Tommy Weir

 

From the 7th Century, through the Middle Ages and continuing to the late 20th Century, unbaptised children in Ireland were rarely buried in consecrated ground. Denied access to the graveyard, they were buried in cillíní instead. ‘Cillín’ translates as ‘little church’, they are unmarked rough ground, often sited within prehistoric sites, ancient stone circles or by standing stones. These are sites associated with various superstitions and were thus not likely to be disturbed, they are also places resonant with earlier rituals. These unofficial, unmarked graveyards form a part of the Irish landscape, over 1500 are catalogued across Ireland, there are many others which are not registered. These bleak places, remote, neglected, have been erased from cultural memory, much as the babies were excluded from communal ritual.

The babies were buried in the dark. The day the infant died, the father would take the body from the home and journey on their own to the cillín which could be some distance away. They would bury the infant between nightfall and dawn. The mother remained at home, confined, not permitted to name the baby, often never informed as to the exact burial site.

Cillíní fell out of use as the last century wore on and finally stopped around the 1970s.

This exhibition is touring Ireland during 2020. Having completed its showing in the RHA Gallery in Dublin last November and The Dock in Carrick-on-Shannon in March, it will tour to Uillinn, the West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen in November 2020.

For the book, the RHA commissioned a poem by Una Mannion, winner of the inaugural Seamus Heaney Hennessy Poetry Award and a short essay by Dr. Marion Dowd, an Irish writer and archaeologist.
  •  RHA Gallery, Dublin

    RHA Gallery, Dublin

  •  RHA Gallery, Dublin

    RHA Gallery, Dublin

  •  RHA Gallery, Dublin

    RHA Gallery, Dublin

  •  RHA Gallery, Dublin

    RHA Gallery, Dublin

  •  RHA Gallery, Dublin

    RHA Gallery, Dublin

  •  RHA Gallery, Dublin

    RHA Gallery, Dublin

Installation RHA Gallery in Dublin
  •  The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon

    The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon

  •  The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon

    The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon

  •  The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon

    The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon

  •  The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon

    The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon

  •  The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon

    The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon

  •  The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon

    The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon

  •  The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon

    The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon

  •  Ballydawley, County Sligo

    Ballydawley, County Sligo

  •  Curragh More, County Kerry

    Curragh More, County Kerry

  •  Sessuegarry, County Sligo

    Sessuegarry, County Sligo

  •  Maunvough, County Cork

    Maunvough, County Cork

  •  Leckanarainey, County Leitrim

    Leckanarainey, County Leitrim

  •  Carrownamadoo, County Sligo

    Carrownamadoo, County Sligo

  •  Sheeanmore, County Sligo

    Sheeanmore, County Sligo

  •  Lacken - County Mayo

    Lacken - County Mayo

  •  Sligo Racetrack, County Sligo

    Sligo Racetrack, County Sligo

  •  - Poem 'a landscape for forgetting' by Una Mannion, hand-lettered on the wall by Darragh Stewart

    - Poem 'a landscape for forgetting' by Una Mannion, hand-lettered on the wall by Darragh Stewart