1916 Proclamation recreated at Print Museum

Pictured Above: reproduction of the proclamation.

Pictured Above: Reproduction of the proclamation.

For any of our readers who have been enamoured with the recent 1916 Rising centenary events, it may well be worth your while to pop down to the National Print Museum in Beggar’s Bush in the near future.

The museum currently has an original copy of the 1916 Proclamation on display, which has been under their custodianship for the past decade and is on loan from the McCluskey family until it parts for its new owner. The National Print Museum is also fortunate to have in its collection a working Wharfedale Stop Cylinder Press, the type of machine that the Proclamation was printed on.

NewsFour visited the Museum to speak with Carla Marrinan, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the facility. Marrinan spoke to us at length about how the document came into being, and how we all too often overlook the unsung heroes who were the principal architects of the Proclamation’s physical creation.

Three men were involved in producing the document; Christopher Brady, the printer and two compositors, Michael Molloy and Liam O’Brien.

“The two compositors would have set the text by hand,” Marrinan says. “What they discovered was that they had very little type. James Connolly asked would they be up for printing the document and the men saw it as an honour to be involved in printing such a historical document.”

Marrinan also pointed out the multiple curiosities of the original copy: discrepancies such as differently-sized typefaces and inconsistencies in ink density in the print, showing how resourceful the men who crafted the Proclamation were, given the limitations imposed on them.

Some of the letters are in very poor condition. For example , the ‘R’ in ‘IRISH REPUBLIC’ has a fatter, slanted leg because it was made from sealing wax that was added to the letter ‘P’.

In honour of the printing of the Proclamation, a panel of active retired printers at the museum – Alfred McCormack, Frederick Snowe and William Ryan – have now printed a commemorative replica series.

These copies have been printed in the traditional craft of letterpress on the Museum’s Wharfedale Stop Cylinder Press and are available from the Museum Shop for sale to the general public from March 21st onwards. The Proclamation is real size, and is as close to the original copy as one is likely to find. A limited edition version will be printed on a mould-made paper on April 23rd, the hundredth anniversary to the day.

Marrinan spoke of the motivations of the volunteers for embarking upon this project. “What our printers wanted to do was make a tribute to these honourable men who made this document. They’ve been working on the Wharfedale, which is the only working Wharfedale in the country.

For the past year our printers have been working on getting new rollers to get the machine up and running. The guys really wanted people to see the image and the work that went into it. Maybe not everyone can relate to a machine like this, but back in the day it was machines like this that were used to get your message out!

We’ve had quite a bit of interest in it, it was on Nationwide last Wednesday and we’ve had lots of lovely comments, so it’s been a positive reaction. Lots of parents have been buying copies for their children as a keepsake from the area so they are a really nice gift.”

By Craig Kinsella