Friday 27 April 2018

Quilt to wrap up warm tales from 77 women interned at Richmond Barracks

the untold stories

Some of the women who have worked on the 77 Women Commemoration quilt
Some of the women who have worked on the 77 Women Commemoration quilt

A stitch in time may save nine but a quilt hopes to preserve the stories of 77 women interned at Richmond Barracks in 1916.

The 77 Women Commemoration Quilt is being developed for a new exhibition centre at Inchicore, with Marja Almqvist, who runs The Yarn School at Goldenbridge, coordinating and designing the quilt. The Swedish-born artist came up with the idea, having become "fascinated by what motivated the women and what they inspired".

"I realised how few of them were actually remembered," she says.

Some 130 invites went out to women, many of whom are also activists, to get involved. However, when it came to an open day in September, a serendipitous 77 women showed up. They were then matched at random to the women of 1916. Following a lecture by historians Mary McAuliffe and Liz Gillis, each woman embarked on their own research. 

Richmond Barracks project coordinator Éadoain Ní Chléirigh was matched with Bridget Hegarty. "Within two phone calls, I discovered there were still some of her family around Rialto," she says. Within a day, Ms Ní Chléirigh discovered Bridget's grandniece and a Communion photograph.

Ms Almqvist says that each quilt panel "reflects one woman, their contemporary woman and their reflection on the journey of women in Ireland in the past 100 years". She hopes the quilt will be something that people can "really explore", not least to unlock hidden meanings.

"A lot of the women were involved with delivering messages so a lot of the panels have little secret messages," Ms Almqvist says. "For example, there were three sisters called Cooney so there is going to be a little shamrock in each of their three panels made by one of their relatives."

The Commemoration Quilt will be launched on March 8 at the Richmond Barracks Exhibition Centre. See AM

Irish Independent

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