Creative expression and new exhibitions to mark the centenary of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty

From the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media:

Catherine Martin T.D., Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media published a programme of events to mark the centenary of various aspects of the Anglo-Irish Treaty which was signed on the 6th December 1921.


The Programme highlights some of the key national events taking place to mark various centenaries associated with the Treaty.  Foremost of these is the National Archives exhibition in the Coach House at Dublin Castle later this year where the Treaty document will be displayed in public for the first time since its signing 100 years ago.


The programme further showcases a number of other important events and initiatives which examine different aspects of this founding document and mark the various centenaries of the milestones associated with the signing of the Treaty.  It encourages the public to delve into the stories behind the Treaty and to access the various materials and rich content being supported, developed and delivered as part of the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 Programme.  These initiatives include exhibitions, lectures, new theatre experiences, new music, large-scale digitisation projects and exciting online content.


Minister Martin took the opportunity of today’s publication to visit the National Archives for a preview of the Treaty.


Minister Martin said: “This centenary moment is a really significant event in our shared history and a key focus in this year’s Decade of Centenaries Programme.   It is also a personal journey into family memory for the relatives of the men and women who formed the Irish and British Treaty negotiation delegations.   I wanted to ensure that the Programme has something that interests everyone.  You don’t need to be an historian or an expert on this period of history to appreciate the different stories attached to this key document and the impact it had on future events.”


Minister Martin added: “Tá súil agam go n-aimseoidh daoine rud éigin nua sa mhéid a chuirfear i láthair inniu agus go n-aimseoidh siad rud a chuirfidh siad spéis ann ar go leor leibhéil éagsúla. From the outset of the Decade of Centenaries Programme in 2012, the State has sought to ensure that historical accuracy, academic integrity and archival discovery are the key tenets of the programme of commemoration.  This Programme of events to commemorate the Treaty reflects this ethos and shows the wealth of material on this pivotal document now available for the public to see in our National Cultural Institutions. Both the National Archives and the National Museum will be hosting exciting and ground breaking exhibitions on various aspects of The Treaty with previously unseen material.  I urge everyone with an interest in our history, our present and our future to explore these new presentations and perspectives”.


Joining the Minister, Orlaith McBride, Director of the National Archives, said: “The National Archives preserves the memory of the State for the nation in the form of its written records.  It is most appropriate that we should mark the centenary of the signing of the Treaty by presenting a major exhibition of records in our possession relating to its negotiation and signing.  Using the Treaty as the centrepiece, the exhibition places significant documents from the collections of the National Archives on public display for the first time.  My colleagues and I are looking forward to the public’s engagement with these rich collections”.


Minister Martin also praised the creativity of those artists and musicians who are involved in this Programme.


“I am also encouraged to see that our artists and musicians continue to use the Decade of Centenaries as a source of inspiration for rich and exciting new work.  The innovative approach of ANU Productions working with Poet Theo Dorgan to stage the treaty debates in the National Concert Hall will bring this key moment in our history to life in a completely unique way.  The National Concert Hall itself will invite leading Irish musicians and song-writers to reflect on those involved in the debates and to create portraits of a generation in a moment of huge change, culminating in a concert in December to showcase this work.  I also look forward to seeing Fishamble Theatre Company’s production of “The Treaty” by Colin Murphy which delves into the lives of those involved in the Treaty negotiations.”


Theo Dorgan suggests that, “Through the ANU production, we are enabled to confront our history as it actually was, to hear the arguments, to witness history as if it were happening in time present.  But with the salvific passing of time, with what we have learned in the century that has passed, we have the opportunity to find new answers to old questions, we have the opportunity to consider, to heal and to move on.”


The Programme launched today also features a number of events hosted by the Irish Embassy in London including an exhibition of John Lavery’s Anglo–Irish Treaty Portraits in collaboration with The Hugh Lane Gallery, the National Gallery of Ireland and Áras an Uachtaráin and an exhibition entitledThe Treaty, 1921: Records for the Archives in partnership with the National Archives, the British Academy, and the National Archives of the UK.


The Programme includes a guide to various online resources for those who want to know more about this pivotal moment in our history.

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