Screening of An Agreement of Silence by Artist Sinead McCann

Date & Time

Tue 1 March, session one 13:00-14:00 / session two 17:30-18:30 CET

Ticket Price Invite only, contact

Council of Europe


The Council of Europe will host two screenings of the film, ‘An Agreement of Silence’ by the Dublin-based artist Dr Sinead McCann. The screenings will be followed by a talk and Q&A with the artist and the UCD historian, Professor Catherine Cox.

An Agreement of Silence, a video artwork created and directed by artist Dr Sinead McCann. An evocative emotional story of a woman’s experience in the former Magdalene Laundry on Sean McDermott Street Dublin told using monologue, dance, music and song. The story explores the alliance of the church, the state and the broader community in the confinement, exploitation and abuse of women in the former Magdalene laundries in Ireland.

Monologue written by writer Féilim James and performed by actor Michelle Costello, movement direction in collaboration with Kate Finnegan, Dancers; Siobhan O’Connor, Vitor Bassi, and Mufrao Gambe, with original music composition created and performed by ELKIN.

This artwork was first commissioned and shown as part of Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival in 2021.

The talk and panel discussion to follow the screening, with the participation of the artist Dr Sinead McCann and the historian Professor Catherine Cox, will explore Sinead’s artistic process and practice, the history of Magdalene and related institutions in Ireland, and serve to highlight Ireland’s commitment to gender equality and human rights, particularly in the context of Ireland’s upcoming Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (May-Nov. 2022).

Image credit: Artist Sinead McCann, An Agreement of Silence (2021), video still courtesy of the artist.

Dr Sinead McCann is a Dublin-based artist working across the mediums of performance, video, sound, installation and sculpture often in a context, site or community specific way. Sinead produces innovative and challenging artworks that add an artistic contribution to public debate on important social issues in modern life. She has exhibited her work nationally, and internationally in a range of contexts, and her work has been funded and supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, Culture Ireland International, University College Dublin, Wellcome Trust, Dublin City Council and Dublin City Council Culture Company, Creative Ireland programme, and various civil society organisations across the community sector in Ireland.

Trigger for Change (2022), a 46-minute radio documentary in collaboration with The Bridge Project Dublin 8 exploring access to employment for people with a criminal record. Funded by a creative research grant from Dublin City Council Culture Company and the Arts Council of Ireland Artist in Community Project Realisation Award managed by Create. Broadcasting on Newstalk Irish radio station as part of First Forthnight Mental Health Art and Culture festival Jan 2022.

Sound On! (2020-21) A sound art project in collaboration with artist Alan James Burns and Saint John of God Liffey Service exploring human rights and happiness for and by people with a learning disability. Presented by Headway Arts UK. Funded by the Arts Council of Ireland Artist in Community Project Research and Development Award, and Project Realisation Award managed by Create and a Creative Ireland Community Grant Award, and Culture Ireland International exhibiting Award.

Living Inside; Six stories from the history of Irish prison reform (2019), a photographic exhibition of the work of Irish photo journalist Derek Speirs, Kilmainham Jail, co curated with UCD historians Dr Oisin Wall and Dr Catherine Cox. As part of a major Welcome Trust funded project at University College Dublin exploring the history of prisoner healthcare. Funded by the Wellcome Trust UK, and University College Dublin.

The Trial (2017-2019), is a four channel synced video and sound installation made in collaboration with the Bridge Project Dublin 8, and UCD historians Dr Catherine Cox and Dr Fiachra Byrne exploring healthcare and human rights in the Irish prison system. Funded by an Arts Council of Ireland Participation Project Award, Community Award Dublin City Council, with further funding from University College Dublin and Wellcome Trust UK. National tour in 2019, funded by the Arts Council of Ireland. As part of a major Welcome Trust funded project at University College Dublin exploring the history of prisoner healthcare.

Health Inside (2018), a public art intervention on large scale billboards and bus shelters in Dublin 7 near Mountjoy prison, in collaboration with UCD historians Dr Oisin Wall and Dr Catherine Cox exploring the history of healthcare provision in the Irish prison system. Funded by an Open Call Arts Council of Ireland Award.

Dr Catherine Cox is an Associate Professor at the School of History, University College Dublin, is a lecturer in Irish social history, the history of psychiatry, and the social and cultural history of medicine. She is co-editor of Irish Economic and Social History, Deputy Chair of the Irish Committee of Historical Sciences and Director of UCD Centre of the History of Medicine in Ireland.

Her book publications include Disorder Contained: Mental Breakdown and the Modern Prison in England and Ireland, 1840–1900 (Cambridge University Presss, 2022), Negotiating Insanity in the Southeast of Ireland, 1820-1900 (Manchester University Press, 2012) and various edited collections, including with Susannah Riordan (eds) Adolescence in Modern Irish History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), with Hilary Marland (eds), Migration, Health, and Ethnicity in the Modern World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and with Maria Luddy (eds), Cultures of Care in Irish Medical History, 1750-1970 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). She has published numerous articles and book chapters on the history of psychiatry, prisons, mental health and migration, medical practice and the history of institutionalization in Ireland.

Catherine is the Principal Investigator on a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award entitled Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland, 1850-2000′ working with Hilary Marland on the strand on mental health in prison, 1850–2000.

Public engagement and research impact have been areas of interest for Catherine for many years. Working with different theatre groups and artists, she has co-produced a range of activities including plays, exhibitions and art installations, to communicate historical research in imaginative and creative ways. This work has won two theatre awards and in 2020, Catherine won UCD’s Research Impact Award.

This St Brigid’s Day event is a programme brought to you by the Department of Foreign Affairs.



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