The Statue

WHY A STATUE? It’s no secret that the vast majority of statues in the United StatesUnited Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland are of male, rather than female, historical figures. Maeve Casserly, a Ph.D. candidate at University College Dublin, and Ciaran O’Neill, professor at Trinity College Dublin, wrote an informative article talking about how women are under-represented in Dublin public art. While occasionally women are commemorated with statues, such memorials are usually to famous women such as Countess Markievicz, rather than to one of the hundreds of everyday Irish women who propelled the Irish Revolution forward. Casserly and O’Neill stated that “the cultural geography of a country’s capital is an important forum for creating and propagating a nation’s identity. … walking through the streets of Dublin, it is often hard to find a place for women in this historical narrative, particularly in public space.”[1] Our statue would be a small step toward making Irish women’s history in general, and the women of the Belfast Boycott in particular, more accessible to the wider public. Our goal is to hire a female sculptor to partner with us for this project.

Inspiring images! (Click HERE for sources and links).

DESIGN AND CONCEPT: Because so many of the women who participated in the boycott are forgotten to history, we wanted to make a statue that showcased the everyday Belfast Boycott volunteer as best we could. Below are the elements that we felt captured (to the best of our knowledge) who this woman was.

  • She promoted Irish industry. In the artist’s rendition you can see three indicators that this woman has made the commitment to buy Irish goods and boycott anything from Belfast or England. The first is that she is handing out flyers to promote the boycott and discourage the consumption of British or Belfast goods. Secondly, she is wearing a pin with an “e” for “Éire.” Members of the Irish Products League (or the I.P.L., founded in 1921) were expected to wear these pins as a visual representation of their commitment to buying only Irish goods.[2] Lastly, the buttons on her coat have a Celtic Knot on them. The appearance of the symbol on the woman’s coat clearly indicates that she purchases and wears only Irish-made fashion. 
  • She did more than just shop. The placement of three stones in front of the statue will pay homage to the Irish women who took on more active roles in the boycott, beyond shopping. One surviving story of boycott committee participants was retold by a woman named Florence McCarthy, who stated that “three manly stones” were thrown through the windows of a business in downtown Dublin that refused to stop selling goods from Belfast.[3] Calling them “manly stones” was likely referencing that such attacks on physical property were borrowed from suffragette practices and viewed as “feminized” forms of violence. 
  • She was alone. Women were seen as the main shoppers for their families, so the success of an island-wide boycott of all Belfast (and later English) goods largely depended their actions. While certainly shopping was a public and often social activity, the lone figure in our statue speaks to the idea that shopping was ultimately a solitary task based on a quote from a June 1921 issue of The Sinn Féiner: “A woman goes to a store alone to shop. There is no one to applaud when she stands by her principle and rejects British-made goods. To reject an article that is right at hand and to go perhaps a long distance to get it somewhere else calls for decision and determination.” (Elizabeth June in ‘The Shopper,’ The Sinn Féiner, 25 June 1921). This quote also highlights that women often contributed to the cause without recognition, reward, or applause.
  • She was on the move. While a few high-profile Irish men and women were known for giving speeches and stirring the people to action, this woman wasn’t. Instead, she has her coat and hat on. She is headed out for the day and is spreading information as she goes. She isn’t talking to hundreds of people, but rather those few within her immediate circle that she can influence as she goes about her day.* 

[1] Casserly, Maeve & O’Neill, Ciaran. (2017). “Public History, Invisibility, and Women in the Republic of Ireland.” The Public Historian. 39. 10-30. 10.1525/tph.2017.39.2.10.

[2] Irish Society (Dublin), 2 April 1921; Freeman’s Journal, 29 March 1921.

[3] Replies to questionnaires, November 1972–February 1973: Eithne Coyle O’Donnell papers, University College Dublin Archives P61/4.

*The statue’s final design is ultimately subject to minor changes and modification. Read our full disclaimer HERE.

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