Mayo 1916 Centenary to put spotlight on inspirational Kathleen Lynn

A special committee set up to organise the 1916 centenary events in Mayo plans to tell the incredible story of a Killala woman, who is perhaps one of the county's greatest unsung heroes.

Although Kathleen Lynn was a well-known feminist, socialist, and a pioneering doctor in early 20th century Ireland, what many people do not know is that Lynn originally hailed from Mayo and that she was a commanding officer at the City Hall Garrison in Dublin during the 1916 Rising.

Now, six Mayo arts centres are coming together to develop a major exhibition on her life and work.

The arts centres involved - The Custom House Studios and Gallery, Westport; The Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar; Aras Inis Gluaire, Belmullet; Ballinglen Arts Foundation Gallery; Ballycastle Arts Centre; and Ballina Arts Centre - are also calling for expressions of interests from artists who want to take part in the project.

Kathleen Florence Lynn was born, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, in Mulafarry, Killala, in 1984.

A doctor by profession, she lived in Dublin and became involved in some of the most pressing political and social issues of the day.

She was a suffragette and a labour activist, who supported the Dublin workers during the 1913 Lock Out and went on to join the Irish Citizens Army.

In the 1916 Rising, she was the chief medical officer at the City Hall Garrison. When her commanding officer was shot, as the second highest-ranking officer, she took up command of the unit.

Lynn was arrested and imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol, alongside Countess Markievicz.

In 1919, Lynn and a group of her fellow female activists set-up Ireland's first mother and infant hospital, St Ultan's in Dublin, to improve the living standards for some of the city's most impoverished and marginalised people.

It was the only hospital in Ireland entirely managed by women and Lynn pioneered the use of the BCG vaccine there some 10 years before it became widely used in Ireland.

"Her civic legacy is really impressive..."

Lynn was elected to Dail Eireann in 1923 but as she opposed the 1921 Treaty, she never took up the seat.

Councillor Jarlath Munnelly (FG ) is the chairperson of the Mayo Commemoration Committee.

He said Kathleen Lynn's story was "remarkable and deserves to be celebrated more".

"As well as the role she played in the Rising, her civic legacy is really impressive," said Cllr Munnelly. "She certainly deserves a much more prominent place in our history."

Artists interested in getting involved in the Kathleen Lynn exhibition should email [email protected] for further information.


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