Hibernia representing a mourning Ireland. As published by the nationalist newspaper United Ireland following the death of Edmund Dwyer Gray in 1888.

Hibernia as a national personification representing Ireland appeared in numerous cartoons and drawings, especially in the nineteenth century.[1][2]

As depicted in frequent cartoons in Punch, a magazine outspokenly hostile to Irish nationalism, Hibernia was shown as "Britannia's younger sister".[3] She is an attractive, vulnerable girl.[4] She is threatened by manifestations of Irish nationalism such as the Fenians or the Irish National Land League, often depicted as brutish, ape-like monsters. Unable to defend herself, Hibernia is depicted turning to the strong, armoured Britannia for defence.[5] John Tenniel, now mainly remembered as the illustrator of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, produced a number of such depictions of Hibernia.[6][7]

At times, nationalist publications (such as the Land League and Parnell's United Ireland newspaper) did use the image of Hibernia. However, possibly because of the pro-union publications' adoption of the "helpless" image of Hibernia, nationalist publications would later use Erin and Kathleen Ni Houlihan as personifications of Irish nationhood.[citation needed] (Although Irish Nationalists did continue to use the terms "Hibernia" and "Hibernian" in other contexts, such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians). A statue, derived from an original by Edward Smyth and depicting a more confident Hibernia (with harp and spear),[8] stands in the central position of three atop the General Post Office in Dublin.[9] The statue appeared on a €2 commemorative coin in 2016 to mark the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising.[10]

See also


  1. ^ "1916 coins to feature Hibernia statue and Proclamation terms". Irish Times. 10 September 2015. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  2. ^ Amanda Mordavsky Caleb (2007). Recreating science in nineteenth-century Britain. Cambridge Scholars. ISBN 9781847182203.
  3. ^ "Punch cartoon of March 3, 1866, and commentary by Harlan Wallach". projects.vassar.edu. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  4. ^ Nicola Gordon Bowe. "Essay - Symbols of Ireland". Government of Ireland (gov.ie). Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2016. Depictions of Ireland as a green-clad Hibernia [...] resilient, deceptively vulnerable
  5. ^ "Two Forces: Irish Land League outlawed. Britannia protects Hibernia (Ireland) with the Force of Law against the Force of Anarchy. John Tenniel cartoon from Punch, London, 29 October 1881". Bridgeman Art Library. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  6. ^ Frankie Morris (2005). Artist of Wonderland: The Life, Political Cartoons, and Illustrations of Tenniel. University of Virginia Press. p. 300. ISBN 9780813923437.
  7. ^ John Tenniel (artist). "The gentlemanly Gladstone and the brutish Land League as rivals for Hibernia's heart". Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  8. ^ "'Hibernia' statue, General Post Office, Dublin". South Dublin Libraries. 16 May 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  9. ^ "History and Heritage / Dublin's General Post Office". AnPost.ie. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  10. ^ "A swish new €2 coin comes into circulation today to commemorate 1916".