Musings – The 1916 Sackville Street project

Many of the civilian bodies lay in City Hall for several days after the Rising, but they were never claimed because their relatives lacked the financial means to bury them. “These were the poorest or the poor.”

If you live in Ireland or have any interest in Ireland then you will know that the country is right in the middle of commemorating the events on Easter 1916. State, Church and civilians are all involved in the celebrations and in remembering the events of those days over Easter, one hundred years ago.

This is a condensed one paragraph overview of what happened in 1916:

The Easter Rising (Irish: Éirí Amach na Cásca),[2] also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed insurrection in Ireland during Easter Week, April 1916. The Rising was launched by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish Republic while the United Kingdom was heavily engaged in World War I. It was the most significant uprising in Ireland since the rebellion of 1798, and the first armed action of the Irish revolutionary period.

There are acres and acres of pages you can read on the Rising and I am not going to repeat them here.

My focus in this blog are the civilians who were killed in the 1916 Rising. Late last year  I did an interview on the weekly arts show which I produce and present each Wednesday on Kfm radio in Kildare. My interview was with Ciara OKeeffe and she told me about her idea to commemorate the civilians who were killed. Her project was called the 1916 Sackville Street Art Project. Sackville Street was the name for O’Connell Street before it was changed.

The aim of 1916 Sackville Street Art Project was to hold an exhibition of houses in any 3D art form commemorating the lives of the ordinary civilians that were killed in the 1916 Easter Rising. 485 people were killed in the Easter Rising 1916, 262 of these were civilians. The objective of the Art Project is to tell their story by constructing 262 3D art form houses representing each of the civilians killed. It was hoped that this art project will in some way contribute to commemorating these innocent souls who died during the conflict of 1916 Easter Rising. Ciara and her colleagues needed 262 people of 2016 to create a house to remember a civilian who was killed in 1916. They set up a website and when you clicked onto it, you selected a civilian you wished to remember. There would only be 262 pieces to create.

I don’t do art. I can knit a bit (as long are there no curves in it or complicated things like sleeves). But, in the middle of the radio interview with Ciara I said that I would create a house for one of the civilians.

It was only after the interview was aired that I said to myself ‘what were you thinking’.

I registered for my civilian in an optimistic moment. I chose Margaret McGuiness aged 50. She died from wounds received during the fighting in Dublin. Her death is recorded on 3 April 1916 and she is buried in Deansgrange with her husband  who had passed away two years before her. She lived in 3 Pembroke Cottages in Dublin. Additional research did not throw up a lot more information on her so I was on my own when it came to inspiration for the house.

I chose her because she was the closest in age to me. I will be fifty in a few years time. I was thinking about what she would have been doing back in 1916 and the type of crafts that might have formed part of her day to day life. I knew I wanted to knit some aspect of the house.

I parked the idea after that. I was delighted to read a few weeks later that all the civilians had been matched to a 2016 civilian and that all 262 houses would be made.

Christmas came and went and a sudden realisation came over me at the end of January this year that I had a house to build. The dimensions were quite small so it was not going to be a massive construction project, but still, I had made a promise to 1916 Sackville Street and to Margaret McGuiness.

I got to work. I used some wood templates, some cork board, some buttons from my own button box, some thread, some measuring tape, some pins and some spools of thread. There was a lot of superglue used and fingers stuck together and to the buttons, as a result.

Little by little it all came together and this is my house in memory of Margaret McGuinness.

I am surprised and delighted that it all came together for me. I have never done anything like this before do it has been a joy toSackville Street House in the Exhibition do.

The exhibition is on at the moment in the Botanic Gardens in Dublin and it will run there for another two weeks until 24 April. I think the houses are coming to Kildare then for two exhibitions and there is talk too of finding a permanent home for this wonderful exhibition.

There are so many beautiful houses and the feedback from those who have attended the exhibition has been emotional and moving. There is a special quality to this unique exhibition.

Fine out more about the project and see more of the photos on their website and social media pages:


Twitter @1916sackvillest

Facebook 1916 Sackville Street Art Project

This is my house in situ in the exhibition. Thanks to Eleanor Swan for taking this and sharing it.

Go see it!






