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New exhibition shines a light on the Women of 1916

Mná 1916 – Women 1916, a special exhibition featuring previously unseen material from private and public collections opens in Dublin Castle

A special exhibition on the women of 1916 bringing together previously unseen material from private and public collections, will this evening (Wednesday) be officially opened by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD. An initiative of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme, the exhibition, which documents the 300 women involved in the Rising, will go on a national tour following a three week run at Dublin Castle.

In addition to the already familiar faces of those involved in the events of 1916, many new faces and new stories are brought to light in this unique and powerful exhibition. While there is a special focus on 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.

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 local authority. The exhibition also draws on a treasure trove of material including:
· Digitised material from the Military Archives
· Online source material including censuses, birth, deaths and marriage and other church records
· Extensive records of the National Cultural Institutions, in particular the National Library and National Museum of Ireland, which have contributed objects, images and documentation which have been brought together in for the first time.

Speaking at the opening of the exhibition, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said:
“We know that many of the women who participated in the events of 1916 were forgotten over the last 100 years and I am delighted that they are now 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.”

Exhibition curator Sinéad McCoole said:
“'State assets’ and ‘national treasures’ are often terms used about items of great value, big houses with demesne and gold objects - this centenary year in this exhibition we have be able to use assets and treasures of a different sort dating to 1916 from the national collections, from libraries, archives, museums all over the country. The assistance of curators, archivists, historians and local studies librarians has made this exhibition possible. Online resources and digitizing of documents and images meant that this would not have been possible a decade ago.”