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.
On this day in 1883, Helena Molony was born in Dublin. She was orphaned when she was young and didn’t have the happiest of childhoods but this made her strong-willed and a survivor. She dreamt of a better life and soon that dream came to include a free Ireland. When she was older, she looked back at that time saying, “I was a young girl dreaming about Ireland when I saw and heard Maud Gonne speaking by the Custom House in Dublin one August evening in 1903 . . . She electrified me and filled me with some of her own spirit.”
Whether it was Maud Gonne’s spirit that energized Helena or not, one thing is certain – she was immediately and completely devoted to Ireland. She and Maud became fast friends and together they were prominent members of both of Ireland’s Nationalist groups for women, Inghinidhe na hÉireann and Cumann na mBan. Helena founded the first political newspaper specifically for women in 1908 and she started a movement aimed at keeping girls away from English soldiers. She was heavily involved in nearly every suffrage or labor campaign and was assigned to the City Hall garrison during the Easter Rising of 1916. When the authorities came to interview her after she was arrested for her role in the uprising, they found her with torn and bleeding hands and the lock halfway off the door. Similarly, while Molony was imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol her captors discovered that she was trying to dig her way through the massive stone walls with a rusty spoon. She was indomitable and unapologetic.
These traits carried over into every aspect of her life. Helena fought again in the War of Independence, ferrying messages for Micheal Collins and Liam Mellows and was fiercely opposed to the Anglo-Irish Treaty that partitioned Ireland. She was active in the resulting civil war on the Republican side. She remained loyal to her friends, even when her reputation and political career suffered for it. Molony was unwilling to compromise in nearly every way, including her personal life. She was linked romantically to both males and females in a time when that was considered not only a sin, but illegal- and she refused to be labeled or cornered. All of these things cost her and eventually, Helena was forced out of politics and public life.
Even then, Helena maintained strong friendships, often depending on friends for shelter and care. When she died after a long and full life, she was buried next to many of them in the Republican plot at Glasnevin Cemetery, where she is remembered to this day.
Addendum: For more about Helena please click here. If you’re looking for even more or other fierce women like her, why don’t you grab a copy of my book? “Petticoats, Patriots, and Partition” is available world-wide in bookstores, on Blurb, and all Amazon markets. (Sorry, it’s been awhile since I indulged in some shameless self-promotion.)
I write a lot about Constance Markievicz, just like anyone else who writes Irish history should. However, she was not the only woman involved in the planning or the execution of the Easter Rising in 1916…and many others never get the credit they are due. That’s not to say that she doesn’t deserve a bit of her own though. After all, one of her more famous quotes is highlighted proudly on my business cards, and she does have her own few pages in my book. Today in honor of her birthday, I give you some of her story from Petticoats, Patriots, and Partition – the book that has stolen most of my time for the last six months or so. Happy birthday Countess.
Today in honor of Ms. Helena Molony’s birthday, I give you the bit I wrote about her in my new book; Petticoats, Patriots, and Partition. She was a pretty awesome lady, and one of many that I celebrate in the first section of the book. I hope it tempts your curiosity about the rest of them too. If it does, the book is available worldwide through Amazon and nationally through Barnes and Noble, other bookstores, Amazon, and Blurb. Enjoy!!
It’s not that I haven’t been writing. It’s that I haven’t been writing as often here. This is a problem for me, until I look at where that writing is. I wrote a book! (Holy Crap) The paperback version is now available on most international Amazon markets. You can order it from Barnes & Noble bookstores and nearly any other bookstore too. It’s pretty damn exciting I must say – but trying to keep up with the promotion stuff is hard work. I now understand why people wait for that elusive ‘contract’ and a real publishing house.
There’s a lot to learn with this whole writing and publishing a book thing. One thing to learn is that if you set a book up to be sold through Ingram, it disappears until Ingram gets around to distributing it. For me, that meant the paperback edition of my book was out of commission, which is a surprising and disappointing discovery.
However, I found a work around, so it is back. (Whew) If you’d like your own you can now find it here. The other links that have been posted before, and those in the Celtic Thoughts interview yesterday will only get you to the hardback edition, which is nice but more expensive.
In a few weeks, you’ll be able to order the paperback from any bookstore, anywhere – which is super neat. In the meantime though, the place to get it is the link above.
It won’t make it by Christmas anymore, but it would be a great book to start 2016 with.