Former President Mary McAleese opens Connacht run of Women in Politics Exhibition Tour

The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht’s Pop Up Women’s Museum – which celebrates 100 Years of ’Women in Politics and Public Life’ – has been officially opened by Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, at Aras an Chontae in Roscommon.

The exhibition, the first of its kind in the world, was curated by historian Sinéad McCoole and is on a nationwide tour of Ireland.  It opened in The Coach House in Dublin Castle on 14th December 2018 on the centenary of the election of Countess de Markievicz before travelling to Munster where it had a successful run in Limerick City and County Council’s Istrabraq Hall followed by a stay at the Donegal Museum in Letterkenny.

The ‘pop-up’ will be on display in Roscommon until the end of September and incorporates some gifts received by Dr McAleese during her Presidency from 1997 to 2011 donated to the County – the former President’s father hailed from the county.

These will take pride of place among the artifacts and personal items in this major exhibition which consists of over 100 panels and tells the story of Irish women in political life in Ireland over the last 100 years.

Throughout the Decade of Centenaries, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has shone a light on the major influence that women have had on the formation of modern-day Ireland, acknowledging their substantial contribution to Irish history, politics and public service.

‘Women in Politics and Public Life, from 1918 to 2018’ – explores 100 years of women’s participation in politics and public service.  With this exhibition, the Commemorations Unit created a unique centenary moment to encourage people of all ages to reflect upon the journey that this country has taken, particularly over the past 100 years, as one of the oldest surviving parliamentary democracies in Europe.

The Pop-Up Museum illuminates the stories of over (206 elected representatives & other Irish women pioneers) very familiar and less well-known women, who have contributed significantly to Irish political life and public service since 1918; and examines the challenges they faced and the obstacles they overcame.  For this exhibition, unprecedented access was given to the personal and previously unseen archives from Deputies, Senators, Members of the European Parliament and other women activists.  Their stories have never been told before in such a holistic, personal, accessible, and engaging format.

The International Association of Women’s Museums acknowledges this exhibition as one of 142 initiatives & museums worldwide and believes that this is the first time that a dedicated ‘women’s museum’ or a women’s centred exhibition has toured across a country.

Several structured/guided tours will take place during Heritage Week on Monday 19th & Wednesday 21st August, the County Roscommon Historical & Archaeological Society Lecture Series Tuesday 17th September, on Culture Night Friday 20th September and prior to Douglas Hyde Conference on Thursday 26th September.

The Chief Executive of Roscommon County Council, Mr Eugene Cummins said, ”we are both honoured and delighted to be in a position to host this major exhibition Women in Politics & Public Life 1918-2018 not only for people of Roscommon but as the Connaught regional venue. The scale and content of the exhibition is remarkable, with the use of mixed media in telling the stories of the achievement of women in such an accessible and interesting manner. I am delighted also the new Civic Offices building here in Roscommon Town will now become the focus for this exhibition not only as part of our decade of centenaries programme for 2019 but also demonstrating the use of the facility as much more than an administrative office but an important cultural venue and public space. ”

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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