Over the last few years interest in the roles that women played throughout Irish history has finally picked up. We now know that there were far more women who took part in the Easter Rising than previously thought. Estimates have put their numbers anywhere from seventy-seven to several hundred and many are finally getting the recognition that they have deserved for so long. Sorcha MacMahon was one of those women and without her, the 1916 uprising may have been very different indeed.
Margaret Skinnider described the Easter Rising like this. “Every shot we fired was a declaration to the world that Ireland, a small country but large in our hearts, was demanding her independence.” Her words might not have had the same certainty and grand bravado if she had been writing while the bullets were flying…but then again, I am quoting Margaret Skinnider so maybe they would have. That utter devotion to Ireland nearly did her in, 101 years ago today.
Love him or hate him, Eamon De Valera was perhaps the most influential man in Irish History, despite the fact that he was born in the United States. He helped create the political machine of modern Ireland and his influence is still being felt (and untangled) today, forty-one years after his death.
On this day in Irish history one of the bravest Irish women bid her last farewell to her beloved Ireland. Elizabeth O’Farrell passed away on June 25th, 1957, forty-one years after completing a dangerous mission that many thought would kill her. In 1916, Ms. O’Farrell wore a red cross and carried a white flag through raging battle zones to offer the surrender of the leaders of the Easter Rising. As she left the makeshift rebel headquarters in Moore Street her friend Sheila fell into hysterics, sure that Elizabeth would be killed on this mission.
I haven’t written much about my month-long journey through Ireland culminating with the Centenary because to be frank, I am left speechless by most of it. I have no words to convey how much it changed me and how blessed I was to connect with so many amazing people. Many of the greatest moments of my life happened on this trip, including being one of the Constance Markievicz 1916 Societies standard bearers near the forefront of the centenary parade(s). I still can’t believe that happened and I owe the honor to a couple of incredible women named Anna Harvey and Emma Radford.
After the Easter Rising of 1916, Dublin was a shell of a city. The force used by the English to put down the uprising had reduced a large portion of the city to rubble and ash, and the citizens were starting to show their anger. During the actual battle, many were frustrated with the fighters on both sides who were keeping them from their jobs, their paychecks, and their daily lives, but when their very livelihood and their homes were threatened by the indiscriminate shelling, even those who were not political, raised their voices against the onslaught.