O’Connell Street

O'Connell-StreetThis photomechanical print, also known as a photocrom, is a reproduction of an actual photo. It was taken on the Southside of O’Connell Bridge sometime between 1890 and 1900.

Photochrom prints are “the direct photographic transfer of an original negative onto litho and chromographic printing plates.” You will see images of similar style throughout the tour. These prints often deceive the eye and look like color photographs. When viewed with a magnifying glass though, small dots which make up the ink-based image become visible. This technique was very popular at the end of the 19th century.

Horse-drawn carriages and trams were the only form of transportation before 1900. You wouldn’t catch any pedestrians walking in the middle of this Dublin thoroughfare now.

At this point in time, Nelson’s Pillar dominates in the distance while the Daniel O’Connell Statue stands in the foreground with its four angels representing Ireland’s provinces: Connaught, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. The three counties in Ulster which are part of the Republic of Ireland are Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan. The remaining six Ulster counties form Northern Ireland. The marks of many bullets absorbed by the monument in 1916 and during the Civil War are still visible today.

The General Post Office (GPO), is the headquarters of the Irish postal service. The offices were first located at College Green, but in August 1814, construction of a purpose-built headquarters began. The building was completed in January 1818, costing £50,000.

GPO-1916Five members of the Provisional Government were located at the GPO during the Rising — Pearse, Connolly, Clarke, MacDiarmada and Plunkett — in a 350-strong garrison which also included Cumann na mBan and Irish Citizen Army members. James Connolly was in charge of the defence of the GPO and directed operations. The GPO garrison barricaded surrounding streets and occupied adjoining buildings.

On Monday afternoon the garrison repulsed a cavalry attack while with the breakdown of law and order, many of the stores in Sackville Street were looted. From Wednesday, the GPO and other buildings in Sackville Street came under artillery fire, mostly from the Helga gunboat at anchor in the Liffey. Connolly had believed the British would not use artillery in city areas. By Friday night the GPO was on fire, at which point it was evacuated.

During the 1916 Rising, the GPO was destroyed but from 1925 was rebuilt and reopened in 1929.

At a Dublin Corporation meeting in 1884 a motion was called to change the name of Sackville Street to O’Connell Street. Forty years of argument later, it was changed to O’Connell Street, in May 1924.

According to An Post: “The statues on the roof are of Hibernia, a classical representation in female form of the island of Ireland, with Fidelity to one side and Mercury (the messenger of the gods) to the other.”

The buildings along what was then Sackville Street bore the brunt of Ireland’s struggle for freedom. The destruction and property damage added up to an estimated £2 million at that time.