The Choir – Singing for President Higgins

I joined the In Caelo Choir in Newbridge Parish in January of this year. We rehearse every second Tuesday night and we sing at Mass every second Sunday. I am very much one of the newbies to the choir so I had no idea that from time to time the choir gets invited to sing in other churches. I was delighted to hear that we had been asked to sing at Mass in Saint Mary’s Pro – Cathedral in Dublin on Saint Patrick’s Day. I was nervous too! I was doubly nervous when I realised we would be singing most of the parts of the Mass and the hymns in Irish and that we would be doing so in the presence of President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina.

The Saint Patrick’s Day Mass is an important service in the liturgical calendar and no more so this year as it is 1916 and we are commemorating the events of 1916. As well as singing in the presence of Uachtarán na hÉireann, we would also be performing to a packed church with a congregation made up of people from Dublin, from around Ireland and from around the world. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin was presiding at the Mass and Father Bryan Shorthall from the Capuchins would be the chief celebrant and the homilist.

We had intensive rehearsals in the weeks leading up to the Mass under the direction of Cora Coffey. Sharon Lyons, who would be the soloist on the day of the Mass in the Pro-Cathedral, also came to spend time with us in rehearsal.

We left Newbridge bright and early on Saint Patrick’s Day (17 March) and made our way to Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, through the streets which were cordoned off for the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. After weeks of rehearsals we felt ready but nervous at the prospect of being part of such an important and established tradition of the annual Aifreann Phádraig Naofa.

Thankfully there was time for a quick run through of all our pieces with Sharon and Cora.  We were accompanied by Padraig Meredith on piano and we had some organ accompaniment from Gerard Gillen. Our singing was given a real traditional Irish flavour by the addition of a harp and some uilleann pipes and we had a very talented brother and sister playing cello and violin. We sang most of the pieces in Irish and our finale piece was Hail Glorious Saint Patrick.

After the Mass was over we had a chance to enjoy some refreshments in the side rooms of the Pro Cathedral. We met some of the priests attached to the Pro-Cathedral and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin came out to say hell and to stand in for a quick photo!

in caelo

We were all wearing a beautifully crocheted green shamrocks made by hand by one of our choir members Sinéad Buckley. Sinéad had made an extra one in the hope that she might get a chance to present it to the President’s wife Sabina. The chance came and a delighted Sabina Higgins is now the proud owner of a beautiful piece of crochet made by Sinéad.

in caelo 2

One of the highlights of the day was when we all had a chance to pose for a photo with President Higgins and his wife. We were lined up the stairs of the side entrance to the Pro Cathedral house. We decided to kill the time we were waiting for the Presidential party to arrive by reprising a verse of Hail Glorious Saint Patrick. When the President and his wife arrived for the photo they invited us to sing for them again. We were only too happy to oblige and as I reviewed the video afterwards I noticed that both of them were singing along with us to Hail Glorious Saint Patrick.  Afterwards, they thanked us and wished us a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

This is a short video of the verse we sang for the President and his wife.

in caelo 3

We waved them off from the Pro-Cathedral where they sat into a waiting car to immediately officiate at the opening of the parade.

We left on a high, with wonderful memories of a day which will never be forgotten and with a great feeling of pride in ourselves, in our country and in our President and First Lady.

Didn’t I pick just the right year to join the choir?




Musings – Guest Blog on

“Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.”
― Pat ConroyMy Reading Life

I received an email into my inbox a couple of weeks ago from the lovely people at They asked if I would consider writing a guest blog about being a mum who lives with cancer.

I said yes, but when I sat down to write it, I had no idea where to begin. How do you fit a whole year of treatment and nine years of life after treatment into a blog post?

I managed to fit a good chunk of the story into what they had to call a ‘Sunday Read’, which translates as ‘a very long read so make sure you are sitting comfortably with a cup of tea when you sit down to read it’.

Here is a link to what has appeared on the website. If you like it please feel free to share it from there or from here. We won’t fight over blog hits!

Sunday Read: What It Feels Like To be a Mum-Of-Two Living With Cancer

Thanks to the team at for giving me the opportunity to be a guest blogger. Perhaps I can add that to my blogging CV now!