1916 Na Fianna Éireann banner goes on display in Dublin City Hall for Centenary Commemorations


On Tuesday 1st March 2016 at 3 p.m. an tArdmhéara Críona Ní Dhálaigh welcomes the latest addition to the 1916 Centenary Commemorations Exhibition in City Hall, Dublin 2. The ‘Gal Gréine’ banner, owned by Countess Markievicz during the Rising of 1916, goes on public display by kind permission of the Royal Collection Trust.

The banner of Na Fianna Éireann, known as the ‘Gal Gréine’ (Sunburst) was seized by the British Army, as a war trophy, from the home of Countess Markievicz in May 1916. The banner became the property of the Royal Collection Trust at Windsor Castle and was loaned to the British Imperial War Museum in 1936. Dublin City Council passed a resolution in 2009 seeking a loan of the banner. In late 2014, the Council's Office for International Relations commenced negotiations which have resulted in the loan being agreed as an element within the 1916 Centenary Celebrations.

The Royal Collection Trust are also loaning items in this Centenary Year to the National Gallery of Ireland and the National Museum at Collins Barracks. The loan to the National Gallery is a touring exhibition of Leondardo Da Vinci drawings. The National Gallery is one of four Museums/Galleries across Britain and Ireland which will host this touring exhibition.

An tArdmhéara Críona Ní Dhálaigh said, “Tá mé thar a bheith sásta An Gal Gréine a fháiltiú ar ais chuig Baile Átha Cliath. I am delighted to formally welcome the ‘Gal Gréine’ back to Dublin. It is very appropriate that this historical artifact forms part of the 1916 Exhibition in City Hall. The banner was the property of Countess Markievicz who played a key leadership role in the foundation of the Irish Republic. I want to thank the Royal Collection Trust for facilitating our request for the loan of the banner for this exhibition.”

The 1916 Exhibition will also contain an original copy of the Proclamation – one of only 30 in existence.

An tArdmhéara Críona Ní Dhalaigh added “I would like to thank the family of Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell for presenting Dublin City Council with her original copy of the Proclamation which is now on permanent display here in City Hall. Nurse O’Farrell played a major part in the Rising and was garrisoned in the GPO with Pádraig Pearse, accompanying him when the surrender was presented to General Lowe. Molaim díobh an deis a thapú agus cuairt a thabhairt ar an Taispeántas 1916 i Hall na Cathrach, chun na hiarsmaí seo a thugann léiriú dúinn ar thréimhse thábhachtach i stair na cathrach seo. I encourage people to take this opportunity to visit the 1916 Exhibition in City Hall to view these artifacts which reflect an important period in the life of this city.”

The support of the British Ambassador, Dominic Chilcott, and the Director of the British War Museum are acknowledged in securing the loan of the ‘Gal Gréine’ from the Royal Collection Trust.

The ‘Gal Gréine’ banner and the Proclamation will be on public display for viewing, free of charge, from 1st March, 2016 until the end of August 2016 in the Exhibition Centre, City Hall, Dublin 2.

Photos of today's event will be circulated to picture desks by Jason Clarke Photography and an image of the Gal Gréine (courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust) is available on request from Media Relations


For further information contact:

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Notes to the Editor

Na Fianna Éireann Banner an Gal Gréine

Original banner seized by the British Army in 1916 from Countess Markievicz’s home. Na Fianna Éireann was founded in 1902 in Belfast by Bulmer Hobson as a junior hurling league to promote the study of the Irish language but it did not survive Hobson’s later relocation to Dublin. On 16 August 1909 the Irish National Boy Scouts changed their name to Na Fianna Éireann, with Hobson as president, Markievicz as vice-president and Padraig O Riain as secretary. Surrey House, in Ranelagh, owned by the Countess, became the unofficial headquarters of Na Fianna Éireann for a time and boys were trained in military manoeuvres there. The banner features the sunburst emblem – known in Irish as An Gal Gréine – which was said to go back to the time of Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the original Fianna.

Lent by Royal Collection Trust

Original 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic

Printed in secret in Liberty Hall onto poster paper, the typesetters were Willie O’Brien, Michael Molloy and Christopher Brady. They were working on a Summit Wharfedale Stop Cylinder Press which was too small to take all the paper at once, so the top half was printed first, then the paper was turned around and the bottom half was printed. A shortage of type, in particular the letter ‘e’ led to them borrowing type in smaller size from the nearby print-works of Councillor Patrick V. Mahon – these smaller letters can be seen clearly in the lower half of the document. The text was drafted in large part by Pádraig Pearse and it is surmised that an original manuscript copy of the Proclamation, with seven signatures, must have existed but it has never been found.

There are around thirty original printed copies extant and this one belonged to Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell, who was stationed at the G.P.O. throughout Easter Week and, with Pearse, brought the surrender to General Lowe.

Presented to Dublin City Council by the O’Farrell family.

Conservation by Elizabeth D’Arcy

The Royal Collection Trust

Royal Collection Trust, a department of the Royal Household, is responsible for the care of the Royal Collection and manages the public opening of the official residences of The Queen. Income generated from admissions and from associated commercial activities contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational programmes. Royal Collection Trust’s work is undertaken without public funding of any kind.

The Royal Collection is among the largest and most important art collections in the world, and one of the last great European royal collections to remain intact. It comprises almost all aspects of the fine and decorative arts, and is spread among some 13 royal residences and former residences across the UK, most of which are regularly open to the public. The Royal Collection is held in trust by the Sovereign for her successors and the nation, and is not owned by The Queen as a private individual.

At The Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh and in the Drawings Gallery at Windsor Castle, aspects of the Collection are displayed in a programme of temporary exhibitions. Many works from the Collection are on long-term loan to institutions throughout the UK, and short-term loans are frequently made to exhibitions around the world as part of a commitment to public access and to show the Collection in new contexts. Explore the Royal Collection at www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection