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Book shows women of the revolution

It's men who are usually remembered for their role in the Irish revolution.

However, a Liberties author is now telling the story of the women who played a role both directly and indirectly in the events that shaped Irish history - the women who are the "forgotten generation".

Liz Gillis has put together a photographic collection of women who were part of the independence movement, often putting themselves in great danger.

Women of the Irish Revolution, published by Mercier Press, features the accounts of women, many of whom never became household names.

Women played a vital role in the fight for Irish freedom between 1900 and 1923, but many were also interested in fighting in change for the poorest parts of society, and equal rights for all citizens.

The book also tells the story of those who, though not directly involved, lost so much as a result of the conflict, because they were the wives, mothers, sisters and girlfriends of the men who fought in that era.

Many of the stories from the book illustrate the risks that the women took.

One of the women featured, Margaret Skinnider, who was born outside Glasgow in 1893 and trained as a teacher before she joined the local branch of Cumann na mBan, becoming adept in the use of weapons.

detonators

"In 1915, she came to Ireland and managed to smuggle in detonators for bombs which she kept in her hat," the book said.

She heard about plans for the Easter Rising, and came to Ireland for it, and ended up getting a gunshot wound which was just a quarter of an inch from her spine. However, she survived the incident, and lived to the age of 78.

Also featured in the book is Molly O'Reilly from Gardiner Street in Dublin, who at the age of nine went to Liberty Hall to learn Irish dancing, but heard James Connolly speak and was enthralled.

During the Lockout, when she was 11, with Connolly's children Roddy and Aideen, she ran messages from him in Liberty Hall to the strikers and also helped in the soup kitchens and collected money.

During the War of Independence, she was responsible for arranging safe houses for volunteers on the run.

In the course of the Irish Civil War she took the anti-Treaty side and was arrested in 1923. During her imprisonment, she went on hunger strike and after 16 days it, she was released.

She later married and went on to have five children, four boys and one girl.

fdillon@herald.ie


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