At four minutes past noon on Easter Monday, April 24th, 1916, a sudden hush fell over the O’Connell Street. From the steps of the General Post Office Patrick Pearse read the Proclamation of the Republic.
When Pearse finished, the beaming Connolly took his hand and shook it vigorously. A few ragged cheers hung in the air, but the poet, Stephen McKenna, who listened to Pearse read these words, recorded later that he felt sad for him, for the response from the crowd was chilling. There were no wild hurrahs, no scenes reminiscent of the excitement which had gripped the French mob before they stormed the Bastille. The Irish simply listened and shrugged their shoulders, or sniggered a little, and then glanced round to see if the police were coming.
Nearby young insurgents were posting copies of the Proclamation, or handing them round among the crowd. One copy, weighted down with stones, was placed on the ground at the foot of Nelson Pillar so that everybody could read it.
Slowly the crowd broke up. Some strolled across to the Pillar, where they idly read the Proclamation; others just stood and stared up at the unfamiliar flags (the green flag on the left at the corner of Princes Street and the Tricolor on the right at the corner of Henry Street) from the roof of the G.P.O. Quite a few, bored with the whole affair, simply turned and wandered away.