Conflicted Visions: After the 1916 Rising, a Dublin printer walks a knife-edge

16: Conflicted Visions
An exhibition at Fumbally Exchange, 5 Dame Lane, Dublin 2
Monday 25th April to Friday 29th April, 12-5.30pm


In the heat of 1916, one Dublin-based printer had to tread extremely carefully between the British military and militant Nationalists. A new exhibition in the former Hely’s Printworks at 5 Dame Lane illustrates the knife-edge Charles Wisdom Hely had to walk in the feverish aftermath of the Rising.


Hely’s Ltd was fulfilling a contract to print large numbers of recruitment posters for the war effort when the Nationalists warned the business would be burned if it continued to print “British Propaganda”.


It’s not surprising then that in the aftermath of the Easter Rising Hely’s printed a commemorative booklet “The ‘Sinn Fein’ Revolt, Illustrated” (1916) along with a series of postcards documenting the destruction wrought during the attack on the GPO by the British.


The exhibition includes reproductions of some of the recruitment posters of the time, which are characterised by their emotive and perhaps manipulative approach. Also displayed are extracts from the 1916 commemorative booklet and a selection of the postcards mentioned above.


In parallel with this display, Fumbally Exchange is also showcasing work from Interior Architecture students at Griffith College Dublin that relates to the centenary commemorations. These include:

  • a project by the Masters students for a 1916 exhibition in a disused museum building in Sarajevo, which draws on the parallels with the conflict in that city’s recent history
  • the upcycling of old chairs inspired by leading figures from the rising
  • a contemporary architectural model of O’Connell Street mapping the scene of the conflict.

With thanks to Digital Collections, Trinity College Library Dublin; UCD Digital Library; UCD Archives; and the staff and students of the Design Faculty at Griffith College Dublin for their assistance in compiling the material for the exhibition.


The exhibition will be officially launched at 6pm on Monday 25th April.
Images Caption/Credit: World War I Recruiting Posters printed at Hely’s Ltd Dublin. Courtesy of the Board of Trinity College Dublin.

A look back in history:

Hely’s Printworks operated from Dame Lane from 1897 up to the 1960s and was part of a larger enterprise that included the renowned Hely’s Department Store on Dame Street (where the Mercantile Hotel now stands). The business has been immortalised in James Joyce’s Ulysses and boasts another lesser-known literary connection in that Samuel Beckett’s grandfather constructed the 1906 building in which this exhibition takes place. The building is now home to the Fumbally Exchange co-working community.


Visit Giffith College to find out more about this exhibition.