Ballinasloe to examine women's role in 1916 Rising

Major conference on women and the Irish revolution takes place this weekend

Cumann na mBan members on parade.

Cumann na mBan members on parade.

THE ROLE of Women in 1916, and specifically the part played by Cumann na mBan in the run up to, and during, the Rising, will be the focus of a free conference taking place in the Ballinasloe Library this weekend.

The conference, which takes place this Saturday, will be opened by Cllr Michael Connolly, cathaoirleach of Galway County Council. Sinéad McCoole, historical advisor to the 2016 National Commemoration Programme, will present the opening lecture, Cumann na mBan - Neither Handmaidens nor Camp Followers. She will be followed by Cécile Gordon, an archivist on the Military Service Pensions Project in Cathal Brugha Barracks, to deliver the lecture, Sources for the study of revolutionary women: The Women in the Military Service Pensions Collection 1916-1923.

Anne Carey and Áine Ní Shioradáin will give an insight into The Mná 2016 Project. This project began when members of a reading group became interested in the untold stories of the women in the Rising. Mná 2016 is a year-long initiative and seeks to honour the voices of women in 1916 and to create interest and engagement with their vision by women in Ireland today.

There will then be an Aeraíocht, a presentation and celebration of the cultural traditions of the county in music, song, dance and poetry, with performances by musicians, singers and dancers, co-ordinated by Jo Vahey, executive librarian.

Pat Johnston, a former history teacher and a member of St Brigid’s Hospital Heritage Group, will give the lecture, Ada English - A revolutionary doctor. Dr Conor McNamara, author of numerous books and articles on the Irish revolution, will present a lecture entitled Women emerging from the Shadows...? Cumann na mBan in an historical perspective.

There will also be two exhibitons; The Mná 2016 - Women’s Stories and Emblems 1916 – 2016, telling the story of a number of women with west of Ireland connections - Peg Broderick, Brigid O’Mullane, Eileen Costelloe, Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, and Lily and Lolly Yeats - told in panels, and a timeline of Irishwomen’s activities; and Clarinbridge Cumann na mBan, comprising display panels which seeks to give an insight into Cumann na mBan and some of the local women involved in the organisation.

Pre-booking is essential, as places are limited. Those wishing to go must RSVP to Gráinne Smyth, Galway County Council (091 -509121, [email protected] ); Marie Mannion, Galway County Council (091 - 509198, [email protected] ); or Marian Donohue, Galway County Council (091 - 509165, [email protected] ).

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