Friday 2 December 2016

They gave everything for their country and were then overlooked

Female Volunteers of 1916 had to fight for recognition

Published 10/01/2016 | 02:30

Bravery: Countess Constance Markievicz and Kathleen Lynn at Earlsfort Terrace in 1921. The photo is part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection – this and other photos are available to view and purchase at independentarchives.com
Bravery: Countess Constance Markievicz and Kathleen Lynn at Earlsfort Terrace in 1921. The photo is part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection – this and other photos are available to view and purchase at independentarchives.com
Dr Brigid Lyons Thornton. Photo: The McGuinness Collection

In a Ballsbridge hospital in 1980, an elderly woman of failing health clung to the military service pension that she had earned in another era.

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She was Dr Brigid Lyons Thornton, the first woman to get one; £123, 19 shillings and two pence per annum for 8.264 years of service to the Irish State between 1916 and 1923, paid in monthly instalments.

In August of 1980, the manger of the Bank of Ireland branch on Baggot Street Bridge wrote to the Department of Defence on her behalf. The customer, "who is very elderly and who is a patient in the Royal City of Dublin Hospital, informs us that she is entitled to a military service pension but she cannot recall when she received the last payment and whether or not she negotiated it". She was "no longer capable" of looking after her affairs, he wrote, and "tended to lose cheques".

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