Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Suite - Dublin, October 1999 - See Gallery

Kilmainham Gaol has been part of painter Sally Smyth's consciousness all her life. Her mother May Gibney had been a prisoner here during the Civil War in 1923. She recalls, as a small child, being brought round the East Wing in 1938 and her mother pointing out her Civil War cell on the first floor. When, sixty years later, Sally met the archivist on a visit and found that the archives seemed to have more information about her mother's incarceration than she had, she became intensely focused on the Gaol. Initially Sally spent three weeks walking around and absorbing the atmosphere of the place.

She spent many weeks in the archives viewing memorabilia, reading newspapers dating from 1800 to 1924, and browsing through prisoners' letters and autograph books. The museum proved a Pandora's Box of inspiration. During our ensuing discussions it emerged that Sally is the first daughter or son of one of Kilmainham's Republican prisoners to explore the subject in this manner. She set up studio in the Protestant Chapel. The artist's family lore of Kilmainham merged with the facts of her mother's imprisonment, making the memory of her mother very much the catalyst for this body of work. The work conveys a broad range of impressions of Kilmainham, although May herself features in only a few of the paintings.

Pat Cooke, Curator

Deirdre Morrissey's An Irishwoman's Diary, Irish Times article

Kilmainham Suite Catalogue | Gallery