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Thread: A Patriotic Socialist Republican; Winifred Carney

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    Default A Patriotic Socialist Republican; Winifred Carney

    On Monday, April 24, 1916, at the steps of the General Post Office in Dublin, Padraig H. Pearse read a Proclamation of the Irish Republic; ‘We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of the Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible.’

    For six days war raged throughout the area surrounding the General Post Office. Most people who have read or studied about the Easter Rising of 1916 are quite familiar with the names of Padraig Pearse, James Connolly, Sean MacDiarmada and Tom Clarke. Though few have read about the significant role women played in the Rebellion and subsequent Tan and Civil Wars. From the time of the Rising onwards, women’s functions varied from correspondence, protests, intelligence gathering, gun-running and using weapons in the heat of battles against British Forces.

    Despite dozens of women being wounded, killed and imprisoned, their commitment to the cause of Irish freedom only grew stronger. Prior to the Insurrection, many women across Ireland had been involved in various organizations, whose objectives were to obtain equal rights for women. Following 1916 however, they turned their attentions toward the separatist movements. Knowing that when Ireland’s independence was achieved, so too would their rights and suffrage. Thus, popular organisations like, The Irish Women’s Workers’ Union, Inghinidhe Na hEireann (Daughters of Ireland),The Irish Women’s Franchise League and Cumann na mBan (League of Women), joined forces. Not only to gain Irish freedom but to also strengthen the position of women in Irish society.

    On Easter Monday 1916, Republican women began a unique journey as armed revolutionaries. Over forty Volunteers from Cumann Na mBan and the Irish Citizen Army including, Winnie Carney arrived armed with her Webley revolver and typewriter, entered the General Post Office on O'Connell Street with their male comrades. By nightfall, women insurgents were established in all of rebel garrisons, except one. As the Officer Commanding (O/C) in Boland's Mill, Éamon de Valera defied of the orders of Pearse and Connolly, to allow women fighters into the garrison.

    The role of many women inside the garrisons was to fight alongside the men and were not confined, to nursing duties or other tasks traditionally assigned to women such as making tea and sandwiches. Scores of Volunteers gathered vital intelligence during the many scouting expeditions. While many others carried despatches and moved arms from dumps across the city to insurgent strongholds.

    As hostilities began, Constance Markievicz shot an RIC member in the head, near St Stephen's Green. Later the same day, she carried out sniper attacks on British troops in the city centre. Meanwhile, Helena Moloney was among the soldiers who attacked Dublin Castle. For the remainder of the Uprising, British soldiers were deeply confused and quite hostile when they realized there were also women fighting. Sadly, a number of women Volunteers including, Margaretta Keogh was killed outside the South Dublin Union.

    During the fighting a Dublin Ambulance Driver interviewed by a Journalist said; ‘I saw a number of women marching into Dublin on Sunday last. Some of them had revolvers strapped round them. Wearing the dark green uniforms similar to that of male insurgents and slouch hats. There are a number of women fighting with the rebels, and some have been shot and captured.’ According to one of the revolutionaries, Margaret Skinnider. In her book; ‘Doing My Bit for Ireland’ she wrote; ‘about the fighting women, who proved their courage and loyalty repeatedly. Whenever I was called down to carry a dispatch, I took off my uniform, put on my dress and hat, and went out the side door of the college with my message. As soon as I returned, I slipped back into my uniform and joined the firing-squad.’

    In the Four Courts, it was Cumann Na mBan Volunteers, who helped evacuate the buildings and destroyed incriminating papers before the cessation. On Friday , 28 April, Pearse ordered the evacuation of the GPO. As the building had been coming under sustained shell and machine-gun fire and he anticipated heavy casualties, if they remained. In all, some two hundred female Volunteers directly participated in military operations, with the same vigour as their male counter-parts. Seventy-seven of whom were subsequently arrested and imprisoned in various prisons throughout Ireland and England. Including Constance Markievicz from Sligo, Helena Moloney from Dublin and Winifred Carney from Belfast. Many others however, escaped British clutches by taking off their military uniforms before leaving Republican garrisons’ around the city.

    After the Uprising, Irish women refused to accept the status quo and came into their own. Proving that the events of Easter Week was a real Revolution which was popular and had broad support. Without doubt, the most obvious republican woman of the period was, Constance Markievicz. Thankfully, her role has been well documented. Thus, this article will concentrate on another prominent Irish Revolutionary, Soldier and Socialist, Winifred Carney. A remarkable woman in her own right. She is Belfast’s direct link with the 1916 Rising, alongside with Volunteer. Charlie Monaghan.

