Dublin has played host to many revolutionaries over the years. George Bernard Shaw said, “The heart of an Irishman is nothing but his imagination”, and it isn’t hard to see how many Irish people, forced to live under UK control, could easily imagine a better life for their fellow citizens.

It always makes me smile when I think about the coat of arms of our great city, . Below the shield on a scroll is the city's motto, Obedientia Civium Urbis Felicitas, which translates as "the obedience of the citizens produces a happy city". 

In this article, we’ll take a look at what we call the “Revolutionary Quarter” of Dublin City, the people and events which shaped the past here, and the books you can read to help you delve into what these local hero’s did and what brought them to the point of risking their lives for their principles and their country.


Chapters Bookstore sits on the bustling and vibrant Parnell Street, here in our capital. It is an area that is rich in culture and history and is surrounded on all sides by places of great historical significance. The street itself is named after Charles Stewart Parnell, and has featured a monument to the man himself since 1911. Parnell played a pivotal role in Irish history as a charismatic and influential leader during the late 19th century. He emerged as a prominent figure in the Home Rule movement, advocating for greater autonomy and self-governance for Ireland within the United Kingdom. Parnell's skilful political manoeuvring and powerful oratory skills united various factions within Irish nationalism and brought them together under a common cause. His leadership laid the groundwork for later movements, such as the Easter Rising of 1916. While Parnell's efforts to achieve Home Rule ultimately faced setbacks, including personal scandals, his legacy as a precursor to the events of 1916 cannot be denied, as his ability to galvanise and inspire Irish people to persue autonomy  laid the foundation for the eventual push for Irish independence.


Just off Parnell Street you will find Moore Street, another location steeped in history and one that played a crucial role in Ireland's struggle for independence. For visitors eager to delve into the country's revolutionary past, Moore Street offers a captivating journey through time. 

That’s why Dublin City Council's visionary plans are set to transform Moore Street into an "historic revolutionary quarter" and a battlefield site. Inspired by its declaration as a 1916 Rising "battlefield site" and a national monument by the High Court, it resonates with echoes of the past and it’s poised to become a cultural hub that honours its revolutionary heritage. This is the area where the leaders of the 1916 uprising made their last stand against British forces. A fully comprehensive history of the street “Moore Street: The Story of Dublin's Market District” by  Barry Kennerk is available here. 



The Moore Street museum was originally slated to open during the 100th anniversary of the Rising. Though delayed due to legal considerations, it is anticipated to be ready in 2026 and  the new Centre will transport you back to the days of the Easter Rising, offering a glimpse into the lives and aspirations of those who bravely fought for Ireland's freedom.


But you don’t have to wait for the Museum, if you read Barry’s book, you can see that Moore Street is a living testament to Ireland's journey towards freedom. As you stroll through this historic quarter, you’ll easily be able to imagine the fervour of revolutionaries who once walked these same cobblestoned streets. For a more indepth look at the streets surrounding us we recommend you take a look at the wonderful Donal Fallon book "Three Castles Burning A History of Dublin in Twelve Streets"  

Less than 5 minutes down the road you will find yourself on O’ Connell Street, Dublin City’s main thoroughfare. It is home to the General Post Office, more commonly referred to as the GPO. In 1916, taking advantage of the fact that the British were pre-occupied with World War 1, Irish rebels garrisoned themselves inside the GPO, demanding independence. This event became known as the Easter Rising. Though initially seen as a failure, the subsequent execution of 16 of the leaders of the rebellion sparked outrage across the country and led to a rapid increase in support for the movement. For making the bold assertion that Ireland was now a free Republic and for fighting bravely against thousands of British troops, the men of 1916 were soon seen as heroes, and those who died were considered martyrs for a great cause. Below, we will take a look at some books detailing the lives of several of the men involved at the time, including some of those who survived the Easter Rising and went on to  to shape Ireland’s destiny.


James Connolly: My Search for the Man, the Myth and his Legacy by Sean O'Callaghan details the life of James Connolly and how it impacted the author. Connolly was executed following the failed Rising, but it was the manner in which it took place which sparked outrage amongst the people. He had already been shot and couldn’t stand, so he was tied to a chair and killed by firing squad. The author became embroiled in political extremism, and this book is as much about the legacy and influence Connolly as it is about the historic facts. 



Diarmuid Lynch by Eileen McGough details the life of the man who was considered to be the last to leave the GPO following the Rising. Deeply involved in the planning of the rebellion, he organised the smuggling of arms into Ireland and then served as the aide-de-camp to Connolly at the GPO. Unlike Connolly, Lynch was a US citizen, and so his life was spared. Upon returning to the US, he was very successful in raising awareness and funds for the cause of Irish freedom.


Patrick Pearse (aka Padraig Pearse) is seen by many as being at the forefront of the Rising. It was on his orders that all volunteer units on that faithful Easter, and it was he who read the proclamation of the new Republic outside of the GPO. Boy Republic by Brendan Walsh takes a look at the man in his role as a teacher and a poet, adding depth to the understanding of a well-known figure. 



Next, we have two men who survived Easter Rising, and who’s actions following the event led to an outcome which changed the course of history. 


Michael Collins had earned his place beside the leaders of the Rising by taking part in the training of volunteers. Though he was captured after the Rising and sent to prison, it was in the power vacuum that resulted from the execution of the leaders that he rose to prominence.  Michael Collins: Dublin 1916-22 by Joseph Connell details Collins’ actions after the Rising and before his death in 1922. Known for hiding in plain sight around Dublin city, know trip to the capital would be truly complete without an understanding of the secret movements and covert bases hidden in the streets and laneways.


Finally, we have Eamon De Valera. Perhaps the most significant figure in Irish history. Like Diarmuid Lynch, he was spared from execution due to his US citizenship.  He proceeded to fight alongside Michael Collins in what became known as the War of Independence. However, these two allies became enemies when disagreements arose around the nature of the peace treaty between Ireland and Britain. De Valera and Collins ultimately split off into separate factions and went toe to toe in a bitter Civil War. De Valera ultimately became the President of Ireland, and his unlikely life and rise through the ranks is detailed exquisitely by Ronan Fanning in Eamon de Valera.






"The Irish Civil War in Colour" brings to life the defining moments of Ireland's Civil War in a vivid and compelling manner through hand-coloured photographs. Chronicled by Michael Barry, known for his expertise in illustrating Irish history through photography, and professional photographer John O'Byrne, the book showcases painstakingly hand-coloured images that reveal the events of 1922-1923.   


The result is a collection of striking and powerful images that compel readers to revisit well-known photographs from the Civil War. From the anti-Treaty forces walking down Grafton Street to the deathbed image of Michael Collins, these photographs offer a fresh perspective on historical figures and events. So, as you travel through the city, you’ll come across many of these locations and could find yourself standing in the exact same place in which one of these photographs was taken. This book will really help you to understand this time in Ireland’s history, how it impacted Dublin, and help you to see how it still has implications in the politics of Ireland today. 


In a world saturated with digital images, "The Irish Civil War in Colour" reminds us of the timeless essence of film photography and its ability to capture the true emotions and impact of historical events. Through the vivid faces of those depicted, the book serves as a poignant testimony to the destructive and bitter nature of the Irish Civil War.


We hope that whatever books you choose in advance of your journey, that you have a brilliant time in our fair city, a place that’s full of the chat and the craic! And if your looking for a literary adventure while you’re here, why not take a chance and invest in one of our Mystery Boxes, whereby 6 books by Irish writers will be delivered to you. Give it a lash!