Tuesday 6 December 2016

More about the women of 1916

Published 15/10/2015 | 02:30

St Mary's School, Mallow Transition Year students sketch their classmate Jane Walsh as Countess Markievicz, as part of their 1916 history project on '1916 Women of the Age'. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
St Mary's School, Mallow Transition Year students sketch their classmate Jane Walsh as Countess Markievicz, as part of their 1916 history project on '1916 Women of the Age'. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Schools across Ireland are already planning projects to coincide with the centenary of the Easter Rising.

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At St Mary's Secondary School in Mallow, Co Cork, the students are focusing on the women of 1916 in their research.

The St Mary's projects will not just deal with the events of the Easter Rising, but also the role of women in politics and society at that time.

Students will study the suffragettes, the activists who campaigned for votes for women. Some were involved in the Rising.

"The role of women in the Rising tends to be under-estimated," said St Mary's history teacher Christian O'Connor.

"People tend to learn a lot about Pearse and Connolly, but we wanted to come at it from a different angle."

The St Mary's pupils are planning projects on women such as Constance Markievicz and Margaret Skinnider. Both were involved in the fighting on St Stephen's Green.

Among the other women who will be studied at St Mary's is Elizabeth O'Farrell, the nurse who delivered the surrender at the end of the Rising by raising a white flag on Dublin's Moore Street.

She was a member of Cumann na mBan, the female force that fought alongside the Irish Volunteers during the Rising.

Teacher Christian O'Connor said: "We will be covering these events without any note of triumphalism."

St Mary's School is planning a History Week in January, and there is likely to be a strong 1916 theme. One of the big events for the school will be a two-week exhibition of art work by students inspired by women of 1916. The exhibition will take place in Mallow Library.

At Scoil Mhuire CBS, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, students will turn the clock back 100 years to find out what was happening in the school at that time.

Mullingar was not a hotbed of militant nationalism before the Rising. However, Brother Angelus, a then teacher at the Christian Brothers School in the town, stirred up local interest in the Rising in its aftermath.

Damian Lawlor, a current history teacher at the school, said: "Brother Angelus had copies of the Proclamation and speeches by the Easter Rising leaders printed. He gave them to his pupils in the school to be distributed at home and in the area."

The present day students at Scoil Mhuire CBS will recreate this operation during the coming year.

"We are going to hold a competition to design a proclamation, get it printed and have it distributed to the parents," said Mr Lawlor.

"We will find out what the uniform was in the school at the time and some of the students will wear it."

The evidence for the interest shown in the Rising in the school in 1916 came from a statement given to the Bureau of Military History by a local volunteer, Michael McCoy.

McCoy told how the distribution of the Proclamation by Brother Angelus had helped to keep the republican movement alive in the area.

Kim Bielenberg

Irish Independent

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