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The Dying Cúchulainn

Where can you see this sculpture on display? 

Modern History Galleries - Home Rule to Partition 1900-1922

Which collection is this object part of?


Why is this sculpture so important?

This is an official small scale sculpture of an original that is in the General Post Office in Dublin, the rebel headquarters during the Easter Rising in 1916. The sculpture shows the dying legendary hero, Cúchulainn.

The sculptor, Oliver Sheppard, was born at Cookstown, Co. Tyrone in 1865. His father was an artisan-sculptor, specialising in ornamental chimney pieces.

The “Dying Cúchulainn” was produced by Sheppard in 1911 and exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1914.

Although much admired, the sculpture remained unsold in Sheppard’s studio until Éamon de Valera paid a visit to the studio in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the Rising.

De Valera chose the sculpture to serve as the official memorial to the Rising. It was placed in the General Post Office in December 1934, for unveiling in Easter Week 1935.

At the unveiling ceremony in the General Post Office on 21st April 1935 de Valera described the work as “a beautiful piece of sculpture, the creation of Irish genius, symbolising the dauntless courage and abiding constancy of our people.”

What should you look out for when you go to see this sculpture?

It depicts the dying Cúchulainn strapped to a rock, with the Morrígu (goddess of war) in the shape of a raven on his shoulder.