Sculpting heroic histories: celebrating the centenary of the 1798 rebellion in Ireland

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In this paper I explore the role of public statuary in constructing a heroic analysis of the past through an examination of the centenary celebrations staged to commemorate the 1798 rebellion in Ireland. Monuments entered the arena of public, secular space in Ireland mainly during the nineteenth century. It was not until the latter decades of that century that nationalist statuary, which sought to elaborate Ireland's quest for political independence, emerged. The significance of these monuments rests, I argue, in their popular appeal and the debates that surrounded their construction and unveiling. Although an alliance of nationalist interests was achieved during the centenary celebrations, this paper emphasizes the tentative nature of that alliance and the gendered iconography and discourse surrounding the statues themselves.

Keywords: Ireland; iconography; nationalism; statuary

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 1994

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