Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 December 2017

Michael Collins and 'girl power'

Countess Markievicz
Countess Markievicz

The mythology that has been created around 1916 contained little or no reference to the activities of the females who participated in the rising.

Apart from the flamboyant Countess Markievicz, few of the many women involved received the attention they deserved and they were subsequently almost written out of history.

Perhaps this was due to the dominant power of the Catholic Church and the undoubted conservatism of Eamon De Valera, but once the fighting ended, women were expected to return to a subservient role as mothers and housewives.

Vivid Faces by RF Foster gives an excellent insight in to the individuals behind the rising and the real role that women played. Michael Collins relied heavily on the female volunteers at that time and his world renowned intelligence network could not have functioned successfully without them, especially those who worked in clerical jobs in Dublin Castle and elsewhere in the civil service.

One amusing letter from the intelligence department of the IRA - 1st Northern Division - to female 'Operative No 23' stated: "Girls can get any amount of information from most men. Get them going".

Now doesn't that clearly demonstrate why Collins was famed as an administrative genius?

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