‘Proclamation‘ by Rowan Gillespie is an outdoor sculpture honouring the leaders of the Easter Rising, and the authors of the Irish Proclamation of Independence. It stands impressively across the street from Kilmainham Gaol where the proclamation signatories were executed in 1916.
Fourteen figures stand in a megalithic circle, at the centre of which is a plaque containing a copy of the Proclamation of Independence, engraved in bronze. Each figure has at its base a small plaque, engraved with the British military tribunal’s verdict and sentence of death. The limbless figures are perforated with bullet holes. The martyrs stand united in a circle, blindfolded, as they were for execution.
One of the most eloquent contemporary masters of Irish sculpture, Rowan Gillespie is internationally renowned for his bronze sculptures of emotional themes such as The Cycle of Life, Colorado (1991), The Famine Series, Dublin (1996-97) and Ripples of Ulysses (2000). He has emerged as one of the greatest figurative sculptors in the history of Irish art and his work appears in public and private collections around the world.
These statues have no names, faces or limbs. They are meant to represent the rebel leaders who were the seven signatories on the Proclamation. There are fourteen figures in total and the other seven were donated to the piece by the artist himself in honour of the total number of executions involving the rising and in memory of his grandfather James Creed Meredith.
The disturbing figures stand in front of the courthouse where Meredith presided as a judge for many years. In a coincidental irony, it is nearly impossible to photograph this sculpture without either the courthouse or the jail where the executions took place in the background.
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