Thursday 12 December 2013

Irish Volunteers exhibition opens at Glasnevin

Panel from the 1913 Lockout Tapestry
depicting Jim Larkin's arrest in Sackville Street
Glasnevin Museum is presenting a new exhibition to mark the centenary of the Irish Citizen’s Army and the Irish volunteers. At the official opening yesterday, a new book – The Making of the Great 1913 Lockout Tapestry – was also launched.

Artefacts on display for the first time include a German Mauser Rifle, which was manufactured in 1870 and landed at Howth on 26 July 1914 aboard the Asgard by Erskine Childers as part of a major consignment of arms for the Irish Volunteers. The rifle, whose stock had been cut off to allow female members of the Volunteers to smuggle it beneath their clothes through the streets of Dublin, was retrieved from Sean O Casey’s house on the East Wall Road.

Other items on display include:
  • Roger Casement's personal bible from 1915
  • An inscribed shell, which was being carried by Roger Casement when he was arrested at Banna Strand in 1915
  • A letter from Patrick Pierce to Joseph Mary Plunkett requesting a literary contribution for the St Enda’s College magazine
  • Letters from Thomas McDonough to Joseph Mary Plunkett
  • The original Volunteer’s tunic of Dinny FitzPatrick
The exhibition also highlights a number of men and women involved in the volunteers whose remains are interred in Glasnevin cemeterym including:
  • John Lee from Lower Rutland Street in Dublin, a volunteer who was later wounded in Gallipoli and was brought home to die in Dublin
  • James Grace from Summerhill, who fought on Mount Street in the 1916 Rising; he survived and went on to live into old age
  • Helena Moloney from Rathmines who, as part of the Irish Citizens Army, fought in City Hall in 1916. She became President of the ICTU and lived until 1967.
Speaking ahead of the event, Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, called on members of the public who may have artefacts relating to the commemorative period in their possession, to bring them forward so that they can add to a wider understanding of events such as the centenary of the Easter Rising and the key events of the first World War.

The Making of the Great 1913 Lockout Tapestry documents the collaborative project lead by SIPTU and the National College of Art and Design to design and produce a large-scale work of art depicting the story of the 1913 Lockout when one third of the capital’s inhabitants faced starvation for five months in a battle for workers’ rights. The Tapestry is now on an exhbition tour. I saw it recently at Collins Barracks. It's impressive.