If you’re looking for somewhere to go during the holidays then the Clare Museum is certainly worth a visit – and admission is free! Right now the museum is contributing to the Local Authority Museum Network’s exhibition ‘1916 Across the Country’. This features the form used on 7th May 1916 to commit Countess Markievicz to prison following her participation in the Easter Rising. The exhibition, being held in twelve local authority museums, features just a single item in each museum.
Constance Markievicz was second in command of the Irish Citizen Army on Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green during the Rising and later when the ICA occupied the Royal College of Surgeons. After the surrender, Markievicz was tried by court martial which, according to the form, was held in Richmond Barracks on May 4th, 1916.
The charge against her was: “Did take part in an armed Rebellion and in waging war against His Majesty the King”.
It also states that her sentence was “Death commuted to Penal Servitude for Life”. Of the condemned leaders both Constance Markievicz and Eamon de Valera had their sentences commuted. The obvious stresses of the rebellion and captivity are apparent in photographs of her that accompany the form. These images featured in the documentary ‘1916: The Irish Rebellion’ which was shown on RTE earlier in the year.
Commenting on the exhibit, museum curator John Rattigan said, “The document’ s connection to County Clare is a mystery. “It is not clear how this prison form, possibly from Mountjoy, came to be in Clare and it is one of the more enigmatic items in the museum collection.” He added, “The document was transferred to Clare Museum from de Valera Library and Museum in Ennis in 2000 and may originally have been part of a collection that came from a short-lived museum that existed in Bindon Street in Ennis in the mid-1960s. “If anyone can give us any information about its provenance, we would bedelighted to receive it”.
Known as ‘The Rebel Countess’, Constance was born in London to wealthy Sligo landowners Henry and Georgina Gore-Booth and spent a happy childhood in the family home, Lissadell House. She married a Polish man, Count Casimir Markievicz in 1900. During the Easter Rising, Constance was second-in-command to James Connolly of the Irish Citizen’s Army.