Outline of the 1916 Easter Commemoration Ceremony

A Military ceremony takes place outside the GPO, Dublin on Easter Sunday each year to mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. The Defence Forces have upwards of 350 troops from all formations on parade to mark this occasion. Representatives from across the Defence Forces are involved in the ceremony, including Reserve Defence Forces, the 1 Bde and 2 Bde, as well the Defence Forces Training Centre, the Air Corps and Naval Service.

Musical accompaniment for the ceremony is provided by a combination of the Defence Forces Brass, Reed and Pipe Bands. The participating troops arrive on the parade ground from 11.30 am and position themselves outside the GPO. The central Guard of Honour is drawn from the Cadet School of the Military College. There is also a 107 strong presidential Guard of Honour drawn from the one of the RDF battalions.

A Presidential ceremonial Escort of Honour, drawn from the 2 Cavalry Squadron escorts the President from Áras an Uachtaráin to the GPO. When the presidential escort arrives, the President is brought on to the parade ground and the troops on parade render Military Honours to the president, who is then invited to inspect a Guard of Honour.

The solemn ceremony, which is led by the President, the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, involves prayers of remembrance, a reading of the Proclamation and the laying of a wreath by the President.

At noon the National Flag is lowered and the Proclamation is read, on the steps of the G.P.O., by a member of the Defence Forces.  At 12.30 pm the Air Corps perform a Fly past in four (4) Pilatus PC9 aircraft.

Members of the public are invited to attend are asked to be in position in the public viewing area outside the GPO by 11.15 am. Large video screens will be erected on either side of the GPO to relay the ceremony to the public.

View the image Gallery from 2013 Parade

A Military Analysis of the Easter Rising

by Comdt Liam Campbell (CAOGA)

The main difficulty we have when examining the military conduct of the Rising is the fact that no copy of the insurgents’ Operational Order seems to have survived. Nevertheless their decision to use Dublin city as their area of operations was a sound one.Operations undertaken in an urban environment are today known as fighting in a built-up area (FIBUA). FIBUA gives a lightly armed and equipped force the ability to successfully engage a far stronger and better resourced enemy. It demands a detailed knowledge of the urban area, specialised training, and a particularly high standard of leadership at all levels. As well as manning fixed positions, a defending force requires a mobile disruption force to cover gaps in its defence and a strong mobile reserve. FIBUA carries with it severe difficulties with re-supply and casualty evacuation, as well as a very high rate of ammunition expenditure.

Battalion Mobilisation Order of the Irish Volunteers, Dublin Brigade, 23rd April 1916.

Irish Forces

At the time of the Rising the strength of the Dublin Brigade of the Volunteers was in the region of 3,000. The Citizen Army had a strength of approximately 200. On Easter Monday however only about 1,000 mustered. A further 800 reported for duty during the course of that week. The insurgents were armed with an assortment of rifles and revolvers, had a reasonable supply of ammunition and a quantity of explosives. They had no heavy equipment, no logistics system and their medical facilities were basic, consisting mainly of a nursing service organised by Cumann na mBan.

British Forces

The fighting strength of British infantry in Dublin at midday on that Monday was in the region of 2,500. They were fully equipped and could call on artillery and engineer support. They had a comprehensive supply system including the services of the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Area of Operations and Deployment

Dublin City is divided by the River Liffey, which runs from west to east. It is tidal and has very high quay walls. To its north the Royal Canal and to its south the Grand Canal run in approximately the same direction. These three waterways form significant military obstacles and their bridges are important to both defender and attacker.

The 4th Battalion under Commandant Eamonn Ceannt occupied the South Dublin Union, which is now St. James’ Hospital. The Union covered over 50 acres and was enclosed by a stone wall. It was protected on two sides by an offshoot from the Grand Canal that has since been filled in. Ceannt’s outposts were at Jameson’s Distillery in Marrowbone Lane, Watkins Brewery at Ardee Street and Roe’s Distillery in James’ Street. Ceannt’s task was probably to prevent troops from Richmond (later Keogh) and Islandbridge (later Clancy) Barracks from moving into the city.

