The GPO’s telegraph in Dublin 1916

This week marks the 101st anniversary of the Easter rebellion in Dublin. The 1916 rebels had a strong appreciation of the importance of communications in warfare and this is one reason why the GPO became their headquarters, not because it was the country’s principal letter sorting office but because it housed the Central Telegraph Office. Control of the telegraph system would, they reasoned, be vital in their plans to disrupt Government communications and would increase the chances of the Rising’s being successful.

When they attacked the GPO on Easter Monday 1916, the telegraph room on the second floor was barricaded by staff and bravely defended by the unarmed military guard. One soldier was shot in the attack and when the room was occupied by the rebels and the Post Office staff instructed to leave, one woman, Miss Gordon who was the female supervisor, refused to leave until the wounded soldier had been attended to. This presented a delicate situation for the officer in charge of the rebel attack but he and Miss Gordon came to an agreement that the soldier might be brought to Jervis Street hospital provided he returned to become a prisoner. Unlikely though it seems, this is precisely what happened. The redoubtable Miss Gordon brought the man to hospital and a few hours later brought him back to the GPO to become a prisoner of the new republic!

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