Gael Force Art Community Mural 2016
One hundred years ago today on May 24, 1916, the Easter Rising began.* The Irish Republican Brotherhood organized the Irish Volunteers, the Irish Citizen Army, and the women’s paramilitary group Cumann na mBan in seizing key locations in Dublin. The 1,600 people were fighting for the establishment of the Irish Republic, an independent Irish state.
Six days later the insurrection was suppressed. The casualty numbers seem to vary depending on the source, but most sources say there were nearly 500 dead and 2,000 wounded. The leaders of the Rising would be executed a few weeks later.
For a good step by step breakdown of the six day Rising as well as the days leading up to and following, take a look here: a-blow-by-blow-guide-to-the-easter-rising-1.2353931
Although the majority of Irish people were not at first inclined to support the Brotherhood, after the 15 executions public support started to swing. In 1922 a treaty was signed to move beyond Home Rule. “The Treaty” (officially the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland) established the Irish Free State.
The Irish still continue to this day to fight for their rights and freedom. The Easter Rising is generally accepted as the event that changed the views of the nation’s people. Although it was slow, gradual change, it led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 when direct London ended in Northern Ireland.
Ireland, Northern Ireland, and British relations are historically complex. I certainly can’t cover even a miniscule amount of their history in one blog post. Please continue researching on your own! (And please take a look at one of my very favorite historical figures of all time, Michael Collins.)
I think most Americans have no idea this type of mural is extremely popular in Ireland, particularly Belfast. I didn’t either until I was recently able to watch some university lectures specifically on this subject. I would strongly encourage you to visit www.extramuralactivity.com to see many other examples. You can also find a really cool interactive slide show and map here: http://belfast-murals.co.uk/
I also suggest you visit the Facebook page of Gael Force Art where you’ll find many more close-ups of this amazing work. The photo credit also belongs to that site. They are a West Belfast Artist Collective. There is so much going on here it’s much better for you to see all the close-ups and the descriptions they give there. Or if you’re in Ireland you can see it on Falls Road in Belfast.
I’ll just point a couple of my favorite things about this mural. Obviously, the largest section of the mural is the burning GPO with an incredible phoenix rising from the flames. The wings are amazing and lead your eye right up to the quote at the top.
I like the incredibly clever use of the giant newspaper clipping. It’s framed inside a billboard type box that normally holds the name of an accounting agency (see the photos of the mural in process). They took what could have been a hindrance and not only made it work, but made it one of the most interesting parts of the piece. To continue the 3D look, they’ve used the framed portraits of eight of the leaders, including Countess Markievicz, (look out for a post about her someday as well) and surrounded the clipping.
I think this mural is an amazing commemoration to those that gave their lives one hundred years ago today. Today we remember our brothers and sisters of the Irish Free State.
*The Rising is generally remembered in Ireland on Easter instead of the actual date, but I started this blog after Easter and really wanted to include something.