Photo (c) Samuel Monson : http://bit.ly/11Sc3kV
I seem to have neglected this blog these past few weeks, but for very good reasons! I have been busy in work developing exhibitions,displays, archiving and visiting the wonderful city of Dublin!
I had the good fortune of spending last weekend in Dublin with a good friend of mine who is a recent Museum Studies graduate. We walked through Dublin’s historic streets and passed the Georgian splendour (I would give anything for one of those houses!) near St. Stephen’s Green & Parnell Square!
We also visited the Natural History Museum of Ireland, The National Library of Ireland, The National Gallery of Ireland and the The National Museum of Ireland (Archaeology etc). Phew! What a lot of museums in one day, but totally worth it!
We saw Spotticus the famous Giraffe at the Natural History museum or ‘Dead Zoo’ as it is known to the locals. And the Yeats exhibition at the National Library as well as other exhibitions in the other two museums.
Spotticus the famous Giraffe.
Books on display at the Yeats Exhibition, National Library of Ireland.
Large scale picture of an Edwardian lady outside of the National Library. Pretty creepy!
I had a wonderful time in Dublin’s museums and galleries. But the real reason I was in Dublin was to visit the ‘Living the Lockout’ experience. The ‘experience’ was based on the 1913 lockout when employers locked out employees who joined a union asking for better rights and housing. The result was that people starved and people suffered from disease. Eventually, the men had no choice but to return to work to feed their families.
The workers lived in notorious tenements (formerly beautiful Georgian houses) that were unsanitary and unsafe. Disease and death were rife. In some places, there was a 50% mortality rate for children. The ‘experience’ was a live drama experience by a drama group re-enacting scenes that could have taken place during the lockout.
Irish Women Workers Union, 1913 Lockout, Dublin.
The entire experience was incredibly moving and thought provoking. To think that people lived in those conditions until about forty or thirty years ago (think Glasgow tenements of the 1970’s) is unbelievable. We are very lucky to be a live now! I would recommend the experience to anyone interest in social history, architectural history, Irish history or just history in general! It is a very ‘involved’ piece and I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who might get upset easily.
Immersive theatre is an excellent way to engage audiences with history. It could be utilized in Northern Ireland for many different eras; especially the ‘Decade of Centenaries’ that is currently happening!
The Dublin tenement experience takes place at No.14 Henrietta Street until the end of the month. More information and including booking is here http://dublintenementexperience.com/