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21 January 2020: Launch of refurbished and reimagined Irish Wars 1919 – 1923 at the National Museum of Ireland

From left: Lynn Scarff, Director of the National Museum of Ireland, Dr Maurice Manning, Chair of the Expert Advisor Group on Centenary Commemorations, and Brenda Malone, Curator
  • Fifty newly displayed artefacts, including an IRA intelligence file which has been digitised and will be accessible for the first time, and hair shorn from a woman in a bobbing, found in the possession of Michael Barry when he was arrested in 1920.

  • Artefacts from the reserve collection of the National Museum of Ireland, including the death masks of Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins, Cathal Brugha and Terence MacSwiney, which have not been exhibited for 15 years  

  • New theme interpretations such as civil disobedience, imprisonment, hunger strike, propaganda, women in warfare and the effects of the conflict on civilian populations – all of which aims to increase public understanding of this complex period in Ireland’s history

For immediate release: January 21, 2020: The refurbished Irish Wars 1919 – 1923 exhibition will be opened by the Chair of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations, Dr Maurice Manning, at the National Museum of Ireland, Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, this evening.

Irish Wars 1919 – 1923 forms part of the permanent exhibition Soldiers and Chiefs, but it has been substantially reimagined as part of the Museum’s Decade of Centenaries Commemorations.

Visitors to the exhibition will see more than 50 newly displayed objects, new graphics and AV elements, as well as new theme interpretations such as civil disobedience, imprisonment, hunger strike, propaganda, women in warfare and the effects of the conflict on civilian populations – all of which aims to increase public understanding of this complex period in Ireland’s history.

Items returning to display from the National Museum of Ireland’s reserve collection after 15 years, include the death masks of Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins, Cathal Brugha and Terence MacSwiney.

The exhibition will also feature two key artefacts on loan from private family collections, an IRA Intelligence File which has been digitised and shown publicly for the first time and hair shorn from a woman in a ‘bobbing’ or ‘punishment shearing’, found in the possession of Michael Barry when he was arrested in 1920.

Other objects new to the exhibition include the note written by Arthur Griffin on the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty declaring ‘The end of the conflict of centuries is at hand’;  the RIC handcuffs worn by Seán Hogan when he was rescued by the Tipperary Brigade, IRA, at Knocklong, 1919;  experimental weapons made by the IRA; items used in escapes from Lincoln, Mountjoy and Kilmainham prisons; and the propeller of the British airplane destroyed at Kilfinane, Co. Tipperary, 1921.

The exhibition is supported by a wide range of multi-media, including contemporary newsreel film provided by the Irish Film Institute, of stop and searches, funerals, and IRA captures and destruction from the period 1919 – 1923.

Dr Maurice Manning, Chair of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations said of the exhibition:

There are many different perspectives and views as to how these very complex events, and all whose lives were affected during this period, should be remembered.  Throughout the Decade of Centenaries, as a people, we have shown great maturity and understanding in exploring our past, embracing its complexities and nuances in an inclusive and respectful manner. 

Our National Cultural Institutions have a very important role in this process as custodians of our history and culture – in creating opportunities for people of all ages and traditions to explore and reflect upon this divisive period in our history.  The Museum has delivered on this in this exhibition, by presenting our history in that measured tone which is so essential.

Catherine Heaney, Chair of the National Museum of Ireland, said:

As a National Cultural Institution, the Museum’s role in the Decade of Centenaries is to explore important themes and elements of the centenaries through the objects and material heritage in our collection. In putting these objects on display, we intend to provide a contemplative and considered space for our visitors to remember and engage in conversation and to increase their understanding of our history.

Lynn Scarff, Director of the National Museum of Ireland, said:

This exhibition explores a very sensitive time in our history, one that we are all still learning about as a country, and coming to terms with. We are particularly grateful to the donors who have generously loaned the NMI the IRA intelligence file and the shorn hair found in the possession of Michael Barry.

Brenda Malone, Curator of the Irish Wars 1919 – 1923 exhibition, said:

A distinct aspect of the reimagined Irish Wars exhibition is the focus on the personal stories of ordinary people, involved in atrocities and tragedies on both sides of the conflict. In developing it, we had the opportunity to expand and develop traditionally underrepresented stories, like the role of women in the conflict.

 

Ends //

Notes to Editor:

The Soldiers and Chiefs exhibition opened in 2006 to the acclaim of both the public and the museum sector, attracting in excess of two million visitors since opening, and winning the Irish Heritage Council and Northern Ireland Museums Council Best Exhibition Award 2009/2010. It remains the largest single exhibition to be created in Ireland, featuring over 1,000 objects, interpreted over eight galleries, covering 1700m2 of gallery space in both the old barracks dormitory block and a state-of-the-art two-storey new build – the Military Annex. It explores the stories of the impact of war and conflict on the lives of Irishmen and Irishwoman across the world, both in service and in civilian life, over three broad themes – Soldiering at Home, Soldiering Abroad and Soldiering in the 20th and 21st centuries. Within this last theme is The Irish Wars (Gallery 6) – exploring the military and conflict aspects of the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War, 1919-1923.

A photo call to mark the opening of the refurbished Irish Wars 1919 – 1923 exhibition will take place at 3pm and the official launch is at 6pm. Media are invited to both. RSVP is essential please to:

Media contact: Q4 Public Relations: Sinéad McGovern 087 6411725 sinead@q4pr.ie  / Deirdre Geraghty 086 6031969 deirdre@q4pr.ie

Photography: will be issued today by Julien Behal Photography 087-9782542.

About the National Museum of Ireland:

The National Museum of Ireland has four public sites, and a Collections Repository: 

  • National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology (Kildare Street, Dublin)
  • National Museum of Ireland – Natural History (Merrion Street, Dublin)
  • National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History (Collins Barracks, Dublin)
  • National Museum of Ireland – Country Life (Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo)
  • Collections Resource Centre (Swords(Not open to the public)

 Admission to the National Museum of Ireland and its exhibitions is FREE. Museum Shop & Café on site.

 Opening Hours:

Tuesday to Saturday 10.00am – 5.00pm

Sunday and Monday 1.00pm – 5.00pm

 Visit www.museum.ie/en/homepage.aspx  for details of ongoing events/activities.

 


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