Terence MacSwiney and Michael Collins death masks go on display at National Museum

Terence MacSwiney and Michael Collins death masks go on display at National Museum
Lynn Scarff, Director, National Museum of Ireland; Gerard Fitzpatrick, Donor of the IRA intelligence file and Brenda Malone, Curator, Irish Wars 1919–1923; looking at the Death Mask of Michael Collins and the Rosary beads of Michael Collins, found with him on his death.JULIEN BEHAL PHOTOGRAPHY. 

THE refurbished Irish Wars 1919 – 1923 exhibition has been opened at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin and now includes the death masks of former Cork City Lord Mayor Terence MacSwiney and Michael Collins.

Irish Wars 1919 – 1923 forms part of the permanent exhibition, Soldiers and Chiefs, but it has been substantially reimagined as part of the museum’s Decade of Centenaries Commemorations.

Visitors to the exhibition will see more than 50 newly displayed objects, new graphics and AV elements, as well as new theme interpretations such as civil disobedience, imprisonment, hunger strike, propaganda, women in warfare, and the effects of the conflict on civilian populations —all of which aims to increase public understanding of this complex period in Ireland’s history.

Items returning to display from the National Museum of Ireland’s reserve collection after 15 years include the death masks of Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins, Cathal Brugha, and Terence MacSwiney.

Terence MacSwiney.
Terence MacSwiney.

The exhibition will also feature two key artefacts on loan from private family collections: an IRA Intelligence File which has been digitised and shown publicly for the first time, and hair shorn from a woman in a ‘bobbing’ or ‘punishment shearing’, found in the possession of Michael Barry when he was arrested in 1920.

Dr Maurice Manning, chair of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations, said of the exhibition: “There are many different perspectives and views as to how these very complex events, and all whose lives were affected during this period, should be remembered.

“Throughout the Decade of Centenaries, as a people, we have shown great maturity and understanding in exploring our past, embracing its complexities and nuances in an inclusive and respectful manner.

“Our national cultural institutions have a very important role in this process as custodians of our history and culture,” he said.

Catherine Heaney, chair of the National Museum of Ireland, said: “In putting these object

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