‘Ireland’s Alamo’ saved
‘Ireland’s Alamo’ saved


There has been a broad welcome for news that the site of the last stand of the 1916 rebels during the Easter Rising is to be bought by the 26 County State for 4 million euro.

The Cabinet has agreed to a proposal from the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys to purchase the site at 14 to 17 Moore Street.

Rebel leaders evacuated the headquarters of the Rising, the General Post Office (GPO) on O’Connell Street, under fire from British forces in April 1916 and tunnelled their way to 16 Moore Street - then a butcher’s shop belonging to the Plunkett family. It was the location where the decision was taken to surrender on Saturday April 29th, 1916.

The site was declared a national monument in 2007, but has been derelict for years. The four houses will be restored and turned into a commemorative centre as one of the main projects associated with the centenary of the Rising.

Brendan Plunkett’s grandparents lived at 16 Moore Street. He described the news as a “fantastic achievement” for all those who had lobbied Dublin City Council and successive government ministers.

“From a heritage perspective, this is wonderful. It’s incredible to think how close the buildings came to being destroyed to make way for a ([euro]1.2 billion) commercial plan,” he said.

The Plunkett family, who lived above their poultry shop, were forced to flee the city on a horse-drawn cart when fighting broke out in April 1916.

As the GPO burned, a severely wounded James Connolly was carried through tunnels to their home and lay on an iron bedstead as the Rising leaders held their final council of war and made the decision to surrender.

James Connolly Heron, Connolly’s great grandson, said that he had first learned of the government plans through the media. But he gave the news a “guarded welcome”, saying relatives would first have to see government plans for the development of a 1916 Commemorative Centre at the site.

“We do not want to see a sanitised museum. We would like the buildings to represent what they would have looked like at the time of occupation,” Mr Connolly Heron said.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams welcomed the decision to purchase the monument, and he commended the Relatives of the 1916 Leaders without whose diligence he said the decision would never have been taken.

“After years of dithering, and the publication of a very poor and widely criticised 2016 centenary programme, this decision is a step in the right direction,” Mr Adams said.

“However, it is a very belated decision and fails to match the reality that this is one of the most important historic sites in modern Irish history. Under current plans, the rest of the terrace is to be demolished.”

Moore Street and the ‘laneways of history’ are where the GPO garrison retreated to after the destruction of the GPO; and where celebrated rebel leader The O Rahilly was killed.

The green outside the nearby Rotunda maternity hospital is also where many of GPO garrison where held under guard by the British before being marched off to prisons and prison camps, and it was from there that Padraig Pearse and James Connolly and Tom Clarke and others were taken for court martial and execution.

The government is now being urged to put a comprehensive strategy in place which reflects the historic importance of the ‘laneways of history’; preserves the full Moore Street terrace; and transforms the 1916 Revolutionary Quarter.

“In any other state this area would be preserved and would be a vital place of remembrance and pilgrimage,” Mr Adams said.

“There is only one year to go before the centenary celebrations of the 1916 Rising. The government’s failure to properly preserve the National Monument, the Terrace and the Battlefield site, when it was raised in recent years by the relatives and Sinn Fein, means that it is difficult to see how the commemorative centre can be completed by that time.”

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