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.
On May 4th, 1916, the executions of the leaders of the Easter Rising continued. Joseph Mary Plunkett, William (Willie) Pearse, Edward (Ned) Daly, and Michael O’Hanrahan were shot in the yard at Kilmainham Gaol in the early hours of the morning.
Yesterday’s plan was to observe and walk behind the 1916 Societies’ Easter Commemoration parade, being a proper journalist and chronicling the march. Instead, upon arrival at the GPO, my traveling companion and I were handed the Cumann na mBan flag to hold while the two ladies it belonged to got to know us and socialized with other parade organizers. When the flag was taken up to join the others of the parade, the women invited us to join them in carrying the Constance Markievicz banner, and we were given pride of place near the very front of the march. It was an amazing experience and beyond my wildest imagination of what yesterday could be.
I’m returning to my favorite cause lately again for one more time (this week). Last night the “Banksy” mural appeared – and while it is obviously not Banksy, it is pretty great.
Well, it’s pretty great except for one thing. As one astute observer on Facebook said, “Just another time Elizabeth O’Farrell was edited out of the picture.” This artist didn’t even add her shoes. Still, the flash of color and the twist on the old surrender picture is still an awesome one.
This little tidbit comes to you from Moore Street. The lyrics of this song kind of sum up my goals with this blog too.
Hope you enjoy this lovely woman’s song, and please, remember them all. Also, don’t forget to keep an eye out on what is happening on Moore Street, and join any protest to protect it that you can.
I seem to have written a piece about Moore Street in Dublin every four to six months or so, since my last visit there. As the (de)construction looms ever closer, it has happened a bit more frequently. The protection of Moore Street is one of my favorite Irish causes, and I spend a good deal of time reading through mind-numbing transcripts and watching videos and news from afar as the government tries to weasel a new mall or hotel into what should be a sacred and protected space.
My blogs have had a birthday! I almost missed the notification – but I turn two today…or one of them does. It is hard to believe, considering I didn’t even know I had two years of material in me. This one isn’t quite two yet, but since it is more regular, I’m celebrating it anyway. Earlier this year, I posted my ten favorite Irish posts from my first year of writing. Now I’m publishing a book, looking forward to spending a month in Ireland come March, and already forging ahead. I hope you’ll all join me on these adventures.
‘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.
Now that some of the Women of 1916 have been highlighted, it’s time to move on to another group that has been largely left out of the history books when it comes to The Easter Rising. Many brave rebels are celebrated throughout the world every year at this time…but what is ignored by most is that the fighters were not exclusively Irish. There were more than a hundred foreign soldiers who assisted in the Rising and while some were 2nd or 3rd generation Irish there were others who had no Irish blood whatsoever. They came from all over Europe and the rest of the world to join forces against the English and were some of the fiercest warriors in the conflict.
It is estimated that at least 200 women were involved in the Easter Rising of 1916, many more than previously thought. Their roles varied as widely as the women themselves – and ranged from the traditional fundraisers, cooks, and nurses, to the more unexpected roles of sharpshooters, spies, smugglers, and experts on explosives. A decent effort has been made over the last few years to give them credit for the part they played in the fight for Irish freedom, but sadly, they are still largely absent from many of the narratives.
Worse still is when a historian refers to the women as “great supporters” or “brilliant fundraisers” or “backbones”. These statements are true, but they still have an air of dismissal even amidst the recognition. They still show women in supportive or secondary roles and ignore the fact that many of them saw themselves as rebels, fighters, and soldiers in their own right – regardless of whether or not there were any men around. Until more historians can acknowledge that, many of the women who continuously risked their lives during Easter Week and in the years that followed, will not get the respect and honor that they are due.