A new exhibition at Kilmainham Gaol sees the inclusion of queer stories

The exhibition looks at how fifteen objects from the Kilmainham Gaol Collection have been changed and transformed throughout their history.

exhibition at Kilmainham Gaol

A new exhibition in Kilmainham Gaol will open tomorrow, February 4, entitled ‘Recycle, Repurpose, Reimagine: Transforming Objects in Kilmainham Gaol’.

The exhibition looks at how fifteen objects from the Kilmainham Gaol Collection have been changed and transformed throughout their history. Among the objects featured is a 19th century military medal which was donated to museum back in 1969 by Dr Lydia Foy, who later led the campaign for transgender rights in Ireland.

The medal has always been exhibited because of its connection with the Fenian ‘invasion’ of Canada in 1866, but as a result of researching the Gaol’s queer history, they now also see it as a symbol of the involvement of LGBT+ people in the creation of Kilmainham Gaol Museum. The exhibition explores how the meaning of an object can change depending on the story we tell about it.

As part of Pride month 2019, Kilmainham Gaol hosted a series of sell-out special tours, which focused on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender prisoners. Many were jailed for their part in the revolution as opposed to their sexuality, according to tour creator and guide, Brian Crowley.

Speaking of the new exhibition and the inclusion of queer stories, Crowley says:

“While it is important that we programme events and exhibitions with an LGBTQ+ focus in Kilmainham Gaol, in some ways it feels even more radical when those queer stories can also be included in exhibitions which don’t have a specific LGBTQ+ focus.”

GCN previously interviewed Brian Crowley the tour creator and guide about the LGBT+ history of the Gaol and its significance with respect to the struggle for Irish independence.

“Gaols and prisons were often used by those in power to suppress behaviour or identities that were deemed to be transgressive, so there is a lot of queer history bound up with Kilmainham Gaol,” said Crowley on the significance of queer history in the Gaol.

‘Reuse, Repurpose, Reimagine: Transforming Objects in Kilmainham Gaol’ opens at 6.30 pm on Tuesday, February 4 at Kilmainham Gaol. Email [email protected] for more information.

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