Dublin Must Do & See | GPO Witness History

1916 Easter Rising Series


If you are strolling down O’Connell Street in Dublin City, you just can’t miss the General Post Office, or the GPO as Dubliners call it. This is no doubt an impressive building whose classical architecture with huge Ionic portico would intimidate any visitors looking to quickly send a postcard to their loved ones (I’m shamelessly old-fashioned). I can hear myself whispering like in a museum “Is this where we can buy stamps?” Still today I get this heavy feeling that I’m going to be swallowed by the GPO and never escape if I dare enter the building.


 

 

Almost Entirely Destroyed

Completed in 1818 after 3 years of labour, the building actually standing under your eyes is not the original one. The GPO was rebuilt in the late 1920’s after it had been almost entirely destroyed during the 1916 Rising. Hard to believe when you look at the majestic facade so thick that it seems indestructible. Well, after a week of intense shelling, only that same facade remained standing. So what happened here in 1916? Why was the post office the target of brutal firing?

These are the questions that the exhibition ‘GPO Witness History’ will answer. As part of the 1916 Easter Rising celebrations, the GPO is now hosting a self-guided tour explaining the key role of the GPO during what many call a turning point in Irish history.

 GPO Witness History, Exhibition in Dublin

 

A Well-Informed Exhibition

Just recently open in March 2016, the exhibition takes you through a series of interactive displays with touch screens; they provide the visitors with core information regarding the dramatic events which unfolded between April 24th and April 29th 1916 in and around the GPO. The touch screens also offer details about artefacts and uniforms exhibited in glass cabinets.

Well-made short documentaries in visual booths show Historians clearly explaining the political context and social backdrop that pertained those deadly events but also the aftermath for the Irish movement for independence.

At the centre of the exhibition you find an approximately 15 minute long movie on a semi-circular screen. Actors play the roles of real characters who led the rebellion from within the GPO letting the spectators uncover how the events unfolded day by day and the strategy used by the Rebellion. The movie also shows a map of Dublin with the key positions of the rebels and the British army. Although interesting, I found that moving back and forth between the acting and the map was quite confusing.

 GPO Witness History, Exhibition in Dublin
 
GPO Witness History
O'Connell Street Lower, Dublin

Bottom Line

Considering the significance and place of the GPO in Irish history, this exhibition is a must-see for those who want to understand the events of 1916, without being subjected to an overload of facts and details.


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