Bridget Brede Connolly

Bridget “Brede” Connolly was one of the many women who took part in Ireland’s Easter Rising of 1916. She navigated through the streets of Dublin ferrying communications between James Connolly in the General Post Office and Ned Daly, in Church Street. Brede didn’t have that far to go as the crow flies but she had to make it through some of the fiercest fighting of the insurrection to deliver these messages and she did it time and time again.

Miss Connolly was a schoolteacher by trade, and an early and devoted member of Cumann na mBan, Ireland’s Nationalist organization for women. Bridget did not shy away from weaponry and she hid more than a dozen rifles and ammunition in her home on a regular basis. When the Rising began, she reported for duty at the GPO headquarters and she stayed until the end of the fight. Brede did not want to evacuate the burning building but she was asked to see the other women out safely and she did so, under a white flag of surrender.

Bridget remained dedicated to the Irish cause after the Rising and she routinely hid both weapons and Volunteers during the Irish War of Independence. She was against the Anglo-Irish Treaty which brought that conflict to a close and was active on the Anti-Treaty side of the resulting civil war in Ireland. Connolly was in the thick of the fighting at Four Courts in 1922 when she was ordered to slip away and to head north with as many men and women as possible. She was arrested in the aftermath of the battle and was jailed until November 1923. There’s not much more information about the rest of Bridget Connolly’s life or what she did with it, but she definitely had a long one. Brede was unmarried and in her nineties when she died on this day in 1981.

Bridget Connolly received a combat medal for her brave participation in the Easter Rising, twenty-five years after it occurred. She earned another for her role in the War of Independence. Somehow these medals ended up in New York where they were sold at auction just before the centenary celebrations of the Rising began. The winning bid came from Ireland so in theory, her medals went home. A new plaque was in the works shortly thereafter in her hometown of Grange to honor Brede and her fight for Irish freedom. She may be one of the lesser known women of 1916 but she is certainly not forgotten. 

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