A Tangible Take on History
On Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, rebel leader Pádraig Pearse read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic outside Dublin’s General Post Office (GPO) as a new flag was symbolically raised above the building. This began the armed insurrection to end British rule in Ireland that is remembered as the Easter Rising and this worn, but still vibrant, flag of the Irish Republic is just one of a number of iconic items on display in the Proclaiming a Republic: The 1916 Rising exhibition.
The story of that historic week, which reignited the fire for Irish independence, is told in vivid detail in this remarkable exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin. A highly tangible exploration of the Rising, visitors can discover the compelling stories of the civilians, combatants, leaders and survivors of the battle through fascinating objects, text and imagery of the period.
From the personal to the political, the exhibition includes political speeches and military uniforms alongside priceless mementos of the leaders including the spectacles of Pádraig Pearse, the pocket watch of Seán Mac Diarmada and the Sam Brown belt worn by Countess Constance Markievicz.
Though the rebels would ultimately surrender after five days of fierce fighting, the Easter Rising and Britain’s reaction to it – including the execution of those who signed the Proclamation – led to dramatic increases in support for Ireland’s independence and later the first assembly of Dáil Éireann, Ireland’s independent parliament. The Irish War of Independence and then the Irish Civil War followed, resulting in Ireland eventually becoming a fully independent republic in 1949.
Proclaiming a Republic: The 1916 Rising was one of a number of remarkable and significant exhibitions developed as part of Ireland 2016, a year-long programme to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. The unique experience of physical proximity to the people and events of the time culminates in a visceral, palpable slice of history that brings guests face-to-face with the reality of one of Ireland’s most important historic events.