The artwork Dia libh a laochradh Gaedheal was made in response to the Archives of Us: Cork 1918-1922 History and Archives Workshops held at Cork City & County Archives, October 2019. The artwork was commissioned by Cork City Council Arts Office as part of the Creative Ireland Programme and is on permanent display in the Cork City & County Archives research room, Seamus Murphy Building, 32 Great William O’Brien Street, Blackpool, T23 WP82, Cork. In line with standard building access protocols viewing of the artwork is by appointment only.
The artwork takes the form of a frieze of ten photographs taken at four locations in County Cork, namely Cork City Council Chambers and the ambush sites at Clonmult, Beál na Blá and Kilmichael. By taking a circuitous route to site documentation the artist communicates the resonances and latent drama ingrained in these significant sites, when experienced alone and in silence.
The sizing and confined arrangement of the framed images references the illustrated panels of Early Medieval high crosses, from which many commemorative monuments have drawn inspiration.
A framed archive-styled information panel placed opposite the artwork lists the location and date of each photograph and the official reference details of the corresponding archive item. The referenced archive items are ‘The Last 3 Days of Michael Collins’ [Emmet Dalton. Ref. SM839. Date: 23 November 1922], Scrapbook, re. General Tom Barry, Crossbarry and Kilmichael battles [Ref. U254/G/3. Date: 1950s], Clonmult/Midleton Hallahan Photo Album [Ref. U192. Date: c.1920-25] and the Acceptance Speech on becoming Lord Mayor of Cork [PR4/1/1] in Lord Mayor Terence Mac Swiney Files [Ref. PR4. Date: March, July 1920].
The title Dia libh a laochradh Gaedheal / ‘God be with you o heroes of the Gael’ is taken from the first line of a poem from the late 16th century by Aonghus Mac Daighre Ui Dhalaigh. The first stanza of the poem is featured on the façade of the Clonmult Ambush Monument in the graveyard of St. Lawrence’s Roman Catholic Church, Clonmult:
“Dia libh a laochradh Gaedheal, Nior cluineadh claoitheacht oraibh, Riamh nior thuill sibh masla, In am catha na cogaidh / God be with you o heroes of the Gael, Neither weakness nor exhaustion will ever be associated with you, You were never worthy of insult, In time of battle or war.” Aonghus Mac Daighre Ui Dhalaigh, poet (c.1580). Translation by Gabriel Doherty, Department History, University College Cork.
Full titles list from text panel:
Carroll’s Bridge, Béal na Blá, County Cork, looking southeast, 9th December, 2019. Site of anti-Treaty Irish Republican Army (IRA) barricade, 22nd August, 1922. Archives: The Last 3 Days of Michael Collins [Emmet Dalton]. Ref. SM839. Date: 1922 [23 November, 1922].
Detail of Kilmichael Ambush Monument (Thomas McCarthy & Sons sculptors, 1966), Shanacashelkneeves, County Cork, 16th November, 2019. Crown Forces ambushed by IRA 28th November 1920. Archives: Scrapbook, re. General Tom Barry, Crossbarry and Kilmichael battles. Ref. U254/G/3. Date: 1950s.
Clonmult Ambush Monument during restoration, St. Lawrence’s Roman Catholic Church, Clonmult, County Cork, 19th October 2019. Clonmult Ambush/the Battle of Clonmult took place nearby at Garrylaurence, County Cork, 20th February 1921. Archives: Clonmult/Midleton Hallahan Photo Album. Ref. U192. Date: c.1920-25.
Detail of stone carving on Clonmult Ambush Monument by sculptor Edward Sheedy following restoration, St. Lawrence’s Roman Catholic Church, 19th October, 2019. Featuring native Irish warrior, Maid of Erin, the rising sun, gathering clouds and vanquished British soldiers.
Timber pole installed c.2013 to mark position of IRA Volunteer, site of Kilmichael Ambush, Haremount, County Cork, 16th November, 2019.
Entrance to private residence and site of Clonmult Ambush, Garrylaurence, County Cork, 3rd December, 2019. British army patrol and Auxiliary police ambushed East Cork IRA flying column on this site 20th February, 1921.
Looking north towards Carroll’s Bridge, Béal na Blá, County Cork, 15th November, 2019, from lookout position of anti-Treaty IRA, 22nd August, 1922.
Timber pole installed c.2013 to mark positions of IRA Volunteers, site of Kilmichael Ambush, Haremount, County Cork, 16th November, 2019.
Detail of Kilmichael Ambush Monument (Thomas McCarthy & Sons sculptors, 1966), 16th November, 2019. “Mórfaidh a muintir iad, cuimhneofar orthu ó ghlúin go chéile, agus déarfar gur beannathe iad / They shall be spoken of among their people, the generations shall remember them, and call them blessed”.
Cork City Council Chambers, 29th November 2019. Archives: PR4/1/1 Acceptance Speech on becoming Lord Mayor of Cork / Lord Mayor Terence Mac Swiney Files. Ref. PR4. Date: March-July, 1920.