The Easter Rising of 1916 was one of the, maybe the defining moment of Irish history in the 20th century - but where can you experience this historic event best? In Dublin, and in several places. Because while the 1916 rebellion was planned as a nationwide event, it only had a real impact on Dublin. So the Irish capital is also the ideal place to re-visit the Easter Rising. From the founding of the Irish Volunteers and the smuggling of German guns into the country to the heroic last stand of the rebels and their subsequent execution. Even the grave of Roger Casement, arrested on the west coast of Ireland, and hanged in London, is found here.
General Post Office (GPO) and O'Connell Street
Patrick Pearse read the proclamation of the Irish Republic in front of the Dublin General Post Office to eager rebels and some bemused civilians. After this, the rebels made the GPO in what was then Sackville Street their headquarters and main stronghold. Which basically was a military disaster waiting to happen. The front of the GPO and the nearby O'Connell Monument still have visible battle scars. Sackville Street itself had to be totally rebuilt after being shelled by artillery.
A new exhibition detailing the role the GPO played during the Easter Rising of 1916, GPO Witness History, was opened in the basement in 2016. It is certainly worth a visit.
National Museum of Ireland - Collins Barracks
The National Museum of Ireland in Collins Barracks has other exhibitions dedicated to the Easter Rising. A comprehensive special exhibition gives visitors a good overview of the background, as well as documenting the events of 1916 and also the aftermath. The exhibition gives a fairly balanced view of history and can score highly in original artifacts.
On the eastern side of Parnell Square, near the Rotunda Hospital and the Garden of Remembrance, a small monument with an Irish inscription can be found. The image of a broken chain symbolizes the breaking free of Ireland from British chains - and reminds the passer-by that the Irish Volunteers were founded nearby. The Volunteers later formed the largest contingent of the 1916 rebels, alongside the Irish Citizens Army and the Hibernian Rifles.
Magazine Fort, Phoenix Park
Still towering above the Liffey, and definitely one of the lesser known sights of Dublin, the (disused) Magazine Fort on the southern fringes of Phoenix Park was the scene of the first engagement of the Easter Rising - Volunteers pretended to play football, kicked the ball "accidentally" towards the gate and then rushed the surprised sentries. In vain, as the actual magazine was locked and the key not on site.
Dublin's largest cemetery in Glasnevin is full of memorials to those killed during or involved in the 1916 rising. Though the focal point should be a monument designed by Dora Sigerson, the most striking grave may be the simple slab commemorating Roger Casement, executed in London for high treason. Other graves of note include those in the "Republican Plot" and that of murdered journalist (and pacifist) Francis Sheehy-Skeffington.
Saint Stephen's Green and the Royal College of Surgeons
A rebel force led by the Countess Markiewicz (her bust stands near the center of St. Stephen's Green) occupied the park of Saint Stephen's Green in a heroic but extremely futile gesture. They realized their mistake when British machine guns began to rake the park from the windows of the Shelbourne Hotel. And retreated into the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI) building, the front of which is still pock-marked by small arms fire.
Around the court buildings north of the Liffey, known collectively as the Four Courts, rebels faced down superior British forces for a considerable time. The image of severely wounded Cathal Brugha singing "God Save Ireland" from the barricades at the top of his voice went straight into Irish folklore. As did his later death in the Irish Civil War, fighting against the Free State Government.
This massive (and lovingly restored) prison complex that is Kilmainham Gaol was the place of internment for most leaders of the rebellion captured by British forces. It also was the place of execution for, amongst others, Patrick Pearse and James Connolly, thus making it hallowed ground for the Irish nation. The exhibition reflects this.
Arbour Hill Prison Cemetery
You are standing at the very end of the story here - the Arbour Hill Prison Cemetery (just beside the still working prison complex, which has a certain menacing presence) is the burial place of most of the movers and shakers behind the rebellion, executed by the British military after a farcical military tribunal. The cemetery is within walking distance of the Collins Barracks.
The harbor of Howth did not play a major role in the Easter Rising, but the armed rebellion was made possible here. Sailing in from Germany, writer and Irish nationalist Erskine Childers brought arms on his yacht Asgard for the Irish Volunteers. A small plaque near the lighthouse commemorates the "Howth Gun-Running", as the event became popularly known. By the way - independence hero Childers was executed by the Free State Government during the Civil War.