    I was just researching material regarding, Winnie Carney from Belfast. For North Belfast S/F, as they've named their constituency office on the Antrim Road after her; Teach Carney.

    Thought I'd share it with U all....

    Do other posters have informaton on her? Or who else do you consider an Irish heroine? Now, don't say; Mary Mc Alesse as according my last thread - she's not Irish, ha ha.

    Adh Mhor, Conuil.

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    Betsy Gray. She meets all the criteria for heroine. Lover, rallied against the male hegemony, republican, presbyterian, died tragically.

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    Always Ann Devlin and Mary Jane McCracken too.

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    Winnie Carney was an activist in the Irish Textile Workers Union who became James Connolly's personal secretary while he was based in Belfast in 1912. She was active in organising solidarity work for workers during the Dublin Lock-Out. Her involvement in the Easter Rising resulted from a request for her to come to Dublin by Connolly. Following the Rising she unsuccessfully stood in the 1918 General Election for Sinn Fein in Belfast in the Central/East Victoria Division. Unlike the vast majority of other SF candidates, Carney campaigned for the establishment of a worker's republic. Indeed her decision to stand in a largely Protestant constituency was motivated by its long tradition of left wing sympathies. This drew criticism from republicans, particularly Hannah Sheehy-Skeffington and Markievicz which she summarily dismissed.

    Her association with SF was by and large limited to the 1918 election. She subsequently joined the Socialist Party of Ireland following the success of Roddy Connolly in removing William O'Brien from the party leadership. By the mid-twenties she had become active in the NILP. In 1928 she married George McBride in Wales and was ostracised by Republicans for wanting to 'spent her life with an orangeman'. On returning to Belfast she joined the Belfast Socialist Party remaining active until her death in 1943. She is buried in Milltown cemetry and, as a demonstration of how much the republican movement had blackballed her, her grave remains unmarked.

    Little bit of hypocracy here in a SF cumann naming themselves after her as there is with the mural of Carney and Nora Connolly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jolly Red Giant
    Winnie Carney was an activist in the Irish Textile Workers Union who became James Connolly's personal secretary while he was based in Belfast in 1912. She was active in organising solidarity work for workers during the Dublin Lock-Out. Her involvement in the Easter Rising resulted from a request for her to come to Dublin by Connolly. Following the Rising she unsuccessfully stood in the 1918 General Election for Sinn Fein in Belfast in the Central/East Victoria Division. Unlike the vast majority of other SF candidates, Carney campaigned for the establishment of a worker's republic. Indeed her decision to stand in a largely Protestant constituency was motivated by its long tradition of left wing sympathies. This drew criticism from republicans, particularly Hannah Sheehy-Skeffington and Markievicz which she summarily dismissed.

    Her association with SF was by and large limited to the 1918 election. She subsequently joined the Socialist Party of Ireland following the success of Roddy Connolly in removing William O'Brien from the party leadership. By the mid-twenties she had become active in the NILP. In 1928 she married George McBride in Wales and was ostracised by Republicans for wanting to 'spent her life with an orangeman'. On returning to Belfast she joined the Belfast Socialist Party remaining active until her death in 1943. She is buried in Milltown cemetry and, as a demonstration of how much the republican movement had blackballed her, her grave remains unmarked.

    Little bit of hypocracy here in a SF cumann naming themselves after her as there is with the mural of Carney and Nora Connolly.
    As a matter of fact; the late Veteran Republican Liam Rice and the Belfast Graves actually erected a headstone etc on Winnie's grave; during the Seventies chara.

    And no, I don't think its at all hyocritic for current members of S/F to honour or commemorate her....

    As I feel that I too am a Repubican and Socialist and that remains one of our objectives - a 32 County Socialist Democratic Republic...

    If U feel you or your Party, want to help commemorate and honour Winnie Carney properly - I suggest, U could help us or just sit and criticse from the sidelines

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    Conuil. The essence of your original post is true but some of the points you made are factually incorrect. For example, Inghinide na HEireann existed for many years before the insurrection and were not primarily a 'women for women' movement. They had a republican backbone. Also, many of the women's movements prior to the Rising had an overlapping membership so it was, and indeed is, really quite impossible to say what their raison d'etre was regardless of any mission statement a particular group might have put forth. One aspiration was evident in most of these groups and that was a craving for independence.

    In 1881 the Ladies' Land League was formed in anticipation of the Land League's main members being jailed. Parnell and Davitt were quite happy at this development and encouraged it. As soon as Parnell was released in 1882 from his predicted jailing under the Coercion Act he summarily disbanded the LLL because they were deemed to be too militant.

