The GPO was first located in a small building on the site of where the Commercial Buildings used to be (now the Central Bank building) off Dame Street, and was afterwards removed to a larger house opposite the Bank of Ireland building on College Green. On 6 January 1818, the new post-office in Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street) was opened for business.
The foundation-stone of the building, which is built after a design of Francis Johnston, was laid by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Charles Whitworth, 1st Earl Whitworth, on 12 August 1814, attended by the Post-Masters-General, Charles O’Neill, 1st Earl O’Neill and Laurence Parsons, 2nd Earl of Rosse. The structure was completed in the short space of three years for the sum of £50,000.
It was the main stronghold of the Irish Volunteers in the 1916 Rising, while today the General Post Office offers a wide range of services.
The General Post Office (GPO) is remarkable not just for the special place it holds in Irish history and for its handsome architecture but for the fact that – after two centuries – it continues successfully to fulfil its original purpose as the headquarters of the Irish Post Office. A place of business and public service, of remembrance, protest and pageantry, the GPO deserves the unique place it holds in the affections of Irish people everywhere.
The GPO also houses the brand new ‘GPO Witness History’ visitor attraction which opens on March 29th 2016. This will be a highly interactive and immersive exhibition which will focus on the 1916 rising, the aftermath of this rebellion and also how Ireland has developed since. This exhibition will allow visitors to experience the events from an eyewitness perspective of active participants on both sides and bystanders caught in the middle. Touch screens, real artefacts, videos, dress sets and memory walls will further enhance the visitor experience. Visitors will be able to relax afterwards in the café and retail store. This iconic venue will also be available for private functions and events.