The British had retaken control of the city. Clery’s department store and the Imperial Hotel crashed to the ground as Sackville Street burned.

The next major scene of combat was North King Street where the Brits tried to take a well-barricaded rebel position.

Using Guinness lorries with improvised armored plates, government troops drove into the rebel stronghold.

It took the North and South Staffordshire Regiments two days to capture the area as they went house to house, boring holes in the inside walls to enter the next building.

Reports claimed 15 civilians and boys who had no connection with the Rising were killed, some by bayonet, in the North King Street area.

The South Staffordshire Regiment, under Colonel Taylor, advanced just 150 yards down the street at a cost of 11 dead and 28 wounded.

Cathal Brugha was wounded more than 25 times in the fighting. Right, scenes of destruction after heavy nights of shelling around Sackville Street (Images courtesy of National Library of Ireland and Kilmainham Gaol)

Losing the position and cut off from some of his men, Ned Daly pulled back to the Four Courts with whatever men he could reach.

Commenting on the killing of civilians, General Sir John Maxwell would later say: “The number of such incidents is less than I expected, given the magnitude of the task.”

The struggle to hold the South Dublin Union (now St James’s Hospital) which has been going for four days continued, often with hand-to-hand combat, under the leadership of Eamonn Ceannt and Cathal Brugha.

During a battle at the Union which raged for several hours, Brugha was wounded more than 25 times before he was taken out for treatment by medical staff.

Robert ‘Bobby’ Holland believed the rebels were on top after surviving the onslaught at the Jameson’s Distillery garrison at Marrowbone Lane.

“We have seen their cap and collar badges. The Notts, the Derbyshires, (both part of the Sherwood Foresters), the West Kents, the Berks, the Wiltshires, the Royal Irish Rifles, the Dublin Fusiliers, the 4th and 5th Hussars, the 17th Lancers, the South Irish Horse, Iniskilling Fusiliers, Liverpool Rifles, and several others. So we thought there could not be many more left,” he said.

“The girls kept loading the rifles and we were allocated three rifles each. I occasionally used one of the Howth guns and was driven about 12ft across the floor every time I fired it.”

Men in the GPO and Ned Daly

Irish Volunteers huddle together for a picture in the GPO while, below, the injured are treated in hospital. Right, Ned Daly who was holding out near the Four Courts (Images courtesy of Kilmainham Gaol and National Library of Ireland)

James Stephens tried again to separate the fact and fiction of the day’s violence.

“At 11.30am there came the sound of heavy guns firing in the direction of Sackville Street. I went on the roof, and remained there for some time. From this height the sounds could be heard plainly. There was sustained firing along the whole central line of the City, from the Green down to Trinity College, and from thence to Sackville Street, and the report of the various types of arm could be easily distinguished. There were rifles, machine guns and very heavy cannon. There was another sound which I could not put a name to, something that coughed out over all the other sounds, a short, sharp bark, or rather a short noise something like the popping of a tremendous cork.”

Every bank, shop and public building was closed, although the pubs remained open and looting was rampant.

Mrs Mary Norway, the wife of the Secretary for the Post Office in Ireland, Arthur Hamilton Norway, described the looting scenes in her 1932 book ‘The Sinn Fein Rebellion As I Saw It’.

“The mob were chiefly women and children with a sprinkling of men. They swarmed in and out of the side door bearing huge consignments of bananas, the great bunches on the stalk, to which children attached a cord and ran away dragging it along,” she wrote.

“It was an amazing sight and nothing daunted these people. Higher up at another shop we were told a woman was hanging out of a window and dropping down loot to a friend, when she was shot through the head by a sniper… the body dropped into the street and the mob cleared. In a few minutes, a hand-cart appeared and gathered up the body, and instantly all the mob swarmed back to continue the joyful proceedings!”

In the GPO, Pearse tried to convince the men the country had risen as one.

But James Connolly had been wounded twice, once in the arm and once by a ricocheting bullet in the ankle. He had been at the forefront of the insurrection all week.

His comrade, Joseph Plunkett, wrote in his notebook of Connolly’s injuries: “The leg wound is serious as it caused a compound fracture of the shin bone.”

An armoured car with improvised plating, as used by the British Army during the 1916 (Image courtesy of Military Archives, Cathal Brugha Barracks)

Mary Norway watched the night-time fires that week from her window on Dawson Street.

“It was the most awe-inspiring sight I have ever seen. It seemed as if the whole city was on fire, the glow extending right above the heavens and the red glare hundreds of feet high, while above the roar of the fires the whole air seemed to be vibrating with the noise of the great guns and machine-guns. It was an inferno!”

All the buildings around the GPO were in flames and with Connolly crippled, Pearse and the leaders were coming under fatal pressure.

Without newspapers, and engulfed in a guerilla war plagued by confusion, the 19-year-old insurgent Robert Holland was still optimistic.

“Throughout the night we all slept in our turn for a few hours although it seemed that we only closed our eyes. All during the night the firing and banging continued and still our dogged spirit is 100 per cent with us all. We are winning and nothing else matters. We will surely get that help. The Germans could not be far from Dublin now and the country Volunteers are showing the way,” he said.

Friday, April 28