On This Day: 24 April 1916

Date: 24/04/2015 12:36

Today, 99 years ago, marked the outbreak of the Easter Rising, a defining historical moment and one whose physical impact is made explicitly clear in an astonishing film from the Imperial War Museum. 'Aftermath of The Easter Rising' is unique in allowing the viewer to compare scenes of Dublin before and after the events of 24 to 29 April, 1916.

The film opens with scenes of Dublin prior to the Easter Rising - note the inverted shamrock shape that frames the picture. These initial scenes give way to footage of the Irish Volunteers - who had refused to join Redmond´s Irish National Volunteers in supporting participation in the war, and broke away in August 1916 - shown brazenly parading the street in full uniform and equipment. The government, in particular the Irish Chief Secretary Augustine Birrell, decided that to prevent such parades would be provocative. In fact, when members of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army set out from Liberty Hall on Easter Monday 1916 to seize the General Post Office and other buildings, the authorities and the general public thought this was just a routine parade.

The central part of the film is concerned with detailing the damage inflicted on central Dublin by the gunboat ´Helga´ and from artillery which had been fired with a high trajectory from the grounds of Trinity College and, later, from the corner of D´Olier Street and Westmoreland Street. The devastation is shocking, buildings decimated, streets a mess of rubble. The whole of Sackville Street (now known as O´Connell Street) was severely damaged but the worst affected were the buildings opposite the GPO where stores of paraffin created fierce fires. Liberty Hall, on the quays, was destoyed by the gunboat. 

The troops were able to use the Custom House as a headquarters because the insurgents had not tried to take it. The barricade made out of overturned vehicles was one of several in Sackville Street (O´Connell Street) erected during the first two days of the rising. The barricade of sandbags manned by soldiers (mainly of the Sherwood Foresters and the South Staffs regiment) almost certainly was filed at the end of the rebellion.

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