Portrait of 1916 nurse ‘airbrushed from history’ unveiled in Seanad
Painting of Elizabeth O’Farrell with Patrick Pearse attempt to rectify ‘historic wrong’
The painting by Sinéad Guckian is a different take on the airbrushed picture of the Patrick Pearse’s surrender in 1916 in which the legs and boots of Nurse Elizabeth Farrell were frequently excised from the picture.
A nurse airbrushed out of Irish history has been reinstated in a portrait formally unveiled in the Seanad to mark International Women’s Day.
Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell was the woman who carried Patrick Pearse’s message seeking the end to hostilities during the 1916 Rising but she was airbrushed out of the photograph of Pearse surrendering to Brigadier General Lowe.
According to an account Farrell gave to Cisterian monks in 1956, she took a step back when the photograph was being taken so as not to appear in the photograph though she is still visible. Nevertheless, the Daily Sketch in London published the photograph three weeks later and removed all trace of her, giving the impression Pearse had surrendered alone.
Seanad leader Regina Doherty unveiled in the Seanad chamber the portrait of the surrender by artist Sinéad Guckian entitled Her Surrender with O’Farrell reinstated.
Cathaoirleach of the Seanad Mark Daly pointed out that “as stated by the artist, she is remembered for being forgotten.
Honoured to unveil “Her Surrender” by Sinead Guckian in Seanad this morning on International Women’s Day. The painting depicts Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell standing beside Padraig Pearse and General Lowe at the moment of surrender following the events of Easter Week 1916. #iwd2021 pic.twitter.com/Xh7gGijwgu— Regina Doherty (@ReginaDo) March 8, 2021
“The unveiling of the painting in the Seanad rectifies in a very small way that historic wrong to Elizabeth O’Farrell.”
He added that “it symbolises the all too frequent airbrushing of the contribution of women from Irish history”.
Senators applauded as the portrait was unveiled.
Ms Doherty said it was an honour to unveil a “piece of beautiful art and to accept on it on behalf of all here this morning.
“I thank the artist, Sinéad Guckian, who depicted the scene of the message being delivered at the end of the hostilities of Easter week. She has done a beautiful job.
“The task now is to find a fitting and suitable place to hang it in the halls of the Oireachtas.”
Fianna Fáil Seanad leader Lisa Chambers thanked Guckian for a “beautiful piece of art she has gifted to the Oireachtas”.
She said “it is incredible to think that someone like Nurse O’Farrell was effectively airbrushed out of our history. As stated by the Cathaoirleach, the painting goes a small way towards rectifying that action.”