On Easter Monday 24 April 1916 men and women of the 4th Battalion, Irish Volunteers, under the command of Eamonn Ceannt occupied a number of well-chosen strategic positions in and around James Street, Dublin. One of these buildings was the South Dublin Union. This complex was intended as a counterpart south of the River Liffey to the General Post Office on the north of the river. It was a vast workhouse, a complex of buildings that resembled a small town. It had 52 acres of lawns and almost 3,000 people living within its walls. By 2. 00 p.m. on Easter Monday, that small force of Irish Volunteers were under attack from a large force of the British army. This was to be the beginning of an intense, unremitting guerilla battle that would last until the 30 April 1916. At the end of that week it was estimated that 42 Volunteers were in direct conflict with a force of 500 British soldiers drawn from the Royal Irish Rifles, the Royal Irish Regiment and the Sherwood Foresters. Despite being vastly outnumbered, the garrison of the South Dublin Union were not overpowered but surrendered on orders issued by Patrick Pearse.
Paul O'Brien worked for many years as a precision tool making before returning to college to complete a degree in history and the history of art. He currently works in the Office of Public Works and is finishing a Masters in history. His first book, Blood On The Streets: 1916 And The Battle For Mount Street Bridge was published to critical and commercial success in 2008.