Historians campaign to save 1916 Rebel HQ

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 2 (Summer 2003), News, News, Volume 11

On Friday 28 April 1916, with the GPO in flames and British forces closing in, Patrick Pearse, a badly wounded James Connolly and other leaders of the republican uprising in Dublin decided to break out of the Post Office and make for Parnell Place, where they hoped to renew their fight to better advantage. Under heavy gunfire, volunteers attempted to effect their escape through Moore Street by smashing an internal corridor through the walls of the terraced houses there. They got no further than No. 16, a fishmonger’s shop in the middle of the street. Unable to dig their way through a dense pile of rubble on the other side of the house wall, No. 16 became, by default, their final headquarters, and it was here, gathered around Connolly’s bed, that Pearse, Seán MacDermott, Joseph Plunkett, Tom Clarke and Eamonn Ceannt decided to surrender in order to save the lives of their followers and to prevent ‘any further slaughter of the civil population’.
The importance of 16 Moore Street as marking the spot of the rebels’ last stand has long been recognised, and in 1966 a special commemorative plaque was added to the façade of the building by Dublin Corporation. However, official priorities have changed. As part of a major redevelopment of Moore Street and Upper O’Connell Street, Dublin City Council is now proposing to demolish No. 16 and the entire terrace to which it belongs, claiming that it is of only ‘limited historical significance’. A shopping mall will be erected in its place, with some sort of ‘commemorative feature’ promised, ‘perhaps a meditative space’.
Historians Tim Pat Coogan and Dr David Edwards of UCC are leading a media campaign to save the building, which has been described as ‘Ireland’s Alamo’. At a press conference held at Tailors’ Hall they supported the demand of An Taisce and the National Graves Association that No. 16, now in a very decayed condition, be listed and protected in accordance with National Monuments legislation. They pointed to the irony that while the Dublin home of Edward Carson, the founder of modern Ulster Unionism, has been preserved, the capital’s republican heritage is in increasingly short supply, as important sites associated with Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet have already been lost since the 1960s. ‘Now it seems that 1916 is also to be sacrificed.’
For further information contact An Taisce, Tailors’ Hall, Dublin 8, tel. 01-4541786.


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