Lonely Planet review
Not just the country's main post office, or an eye-catching neoclassical building: the General Post Office is at the heart of Ireland's struggle for independence as it served as command HQ for the rebels during the Easter Rising of 1916. As a result, it has become the focal point for all kinds of protests, parades and remembrances.
The fateful events of 1916 resulted in a week-long bombardment by the British Army which left Francis Johnston's 1818-masterpiece a smouldering wreck: you can still see pockmarks and bullet holes in the huge pillars supporting the Ionic portico, which spans the five central bays and is topped by three statues representing Fidelity, Hibernia and Mercury. The damage was so bad that it didn’t reopen until 1929.
In the spacious and light-filled interior there’s a beautiful bronze statue, the Death of Cuchulainn (1935), depicting the legendary hero of Ulster, whose spirit was evoked in the poetry of Pádraig Pearse. He was an awesome warrior slain at the age of 27 after being tricked into an unfair fight. Even as he lay dead, nobody dared approach the body for fear of attack and it wasn’t until ravens landed on him that they were convinced he was dead. The statue is dedicated to those who died in the Rising. Also inside is a series of communist noble-worker–style paintings depicting scenes from the Easter Rising. There are also lots of people going about the everyday business of buying stamps and posting letters. Finally, among all the flags hanging in here, notice that the Union Jack is hung behind the counter and out of reach? It had to be moved there because people kept setting it alight.