Thomas Clarke was born on the Isle of Wight and educated in Dungannon. He was arrested in 1883 while on a Fenian bombing mission in London and spent 15 years in prison. After a period in New York, he returned to Ireland in 1907 and helped reinvigorate the Irish Republican Brotherhood, steering it steadily towards insurrection. Clarke was the first signatory of the Proclamation of the Republic. He served in the GPO during Easter Week and was executed on 3 May 1916.
Born in London, Matthew Nathan was under-secretary for Ireland during the Rising. His approach to affairs complied with that of Augustine Birrell, the chief secretary, which was to exercise the maximum possible conciliation of the widest possible range of interests in Ireland. Working in Dublin Castle, the outbreak of the rising caught him by surprise as insufficient and defective intelligence from army and police resulted in his misjudgement of the situation.
James Connolly was a socialist activist, theorist and polemicist in Dublin, Belfast and America. He was an organiser for the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, a founder of the Irish Labour Party and prominent in the 1913 Lockout in Dublin. He commanded the Irish Citizen Army, fighting in the GPO as commandant-general of the republican forces.
Constance Markiewicz was second-in-command of a troop of Citizen Army combatants at St Stephen's Green. Originally sentenced to death for her role during the Rising, her sentenced was commuted due to her sex. She was later the first woman elected to the British House of Commons, although she would not take her seat.
Born John Colthurst Bowen in Cork, he joined the British Army and was posted to the 11th Rifle Brigade in Portobello Barracks, Dublin. On duty during Easter Week, he murdered a number of civilians, including the pacifist Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, and later fatally shot the captured Volunteer Richard O'Carroll. He was court-martialled for his actions and later found guilty but insane.
Francis Sheehy-Skeffington was a non-smoking, teetotaller, vegetarian, pacifist and feminist. A self-proclaimed crank: 'A small instrument that makes revolutions'. During the Rising he attempted to organise a civilian defence force to prevent looting. He was arrested while walking home and fell into the hands of Captain John Bowen Colthurst who ordered him and two other civilians to be shot, without trial, in Portobello Barracks.
The Dictionary of Irish Biography currently contains almost 9,900 ‘lives’ of prominent men and women born in Ireland, and the noteworthy Irish careers of those born outside Ireland. The scope of the dictionary extends from the earliest times to the twenty-first century. It is an indispensable work of reference for scholars, journalists, broadcasters, diplomats, and the general reader interested in Ireland’s past or in biography. The online edition is updated twice yearly.
Illustrator David Rooney is a graduate of Ireland's National College of Art and Design. He is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and Hotpress. His artwork also features in publications by The Folio Society, London, and in cultural centres such as the Titanic Experience, Belfast; King John’s Castle, Limerick; and the Stonehenge visitor centre.
While drafting the portraits, the illustrator and the editors, James Quinn and Lawrence William White, worked closely together to ensure the details in the images fit accurately in time, as well as in keeping with the subject matter. For example, depicting Margaret Skinnider's hat was debated, as she would have switched between wearing a military cap and a civilian lady's hat depending on her duties as sniper or messenger.
1916 Portraits and Lives is published by the Royal Irish Academy and the Office of Public Works.
For more information please visit www.ria.ie
All illustrations by David Rooney.
Photograph by John Ohle.
Exhibit created by Jeff Wilson email@example.com