One place that travelers to Dublin should put on their must-see list is the General Post Office, or the GPO, as it’s more commonly known. Visitors on our St Patrick’s Day in Dublin: Wearing of the Green tour get special access to this building: it’s the site of our exclusive pre-parade party – and there is no more iconic building in Ireland.
In fact, the GPO is possibly the most important building in all of Irish history. Architecturally, it is beautiful: The last major Georgian building completed in Dublin, it has handled post since its opening in 1818 and is one of the oldest post offices still operating in the world. Six columns mark the entrance, with three statues atop the columns. Two are Greek gods: Mercury, the messenger of the gods, and Fidelity, symbolizing trust. In the middle stands the mythical figure of Hibernia, symbolizing Ireland.
It’s not its architectural significance that gives the GPO its historical import, however. It’s the building’s role in Dublin’s Easter Rising – perhaps the most pivotal moment in the making of the state. Rebels seeking to liberate Ireland from British rule chose the site as their headquarters, and took over the building on Easter Monday, April 24, of 1916.
It was a natural choice for two key reasons: The imposing post office was a prominent symbol of British authority, and it was critical for communications in Ireland and between Ireland and Britain. Additionally, its central location dominating the wide street then known as Sackville Street (today known as O’Connell Street) ensured that its seizure would attract attention.
The rebellion was ultimately doomed, as were many of its leaders. But the seeds of independence had been planted. The rebellion was the pivot point that resulted in the eventual formation of the modern nation of Ireland.
Today, the GPO is still the most prominent post office in Ireland – but It’s also the home of an award-winning museum showcasing the role of the building in the birth of the Irish nation, the Rising and its aftermath, and how Ireland has developed since. The museum opened in 2016, in the centenary year of the Rising. It’s a high-tech experience that brings the events of 1916 to life through electronic touch screens, video, audio visual booths, sound and authentic artifacts.
And it’s in this spectacular setting that CIE Tours will hold its exclusive party to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Dublin. The location can’t be beat: the parade passes right outside the door, and CIE Tour’s exclusive viewing area is just outside. On the big day, guests will enjoy the festivities of the party in the main post office area, and be able to browse the museum at their leisure during the day, or experience a guided tour with one of the GPO’s excellent tour guides.
But it’s not just guests on our St Patrick’s Day in Dublin vacation who can enjoy the GPO Witness History experience, of course. Guests on the Irish Spirit vacation visit the GPO on the first day of the tour for a tour and a welcome drink. On many of our other tours that stop in Dublin, there will be an opportunity for independent touring, and guests get a voucher covering a visit to one of Dublin’s top attractions, including the GPO.
For more information, visit www.gpowitnesshistory.ie.
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This leisurely Irish tour covers the spectacular scenery of the countryside and seaside, with plenty of stops in the Emerald Isle's vibrant towns to stop and explore.
Guided Tours, Guided Small Groups