About

This is a project to publish a cache of documents from Dublin Castle, the seat of British power in Ireland in 1916, that tell the story of one week that changed history.

The documents are telegraphs, telephone call records and letters that reveal minute by minute what was happening throughout the Easter Rising of April 24 to 29 1916, when rebels seized buildings and declared an independent Irish Republic.

Each document will be posted exactly 100 years since it was logged.

The papers were taken from Dublin Castle to England by Matthew Nathan, the highest-ranking civil servant in the British administration in Ireland. Nathan took them because they give a detailed and vivid account of the Easter Rising, and this helped him give evidence on what happened to the Royal Commission on the Rebellion in Ireland. The documents were kept in his private papers and were given to the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library in 1961.

They have been transcribed and posted by a team of volunteers: Naomi O’Leary, Bill Hollingsworth, Kit Rickard, Michael Lanigan, Rory O’Regan and Rachel Rose O’Leary.

This will make free and globally accessible for the first time a cache of documents key to a moment in history that paved the way for an Irish state and heralded the decline of the British empire.

A comment from Mike Webb, of the Bodleian Libraries Special Collections:

“These records are among the papers of the Under Secretary in Dublin Castle in April 1916, Sir Matthew Nathan. They were gathered as evidence for the Royal Commission of Enquiry into the Rising in its immediate aftermath, and have remained among Nathan’s papers ever since where they have been catalogued as MS. Nathan 476. There are hundreds of these messages, scribbled onto pink sheets of paper apparently taken from message pads. They give an extraordinarily vivid street-level view of the rising hour by hour The Library is delighted that 100 years on, the contents of these messages are being made available as a series of tweets in real time, posted by journalist Naomi O’Leary. This will bring a somewhat neglected source back to life – patchy, sporadic, instantaneous, sometimes confused reports that allow us to see history as it happened, without the filter of decades of reflection and discussion.”