The graffiti located in the West Wing of Kilmainham Gaol clearly, and repeatedly, articulates the women’s enduring connection to the local areas, and to Ireland and their ‘Irishness’. The graffiti most often centres on the city or county level with numerous references to ‘Up Kerry’, ‘Up Tipp’, ‘Up Dublin’:
as well as a simple, but frequent, ‘Up Us’
These enduring connections are also mirrored in the autograph books where similar sentiments can be located. Many of the women sign their name providing their home address, prison record and often sign off with a celebration of their county. Furthermore, there are a number of pages that are used on a communal level to gather the signatures of women who come from the same locality. This includes a paper containing the names of those imprisoned from Tipperary:
and the more provincial grouping of ‘Sligo – Leitrim – Tir Connail Column’:
This connection with geographical origins and military organization – as with many guerilla organizations cells were kept small and local – takes more than a material form in the prison. Often women grouped together with those who they knew prior to their incarceration and shared cells with their comrades-in-arms from the ‘real world’. There are frequent mentions of the ‘Co[mpan]y’ and ‘Brigade’ that they belonged to, referencing their role within the women’s organization that many of them belonged to, Cumann na mBan.
The naming of individual cells by the women prisoners is found throughout the prison system and often followed tradition of celebrated heroes, dead comrades or geographical features with mentions of the ‘Limerick Section’ and ‘Kerry Section’ in autograph books but few examples left in the West Wing that have not been repainted (if indeed they always took material form).
Of course there are also many celebrations of a wider Irish identity and this frequently includes the drawing of Irish symbols throughout the Wing. There are frequent examples of harps:
combinations of various traditional Irish symbols:
The graffiti and autograph books reveal that origins – be they as a nation or a locality – were incredibly important to the women held in the West Wing of Kilmainham Gaol and continued to be emphasized whilst they were imprisoned.