An exhibition ‘A Dangerous Man: Frank Lawless and the War of Independence in Fingal’ and film commission ‘Peace to the Ashes’ commemorating the life and legacy of Frank Lawless T.D. was launched by the Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Seána Ó Rodaigh at an event in County Hall Swords on 25th April 2022. The event was attended by an invited audience including many of the Lawless family and replicas of the exhibition were presented to them by the Mayor on the night. The launch also included the first public showing of the film ‘Peace to the Ashes’ by broadcaster and filmmaker Donal Dineen specially commissioned by Fingal Arts Office and featuring Eithne Ní Catháin (Inni K).
Frank Lawless was one of the most dynamic regional leaders of the revolutionary period. Born into a farming family in Swords, county Dublin, in 1870, he followed his grandfather and father into nationalist politics, before becoming central to the republican movement in North county Dublin. Although most of his political life was spent in prison, as a result of his prominence in the 1916 Rising, it was cut short with his untimely death on 16th April 1922 after a road accident. The exhibition “A Dangerous Man: Frank Lawless and the War of Independence in Fingal” gives us an insight into his life and politics along with the legacy he left. We see the role he played in the cultural, political and sporting life of Fingal from his early years to his death.
Broadcaster and filmmaker Donal Dineen was struck by a powerful photograph of Lawless’s funeral where we see among the mourners Arthur Griffith beneath the large Celtic cross marking the Lawless family plot. He uses this as a starting point to his collaborative commemorative film titled – ‘Peace to the Ashes’ a work commissioned by Fingal County Council Arts Office. Filmed almost exclusively within the walls of the Rolestown Cemetery, this new work is a poetic meditation on the passage of a centuries’ worth of time since that moment was frozen forever on photographic film and imprinted into both the history books and the consciousness of a nation. This reflective piece on how forces beyond our control can often determine the way legacies are formed is built around a series of vignettes which render the quiet drama of cemetery time passing in beautiful stop-motion shadow-play.
The commemoration of the life and legacy of Frank Lawless is facilitated by Fingal County Council’s Commemorations team and supported by the Commemorations unit, Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. The exhibition ‘A Dangerous Man: Frank Lawless and the War of Independence in Fingal’ is on display to the public at The Atrium, County Hall, Swords from 19th April – 13th May 2022. The film ‘Peace to the Ashes’ can be viewed on the Fingal County Council Youtube channel here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODmeJR54TsY .Both the exhibition and the film can be viewed online on the Council website here: https://www.fingal.ie/frank-lawless-exhibition-and-peace-ashes