It may have taken years to reconstruct after the Easter Rising, but a Lego enthusiast took 24 months and used 50,000 pieces to recreate Dublin’s main 1916 battleground.
Paul Derrick’s masterpiece is now on display in the rebuilt GPO, complete with rebels inside the landmark building from which the Army of the Irish Republic led the week-long rebellion.
Among them is a moustachioed James Connolly, lying gravely injured on his stretcher — just one of the painstakingly detailed features in the Monaghan man’s work.
And, 50 years after its destruction, Paul’s model of Sackville St also includes a scale reproduction of Nelson’s Pillar — complete with a Lego Admiral Nelson perched on top.
The original pillar had stood since 1809 on the spot where the Spire now dominates the city centre skyline. However, it was blown up by a March 1966 bomb by a Republican splinter group and later the remnants were removed entirely.
The Lego GPO scene has been installed in the An Post headquarters for the next few weeks, and is already drawing great admiration from customers of all ages.
“We did a school project about the GPO so it’s great to see this and be in the real GPO,” said eight-year-old Katie O’Neill from Kentstown, Co Meath.
Her grandmother, Catherine O’Neill, from Finglas in Dublin, has very strong memories of the night Nelson’s Pillar was blown up, as she was at a dance in the Metropole Hotel near the GPO at the moment the bomb went off.
“We felt the dancefloor shaking but it didn’t stop us dancing,” she laughed.
The 4m-long scene of 1916 Sackville St, which was later renamed as O’Connell St, also features a tram caught in the mêlée at the outbreak of the Rising, and the overhead tramlines.
Groups of soldiers who countered the rebels can be seen hiding behind the makeshift barricades used a century ago of barrels.
A number of the buildings that stood alongside the GPO are also reproduced, while the eventual fate of the postal building is hinted by the sight of flames coming from side windows. However, the disruption to ordinary lives is also evident from the assortment of tiny Lego envelopes strewn around the streetscape amid the gun and artillery fire.
An Post’s head of corporate communications, Anna McHugh, said that the model is a work of art, with two years of design invested by Paul, who sourced Lego pieces from around the world.
“To see so many customers and visitors of all ages and nationalities enthralled by the scale and detail of the 50,000 piece model is wonderful in this special year,” she said.
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