Liberty Hall


Liberty Hall is a site with a unique and important history. Before it was the headquarters for the Irish Citizen Army, it was used as a hotel (Gibney, “Sites of 1916: Liberty Hall”). In 1914 following the outbreak of World War I, James Connolly and the Irish Citizen Army displayed a banner that read “We Serve Neither King nor Kaiser, But Ireland”(“Three Irish Newspapers Suppressed”).

The Irish Citizen Army displays a banner declaring their independence and devotion to Ireland.

The Irish Citizen Army and its supporters opposed Irishmen fighting on behalf of the British in WWI. Many Irish citizens did not want to go off and fight for a nation that refused them independence and sovereignty (“Three Irish Newspaper Suppressed”). Furthermore, this banner is a reaction to the notion that supporters of the rebellion were actually German sympathizers. In order to quell this notion, the banner was displayed in a place where everyone could see it and the message was clear.

Commemoration History

Liberty Hall is unique not just because of its actual role in the Rising, but because of how it has been used and commemorated in Irish history. It has been called the “brain of every riot and disturbance” by the Irish Times. The newspaper The Irish Worker was published inside Liberty Hall until 1914, with many notable leaders and politicians of the Easter Rising writing and editing the paper (“Three Irish Newspaper Suppressed”). This was a place for meeting, planning, and organizing for many insurgent groups throughout Irish history. People would gather at the building that stood for liberty and freedom, and would fight for the rights they knew they deserved.

The front page of “The Irish Worker”, published in November 1914 depicts Connolly’s banner. Courtesy of Joseph McGarrity Collection, Villanova University.

Liberty Hall’s role in the Rising was certainly an interesting one. On Easter Monday, members of the ICA, the Cumann na mBan, and the Irish Volunteers gathered at noon outside Liberty Hall (Gibney, “Sites of 1916: Liberty Hall”). They took their guns and ammunition, and prepared for a fight. However, unbeknownst to the British, Liberty Hall was actually left empty during the week. The British still picked this building as the first to be shelled, and it was eventually destroyed on that Wednesday (Gibney, “Sites of 1916: Liberty Hall”).

Significance Today

In modern day Ireland, Liberty Hall is a place that is not largely commemorated, but still holds an important place in many people’s hearts. In the 1950’s it was deemed unfit and was demolished (Irish Times, “New Liberty Hall Shortlist”). Many years after it was rebuilt, the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union proposed a demolition and restructuring of the building to make way for their new headquarters. However, these plans were soon rejected as many felt demolishing this historically sensitive site would take away from the significance of the building and destroy a key place in Irish history (Irish Times, “New Liberty Hall Shortlist”). Additionally, opposite Liberty Hall stands a statue of James Connolly. Constructed in 1996 by Eamonn O’Doherty, the statue of Connolly is another way that the Rising is commemorated in modern Ireland (“The History: Statue of James Connolly”). Connolly is still viewed as a national hero who is widely admired throughout the country-his statue has hardly ever been vandalized or desecrated, representing the deep respect citizens still have for him and for the 1916 cause (“The History: Statue of James Connolly”).

Liberty Hall in the 21st century.
Liberty Hall in the 21st century.

Connection to the Civil War

Monuments are another form of commemoration that are used for various purposes. Many states in the U.S. have monuments paying tribute to the accomplishments and even losses from the Civil War. However, these monuments have very different meanings in the North versus the South. The South still demonstrates pride for the Confederate troops and generals who fought for states rights. The North remembers those who fought for human and individual rights. The Civil War, as evidenced by its monuments and different forms of commemoration, remains a divisive part of American history. People today still argue about who was on the right side of history and who deserves to be memorialized.  Monuments devoted to the Civil War, such as the Grant Memorial in D.C. and the Confederate Monument in Alabama demonstrate how differently the war is remembered based on geography.

The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial in D.C.
The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial in D.C.

Alternatively, monuments in Dublin, such as the James Connolly monument or the IRA monument largely unite the people of Ireland (“IRA Memorial”). These monuments help people all over the country come together and remember the Rising in a more positive light. The controversy surrounding the Easter Rising is far less than that of the Civil War. Because the Rising, while not widely supported, was a less divisive issue, it makes it easier for people today to commemorate the events of the past in a more unified way.

Dublin Castle

Kilmainham Jail


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