“It Would Have Been Far Better To Go Down In A Good Fight”

On Wednesday 25 April the British military launched their full scale attack on Volunteer positions in and around O’Connell Street. The gunboat Helga sailed up the Liffey and began to shell the city.

Sean McGarry, a member of the Headquarters Battalion in the General Post Office describes what he saw.

Fire shells then began to fall on the houses opposite and the whole street became a mass of flame. Machine guns sprayed bullets on us and the roof became dangerous.

On Friday morning, amid raging fires, the final assault on the GPO began. An incendiary shell hit the roof setting the building ablaze. The only option other than surrender was to evacuate the building.

The wounded were removed to safety and under heavy fire the garrison made their way to Moore Street, tunneling their way through the houses towards Parnell Street.

On Saturday, realising they were completely surrounded and after much debate, the leaders decided to surrender. McGarry recalls the feeling of despair and sadness of the men when they were told of the news.

We do not talk, but just look at one another in a kind of, it cannot be style.

Under a white flag the garrison lined up and marched off to surrender in O’Connell Street.

Sean McGarry was a member of the IRB, the Irish Volunteers and a co-founder of Na Fianna Éireann. During the Easter Rising he served as Aide de Camp to Tom Clarke, first signatory of the Proclamation.


Sean McGarry was interviewed for 'I Was There' broadcast on Radio Éireann, 19 April, 1960. Photograph of Sean McGarry, Cashman Collection courtesy of RTÉ Archives.

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