Posted 12/04/2016

1916 Sackville Street Art Project

1916 Sackville Street is an impressive collaborative art project which includes the work of two hundred and sixty two individuals comprising of professional and amateur artists.

The voluntary project was the brain child of Athy ceramic artist Ciara O’Keeffe and a group of her friends, Sharon Harris Byrne, Maggie Owens, Miriam Griffin and Eamonn Connell.

The aim of the project was to develop an exhibition of model houses created in any three-dimensional art form as a commemorative gesture celebrating the lives of the ordinary civilians that were killed in the 1916 Easter Rising. Four hundred and eighty five people were killed in Easter week 1916, two hundred and sixty two of those were civilians. The project set out to commemorate their lives by constructing two hundred and sixty two art houses, a house for each individual civilian killed.

The group received funding from Kildare County Council and set up a website ( to invited schools, educational groups, youth groups and individuals to register and participate in the initiative. Contributors were asked to choose a civilian who died and to create a house from any art form to represent that individual. Where it was possible, contributors were also asked to provide a brief historical profile of their chosen individual and/or the ideas behind their art piece.

School children, members of various community groups, prisoners and historians were among the individuals who stepped up to the creative challenge and gave of their time freely to produce a house for a civilian killed during the Rising. The resulting two hundred and sixty two houses are all individually crafted using a wide range of techniques and a broad variety of materials including ceramics, wood, matchsticks, Lego blocks, fabric and stone.

A selection of the houses were displayed on O'Connell Street, formally Sackville Street after which the project takes it's name, on Easter Monday, March 28th 2016. This display was part of RTÉ's Reflecting the Rising event, one of the biggest commemorative events ever staged in Ireland.

On the 8th of April all the of houses, together for the first time, went on display in the exhibition space of the National Botanic Gardens in Glassneven. It was an appropriate location for the exhibition being separated by only a few meters and a wall from Glasnevin Cemetery, the final resting place for many of the individuals commemorated by the art pieces.

The project has been greeted with great interest and praise from the members of public who have so far seen the exhibits. Much national media attention has also been focused on the exhibition including items on the main RTÉ news broadcasts and articles in all the national broadsheet newspapers.

The exhibition will return to the county where it all began in May 2016, when the houses will go on display in the Newbridge Town Hall and will remain on show to the public until the end of May. It's an exhibition not to be missed.

Philip Bromwell's report on the exhibition for RTÉ

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