Margaret Skinnider

Margaret Skinnider was a woman like no other, and I take every opportunity that I can to write about her. She is one of my biggest heroes – not just because she was a warrior and an intellectual but also because she was humble and quick. Without her contributions, many aspects of the Easter Rising may never have come to fruition but because she was not born in Ireland and she was a woman, it has been very hard to find anyone who gives her the full recognition she deserves in the history of the Rising.

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A little humor today

First, well done Ireland. You have done what no other country has been able to do and truly showed that all love is equal – by popular vote. Now I know some are still incredibly unhappy with that, but the majority of voters have truly given the rest of the world a little more hope.

Here in America, the “land of the free” (asshole quotes intended), we have no such track record. In fact, some states have written the exact opposite sentiments into their laws – which is utterly heartbreaking – and we give a lot of media attention to our worst, rather than our best. A good example of that is the Westboro Baptist Church, a truly horrifying organization that loves to grab the attention of the press. We eat up their hate-filled propaganda like it’s a bag of McDonald’s french fries which is equally disgusting. I try not to pay attention to them or anyone like them at all.

However, today the headline made me laugh out loud and giggle with glee, so as much as I don’t like to spread their filth, this was just too funny to pass up. The hateful group decided they were going to take up their signs and protest Ireland, due to the referendum results, but apparently no one decided to make sure they got the flags right before printing all of their detestable signs. So according to them, God hates Ireland, but their misprinted signs hate the Ivory Coast….because they got the flags mixed up.

They tried to save face when it was pointed out to them on Twitter, by saying “Well, now that you mention it, God hates the Ivory Coast too” (for some reason they’re sure to invent) but the joke’s on them this time. Their spectacular failure to spread their hatred accurately is worth the fifteen minutes of glee that it gives to the rest of us who believe that all love is equal and that the WBC should be dismantled.

So congratulations again Ireland – for saying no to hate, and for allowing the haters to make bigger fools of themselves than ever before. Well done!

64 Women

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The number of women arrested and questioned in 1916 for their roles in the Easter Rising up until today, 99 years ago, was 64. The paper published their names a week later on the 29th of May, and many believed this number to be the total number of women involved. They could not have been more wrong.

In all, over 200 women are known to have been involved in the Dublin Uprising. More than half are not included on this list – and many more have been lost in time – leaving some to believe that even the higher estimates are lower than they should be. Since many of the documented women are often ignored anyway, we may never have an accurate number altogether but at least there are a few pieces of hard evidence of their involvement, including this tiny clipped article.

In the years leading up to the Centenary celebration, many books and documentaries have made a decent effort to include and acknowledge the female fighters of 1916. I hope they will continue to highlight the women’s fight both for Ireland and for the recognition they deserve in the aftermath. Cheers ladies.

Crashing into the History Books

On May 21st, 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly a plane over the Atlantic ocean by herself. She ended up crashing in a field near Derry, rather than landing safely in France as she had intended, but she earned her title nonetheless and became an important symbol and inspiration to women everywhere. Continue reading

Troubled Times Ahead For Sinn Fein?

The Broken Elbow

When a bubble bursts it usually does so with a loud noise and a rapid discharge of gas. But sometimes all you get is a gentle hissing sound, so measured it can be hard to detect.

Sinn Fein’s performance in last week’s British general election probably falls in the latter category. With the exception of the dramatic loss of the iconic Fermanagh and South Tyrone seat – first won by Bobby Sands thirty-four years ago – its vote hissed softly outwards, declining overall by a just single percentage point. Not the end of the world but not good either.

With the exception of West Belfast, where the vote slumped by nearly 17 per cent, most of which went to the left-wing People Before Profit candidate, the losses were tiny in most areas. But the bad news was that the losses were across the board, in fifteen of the eighteen seats.

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Learn Something!!

Irish Lives in War and Revolution: Exploring Ireland’s History 1912-1923‘ was the name of the online class that I just completed thanks to the partnership between Trinity College and Futurelearn. It certainly lived up to its title, but not in the way I expected. Gone were the heroic tales of Patrick Pearse, Constance Markievicz, or Michael Collins. In their places were the voices, letters, and stories of the average person, struggling to get through his or her life in Ireland during periods of protracted conflict. It featured soldiers and volunteers pretty equally and it was really well constructed. I had a fascinating six weeks and I can’t even begin to tell you how much inspiration it gave me or how many historical events have a new twist (or ten) to think about after taking the course. Thousands of people worldwide took this class online, so I guess the first thing that must be said is way to go Ireland – people like you! And the next is a huge thank you to the teachers, mentors and researchers because this class was really enjoyable and educational.

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James Connolly’s execution

On this day, 99 years ago, James Connolly was executed by the English for his role in the Easter Rising of 1916 and his death caused anger to explode all over Ireland. This is not to say that the death of Sean MacDiarmada who was executed on this day as well for the same reasons, was any lesser of a sore point to be mad or upset about, or that any executions before them were either.  In fact, the decision to kill the leaders after secret trials still haunts the British to this day. It is only the fact that James Connolly was driven to his death in Kalmainham Gaol by ambulance and shot after being tied to a chair that makes his execution any different from the other leaders.

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