A DUSTY old photograph discovered in the attic of a Dublin home almost 100 years after it was taken has turned out to be a 'who's who' of the 1916 Rising.
The photo of delegates attending the Gaelic League national convention in 1913 includes half the signatories of the 1916 proclamation, as well as three future Presidents of Ireland.
The group includes pivotal members of the political and military elite of the Irish Revolution, including Padraig Pearse, Sean Mac Diarmada and Eamonn Ceannt. Future Presidents Douglas Hyde, Sean T O'Kelly and Eamon de Valera are also present.
It was discovered in a box in the attic of a Dublin home by the Curran family, who for years had attempted to name some of the 160 faces in the crowd.
"It was in the attic for around 50 years, but we just came across it about three years ago. It was only the size of an A4 sheet and it could easily have been thrown out.
"It's been hidden for almost 100 years, but there probably are other copies in other people's houses," explained Fergus Curran.
"We had great pleasure trying to name everyone. It really was a detective story. We started about three years ago and we made a certain amount of progress, but we were at a loss to know where the picture was taken.
"But we had a breakthrough earlier this year when we discovered it was Galway.
"We've only identified about 72 of the people pictured and there are still 99 left, so we hope to get some more names," he added.
Irish historian Prof Gearoid O Tuathaigh, described the picture as showing a family on the brink of disintegration.
"The important thing about it is, within a decade, if you were to run forward from July of 1913, you see the huge and bitter divisions that have been building up and were already coming to a head. There is a sense of melancholy about this assembly," he said.
He pointed to the mix of those involved, from those simply interested in the literary side of the movement, to others heavily involved in the conspiracy side which would lead to the Easter Rising.
"There is in this assembly, when you look across the spectrum at all of them with their different ambitions and different subgroups, there is a quite extraordinary assembly here which we can absolutely say with certainty, would never be seen again together," he added.
The photograph will remain on permanent display at the Town Hall Theatre in Galway.
By Caroline Crawford