Saturday 1 October 2016

Joe Coyle: Finding inspiration in the names of the 485 men, women and children who died

Joe Coyle

Published 28/03/2016 | 02:30

Designer Joe Coyle with his 1916 artwork. His design features the names of the 485 people from both sides of the conflict who died in the Easter Rising. The list of names was first published by the Glasnevin Trust last year. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Designer Joe Coyle with his 1916 artwork. His design features the names of the 485 people from both sides of the conflict who died in the Easter Rising. The list of names was first published by the Glasnevin Trust last year. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Take a bow, Ireland 2016. The State body set up to oversee the 1916 commemorations has judged this year's anniversary events perfectly so far, and its message - Remember, Reflect, Reimagine - was inspired. Politicians have mostly sat on the back benches, and the people and their stories are taking centre stage.

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Proclamation Day on March 15 was a real highlight. Our children read aloud the words of the seven signatories, wrote their own proclamations and raised our national flag. In doing so, our children reclaimed our tricolour - a sign that we are a modern, confident country. Proclamation Day was a triumph.

For my small part, I was honoured that the 1916 image, which incorporates the names of those who died - and was originally designed for the 'Irish Independent 1916 Collection' of magazines - was yesterday used in the State Commemoration booklet given to the 6,000 invited guests at the GPO.

The list of the names of the 485 people who lost their lives during or as a result of the Rising was first published by the Glasnevin Trust (www.glasnevintrust.ie) last year.

It's a simple, but compelling, piece of research. The names of the men, women and children from both sides of the conflict, were collated definitively for the very first time. Many of those who died are buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.

More than half (54pc) of those killed were civilians, caught in the crossfire. Just under a fifth of the total number were under 20 years old. British Army forces account for 26pc of the casualties. The police forces of the era - the Dublin Metropolitan Police and the Royal Irish Constabulary - made up 4pc of those who were killed.

The percentage of those killed who were Rebel forces was rather apt - 16pc.

The detail that got me - the nugget of information that brought it all home - was the inclusion of some of the people's middle names, where available and when acknowledged on official death certificates and gravestones: Joseph Mary Plunkett; Died: 4 May, 1916; Affiliation: Irish Volunteers.

I wanted to capture this information in a simple, engaging image. I wanted to create something 'big', made up of small details. And so - with the poster image from The Truman Show, of all things, in the back of my mind - I went to work on the 1916 logo last August.

The names are listed in alphabetical order and I used the names of the seven signatories of the Proclamation in a larger point size - to engage readers and to draw them in to read the other names.

The names listed are from both sides of the conflict - they were all some mother's son, or some father's daughter.

Each person had their own story - most of us know those of the main protagonists, but personally I find the story of Roger Casement the most fascinating of them all.

These were the 485 people who died and this weekend and beyond, we should remember and reflect on them all.

Irish Independent

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