Having endured brutal oppressive British occupation revolutionary forces asserted the right to self determination in arm at Easter 1916.
The uprising was put down by British Forces who suffered fatalities in the street to street exchanges of gun fire. Women played a central role in the uprising.
Three hundred women participated in the uprising perhaps the best known is Constance Markievicz who fought for the duration in Stephen’s Green and who famously advised her fellow female fighters “Dress suitably in short skirts and strong boots, leave your jewels in the bank and buy a revolver.”
The key role played by Cumann na mBan in the uprising has not been given the recognition the women rightly deserve. Armed and prepared to die for what they believed in, women like, Winifred Carney and Kathleen Clarke and Margaret Skinnidet to name but a few, were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to see Ireland free.
Winifred Carny originally born in County Down, Winifred Carney and her family moved to Belfast when she was little still a child. She was still living in Belfast years later when James Connolly when requested she head to Dublin to join the Easter Rising. She did – armed with two of the most dangerous tools of the trade: her typewriter and a revolver.
Kathleen Clarke ran a tobacconist shop, which became a front for IRB meetings and for the planning of the Easter Rising. In 1914, she was one of a dozen founding members of Cumann na mBan, and within only a handful of months, their numbers had risen into the hundreds.
Margaret Skinnider during the Easter Rising she was based out of St. Stephen’s Green and tasked with being a bicycle messenger and scout – which meant that she spent much of the time dodging bullets. By Tuesday, she traded being in the cross-hairs of sniper fire for a rifle of her own and set up on the roof of the College of Surgeons to act as the Rising’s own sniper – quite successfully. That still wasn’t enough, and by the next day, she was an integral part in planning and executing the bombing of Shelbourne Hotel, along with the bombing of houses along Harcourt Street to cut off British access routes to the College.
Following the rising the Easter Lily was introduced in 1926 by Cumann na mBan and all proceeds from the sale of the badge went to the Irish Republican Prisoners Dependants Fund, they were sold outside church gates on Easter Sunday and worn at Irish republican commemorations.
The role women play in revolutionary struggles at all level from organising to direct action is commended. For without them there is nothing.