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Dara McGrath: For Those Tell No Tales

Ireland’s War of Independence was a defining moment in Ireland’s history. Between 1919 and 1921, approximately 1,400 people died in the struggle for an independent Irish republic. Cork city and county saw the bloodiest of the fighting. In total, 528 people of all backgrounds – including members of the public, Irish Volunteers, and British Forces – lost their lives directly due to the conflict in Cork.

Beyond the recognised memorials and major landmarks there are many more sites within the landscape where people lost their lives. Today, we walk by unaware of the tragedies that took place at these unmarked locations: the Norwegian sailor

Carl Johannsen whose life was ended by a ricochet bullet while alighting from a boat in the Port of Cork docks or Josephine Scannell who at nineteen years old was shot dead by a stray bullet while sitting near a window in her house on French’s Quay. Amongst the death toll, 63 suspected or known informants were executed in the city and county. Some of their bodies were never seen again.

The photographs of contemporary artist Dara McGrath elevate these spaces as sites of memory for those individual lost lives. With accompanying texts, over sixty works will be exhibited in which McGrath acknowledges the place and circumstances of their deaths, which bore so heavily on their communities and still resonate today. McGrath’s work is based on research by Dr. Andy Bielenberg of the Department of History at University College Cork, who has researched the lives, circumstances and sites of death of the War of Independence victims.

The exhibition is kindly supported by The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 initiative and Cork Public Museum

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