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.
Tag Archives: female prisoners
Free Anna Harvey
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.
An Unrepentant Pagan
On this day inn 1946 Ireland lost a powerful voice when Ms. Hanna Sheehy Skeffington passed away. She was one of the country’s most independent and fierce women who always fought for equal rights, for peace, and for Ireland, even when those beliefs cost her dearly. Hanna was indomitable and as she reminded her son before her death, she was an unrepentant pagan. Continue reading
No, Nay, Never; Cumann na mBan rejects treaty
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.
Catalina Bulfin MacBride
The Bulfin family has a very respectable presence in the historic fight for Irish freedom. Many generations of the family fought for Nationalist and Republican causes, both inside and outside of Ireland. One branch ended up in Argentina, which is where Catalina Bulfin and her brother Eamon were born.
The Mighty Kathleen Lynn
Kathleen Lynn was an anomaly among women at the turn of the century in Ireland. She was extremely well educated, which was very rare for females at the time, and she was a doctor – not a nurse – which was an incredibly unusual profession for a woman of that era. She faced discrimination and difficulty in the field for many years due to her gender and it made her a strong suffragist and a very tough woman.
Margaret Skinnider was a woman like no other, and I take every opportunity that I can to write about her. She is one of my biggest heroes – not just because she was a warrior and an intellectual but also because she was humble and quick. Without her contributions, many aspects of the Easter Rising may never have come to fruition but because she was not born in Ireland and she was a woman, it has been very hard to find anyone who gives her the full recognition she deserves in the history of the Rising.
The number of women arrested and questioned in 1916 for their roles in the Easter Rising up until today, 99 years ago, was 64. The paper published their names a week later on the 29th of May, and many believed this number to be the total number of women involved. They could not have been more wrong.
In all, over 200 women are known to have been involved in the Dublin Uprising. More than half are not included on this list – and many more have been lost in time – leaving some to believe that even the higher estimates are lower than they should be. Since many of the documented women are often ignored anyway, we may never have an accurate number altogether but at least there are a few pieces of hard evidence of their involvement, including this tiny clipped article.
In the years leading up to the Centenary celebration, many books and documentaries have made a decent effort to include and acknowledge the female fighters of 1916. I hope they will continue to highlight the women’s fight both for Ireland and for the recognition they deserve in the aftermath. Cheers ladies.
The Women of 1916
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.
Cumann na mBan is born
On Thursday, April 2nd, 1914, about one hundred women strolled into Wynn’s hotel in Dublin at four o’clock in the afternoon for the first of Cumann na mBan’s many meetings. The Irish Women’s Council had a lot to discuss but the one thing almost all the ladies present had in common was a devotion to Ireland and a desire to serve it.
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