General Maxwell ordered Brigadier-General W.H.M. Lowe, commander of the British forces in Ireland, to refuse any negotiations short of unconditional surrender.
Even to the last, however, wounded James Connolly was defiant.
But after more horrific scenes on the northside of civilian casualties, the end had to come.
Dr James Ryan, who was in charge of the insurgents’ medical unit, had witnessed something “I shall never forget. Lying dead on the opposite footpath of Moore Street with white flags in their hands were three elderly men”.
By noon, Pearse — fearing greater lose of civilian life — ordered the Irish Volunteers to stand down, also hoping rank-and-file Volunteers would go free.
At 12.45pm, nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell, one of three Cumann na mBan members to have stayed with the Volunteer garrison in its charge from the GPO to Moore Street, carried the white flag to a British barricade.
At 3.30pm Pearse and his GPO garrison — after saying the rosary — left No 16 Moore Street. James Connolly, who was brought to the military hospital at Dublin Castle, had agreed to unconditional surrender for Citizen Army men under his command.
One of the most famous pictures of the Rising was taken at this time, at the moment of Pearse’s surrender — and it is steeped in mystery and manipulation.
It shows Pearse surrendering to Brigadier-General W.H.M. Lowe. To Pearse’s right is Elizabeth O’Farrell, partially obscured. To the right of Brigadier Lowe is, according to some sources, his aide-de-camp and son, Major John Lowe, who is lighting a cigarette in the original picture.
The National Library of Ireland reports that it is Major de Courcy-Wheeler (nearest camera), and not Lowe’s son.
Lowe’s son would later change his named to John Loder and became a Hollywood star, appearing in films such as King Solomon’s Mines. Lowe’s son was 6ft 3ins tall, so perhaps it is more likely to be de Courcy-Wheeler.
Some of O’Farrell’s cape or coat was accidentally left in the doctored pictures, leaving Pearse with a more rotund figure than one would expect after a week of rebellion.
Meanwhile, At 3.45pm Pearse was taken before General Maxwell — who had taken command of the British forces from Lowe — at Parkgate Street and signed a general order of surrender.
Pearse’s surrender read: “In order to prevent further slaughter of the civil population and in the hope of saving the lives of our followers, the members of the Provisional Government present at headquarters have decided on an unconditional surrender, and commandants or officers commanding districts will order their commands to lay down arms. P.H. Pearse, Dublin 30th April 1916.”
Fighting had lasted one week and resulted in the deaths of more than 250 civilians, 130 members of the British forces and over 60 insurgents.
Joseph Sweeney described the scene after he was among the Volunteers rounded up and taken as a prisoner of war.
“We were herded into the Rotunda Gardens, in a patch of grass in front. We were lying on top of one another. I was quite near Collins and Joe Plunkett. I remember the British officer threatening to shoot the whole lot of us, and Collins saying to this officer, ‘This is a very sick man; will you leave him alone‘ — or words to that effect. He was, of course, referring to Joe Plunkett,” he recalled.
Nurse O’Farrell had been given surrender orders to be dispatched to various posts throughout the city over two days, from Boland’s Mill to St Stephen’s Green, accompanied by a priest. Dodging the last of the sniper fire and trying to convince the leaders it was not a hoax were among her concerns.
“This was a very difficult job and I had to take my life in my hands several times,” she said.
James Stephens noted: “It is half-past three o’clock, and from my window the Republican flag can still be seen flying over Jacob’s factory. There is occasional shooting, but the city as a whole is quiet. At a quarter to five o’clock a heavy gun boomed once. Ten minutes later there was heavy machine gun firing and much rifle shooting. In another 10 minutes the flag at Jacob’s was hauled down.”
The prisoners discussed the consequences — being sent to the Western Front, jail, or execution and as for public opinion, there was signs it was turning.
Around Ireland, news of the surrender spread. The Sinn Fein Rebellion handbook reported: “Last night messengers were sent out from the leaders of the rebels in Dublin to rebel forces in Galway, Clare, Wexford, and Dublin counties ordering surrender, and the priests and the Royal Irish Constabulary are doing their utmost to disseminate this information.”
On previous Thursday, a labour leader Thomas Johnson noted there was “no sign of sympathy with the rebels, but general admiration for their courage and strategy”.
Stephens, meanwhile, noted: “Being beaten does not greatly matter in Ireland, but not fighting does matter. They went forth always to the battle, and they always fell. Indeed the history of the Irish race is in that phrase.”