On Thursday 21st July a large ‘1916 Commemorative Stained Glass Mural’ by artist Peadar Lamb was unveiled in Carlow County Museum. This lasting legacy of the Carlow Ireland 2016 commemorations was commissioned by Carlow County Council through its Public Art Working Group and coordinated through the Carlow Ireland 2016 Committee. This innovative and unique contemporary stained glass mural illustrates a Carlow narrative showing key Carlow figures and the role they played in 1916.
Cork City based artist Peadar Lamb has magnificently crafted a large mural of 2.5 meters wide by 1.5 meters high and is an addition to the six 1930s stained glass windows already in the Museum thanks to the buildings original residents, the Presentation Sisters. Following a recommendation from the Carlow Public Art Working Group a process of engagement with the Carlow Ireland 2016 Committee has been on-going, the Committee met with the artist Peadar Lamb at the inception of the commission to share ideas and opinions. Following this the artist researched the period with the assistance of Elaine Callinan of the History Department in Carlow College.
Peadar stated at the opening that “the content of this artwork is a microcosm of what was happening in the whole country during the period of 1916. As an artist, in the process of making this work I have to try to find, what I am going to say and how to represent this Carlow narrative. I don’t see historical dates I see things in pictures. I created a legacy piece that compositionally is not just about the past but also for the present and the future”.
The commission depicts some of the key Carlow figures from the 1916 Rising: Micheál O’Hanrahan who grew up on Tullow Street was executed for his role in 1916, and is representative of his family who were immersed in the republican tradition. Nurse Margaret Kehoe from Leighlinbridge who lost her life on Easter Monday 1916 while tending the wounded in the South Dublin Union. She is depicted cradling the wounded rebel Dan McCarthy who survived the Rising and they are almost like a mother/Madonna and child or ‘Pieta’. Father Albert Bibby OFM Cap, from Bagenalstown ministered too many of the rebel prisoners in Kilmainham Gaol and was a link between then and their families. Thomas Traynor, from Tullow, who fought in the 1916 Rising was executed in April 1921 during the War of Independence. He is depicted surrounded by his ten children.
The piece is rich in symbolism including an image of a large bullet and a bicycle. The bullet represents the power of the well-armed British Empire while the bicycle represents the ill-equipped Irish Revolutionaries, a David v Goliath situation. The mural is framed with a strong border open on the far right representing that history is always moving forward and also depicted by a blue print of the Carlow Sugar Factory from 1926.
The mural marks respectfully and captures the narrative of Carlow figures of 1916 as well as providing a legacy for future generations who will visit the County Museum in Carlow. The mural will be visually impactful on all visitors to the Museum and is now part of the Museum’s permanent collection.
Peadar Lamb is an artist working primarily in the medium of stained glass for over twenty years. Using hand-made glass, he employs a variety of techniques which have changed little over the centuries. He has shown extensively in his native Ireland and internationally, and his work is in public and private collections in Europe, the Middle East, the USA and Japan.
The project was managed through the Arts Office of Carlow County Council in partnership with County Carlow Museum under the direction of the Head of Finance, Information Systems and Culture, working with the Carlow Ireland 2016 Committee and members of Carlow County Council. The project is part of the Carlow Ireland 2016 Programme funded by Carlow County Council with assistance from the Ireland 2016 Office, The Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, The Department of the Environment Community and Local Government.