Siobhán Doyle

Siobhán is a third-year PhD Researcher in the School of Creative Arts at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and received the Dean of the College of Arts & Tourism scholarship award in March 2016. Siobhán’s doctoral research concerns the material and visual culture of modern Ireland with particular focus upon the role of exhibition display in commemoration and collective memory. Siobhán’s doctoral research on mediating death in museums using James Connolly’s bloodstained vest as a case study was published in May 2018 by the European Remembrance and Solidarity Network in their journal on 20th century conflict. In March 2018, Siobhán co-ordinated and convened a museum workshop Curating Conflict; which brought together museum experts and leading academics to discuss best practices in collecting, curating and exhibiting conflict in museums and galleries.



Title: How politically historic events are reconstructed through the use of images and artefacts associated with death in commemorative exhibitions in national cultural institutions in Ireland.

Supervisors: Dr Tim Stott and Dr Niamh Ann Kelly

Overview: This research project emerges from the challenges national cultural institutions face when presenting death through visual culture in a measured and reflective manner which must satisfy the education and expectation of different types of audiences. The theme of death is among the most common in the history of art through its depiction in scenes of war, crucifixion and religious iconography; however there is a striking absence of research into representations of death from a contemporary visual culture perspective. This project addresses this gap through a case study approach which enables deep considerations of the potentials, difficulties and consequences of addressing death in the museum environment.

Using grounding principles of visual culture, museology and material culture to analyse commemorative exhibition displays, this research project directs attention to the visual processes employed when representing death, raises questions about the ways in which exhibition displays can perpetuate particular aspects of violent events; and how this is bound up with how we continue to remember and (re)interpret the past.

This research comes at a valuable time for Ireland to engage with its past openly and creatively on a substantial platform. In 2016 in particular, Ireland celebrated the centenary of the Easter Rising, the pivotal event in the creation of the modern Irish state, which is widely recognised as an event upon which the cultural identity of Ireland is founded and consolidated. The sites selected as case studies – the National Museum of Ireland (NMI), National Gallery of Ireland (NGI) and the Ulster Museum -each have a significant function in facilitating collective reflection, celebration and engagement in commemorating significant moments in Ireland’s political history.

Research Outputs

Book Chapter:

‘Funerary Traditions and Commemorative Practices in Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum’ (2016) in Grave Matters: Death and Dying in Dublin, 1500 to the Present, edited by Lisa Marie Griffith and Ciarán Wallace, 150-8. Four Courts Press, Dublin.

Journal Article:

‘James Connolly’s Bloodstained Vest: Mediating Death and Violence in Commemorative Exhibitions’ (Forthcoming, Spring 2018) in Remembrance and Solidarity Studies Journal: Studies in 20th Century European History, Vol.6.

Conference Papers:

‘Representations of Death in Commemorative Exhibitions in Irish Museums’ (Forthcoming 2018) Witnessing War Workshop, University of Hertfordshire, 24 March 2018.

‘A Visual Analysis of the Politics of Display in the National Museum of Ireland’ (2017) Visual Intersections II Doctoral Training Programme, Durham University, 10-12 July 2017.

‘The Visual and Material Culture of Death in Commemorative Exhibitions in National Cultural Institutions in Ireland’ (2017) EDEN 2017: Pasts, Presents and Futures Post Graduate Conference, National University Galway, 19-20 May 2017.

‘The Bullet in the Brick: Mediating Death in the Museum’ (2017) Objects in and After Hostilities: The Materiality of Conflict conference, Northumbria University, Newcastle, 30-31 March 2017.[1]

‘1916 Rising and the Challenges of Commemoration in Ireland’ (2016) Confronting Violent Pasts and Historical (In)Justice, Historical Justice and Memory Network Annual International Conference, University of Amsterdam, 1-3 December 2016.

‘The Conflicting Roles of Modern Cemetery Spaces’ (2016) Death, Etc Symposium, Dublin Institute of Technology, 25 November 2016.

‘The 1916 Easter Rising and the Re-conceptualisation of Memory’ (2015) The Politics of Memory: Victimization, Violence and Contested Narratives of the Past international conference, Columbia University, New York, 3-5 December 2015.

‘The Commodification of Cemeteries: Burial Grounds as Multi-Disciplinary Spaces’ (2015) Heritage of Death: Landscapes, Sentiment and Practice international conference, Stockholm University, 10-11September 2015.

‘The Importance of Sporting Imagery in Representing National Identities’ (2015) European Sports Tourism conference, University of Limerick, 15 May 2015.

‘The Presence of Absence in Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum’ (2014) Things to Remember: Materializing Memories in Art and Culture international conference, Radboud University, Nijmegen, 5-6 June 2014.

‘The Presence of Absence in Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum’ (2014) Grave Matters: Death and Dying in Dublin conference, Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, 12 April 2014.

Event Organiser:

Curating Conflict, Dublin Institute of Technology, 9th March 2018.

Death, Etc Symposium, Dublin Institute of Technology, 25th November 2016.

Summer School Attendee:

Third Annual York Summer Theory Institute in Art History (2017) Convened by Professor Whitney Davis (University of California at Berkeley and University of York) at University of York. 22-26 May 2017.




[1] Travel bursary received from the Royal Historical Society to cover flights, conference fees and meals.

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