Not too many women would have the nerve to wander through a war zone, and precious few have the nerve to join right in and fight. Almost none would march right up to one of the leaders so she could tell him to his face that the whole thing was a bad idea. But Louise Gavan Duffy did exactly that on the day the Easter Rising began in Ireland, and she had no qualms about it.
Later she spoke of that fateful day – and she recounted what she said to Patrick Pearse in the headquarters of the Rising. “I said to him that I wanted to be in the field but that I felt that the Rebellion was a frightful mistake, that it could not possibly succeed, and that it was, therefore, wrong.” Pearse looked at this gutsy woman and suggested that since she was already there, maybe she’d be willing to help in the kitchen. She ended up staying in the Headquarters throughout the entire conflict, and she was one of the last to evacuate the GPO. She never wavered in her belief that the Rising was a bad move but it did not stop her from helping the men in any way that she could, except one. She would not actively fight.
She certainly had spirit though, and was absolutely not afraid to speak her mind. She reiterated her feelings about the Rising to at least one other leader before it ended, and a few other people once it was over. She remained politically active for some time but she supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty – one of the signatories on it was her brother, after all – and it strained some of the relationships between her and her revolutionary friends.
She died on this day in 1969, and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery – where many of those old friends are resting as well.
I love how you represent Irish women; nothing at all could have ever been achieved without them, and history ignores almost all of them. You made my mother proud. Thank you.
That may be the best compliment I have ever gotten. Thank you. (and her)
Thank you! And thank you for giving thanks to my mother.