The text from The Ferryman, page 59.

When the fighting started, Michael found himself with all the others holed up in the GPO with Patrick Pearce. On the Thursday, Michael and O'Rahilly led the charge out of the GPO, into the maw of English machine guns.

My questions are: Were they hiding? Not to be captured by the police? (OR were they hold by the police in the GPO?) And when they "led the charge", does it mean that they were taking the control out of the building - GPO? (OR did they decide to lead and clear the accounts with the English before they become the victims of the machine guns?)

  • This seems to refer to the Easter Rising of 1916. The General Post Office in Dublin became the headquarters of the Irish Republicans, and it was besieged by the police. A charge is when a group of soldiers runs at the enemy - in this case, they evidently charged out of the building against British soldiers armed with machine guns. May 12, 2021 at 16:57
  • You are right, Kate, the context is clear, the person talks abut the Easter Rising. But I still hesitate about the first question. Even if the police besieged the GPO, Michael and all the others still might have been just "hiding" first while the police is outside (Michael found himself and the others holed up), or is this a depiction of the situation of "being trapped/holed up" already...thank you
    – Susa
    May 12, 2021 at 17:33
  • The Wikipedia article says They marched to the General Post Office (GPO) on O'Connell Street, Dublin's main thoroughfare, occupied the building and hoisted two republican flags. So they were not hiding, but occupying it as a fortress. May 12, 2021 at 19:14
  • To "hole up" comes from the idea of a rabbit (or similar) retreating to its hole. In this case, it seems to be primarily being out of line of fire of bullets rather than concealing their location. English is weird, right? To dive down a hole is to hole up.
    – puppetsock
    May 12, 2021 at 19:49
  • English is always a detective story :-), thank you all
    – Susa
    May 13, 2021 at 13:59

1 Answer 1


"Holed up" (not hold) (like an animal hiding in its hole) It means that they are using the GPO to be protected and as a place to defend. But like an animal they can't come out because the English are surrounding the building. But also the army can't come inside because Michael and O'Rahilly have defences.

GPO = General Post Office (the main post office building in a town or city)

On Thursday Michael and O'Rahilly were the leaders when the people in the GPO tried to escape by charging out of the building. But the English soldiers that were surrounding the building had machine guns

"maw" = the jaws or throat of a voracious animal. Here it is a metaphor. The machine guns were like the teeth and jaws of an animal, and chewed up the people as they charged out of the GPO

  • Now it is absolutely clear. Thank you very much.
    – Susa
    May 13, 2021 at 18:38

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