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About the Book:
A memoir of my mother—Member of Cumann na mBan
The story of A Cumann na mBan 1900-1988
Dedicated to my mother with love and admiration
She sat at the window gazing out at the rolling countryside, a patchwork of every shade of green, bounded by hedgerows of hawthorn, wild rose, crab apple trees and blackberry bush. In the distance surrounded by trees and high stone walls the demesnes of the landed gentry, where, her beloved late father had often said “not even a bird could get through.”
Many admiring glances came her way- she was dressed in a navy blue costume, crisp white blouse and a broad brimmed hat that gave her an arresting appearance among the ruddy faced country men and women. She seemed apart, lost in thought. What kind of welcome would she get when they met? The endless rows and arguments now seemed senseless. Would he be as adamant as ever? Well, no matter, she was glad she was on her way. Her mother was so relieved at her going to Dublin after months of not knowing where he was and what he was doing.
There was a rumour before the authorities notified them – “The Countess had formed a band of subversives after the “Truce”” and he had left Kerry to join them. Eventually he was arrested by the “Free Staters” and imprisoned.
As the train rolled along she was lulled into a state of reverie. Was it only 6 years ago since it all began - the Rebellion, the War of Independence, The Tans and the Civil War? How her young idealistic heart was fired with pride when the news seeped through little by little that the rebels had taken over the General Post Office on Easter Monday morning. She recalled how they had managed to get hold of a newspaper, sharing it with every household. Every line of the report read and re-read - including graphic pictures of the second city of the British Empire torn apart. Sackville Street, the main thoroughfare, still smouldering – the pictures so graphic you could almost smell the cordite from the GPO, the smell of the GPO with its gaping holes having been bombarded for a week by the big guns of the British military. There were reports of Padraig Pearse, leader of the revolutionaries, reading the Proclamation declaring Ireland a Republic while the populace spat on them calling them “mad men” and “traitors” when the rebels were marched out of the GPO to Kilmainham gaol.
Once again Ireland had struck a blow for her freedom against the might of the British Empire - a valiant fight against insurmountable odds. But the righteous were bold, their love of country and hatred of domination and injustice blinded them to the unequal challenge they had undertaken. Pearse, on the reason for rebelling said “I see my role in part as sacrifice for what my mother’s people have suffered, atonement for what my father’s people have done”.
The noble Pearse and his heroic comrades were executed without trial. One by one they were shot dead by firing squad in Kilmainham Gaol. Thomas Clarke, Sean Heuston, Thomas MacDonagh, Sean MacDiarmada, Joseph Plunkett, Michael Mallin, Michael O’Hanrahan, Con Colbert, William Pearse (brother of Padraig), Eamonn Ceannt, John MacBride (husband of Maud Gonne), Thomas Kent and Edward Daly. James Connolly, leader of the Citizen Army, too ill to stand, was strapped into a chair and executed - an ignominious end for a brave good man but more ignominious for Colonel Maxwell, the British officer who gave the order.
In six days the rebellion was quelled - a dark page in British history.
By Joan Dore