‘This is Why We Commemorate’ by Super Paua

6th March, 2019

Guests at the #WomenonWalls official unveiling were treated to a specially-commissioned spoken word performance entitled ‘We Commemorate’, written by Sian Ní Mhuirí and performed by Sian Ní Mhuirí with Aoife Dunne, actors with the Super Paua theatre company.

In collaboration with the RCSI Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit and RCSI’s Heritage Collections team in the Library, Sian wrote ‘We Commemorate’ which brings to life the trail blazing achievements of the #WomenOnWalls subjects with reference to the difficult social and cultural environments through which they women adeptly navigated and refused to inhibit their ability to pursue their passions.

Six artists, carefully capturing the essence of their muse.
Such a commemoration is an act of poetic restitution
Such an action gently admits that female genius has
Been overlooked in many far-seeing institutions
Such a rich addition to the living history
Of medicine and science
An artistic, a generous, a colourful defiance
A simple re-configuring of gendered expectation.

– Excerpt from ‘This is Why We Commemorate’


The enthralling performance incorporated a call and response style conversation with witty word play and honest recollections of the lives of the 8 women celebrated in portraiture: Dr Victoria Coffey, Dean Mary Frances Crowley, Dr Emily Winfred Dickson, Dr Margaret (Pearl) Dunlevy, Dr Mary Josephine Hannan, Sr Dr Maura Lynch, Dr Barbara Maive Stokes and Dr Mary Parker Somerville Strangman.

The performance began with Sian addressing the audience from the back of the hall from the minstrel gallery, where female guests once sat during the annual RCSI Charter Day dinner with the seats on the main floor of the Hall reserved for RCSI fellows and members only. The actors moved through the seated audience regaling their poem and culminated at the main stage and, together, in homage, called out the names of the women with their full professional titles.

Read the full script here.

Listen to the audio recording here.