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  • Northside West

'Irish Wars' exhibition opens at National Museum of Ireland

Wednesday, 29th January, 2020 1:00pm
'Irish Wars' exhibition opens  at National Museum of Ireland

Dr Maurice Manning, chair of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations, and Catherine Heaney, chair of National Museum of Ireland, pictured at the opening of the permanent exhibition last week. JULIEN BEHAL PHOTOGRAPHY

'Irish Wars' exhibition opens  at National Museum of Ireland

Dr Maurice Manning, chair of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations, and Catherine Heaney, chair of National Museum of Ireland, pictured at the opening of the permanent exhibition last week. JULIEN BEHAL PHOTOGRAPHY

A VERY special exhibition was launched by Dr Maurice Manning, chair of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations, at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, last week.

‘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; the propeller of the British airplane destroyed at Kilfinane, Co. Tipperary, 1921; items used by the 3rd West Cork Flying Column during the Civil War; a Dáil Courts stamp, 1920; and a pass issued during the Limerick Soviet Strike in April 1919. 

 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.”

 Catherine Heaney, chair of the National Museum of Ireland, commented: “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.”

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