears looters are taking luxury items and baked goods such as cakes and biscuits.

A nurse working at the South Dublin Union has become the first civilian casualty of the Rising, as the heavy fighting there continues just off James’s Street.

Margaret Keogh, who worked at the hospital with some of the poorest people in the city, had stayed at work after the rebels occupied some of the buildings. There are conflicting reports of how she died, but one report suggests that she was killed by a British soldier as she treated an injured Volunteer.

After initially being slow to react, the British Army now appears to have engaged most of the positions occupied by the rebels across Dublin city centre.

tank National Library of Ireland A makeshift armoured vehicle used by the British Army National Library of Ireland

Thousands of army men have arrived in the city by train over the last few hours, despite attempts by rebels to block the lines.

Dubliners are being warned to avoid the streets of the city centre as gun battles are taking place near City Hall, the South Dublin Union, Stephen’s Green and the GPO.

Here’s what we know so far about some of the buildings which are being occupied:

First battalion: Commandant Edward Daly is leading the rebels in the Four Courts. At 25 years of age, Daly is the youngest Commandant in the Rising. He works in a chemist shop.

Second battalion: Commandant Thomas McDonagh is leading the occupation of Jacob’s biscuit factory. McDonagh is a poet, a playwright, a teacher and one of the founding members of the ASTI.

image (1) NLI Edward Daly (left) and Thomas McDonagh (right) NLI

Third battalion: Commandant Eamon de Valera is occupying Boland’s flour mills at the Grand Canal Dock and the railway line from Westland Row to Landsdowne Road. De Valera is a mathematics teacher.

Fourth Battalion: Commandant Éamonn Ceannt is occupying the South Dublin Union, close to James’s Street. Ceannt is an accountant for the Dublin Corporation.

image (2) NLI Eamon De Valera (left) and Éamonn Ceannt (right) NLI

Michael Mallin and Countess Markievicz are leading the occupation of St Stephen’s Green along with a group of Citizen Army men. Mallin is a silk weaver. Markievicz founded Fianna Éireann which teaches teenage boys and girls how to use firearms. She is also a suffragette.

We’re receiving reports of civilians standing near O’Connell Bridge to look at the unfolding battles between the rebels and British troops. Dubliners have been advised to stay indoors as they are putting themselves at risk.

Fighting is taking place on the Dublin-Kingstown railway line. Rebels have opened fire on a much larger detachment of the Veteran Defence Force.

We have been granted a look at the notebook of Joseph Plunkett, one of the men who signed today’s Proclamation and who is stationed inside the GPO. His notes for today:

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It says:

Easter Monday 1916

GPO occupied in the name of the Republic shortly after noon (about 12.15pm). Republic proclaimed.

About one hour later a detachment of enemy lancers attempted to rush O’Connell Street. They were opposed at the Parnell Statue.

A small number (described as “about twenty”) succeeded in advancing as far as the GPO but on our opening fire they retired in confusion leaving a few casualties.

Simultaneously with our operation positions were successfully taken up in the front and rear of Dublin Castle and troops in that stronghold prevented from coming out.

We have received one of the first photographs of a member of the public reading the Proclamation today, shortly after it was read out by Pádraig Pearse at the GPO.

This photograph shows UCD academic Dr Edward McWeeny reading a copy of the document which he took from the railings of 86 St Stephen’s Green where it had been posted.

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He brought the document to the garden at the back of the building where he had this photograph taken today by a local priest called Fr Sherwin.

Around 2,500 copies of the Proclamation were printed in secret at the printworks in Liberty Hall yesterday and distributed around the city.

This has been a brutal and bloody day.

As the fighting continues, this rebellion looks set to last for days – or possibly weeks.

A total of 55 people have been killed today, including 15 civilians. The total number of people who have died is:

British Armed Forces: 26

Civilians: 15

Rebels Forces: 11

Police: 3

Trains with British troops from the Curragh are now arriving in Dublin two or three times an hour, dramatically increasing the number of forces in the capital city.

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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