O’Connell Street, leading from O’Connell Bridge through the heart of north Dublin, is lined by statues celebrating great figures in Ireland’s fight for independence.
While it’s been Dublin’s grandest Street for 200 years, it was renamed after this man, Daniel O’Connell, only after the Irish won their independence in the 1920s. Daniel O’Connell, known as “the Liberator,” was that strong voice for Irish Catholics in the British parliament back in the 1800s. Dublin’s General Post Office is not just a place to buy stamps. It’s a kind of Irish Alamo, still pockmarked with bullet holes. Murals inside tell its story.
It was from here that Patrick Pearse read the Proclamation of Irish independence in 1916, the one we saw earlier. This kicked off the Easter Rising, which ultimately led to Ireland’s independence from British rule. This was the rebel headquarters and scene of a five-day bloody siege that followed that proclamation. After 300 were killed and the rebel leaders realized that no national uprising would follow theirs, they surrendered. While they had little public support at first after the British tried and executed the leaders, public sympathy rose, and they became martyrs. This stirred the public. British control began collapsing, and by 1921, Ireland was independent.
Kilmainham Jail opened in 1796 and considered a model in its day, was used as a political prison by the British. Many of Ireland’s great patriots, its Nathan Hales and Patrick Henrys, were held and then executed here. Guides take visitors through the prison and give it meaning. 14 of the leaders of the rebellion were to be executed in this very yard. The very first to be executed, Patrick Pearse, Thomas Clarke, and Thomas MacDonagh, were taken down here separately in the early hours of the 3rd of May. They were taken down to where that crosses now stands. Their hands were tied behind their backs, a white marker was placed over their hearts, and they were blindfolded. The prison museum personalizes the inspirational story of the leaders of the Easter Rising.
The “Last Words 1916” hall displays the poignant farewell letters the martyred leaders wrote to loved ones just hours before facing the firing squad.