The 2nd Battalion, under Commandant Thomas McDonagh, held Jacob’s Factory and had outposts at Camden Street, Malpas Street, Kevin Street and Fumbally Lane. These outposts blocked the direct route from Portobello (now Cathal Brugha) Barracks to the Castle but after the fighting started were quickly withdrawn. This was a mistake and as a result the garrison saw little further action.

This is an extract from a feature originally published in An Cosantóir - Defence Forces Magazine. Download and read the full article: A Military Analysis of the Easter Rising (PDF 552KB)

Military Archives Audio, Video and Interactive

Military Archives is delighted to make available a small sampling of the type of material that is held here in relation to the 1916 (Easter) Rising. Two main sources are the “Bureau of Military History” Collection and the Irish Volunteer (and later Irish Free State Army) magazine, “An tÓglach”.

Interactive 1916 Rising Map

Follow this link to view our Interactive 1916 Rising Map. You will see a number of tags that relate either to particular Units, Battalions or Organisations involved during Easter Week, or particular buildings or areas held and defended by Republican forces.

Once you click on one of the tags, you will be able to open an article covering what happened in either that particular location or in the surrounding area overseen by that unit/organisation. These articles are taken from the 1926 editions of An tÓglac, in which a concerted effort was made to mark the 10th anniversary of the Uprising by creating historical accounts covering the various aspects of the fighting. While there were similar smaller-scale uprisings in Galway and Wexford and elsewhere in the country, the articles concentrate on the Dublin Area, along with Ashbourne and Maynooth.

Video of War Damage in Ireland 1916 

Click on the link below to view video clips from 1916 on britishpathe.com:

Video of War Damage in Ireland 1916  

British Pathe captured many extraordinary events on film in its 80 year history, including the moving images of a ruined Dublin city centre in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising. Bombed and fire damaged buildings create a dramatic backdrop to the images of ordinary Dubliners going about their daily business. Seen in this clip is the General Post Office in Dublin which was the headquarters of the Republican forces. The skeletal remains of barricades on Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street), constructed by British Forces are side stepped by passers by. Also featured are a number of citizens watching a building as it collapses.  Also seen is the ruined headquarters of the Irish Transport & General Workers Union building also known as Liberty Hall; the shell of the building is manned by British soldiers.  The clip concludes with a man showing the camera a flyer called Irish War News, a scene perhaps foretelling the tumultuous years that were to follow in the wake of Easter 1916. Incidentally, this flyer is one of the many documents connected with the fighting that is held in the Bureau of Military History collection. 

The Military Archives would like to thank British Pathe for allowing us to make the link to this film for the duration of this online showcase on the Rising 1916

Voice Recordings 1916

The voice recordings of William O’Brien, one the Labour party founders, Mrs Tom Clarke, Widow of Tom Clarke, Mrs Eamon Ceannt, Widow of Eamon Ceannt and Rev. Father Aloysius, Chaplain are four of twelve recordings that were produced by the Bureau of Military History with the cooperation of the Irish Folklore Commission during the period 1950 to 1951.  Only twelve recordings were produced and the voices chosen to speak their reminiscences were deemed ‘top level of importance’ and considered ‘unique in outstanding way from the point of view of historians (BMH/S/1412). 

Interviews with Eamon De Valera, Bulmer Hobson and Denis McCullough were sought but not secured by the Bureau.  The Voice recordings present the listener with an opportunity to learn more about the interviewee but also to hear the strains and tremors in their voices as they recount a deeply personal experience, and voice their connection to Easter 1916.

William O' Brien

“In the most critical situation, he could always discover a human and humorous side” William O’Brien on James Connolly

Eamon Ceannt

 “On Holy Thursday, just as the Angelus was ringing, my Husband drew me towards him and said the next day, the Volunteers would strike” Mrs Eamon Ceannt .

Rev Fr. Aloysius Cap

“I went to the war or room in which Connolly was a patient” Fr. Aloysius, Chaplain to the Irish Volunteers in the Four Courts, and visitor to James Connolly before his execution.


Visit the Military Archives website or the Bureau of Military History for more historical information and access to online databases.

The Badge Design

The Badge design (common to all Corps and Services and all orders of dress) is derived from the badge of the Irish Volunteers and was designed by Professor Eoin MacNeill, Chairman of the National Executive of the Irish Volunteers. This badge was originally adopted by the Irish Volunteers in October 1914. [Read more]