She Carried Out All the Duties Given to Her in a Most Efficient Manner – Women in the Irish Revolution.”
As we approach the end of the Decade of Centenaries, Liz Gillis who is a prolific writer on the revolutionary years 1913-1923 will address the treatment of activist women during and after the period. Originally from Dublin’s Liberties, which she loves and promotes, Liz has highlighted the role of women during that era and has argued that they were fighting not just for freedom but also for real freedom with social justice at its very core.
From Cumann Na mBan to the labour based Irish Citizen Army and onwards to the “Invisible army” of the Irish Republican Army, many of the women were often the public face of the resistance as the men risked immediate death if exposed. Conversely with the arrival of the new State, the men became more prominent and conservative in the Church dominated post Civil War politics of the era, while many of the radical women were rendered powerless and became invisible for decades.
The 1916 Proclamation declaring an Irish Republic addressed to the people of Ireland (Ireland is described as “she”), is directed to “Irishmen and Irishwomen” and includes direct reference to Irish women in two later sections. The use of the pronoun “her” in reference to Ireland as feminine appears on ten occasions in the first two paragraphs of the Proclamation. The signatories certainly intended that Irish women should play an equal role in the Irish Republic.
Ms. Gillis’s book Women of the Irish Revolution, published in 2014, exposed the faces, achievements and sacrifices and treatment of hundreds of these invisible women who served in the engine rooms of the revolution. The book contains a unique set of photographs which provide a human face to many of those heroes for the first time. The publication along with others which highlighted the essential work of the women made an enormous contribution to the belated, if often grudging State acknowledgement in recent years of their pivotal importance during the period. The new Free State meted out cruel and harsher treatment to them than the British forces had attempted during the War of Independence and over subsequent decades failed to provide pensions to many of the women activists. Even today there is very little recognition of the contribution made by these women in for example public space names or monuments by national or local government.
“They were the wives, mothers, sisters and girlfriends of the men who fought and died for Irish freedom and their story is one that needs to be told”
“Women of the Irish Revolution” Published by Mercier Press Cork 2014.
Liz is the author of several books and has championed the contribution of women for many years. She previously worked as a researcher for the RTE History Show and lectures at the Champlain College, Dublin. She has appeared in many RTE documentaries in relation to the revolutionary period and has recently authored The Hales Brothers and the Irish Revolution.
Liz will speak to the topic “She Carried Out All the Duties Given to Her in a Most Efficient Manner – Women in the Irish Revolution.”
Venue: Dance Cork Firkin Crane. Thursday evening 27th July 2023.