Countess to make appearance in Ennis
The Clare Champion,
Friday, February 19th, 2016
The document which committed Countess Constance Markievicz to prison in the aftermath of the Easter Rising is set to go on display in Ennis.
This has been made possible after funding was received by the Clare Museum for an exhibition to display the historic form.
As one of 12 local authority museums, Clare Museum will benefit from a grant of €25,000 to be made to the Local Authority Museums Network for a joint 1916 exhibition under the network’s banner.
Markievicz was second in command of the Irish Citizen Army in St Stephen’s Green in Dublin during the Rising and later, when the position in the Green became untenable, this force occupied the Royal College of Surgeons.
After the surrender, Markievicz was tried by Court Martial, which the form indicates was held in Richmond Barracks on May 4, 1916. Her crime is recorded as ‘Did take part in an armed Rebellion and in waging war against His Majesty the King’ and states that her sentence was ‘Death commuted to Penal Servitude for Life’.
She apparently escaped the firing squad at the last minute because of her gender.
According to museum curator, John Rattigan, “The framed and glazed document feature images of an exhausted Countess and gives a physical description of her appearance, distinguishing features and height on May 7th, 1916. Intriguingly, her date of birth is given on the form as being in 1873, when in fact all of the sources I have consulted have given her year of birth as 1868”.
The documents’ connection to County Clare is a mystery. “It is not clear how this prison form, possibly from Mountjoy, came to be in Clare and it is one of the more enigmatic items in the museum collection”, according to John Rattigan.
He went on, “It was transferred to Clare Museum from de Valera Library and Museum in 2000 and may originally have been part of a collection that was transferred to the library from a short-lived museum that existed in Bindon Street in Ennis in the mid-1960s. Research for the exhibition has still to be completed and, if anyone can give us any information about its provenance, we would be delighted to receive it”.
An image of this unusual and unique document was forwarded last year to the producers of 1916: The Irish Rebellion. This landmark documentary series which is funded by the University of Notre Dame, features many previously unseen images and will be shown initially on PBS across the United States followed by worldwide distribution. It is currently being shown on RTE.
The Markievicz Prison Committal Form is expected to go on display at Clare Museum during the summer.