National Museum of Ireland Stages a Rainbow Revolution

The National Museum of Ireland is participating in the Pride celebrations this year for the first time, with a series of initiatives under the banner of the ‘Rainbow Revolution’.

As well as unveiling a series of new artefacts that define some of the most memorable moments in the LGBTI+ movement in Ireland in recent years, the Museum will also be launching a new trail throughout its Collins Barracks site highlighting noteworthy members of the LGBTI+ community from early history to the current day, and a poignant collection of photographs, video footage and stories from private and public archival collections highlighting key moments in Irish LGBTI+ history, including a video series of oral histories gathered from members of Ireland’s LGBTI+ community.

The Museum of Decorative Arts & History at Collins Barracks will also play host to the largest Mother Block party to date, on Saturday June 29th.


National Museum of Ireland stages a Rainbow Revolution: Rory O’Neil AKA Dr. Panti Bliss, Queen of Ireland is pictured.

New LGBTI+ artefacts to be unveiled to the public

The new artefacts derived from recent contemporary collecting, which will go on public display for the first time on June 28th, are as follows:

Panti’s dress – worn by Panti Bliss when delivering her famous ‘Noble Call’ speech in the Abbey Theatre in 2014. The speech, about homophobia in Ireland, helped to start the national conversation on same-sex marriage ahead of the Marriage Equality Referendum in 2015.
The wedding dresses of Minister Katherine Zappone and her wife Ann Louise Gilligan, worn at their wedding ceremony at Dublin Castle in 2016, 8 months after Dublin Castle had been the site of large celebrations when Ireland became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote.
The Rainbow Flag, a symbol of LGBTI+ Pride, used by activist Conor Kelly to counter protest against extreme pro-life groups demonstrating outside Irish hospitals during the Repeal the 8th Campaign in 2018.
LGBTI+ storytelling through archives and video

Videos, photographs and archival collections have been carefully sourced and curated to tell the stories of LGBTI+ people in Ireland and the growth of the Irish LGBTI+ rights movement. This material will be on display on four screens around Collins Barracks, and also on a screen in the National Museum of Ireland’s – Country Life, Turlough Park. These include the oral histories of some 42 people, many of them previously unseen, which were captured by RTE film-maker Edmund Lynch in 2013 for his documentary, A Different Country. Many of those interviewed are household names, and aged between 50 and 80, and share their personal experience witnessing the growth of the LGBTI+ rights movement in Ireland. Amongst the well-known people featured are Nell McCafferty, Lydia Foy, Ailbhe Smyth, Rory O’Neill, Tonie Walsh, Sara R. Phillips, Gay Byrne, Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson.

Also profiled are a range of photographs, video footage and documents illustrating the emergence of the LGBTI+ rights movement in Ireland, shedding a light on themes such as building the community, law reform, early activism, the AIDS Memorial Quilt project, Pride Through the Years, Marriage Equality, Gender Recognition and historic Irish trans people.

The Museum has commenced the collection of new oral histories, to record the full and complex history of LGBTI+ life and the rights movement in Ireland. It is inviting people to volunteer for interview by emailing

Rainbow Revolution Trail

A new ‘Rainbow Revolution Trail’ will open to the public for the first time on June 28th. Visitors to the National Museum of Ireland Decorative Arts & History at Collins Barracks will be provided with a map and encouraged to explore what is the first historical trail at the Museum focusing on LGBTI+ history through the centuries and throughout its galleries, from early mythology to 17th century warfare, from the LGBTI+ men and women of the Irish revolutions to 20th century design icons, and the recent campaigns for equality in Irish law. Amongst the historic LGBTI+ figures that will be represented in the trail are the Greek God Hercules, Dr Kathleen Lynn and Elizabeth O’Farrell, who were active in the 1916 Rising, Roger Casement, and designer Eileen Gray.

Mother Pride Block Party

The Collins Barracks site will also play host to the Mother Pride Block Party from 16.00 to 23.00 on Saturday June 29th. This will be the biggest Pride Block Party Dublin has even seen, twice as big as last year, and will comprise two areas, two stages, full bars, food stalls, art & activations.

Commenting, Director of the National Museum of Ireland Lynn Scarff said; “Our theme for 2019 is ‘Community’ and we are so delighted to be working with the LGBTI+ community on a fantastic range of initiatives for Pride this month. Ireland has come a long way in the last decade in terms of social change and our curators are constantly engaged in contemporary collecting to ensure that we, as Ireland’s National Museum, are appropriately collecting items that will tell this story for generations to come and reflect the ongoing journey for greater equal rights for a number of Irish communities.

“Alongside the new artefacts that have been generously donated to our permanent collection by Panti Bliss, Minister Katherine Zappone TD and Conor Kelly, we are also interpreting our existing collections with a LGBTI+ lens in our ‘Rainbow Revolution Trail’, which will run for the next year.

“The National Museum of Ireland is entrusted to collect, curate, preserve and interpret the best collections in the world relating to Ireland presenting a fully- rounded history of Ireland over millennia. To this end, our Pride celebrations this month are only one component of how we plan to capture the enormous change that is underway in the country. We are also commencing an oral history project in which we want to collect and preserve the stories of the LGBTI+ communities for future generations and we are very interested in hearing from members of the community who would be willing to participate,” she said.

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