This was a dismissive comment originally made to a founder of Cumann na mBan In Cork, Lil Conlon.
Years later the comment also annoyed members of the Shandon Area History Group.
The result was Ordinary Women in Extraordinary Times published in 2019 by the Shandon Area History Group.
This ground breaking publication reveals some of the hidden pages of the story of eleven Cork women who took part in the War of Independence and Civil War in Cork. Varying from the internationally recognised Mary MacSwiney to the almost invisible Wallace sisters, the stories of these ordinary women remained largely untold until now.As part of the forthcoming Spirit of Mother Jones Festival, a documentary called “What did the Women do Anyway?” featuring a discussion with historian Anne Twomey of the Shandon Area History Group about these remarkable women will be shown as part of the festival’s contribution to the Cork Commemoration 1920-1923.
Filmed by Frameworks Films one can hear of the story of the Wallace Sisters, of the opera singer Kate ‘Birdy’ Conway the issue of violence against women, the failure to acknowledge the womens selfless contribution to the War of Independence and the ongoing efforts to ensure the role of other women such as Muriel Murphy and Nora O’Brein are recognised.
Back in 1949, Tom Barry in his Guerrilla Days in Ireland stated that the women “were a splendid body of young women and their value to the IRA was well appreciated by the enemy” . One may well ask were these women ever really appreciated by the IRA or the leaders of the new Irish State?
The discussion with Anne Twomey, What Did the Women Do Anyway will be available online during the forthcoming 2020 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival (27th-30th November). Links and the full programme of events will appear on www.motherjonescork.com. and Facebook.
Our thanks to the Shandon Area History group for their assistance and for photos. Check out their Facebook page to obtain a copy of the book, Ordinary Women in Extraordinary Times.
photograph 2 Anne Twomey.
Photograph 3 The Wallace Sister (Sheila and Nora
Photograph 4 The Cork Cumann Na mBan.
Photograph 5 Peg Duggan
Photograph 6 Emma Hourigan
Photograph 7 Nora O’Sullivan