On this day sixty-nine years ago, Ireland said goodbye to one of its fierce daughters. Elizabeth “Lily” O’Brennan was one of three revolutionary sisters in the O’Brennan clan, and was a true believer in the cause of Irish freedom. She fought for it even when it cost her her own.
In 1918 it was nearly impossible to get the Catholic church, politicians, working class citizens, labor unions, suffragettes, Unionists, and Irish Nationalists to join together for anything. Ireland was still reeling and recovering from the Easter Rising of 1916, which most of these groups were still arguing over (as they are still doing today), but there was one proposal that unified them all – the Home Rule/Conscription law. Continue reading
The ladies of Cumann na mBan have always had very strong opinions about the state of Ireland and its politics. Since its inception, the majority of CnamB members have fought for a united Ireland. During the lead up to the Easter Rising of 1916, these women supported the Republican cause in many different ways. They raised funds for the uprising, trained in first aid in order to help wounded Volunteers, smuggled various weapons and explosives throughout Ireland, spread important news, and many learned to shoot and fight themselves. They became a force to be reckoned with.
In the aftermath of the Rising, CnamB was flooded with new members and big ideas. They were prominent in the Dáil Éireann, the Republican legislature set up to counter England’s rule. Many of the widows of the leaders of the Rising were some of the loudest voices and strongest supporters of a free Ireland, and almost all were members of the female Republican organization. Eamon De Valera called them the “most unmanageable revolutionaries.” Many others accused the organization of making decisions based on vengeance and emotion without thought or consequence, especially when they voted against the Anglo-Irish Treaty ninety-four years ago today.
Dr. Ada English was a strong woman, a fervent Nationalist, a prominent member of Cumann na mBan, and one of the first female psychiatrists in Ireland. Like her peer Dr. Kathleen Lynn, Dr. English devoted her spare time to politics and to healing and aiding the Irish Volunteers who were fighting for a free Ireland. Her story is not as well known as Dr Lynn’s however, since Ada was not in Dublin during the Easter Rising. Many political women of Ireland’s revolutionary periods have slowly vanished throughout the years, and Dr. Ada English has not been an exception to that unfortunate trend, though she should be.
Today in 1872, Arthur Griffith was born in Dublin. He was passionate about Irish history, which drove him to become a member of the Gaelic League where he rubbed shoulders with other Irish activists and cultural leaders. He was a bit of an anomaly. His devotion to the Gaelic League led to Griffith joining the Irish Republican Brotherhood where he was surrounded by many ideological opposites. He was inspired by Charles Parnell and wrote for many radical papers while he was growing up, but he was also ultra-conservative and widely reported to be an anti-Semite. While his IRB friends were planning a complete revolution, he was more in favor of a dual monarchy system, a sort of co-partnership with England. He was against any form of communism or socialism and was largely anti-union, but was in a room talking policies with James Connolly—the driving force behind Irish socialism at the time—on many occasions.