- 21 Apr 16
James Connolly, Padraic Pearse and Joseph Plunkett are in a special series that extends to Countess Markievitcz, Roger Casement and, controversially, Michael Collins.
Legendary Irish artist Jim FitzPatrick has released a new suite of artworks dedicated to the heroes of the 1916 Rising, and the War of independence.
Among those illustrated is the Irish socialist, feminist and revolutionary, James Connolly. "He was way before his time," Jim FitzPatrick told Hot Press. "If we are looking for a symbol of Ireland, then it has to be Connolly. He was a truly remarkable character."
Fitzpatrick is best known for his iconic portrait of Ché Guevara, which became one of the most resonant and widely published and used images of the last half of the 20th Century. A friend of the late Philip Lynott, he was also the man behind a series of album sleeves for Thin Lizzy.
The new images are available to purchase from the artist's website, jimfitzpatrick.com. However, for those who can't afford to purchase high quality prints, there are high res versions that can be downloaded and printed free of charge. The only stipulation is that images downloaded in this way can't subsequently be sold.
"I've always done that," Jim explained. "But I want to see these images, especially that of James Connolly, everywhere. I'd love to see them used in schoolbooks. The most important thing for me is to ensure that we remember the ideals and the values of the proclamation and that we rededicate ourselves to the objective of true equality for all.
"With that in mind, the idea was to create a new set of artworks of Irish Revolutionaries that would proliferate – especially the Connolly image," he explained. "The images include the seven signatories of the Proclamation of Independence, with the addition of Countess Markievitcz and my own hero Roger Casement. There is one other rather controversial inclusion – that of Michael Collins, without whom, I believe, we would never have won the War of Independence."
FitzPatrick is highly critical of the way in which the Government has approached the 1916 ceremonials, accusing them of sanitising what happened in the name of ‘inclusion'.
"Already," he stated, "in Glasnevin Cemetery there is a wall of names of ALL the fallen of 1916 where the name of one of the murderers who took part in the North King Street Massacre is engraved right above the name of an Irish rebel fighter. In my opinion, to have the names of the British Army fatalities in Glasnevin, scrambled in amongst the people they killed, is a disgrace.
"I believe," Jim Fitzpatrick added. "that we can make these revolutionary heroes household names for the future here – and in the case of James Connolly not just here in Ireland but abroad too. I did this before! I did it with the now iconic Ché Guevara poster. Already on my own website, there are three images of Connolly with different slogans, free to download, print, use and proliferate, in hi-res."
It is, as they say, an offer you can't refuse.
Below is the full text of the statement issued by Jim Fitzpatrick, to mark the publication of these new portraits of Irish revolutionary heroes...
• The Seven Signatories of the Irish Proclamation by Jim FitzPatrick.
THIS IS NOT THE IRELAND THEY DIED FOR.
I was compelled to start working on Irish Revolutionaries when I saw how the government was attempting to airbrush the heroes of 1916 from history and sanitise them and their memory in the name of ‘inclusion'.
Already in Glasnevin Cemetery there is a wall of names of ALL the fallen of 1916 where the name of one of the murderers who took part in the North King Street Massacre is engraved right above the name of an Irish rebel fighter.
We already and quite properly remember the Irish dead of the Great War in Islandbridge, in my opinion to have the names of the British Army fatalities in Glasnevin scrambeld in amongst the people they killed is a disgrace. Most of the civilian casualties of Easter week were killed by these same crown forces, including their victims in that same North King Street Massacre where they even bayoneted a child who tried to shield his own father.
I was, and remain, a great admirer of the courage of the Queen of England who came here –and acknowledged the sacrifice of our rebel dead, while our own government run scared of their memory.
Perhaps they are worried we will insist they follow the words and the aspirations of our own Proclamation of Independence.
The Proclamation is inspirational.
It begins with an acknowledgement of the equality of all of us, both men and women; it declares our right to the resources of Ireland, the ideal of cherishing ALL of our children equally – and ends with a clarion call for freedom.
When you read it you see how much work is yet to be done and in fact how we are being sold out.
One simple example from the Irish Proclamation: ‘We declare the right of the Irish people to the ownership of Ireland…'. Think of the Corrib gas field and it's sale to Shell, who will pocket the profit and evade all the tax they can. The list goes on and on and…
Even as we live this amazing centenary of the Easter 1916 Rising there are people, Irish people, who erase our history just to get a few more Euros in their pockets. The very site of the last hours of the provisional government of 1916 and where the Rebels surrendered, the Moore Street houses, were due to be demolished. But with activists occupying the buildings and the recent High Court ruling to preserve them – against the governments wishes – there is now hope, despite the fact that the discredited and detested Fine Gael rump regime still wants to allow the developer to demolish most of the Moore Street battlefield and intends to challenge the High Court ruling that that the entire battlefield site be preserved.
My own answer to this forelock-tugging and craven begrudgery is to create a series that I hope will last beyond the 2016 commemorations.
I want to remind us all who these brave men and women were – and the sacrifices they made so that we could live free of imperial rule.
I have done this before. The Ché Guevara image is seen wherever there is a people's revolution. This is why I have created these images – and especially the image of my own hero, James Connolly.
I want them to to be popular, to proliferate. Our revolutionaries died for our freedom. Let's remember them.'
The seven signatories of the Irish Proclamation were: Thomas J. Clarke, Seán Mac Diarmada, Thomas MacDonagh, Padriac Pearse, Éamonn Ceannt, James Connolly and Joseph Plunkett.
WE WILL REMEMBER.
Jim FitzPatrick. Artist. Ireland. 2016