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35 foot 'Women of 1916' mural to be unveiled

NewsBy Niamh Cluskey
Countess Markievicz (left), Margaret Pearse (right) and Grace Gifford-Plunkett (bottom)
Countess Markievicz (left), Margaret Pearse (right) and Grace Gifford-Plunkett (bottom)

Irish artist, Gearoid O’Dea, has installed a 35 foot street art installation inspired by the Women of 1916.

The piece will be unveiled on International Women’s Day, March 8th, on the corner of South Great George’s Street, the same location as the iconic Marriage Equality mural by Joe Caslin.

The piece titled, ‘Le Chéile I Ngruaig’,meaning ‘Together in the hair’, features three women who each played an important role in the Easter Rising: Countess Markievicz, Margaret Pearse and Grace Gifford-Plunkett.

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 gure (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 re ective pose shows another side to this famous gure.

“Margaret Pearse gave her son, Patrick to the Rising. Her sacrifice might have been greater than his, 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.”

The piece was drawn in full colour using the mediums of colouring pencil and gouache, with a focus on meticulous detail. It was then scanned and digitally reproduced on a large scale.