Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : History : Carlow inmates Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 


Exhibition links friends who shared cell in Kilmainham

A MAJOR exhibition currently taking place in Kilmainham Jail has strong Carlow connections.
“Kilmainham Suite”, an exhibition of paintings by Sally Smyth, which was opened by Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands Minister, Sile de Valera, on October 20, features works by the well known painter, whose mother, May Gibney, was a prisoner in the jail during the Civil War in 1923.

 

Kilmainham Gaol

 

As a child, in l938, Sally was brought round the East Wing of the prison by her mother who pointed out her Civil War cell on the first floor. Sixty years later the memory of Sally’s mother became the catalyst for the exhibition.

A large number of people from Carlow attended the opening of the exhibition, including Mr. Michael Purcell, son of the late Esther Purcell (nee Snoddy), who shared a cell in Kilmainham with the artist’s mother. Following her release in 1923, May travelled to Carlow to meet with Mrs. Purcell and fellow Cumann na mBan members. On one such visit she met Lar O’Neill, an officer in the Carlow Brigade of the IRA, whom she had previously met during the Easter Rising. In 1929 they married and moved to Dublin.

Over the years she lost touch with Mrs. Purcell and another Carlow woman, Bridie Ryan (nee Brophy), Tullow Street, who had also been imprisoned in Kilmainham. It wasn’t until 1981 that Mrs. Purcell and May Gibney, met in Carlow for the first time in 58 years.

That came about following a chance meeting in the National Museum between Mrs. Gibney and another Carlowman, Padraig O’Snodaigh, the then keeper of antiquities in the National Museum. She had gone there to correct the 1916 Roll of Honour for those who had occupied the GPO during the Easter Week Rising.

Shortly afterwards, May died and the Cumann na mBan flag made in Kilmainham jail by Mrs. Purcell and others during their imprisonment was used during her military funeral. Six years later Mrs. Purcell died, thus ending the living link with those who had been imprisoned there during the Civil War.


Also at the launch of the exhibition was Carlow historian Seamus Murphy and his daughter, Ann. For many years Seamus was custodian of the flag before he presented it to Kilmainham Jail in 1996 where it now hangs alongside Sally Smyth’s exhibition

 


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