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Aine’s capstone defense for Depicting the Troubles of Northern Ireland in Art by Ann Treacy
April 18, 2022, 6:34 pm
Filed under: St Paul

To graduate Aine needed to do a capstone paper or project. She chose to do a series of three-dimensional works of art, a 30 page paper and a presentation – Depicting the Troubles of Northern Ireland in Art. She has been working on this for months and today she gave her presentation. She did a terrific job.

First – here’s the art:

Bird Cage
Wire bird cage with bird created from paper penal laws, design to restrain the Irish. The cage is broken on purpose. With constraints he bird is living but not flying as it should.

The Red Hand of Ulster:
Taken from the Ulster flag and representing the blood that has been shed

1916 package:
A more literal interpretation of a package full of bullet holes like many you might have seen during the rebellion

Easter Lily:
A memorial to those killed on Bloody Sunday and a message of hope

Phoenix:
A red phoenix made of wore, a representative of the IRA and symbolizing the rise from the ashes

Body Armor:
Warrior’s garb made from actual blanket to represent the Blanket Protest and meant to look like sheep, which are prevalent in Ireland

Toilet Paper Letter:
Bobby Sands communicated (and write a book) by writing it on toilet paper and getting it snuck out of the prison. This is the first chapter of his book.

Bonfire:
The bonfire represents Orangemen’s Day. It demonstrates the impact of icons/art based on your viewpoint. It may feel celebratory to the Protestants but angers and frightens the Catholics.

Second – here’s the story behind the art.

She explained that Irish and British people are not the same, despite the misconception. She started by giving the background of British invasion and occupancy of Ireland – going back to the twelfth century. The Irish and the British have a long contentious relationship, which has manifested greatly based on religion. The British tend to be Protestant; the Irish tend to be Catholics. Laws and discrimination has developed around both political and religious differences.

Aine focused her art on a few more recent segments of activity – or rise ups. She talked about the 1916 Rising, when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) of volunteer (Catholic) soldiers invaded Dublin, centering on the General Post Office (GPO). The GPO still stands in Dublin; the bullet holes remain in the walls. Aine walked by this building a hundred times as a kid.

The 1916 Rising gave birth to Northern Ireland as a separate entity from the Republic of Ireland. It meant the Republic had a great deal of autonomy; while in Northern Ireland, which was more predominantly Protestant, the Irish Catholics suffered.

The Northern Irish Civil Rights Movement bubbled up in the 1970s, buoyed by changes spurred around the world in 1968 (including the US Civil Rights actions). It began as a peaceful push until January 1972, when police killed 13 peaceful protestors. That ignited a flame of violent discontent. On the Catholic side that was the Provisional IRA (Provos); and the Protestant side has the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). These trouble continued through the 1980s and even early 1990s.

The IRA was campaigning to reunite Ireland and/or cease discrimination in Northern Ireland. Many suspected IRA members were arrested and not treated as politic prisoners. There were three major ways that prisoners protested their treatment. The Blanket Protests, where prisoners wore only a blanket. Dirty Protest, where they covered their cells in human excrement and refused to bathe. And the Hunger Strikes, led by Bobby Sands. Many of the hunger strikers died but that effort really caught the attention and ire of the rest of the world.

In 1997, a cease fire was declared and the “Good Friday Agreement” brought political changes and peace to the region. That peace holds today – mostly. Although generations of discrimination have left a mark.


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