A special exhibition on the women of 1916 was launched last night by Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. While it focuses on the 300 women who took part in the Rising, the exhibition also seeks to give a fuller understanding of the complex history of Ireland at this time.
It will go on a national tour following a three-week run at Dublin Castle.
The exhibition has been curated by author and historian Sinéad McCoole following extensive research and engagement with the network of national commemoration coordinators in each of Ireland's local authorities. It draws on collections regularly used by family historians such as censuses and bmds (civil and church), as well as material from the Military Archives and the records of national cultural institutions, particularly the National Library and National Museum of Ireland, which have contributed objects, images and documentation. Many of these items have been brought together in for the first time.
Speaking at the opening of the exhibition, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said that she was pleased to see the women who participated in the events of 1916 were re-emerging from the shadows and taking their place alongside the more well-known names associated with the Rising. "This exhibition documents for the first time the experience of 300 women involved in the Rising, including, for example, women who were couriers for Eoin MacNeill’s countermand, the women who waited for action that never came and the women who joined the fight and evaded arrest – and indeed the records – for so long.
“2016, our centenary year, is the first time that a light has been properly shone on the activities and experiences of women during Ireland’s revolutionary period. I would like to acknowledge the huge body of work carried out by Sinéad McCoole, and indeed other female historians, who have extracted the female experience from what was, until now, a very male historical narrative. They have done the women of this State a great service.”