There are so many important women in Irish history that I could work the rest of my life (which I probably will) and not get to them all. That said, Anne Devlin is the one who started it all. Without Anne I may never have had the jump start I needed to begin writing again. I may never have started a blog and certainly would not have written a book. But it’s not all about me – without Anne Devlin, numerous rebellions in Ireland could have been compromised. Important uprisings would not have happened. Patriots would most certainly have been jailed or killed. Her fortitude and silence against all odds and various forms of torture probably saved thousands of lives, though it cost her dearly.
On this day in herstory, Anne Devlin Campbell passed away – long after her incarceration in one of the most notorious dungeons and prisons in Ireland. It’s amazing that she lived so long given her brutal treatment there. She was an elderly, broke washerwoman living in relative obscurity when she died, but she was never broken. This is some of her tale that I wrote and continue to repost every year in remembrance of this powerful woman.
There are many, many women in Irish history who never get the recognition they deserve for their contributions to it. Anne Devlin may be the most egregious example of that. Her strength and dedication to the Irish cause was truly like no other.
I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who reads my little ramblings and stories here. When I began it was just a place to put the things I was so passionate about and now it has blossomed into a tiny sparkling gem that makes me so very happy. Today I was given a gift that let me know I had moved someone enough to find and leave flowers on a grave and it damn near made me cry in a wonderful way.
Two things happened last week. I got to write the story of a woman who has been in my head and heart for years and then Scotland took over everything. Between writing about Anne Devlin, one of my passions and heroes, and the heartbreak of Scotland’s no vote, I have felt a little spent. I am still trying to find the words for a Scotland post – which is still coming to be sure – and have been focused on that quest. The radio has been silent for a bit as I puzzle out just what I want to say.
However, today I got a notification from a stranger named Annie (ha!) who had read my story of Anne Devlin on a recommendation from a friend and who is currently visiting Ireland. She let me know that she had gone hunting for Anne’s grave in Glasnevin and then sent a picture of the bright red flowers she had left there for Anne – and for me – because she had been touched by my telling of her tale. It brought tears to my eyes and a giddy smile to my face that has yet to go away. To know someone reads an entry and is inspired by it is amazing. It is motivating me to quit my stumbling and get back into the writing patterns I had started before hitting the roadblock in my brain and heart that is the Scottish Referendum.
So thank you Annie, and everyone else, for occasionally stopping by and reading this silly little dream of a journal. It was just a place for me to ramble on about Ireland and history without driving all of my friends batty and now it is a thing that sometimes brings other people joy and inspiration. For that, I am eternally humbled and grateful.
Today is not the day Anne Devlin died but September 18th is. Given that the Scottish vote will be the news of that day this year, I thought I would step back for a minute into my favorite subjects. I started this blog because I am incredibly passionate about history in general – and Irish history in specific. I make an effort to highlight Irish women – the rebels, suffragists, and strong women who fought for Ireland just as much as their male counterparts but who rarely get the same credit. The Scottish referendum on Independence is HUGE news but their vote falls on an all too forgotten date in Irish history as well – and to ignore that would be yet another travesty inflicted upon Anne Devlin. Given that she suffered more brutality in her life than most would ever survive, the least I can do is mark the anniversary of her passing and give her the recognition that she deserves – even if I tell my tale of her life and death a day early.
It has been said that tourists – and mostly American tourists – are the only reason that Kilmainham Gaol is still open because most Irish couldn’t be bothered with it these days. My new friend who is now happily married here in the U.S. agrees with the travel books that say things like that because he and his generation seem to be sick to death of the glorious dead mentality and couldn’t care less about the history and the Troubles that have haunted the country since even before the Rising of 1916. In fact, he was shocked that we were still asked questions about our religion and last names on our travels to Ireland at the end of last year, both in the Republic and the North because he thought those kinds of things were finished.
However, when I did tour Kilmainham Gaol, I was in a group mostly made up of Irish people and all seemed just as profoundly affected by it as I was. Perhaps it was because of the off season which meant my group was thankfully smaller when we went through the infamous prison, or perhaps it was an anomaly altogether but I was glad for it. It made for a decidedly more intimate and more personal experience.