Spencer Library opens new exhibit on Ireland’s Easter Rising rebellion

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The University of Kansas Libraries have opened a new exhibit, “Easter 1916: Rebellion and Memory in Ireland,” to mark the 100th anniversary of Ireland’s Easter Rising. On display at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, the exhibition explores the political and cultural contexts of the weeklong rebellion in April 1916 during which armed nationalists sought to establish an Irish republic independent from England.  Through books and artifacts, the exhibit looks back to earlier rebellions and ahead to birth of the Irish Free State, examining the place of the Easter Rising in the history of Irish independence.

Holdings from the libraries’ Irish Collections are featured, including literary works, political ephemera, manuscripts, periodicals and photographs. The Irish Collections at Spencer Library are among the most significant and sizeable outside of Ireland.

“The centenary of the Easter Rising was an opportunity to showcase the depth of our Irish holdings, particularly for the politics and literature of the early 20th century,” said Elspeth Healey, special collections librarian. “The majority of the materials on display come from the library of P. S. O’Hegarty. O’Hegarty was a participant in separatist circles agitating for Irish independence, and so his collection benefits from the keen collecting eye of someone intimately involved in the politics it documents. O’Hegarty was also passionate about literature, and his library contains works that reflect the ways that the events of Easter 1916 reverberated through the literary sphere.”

Items featured in the exhibition include the privately printed first edition of W.B. Yeats’ famous poem “Easter, 1916,” an autograph book from Frongoch Internment Camp in Wales— where many Irish political prisoners were housed following the rebellion—and more fascinating artifacts.

“Easter 1916: Rebellion and Memory in Ireland” will be on display through late April in Spencer Research Library. More exhibit information can be found on the Spencer webpage.

A reception for the exhibit will be held on Wednesday, March 16th from 5:30-7:00 p.m.  The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin with a cocktail reception at 5:30, followed by brief remarks at 6:15. To attend, please RSVP to Jennifer Muse at 785-864-8961 or jmuse@ku.edu.

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