A Clew Bay Pipe Band Piper blowing hard at the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade held on Achill Island, Ireland.
Photo Credit: Photograph by National Geographic.
Sean’s Bar, Ireland’s Oldest Pub
I visited more than 50 pubs around Ireland over the eight weeks my wife and I toured the country in the summers of 1997 and 1998.
I don’t recall being in any pub that had a selection of more than five beers: Guinness, Smithwick’s, Carlsberg, Kilkenny, Budweiser or Coors, and Murphy’s or Beamish.
The first three beers were available at all pubs and often those were the only three beers served.
In a tiny pub on Arranmore Island, County Donegal in 1997, when I commented about the small selection of beers, an old Irish man said to me,
“Too much choice is not necessarily a good thing”.
Sean’s Pub is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest pub in Ireland with ownership records dating back to 900 AD.
Source: A day in Athlone, Ireland
Dublin was still under British rule in 1916, when seven unlikely revolutionaries hatched a plan for an armed uprising during the Easter holiday. They wrote a Proclamation of Independence and chose strategic sites in downtown Dublin for their Rising, including the post office along the main thoroughfare of the city.
They felt that once the revolution began the people of Ireland would rise with them and they assumed that the British would not destroy their own property in retaliation. They were mistaken on all counts.
The Rising had its problems from the beginning. Due to a split in leadership and miscommunications, even the date was confused. When the fighting didn’t begin on Easter as many thought, would-be reinforcements turned around and went home. Despite this, the planned takeovers of government buildings began on Easter Monday, and the destruction of a large portion of Dublin shortly followed.
The general post office, or GPO, was the headquarters of the revolution. Here the Irish flag was raised and the Proclamation was recited loudly, to the jeers and complaints of the citizenry who just wanted to post their mail. When the British began to shell the area with heavy artillery, the complaints grew louder. The post office was eventually set on fire and mostly destroyed, along with many of the buildings around it. In the end, the British army had no qualms about destroying most of downtown Dublin to defeat the upstarts in the GPO.
The Easter Rising lasted only for 6 days. It would likely have been a mere footnote in history, but for the fact that all seven signatories on the Proclamation were then tried in secret and executed by the Crown, at which point they became martyrs to Irish freedom.
Their short-lived fight eventually led to Ireland’s independence and the leaders are revered to this day. Decades later, their proclamation is located in many Irish government buildings including the GPO and on countless memorials. It is read every year on Easter Monday at the renovated post office by a member of the Irish Defense Forces.
All that remains of the original building is the beautiful Georgian facade. The facade has its own visible scars of bullet holes, cracks and mortar damage. It is still one of the busiest post offices in all of Ireland and it houses a permanent exhibition of its role in the Rising called Letters, Lives and Liberty. Every year on Easter Monday, a wreath is laid outside the General Post Office, the Proclamation is read and other ceremonies commence to commemorate the men and women who fought in 1916.
Five years ago, Irish photographer Eamonn Doyle began snapping people near his Dublin home.
Here we show images from his Dublin trilogy of books i, ON and End.