What was the involvement of Women in the 1916 Easter Uprising in Irish History?

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teachsuccess | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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On April 24, Easter Monday, 1916, a group of nationalists, aided by almost 2000 followers, rose up to fight for Irish independence. Although leaders of the rebellion were eventually executed by the British, the Easter Uprising led to a change in public opinion regarding the right of Ireland to secede from England.

In the Uprising, women played key roles. A prominent supporter of Irish independence was Countess Markievicz. As Minister for Labor in the Irish Republic (1919-1922), she was one of the first women in the world to hold a cabinet government position. Markievicz was a key leader for the more than 100 women who participated in the Easter Uprising. Many women also belonged to the republican organization, Cumann na mBan, which was committed to independence through the use of arms.

Women fought side by side with their male counterparts in the uprising. Margaret Skinnider, a primary school teacher in her 20's, commanded five male soldiers in her bid to cut off enemy approaches on Harcourt Street. Another woman, Linda Kearns MacWhinney, a nurse, helped transport guns from Hardwicke Street to Irish revolutionaries in other areas. Winifred Carney, president of Cumann na mBan in Belfast, helped to hide ammunition in Irish potatoes and carry messages to other Irish fighters, at risk of her life. Helena Molony, a journalist and actress, smuggled guns into Ireland for the uprising. Rose Mcnamara, who commanded the female battalion at Marrowbone Lane Distillery, led the women in surrender to the British. Refusing to evade arrest, the women marched to surrender to the British, side by side with their men.

Many women served as scouts, dispatch riders, raiders, and snipers. Women like Mary Spring Rice and Molly Childers even ran daring, gun-running missions for the cause. Indeed, women played a key role in the Easter Uprising of 1916. Please refer to the links below to read more about the courage these women displayed.

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