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It was taken over by the Irish Volunteers on Easter Monday 1916 and held for nearly a week. But the rebels finally surrendered the GPO to the Crown forces after heavy gun bombardment, and the ensuing conflagration reduced the building to an empty shell and destroyed much of the centre of the city.
Clair Wills' rich and rewarding book recounts the dramatic events of Easter Week. But she also tracks the obsession with Dublin's iconic edifice through literature, film and art, exploring the twists and turns that the myth of the GPO has undergone in the last century. It has stood for sacrifice and treachery, national unity and divisive violence, for the future and the past.
Clair Wills is Professor of Irish Literature at Queen Mary University of London. She has published widely on Irish literature and culture, and is the author of Reading Paul Muldoon (1998), and the acclaimed That Neutral Island: A History of Ireland during the Second World War (2007), which won the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History 2007.