Tuesday 24 April 2018

GPO gets green light for 1916 Rising visitor centre

Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte and An Post boss Donal Connell, reviewing plans for GPO: Witness History.
Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte and An Post boss Donal Connell, reviewing plans for GPO: Witness History.
British troops inspect the GPO building in 1916. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Cormac Murphy

The largest development at the GPO since it was rebuilt more than 80 years ago has been granted planning permission.

An Post has received approval to construct an extended exhibition and interpretive centre measuring 1,550 square metres at the O'Connell Street landmark.

Under the plans, public access to the GPO's impressive inner courtyard will be allowed for the first time. The development will also enable visitors to stroll around an outdoor sculpture garden.

"We know how much people enjoy coming into the GPO and would like access deeper into it. It's a whole new area of the GPO that will be opened to the public," An Post spokeswoman Anna McHugh said.

The overall development – GPO: Witness History – is a key project for the 1916 Rising centenary celebrations.


The new centre will extend from the main public post office hall, incorporating most of the 770 sqm inner courtyard and some offices at the rear.

It will also house a permanent exhibition marking the centenary of the Easter rebellion.

The GPO will continue to operate as An Post's headquarters as well as the country's flagship post office.

The integrity of the existing public hall and its "unique original 1929 features" will be retained, An Post said.

It would not reveal the cost of the project, as it is about to go to tender. Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan and Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte reviewed the plans.

"The GPO on O'Connell Street is an iconic location of great importance to the Irish people," Mr Deenihan said.

"When delivered, this interpretative centre at the GPO will be a major part of our centenary commemoration of the Easter Rising of 1916.

"This year, the Government has allocated €6m in funding to support a number of important commemorative projects inclu- ding this one," Mr Deenihan added.

Mr Rabbitte said: "The GPO on O'Connell Street has long been the communications hub of this country. I am delighted to see the efforts of An Post in preserving the memories of the past through the exhibition and interpretative centre, particularly in advance of the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, while they continue to work to modernise services for the future."

Planning approval was granted by Dublin City Council and construction is to start in the summer. The project will be completed in time for Easter 2016.

Designed by leading architect Francis Johnston, the GPO was completed as a headquarters for the Irish Post Office in 1818.

It underwent a number of alterations throughout its first 100 years and a refurbishment project had just finished a month before it was extensively damaged during the Rising and a subsequent fire.

Work on reconstructing the building began in 1925, before re-opening in 1929.

Irish Independent

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