Remembering the 262 innocent civilians killed in 1916 with the 1916 Sackville Street Art Project supported by Kildare County Council Decade of Commemorations Committee.
A poignant exhibition of 262 model houses and a beautifully illustrated 1916 Book of Homes
To be forgotten … is to die twice.
During the 1916 Rising, 485 people were killed. Of these, 262 were civilians, ordinary people going about their day, caught in the crossfire. The 1916 Sackville Street art project created 262 individual beautifully crafted model houses, one for each civilian killed, built out of materials such as ceramics, wood, fabric and stone.
The 1916 Sackville Street project is the brainchild of Ciara O’Keeffe, a ceramics artist living in Co. Kildare. In 2015, in the early discussions about 1916, Ciara discovered the awful truth that more civilians had died than the combined military forces and yet no one remembered them. Many of the civilians killed were never given a proper burial as the families were too poor and their bodies were never claimed. A committee was formed including Sharon Harris-Byrne, Maggie Owens, Eamonn Connell and Miriam Harding, and the 1916 Sackville Street art project began. The 262 civilians were named on a website (www.1916Sackvillestreet.com) and volunteers were sought to build the model houses.
Schools, youth groups, prisons were among the institutions which took part, along with historians and many individuals who came forward and claimed their citizen. The project provided guidance and support but mostly the volunteers built a model home that was suitable and appropriate for their citizen. The 262 stories and model houses are completely unique to each citizen …like eight-year-old Walter Scott, who was shot in the head, a little girl in a green jumper at a window mistaken for a rebel and shot, those who were trampled to death, shot or massacred … all are lovingly remembered.
“The idea was that 2016’s civilians would make a piece for 1916’s civilians, so it would just be ordinary people remembering ordinary people,” said Ciara O’Keeffe, founder of the project. “There’s this kind of association between a house, home, dwelling and the heart and what’s left behind, and it all merged into one. We said we would make a house that would be a ‘forever home’ for each civilian, that they would always be remembered.”
But most of all, the 1916 Sackville Street project welcomed relatives to see the new homes for their faithful departed, so tenderly created by the kindness of strangers, honouring them a hundred years later.
The 1916 Sackville Street project was invited to exhibit a selection of its houses on O’Connell Street on Easter Monday as part of RTÉ’s Remembering the Rising. A full exhibition took place from April 8th to 24th at the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin.
A beautifully illustrated book was also compiled containing pictures of all the houses, along with details about the civilians, the artists and the thoughts behind each house to ensure the innocent civilians will never be forgotten again and proceeds are being donated to The Peter McVerry Trust. It is very moving that these forever homes built by strangers in 2016 for the forgotten civilians of 1916 will now help house the homeless of 2016.
This project has captured the hearts and imaginations of the Irish public. Over 25,000 people attended the exhibition and it was avidly reported by national media. The RTE 6 One news gave the public a sneak preview on April 8th and from there it snowballed into a media frenzy.
Amid great excitement, the Kildare launch took place in Newbridge Town Hall on Friday 13th May and the exhibition continued until Saturday 28th May 2016.
The exhibition was the inaugural event in the recently refurbished Newbridge Town Hall.