The Women of 1916 Mural

This mural was unveiled on International Women’s Day ahead of Easter Rising Commemorations.

Irish artist Gearoid O’Dea has installed a 35 foot street art installation inspired by the Women of 1916, with the piece being unveiled on International Women’s Day. The installation is on the corner of South Great George’s Street, the same location as Joe Caslin’s iconic Marriage Equality mural.

The title of Gearoid’s piece is ‘Le Chéile I Ngruaig’, which translates as ‘Together in the hair’. It features three women who each played an important role in the Easter Rising: Countess Markievicz (left), Margaret Pearse (right) and Grace Gifford-Plunkett (bottom). The piece was drawn in full colour using the media of colouring pencil and gouache, with a focus on meticulous detail. It was then scanned and digitally reproduced on a large scale.

Women of 1916 Mural. Credit The Journal

Women of 1916 Mural. Credit The Journal

Speaking about his installation, artist Gearoid O’Dea said:

This 1916 Easter Rising centenary year seems like a great opportunity to re-imagine the kind of Ireland we could live in. Following the example of the drafters of the Proclamation and their landmark declaration of equal rights for men and women, I want to explore the role that women played in the 1916 Rising.

Countess Markievicz is the icon. She is often depicted as a revolutionary figure (having taken an active role in the Rising as second in command to Michael Mallin at St Stephen’s Green), but I wanted to portray her in contemplative passivity. Her reflective pose shows another side to this famous figure.

Margaret Pearse gave both her sons, Patrick and Willie to the Rising. Her sacrifice might have been greater than theirs, her sense of loss more enduring. She had to witness the Civil War, and see an Ireland emerge that fell far short of the Rising’s ideals.

Grace Gifford-Plunkett was a political cartoonist. Her husband Joseph was executed in Kilmainham Gaol on the day of their marriage. His execution began to turn the public in favour of the rebels.

I feel that, taken together, each of these women strike a balance. Each played a different kind of role in the Rising. Some are well remembered, others not. These portraits will be woven together by strands of hair. For me, the texture of the hair suggests a toughness, a gentleness, and something more mysterious. Hair was an important symbol in Celtic mythology, empowering and magical. As a composing element in this piece, it feels right.

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Darragh Genockey