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This Dutch print depicts violence during the 1641 Irish Rebellion.

1641 Irish Rebellion exhibition opens

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This Dutch print depicts violence during the 1641 Irish Rebellion.

In an exhibition highlighting one of Ireland’s most traumatic events, Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is showcasing testimonies from witnesses of the alleged Protestant massacres by Catholic rebels during the 1641 Irish Rebellion.

The testimonies, mostly from Protestants, detail the alleged crimes committed by the Irish Catholic insurgents, including torture, assault, stripping, imprisonment and murder, as well as the loss of goods.

For the past three years, some 50 researchers, librarians and academics have been going through 19,000 pages of linen rag paper, transcribing the 8,000 depositions and digitizing them to be uploaded online for free public viewing.

Academics will use "forensic linguistics" to test the reliability of the reports in the next part of the project.

President Mary McAleese, who opened the exhibition, said the rebellion has been the subject of debate for a long time.

"Facts and truth have been casualties along the way and the distillation of skewed perceptions over generations have contributed to a situation where both sides were confounding mysteries to one another," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"That is why in these more chastened and reflective times, as we try to understand more deeply and generously the perspectives which have estranged us and as we try to reconcile, to be good neighbours, friends and partners across those sectarian divides, it is such a valuable thing to have access to this unique collection of witness testimonies from some of those who experienced the terror and horror of those tragic times."

Said Jane Ohlmeyer, TCD’s Erasmus Smith Professor of Modern History:  "Having completed the first phase of the project we now turn to using the depositions as a research and educational resource."

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