Display celebrates women who were key part of local history
AN EXHIBITION celebrating a number of women who were a key part of the history of South Dublin County between 1916 and 1923 was officially opened in Ballyroan Library, Rathfarnham, last week.
Entitled ‘Decade of Centenaries: Local Legacies Remembered’, the display is the result of a collaboration between Eva Kelly and Liz Gillis, South Dublin County Council’s artist-in-residence and historian-in-residence respectively.
The women featured in the exhibition include Ita O’Gormon, May Guinness, Mrs Margaret Pearse, Katharine Tynan, Mary Bridgid Pearse, Josie Stallard and Nora Tynan O’Mahony.
Talking about the process of whittling down which women would appear in the exhibition, Liz Gillis told The Echo: “I remember my first meeting with Eva and I think I bombarded her with a whole host of women.
“But the more we chatted, there were certain themes that began to emerge: social revolutionaries, political revolutionaries and cultural revolutionaries.
“Once we had that, it was then a case of choosing who best represented those themes. We also didn’t want to choose the obvious names – we wanted to include either less known or unknown women because their stories are just as fascinating as the more famous figures.”
This focus on less-famous figures allowed Ms Gillis to discover more about these women with a fresh angle, which helped Ms Kelly to depict these women’s stories through her artwork.
When asked about whether she found out anything new or surprising about the women during the course of her research, Ms Gillis said: “I would have known about Mrs Pearse, but more so as the mother of Patrick and William.
“However, she was the one that inspired and encouraged her sons and was a political figure in her own right.
“I discovered a great story involving Nora Tynan O’Mahony in 1916.
“She wrote for some of the big newspapers, and her original writings were left in the offices which were completely destroyed during the Easter Rising.
“She put in a compensation claim for her manuscripts – she even knew how many words she had written, which was thousands.”
Reflecting on her overall experience, Ms Gillis said: “It has been an amazing experience. It was such a joy to work with Eva on this project.
“Eva has visually portrayed the things I have discovered about these amazing women, and what I really love is that this project has told just some of the story of South Dublin in the Irish Revolution.
“And I must say a huge thank you to Síle Coleman and Emma Edwards in South Dublin County Libraries for their support, and South Dublin County Council for giving Eva and I this opportunity to explore and share our history.”
The exhibition will be in Ballyroan Library until April 16, when it will then move to the County Library, Tallaght.