    Many of the young women of the LLL were behind the creation of Inghinide na hEireann in 1901, I think (possibly '03). Subsequently, many of the members of Inghinide na hEireann, whilst remaining members of the Daughters, were heavily involved in Cumann na mBan.

    The Countess was part of most of these groups in the 20th century, as were many others including Jenny Wyse-Power and Helena Moloney.

    There were other female groups within groups but their primary aspiration was always independence. Even Hannah Sheehy-Skeffington, who was a feminist and also the daughter of a man who was an MP and a supporter of British rule in Ireland, defied her father when she supported Irish militarism. (This was even before her husband had been killed by a British soldier who lost his marbles).

    At the moment, there is research going on to establish precisely the role of Irish women in Irish history. I have suggested that Irish women's history should be a degree course within itself - from Catholic Emancipation, the Tithe Wars, the Famine, emigration and the diaspora, the Land leagues, 1901-onwards...

    It is an accepted fact amongst historians worldwide (except in southern Ireland) that Ireland would never have achieved the semi-independence we are lumbered with now without violence, but also without our women. Indeed, at times they were far more more militant than the O'Connells, Parnells and even the Connollys.
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    One very good book on the Womens involvement is Margaret Wards - Unmanageable Revolutionaries, women and Irish nationalism ISBN 0-86104-700-1

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev408
    Conuil. The essence of your original post is true but some of the points you made are factually incorrect. For example, Inghinide na HEireann existed for many years before the insurrection and were not primarily a 'women for women' movement. They had a republican backbone. Also, many of the women's movements prior to the Rising had an overlapping membership so it was, and indeed is, really quite impossible to say what their raison d'etre was regardless of any mission statement a particular group might have put forth. One aspiration was evident in most of these groups and that was a craving for independence.

    In 1881 the Ladies' Land League was formed in anticipation of the Land League's main members being jailed. Parnell and Davitt were quite happy at this development and encouraged it. As soon as Parnell was released in 1882 from his predicted jailing under the Coercion Act he summarily disbanded the LLL because they were deemed to be too militant.

    Many of the young women of the LLL were behind the creation of Inghinide na hEireann in 1901, I think (possibly '03). Subsequently, many of the members of Inghinide na hEireann, whilst remaining members of the Daughters, were heavily involved in Cumann na mBan.

    The Countess was part of most of these groups in the 20th century, as were many others including Jenny Wyse-Power and Helena Moloney.

    There were other female groups within groups but their primary aspiration was always independence. Even Hannah Sheehy-Skeffington, who was a feminist and also the daughter of a man who was an MP and a supporter of British rule in Ireland, defied her father when she supported Irish militarism. (This was even before her husband had been killed by a British soldier who lost his marbles).

    At the moment, there is research going on to establish precisely the role of Irish women in Irish history. I have suggested that Irish women's history should be a degree course within itself - from Catholic Emancipation, the Tithe Wars, the Famine, emigration and the diaspora, the Land leagues, 1901-onwards...

    It is an accepted fact amongst historians worldwide (except in southern Ireland) that Ireland would never have achieved the semi-independence we are lumbered with now without violence, but also without our women. Indeed, at times they were far more more militant than the O'Connells, Parnells and even the Connollys.
    Thanks Kev;

    I appreciate your analyis, as yes its quite hard to properly research the womens movements from back then.

    It would be an excellent idea for a degree course, all right. Revisionist historians can write or re-write the last century whatever way they wish. However, the facts speak for themselves - without militant women - our history would be much more different....

    Adh Mhor Comradai,

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    Quote Originally Posted by padraig
    One very good book on the Womens involvement is Margaret Wards - Unmanageable Revolutionaries, women and Irish nationalism ISBN 0-86104-700-1
    Thanks for your recommendation comrade, I'll have to get it....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Conuil
    Quote Originally Posted by padraig
    One very good book on the Womens involvement is Margaret Wards - Unmanageable Revolutionaries, women and Irish nationalism ISBN 0-86104-700-1
    Thanks for your recommendation comrade, I'll have to get it....
    Hi Conuil. Just to reiterate Padraigs recommendation on Wards book. It is a superb book which covers the LLL, Inghinidhe na hEireann and Cumann na mBan - a great read. Two other books I'd recommend are Maria Luddy's Women in Ireland 1800-1918- A Documentary History, and Kathleen Clarke's Revolutionary Woman.
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