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Sinéad McCooleWriting

1916 Rising

Eamon de Valera said of women 'they are at once the boldest but the most unmanageable of revolutionaries.'

The Rising took place under the guise of routine manoeuvres of the Volunteers. There had already been a split in the Volunteer organisation with the National Volunteers joining Redmond in fighting in the First World War for the recognition of small nations. Those who did not espouse Redmond’s belief that Ireland would be granted home rule after the war stayed at home as the Irish Volunteers. The majority of Cumann na mBan supported the home force.

The idea of using the opportunity of staging a rebellion while England was at war was being considered by a number of organisations including the Irish Citizen Army. James Connolly was co-opted unto a military council and plans were set for a Rising at Easter 1916.

The circumstances in which would participate a Rising was disputed by some factions within the Volunteer movement and Eoin MacNeill who headed the Volunteers cancelled the manoeuvres when he became aware of the plans. This caused confusion; even in the outlying area of South East Dublin.

Women, even those who offered their assistance had difficulty joining the fight, as many members of Cumann na mBan were turned away from the garrisons until a directive came from the leadership to accept them, then the sole exception was Eamon de Valera's garrison at Bolands Mills, which never accepted them.

The leaders of the Provisional Government did recognise the women, addressing their Proclamation to both Irishmen and Irishwomen and everyone equal terms of citizenship in the Irish Republic.

The British authorities having misidentified the Rising as being organised by Sinn Féin, this name was adopted by the nationalist organisations that came together in the aftermath of the Rising. In 1917 a number of women were co-opted onto the Executive of Sinn Féin, including Dr Kathleen Lynn, Áine Ceannt and Kathleen Clarke.