5 Museums to Learn About Dublin’s 1916 Easter Rising
To understand the dramatic events so fundamental to Irish history and put colors back into century old events that shook Dublin to the core, I visited the very places where History was made. From eye-opening exhibitions to heart-rending army barracks, from grim prison to leafy cemetery, I retraced the footsteps of those who put their mark on Irish History.
Life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations.
The Hermitage was Patrick Pearse’s home at the time of the Rising. He lived there with his mother and siblings. The building also housed a school Patrick Pearse founded and ran with the help of his family.
On the ground floor I wandered around historic rooms. The school dormitory was lined with metallic beds, while black and white photographs of students hung on the walls. Looking at the faded pictures, I wondered what it must have been like to grow up in this house. The manor also had an impressive study hall for lectures and its own chapel.
THE PEARSE MUSEUMfree
Address: St. Enda’s Park, Grange Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16
How to get there: Take bus 16 from Dublin city centre. Bus stops at the entrance of the park.
Tip: Take some time to wander in the picturesque park surrounding the museum. A cafe is located at the back to the building.
The GPO, Headquarters of the 1916 Irish Rebellion
A symbol of Irish resistance, the GPO was rebuilt in the late 1920’s to resume its postal service. In March 2016 a permanent exhibition opened in its walls as part of the 1916 Easter Rising celebrations, a self-guided tour explaining the key role of the GPO during what many call a turning point in Irish history.
‘GPO Witness History’ took me through a series of interactive displays providing visitors with core information regarding the dramatic events which unfolded between April 24th and April 29th 1916 in and around the GPO. Artefacts and uniforms from the era in glass cabinets, short documentaries explaining the political context, social backdrop and the unfolding of those events, hour by hour.
GPO WITNESS HISTORY€14
Address: GPO, O’Connell Street, Dublin 1
How to get there: Easily reachable on foot. The GPO is located just 300 meters on O’Connell Street from O’Connell Bridge, at the corner with Henry Street.
Tip: Have a peek inside the historic GPO first before heading to the museum located in the basement. It will help visualise what happened in those walls in 1916.
Richmond Barracks, the Lost Chapter of the Easter Rising
Testimonials of a long wait filled with fear of the unknown, stories of young boys sent home with a slap in their faces, memories of interrogation by the police. The guided tour told the story of the 1916 Rebels, men and women, arrested after the failed uprising and detained in those barracks. Some would be released without charge, some would be sent to Wales to be incarcerated. The leaders would be jailed in Kilmainham Gaol to be executed.
RICHMOND BARRACKSfrom €6
Address: off Bulfin Road, Inchicore, Dublin 8
How to get there: Take the Luas (tram) from Dublin city centre to Drimnagh (red line). Cross the canal beside the station and walk 500 meters on St Vincent Street West until you see Richmond Barracks on your right.
Tip: The guided tour is recommended but only runs twice a day (times available online).
Kilmainham Gaol, the Final Act
In small groups, the tour guide led the visitors to the claustrophobic cells of the leaders of the Easter Rising, the smell of dampness almost inescapable. We listened in silence as the guide recounted their final hours. We heard about the last goodbye, learned about heartbreaking letters sent to families.
Far from getting the expected outcome, the harsh treatment inflicted to those men by the British government and their deaths would act as a catalyst that would lead to the Irish independence.
Address: Inchicore Road, Kilmainham, Dublin 8
How to get there: Take bus 69, 79, 13 or 40 from Dublin city centre.
Tip: Access is only through guided tour. Booking online is highly recommended as the tour is very popular.
Glasnevin Cemetery, The Rebels’ Resting Place
So here I was, trying to follow Bridget’s energetic pace while she recounted the stories of those involved in the Easter Rising and resting now in Glasnevin. From the grave of Sean Connolly, the first rebel to die during the 1916 Rising, to the gravestone of Constance Markievicz who swapped her silk gown for the green uniform and a gun, Bridget dispensed anecdotes with generous details.
As the tour reached the Republican plot, we listened to the re-enactment of Patrick Pearse’s oration at the graveside of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, a leading nationalist who passed away in 1915. Other important figures who took part in the Easter Rising lied in this part of the cemetery: Éamon DeValera, Harry Boland and many more.
Address: Finglas Road, Glasnevin, Dublin 11
How to get there: Take bus 40 or 140 departing from O’Connell Street.
Tip: For an additional €7, you’ll get to climb to the top of the O’Connell Tower and admire the view over Dublin.