GPO has ‘an iconic position in history’

A judge has granted declarations that various buildings and locations on and around Dublin’s Moore St comprise a 1916 Rising “battlefield site” comprising a national monument.

GPO has ‘an iconic position in history’

The Easter Rising is “unique” and the GPO occupies an iconic position in Irish history, making what happened to the men and women who fled the GPO when it was ablaze “a matter worthy of unique commemoration”, said Mr Justice Max Barrett.

The Moore St battlefield site, as the site to where the rebels fled, battle was done, surrender negotiated, and where “workers, civilian, and combatant, lived and died in what to no little extent was a workers’ rising, is “unqiquely worthy of commemoration”.

Some of the buildings are due for demolition as part of a major development by Chartered Land.

Mr Justice Barrett made orders yesterday against Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys restraining demolition or unauthorised works to 13 to 19 Moore St but said that, once the minister decides how best to proceed in light of his judgment, she may apply to vary those orders.

The judgment means the minister must reconsider her view that there is no wider “battlefield site” to be protected as a national monument. The minister argued only one terrace at 14 to 17 Moore St, including No 16 where some of the leaders met for the last time before their execution, was a national monument. No 16 is intended to house a 1916 Commemorative Centre.

The minister’s position was disputed by Colm Moore, a nominee of the 1916 Relatives Association, in his proceedings. The judge visted the area last month before hearing the case.

In his 400-page judgment, the judge set out links between the Rising and the buildings and locations at issue.

These included No 10 Moore St, where Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell helped treat several members of the provisional government, including the wounded James Connolly, in the retreat from the GPO on April 28, 1916.

The judge noted some republicans spent much of that night smashing through walls of houses on Moore St to create a line of passagefrom one end of the block to another. Connolly was brought through those holes to No 16, where he paricipated in the rebels’ last council of war.

The O’Rahilly was also wounded while leading rebels up Moore St and died on what is now O’Rahilly Parade. The bodies of four or five civilians shot by the British, at least one under the white flag, lay on the street overnight and anecodotal evidence suggested Patrick Pearse’s decision to surrender may have been influenced after seeing those civilian dead, the judge said. Perhaps most poignant of all the civilian deaths was of two children, he added.

Given the “wealth of evidence” before him, including from historians and architects, he granted declarations various buildings and locations on and around Moore St, as well as Nos 14-17, comprise a national monument.

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