Home Biography Books Expertise Events Contact
Sinéad McCooleWriting

1900-1916 Women in the movement

As politicians, snipers, spies, nurses, despatch carriers and educators women played their part in the Revolutionary years at start of the last century. They were members of organisations such as Inghindhe na hÉireann (Daughters of Ireland); Sinn Féin, The Irish Citizens Army and Cumann na mBan (the Council of Women).


By 1900, women had been excluded from Nationalist organisations for over twenty years after the disbanding of the Ladies Land League Maud Gonne founded her own organisation the Daughters of Ireland - Inghinidhe na hÉireann. The women members were to be prominent in all the organisations that would follow with the obvious exception of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

When Arthur Griffith formed Sinn Féin in 1905, it was the first nationalist organisation that accepted women members on equal terms within an organisation. Jenny Wyse Power who had been a member of the Ladies Land League was an Executive member from the outset and became the Vice-President in 1911.

During the labour disputes that culminated in the Lock Out 1913 an Irish Citizens Army was formed to protect the striking workers. Women were again enlisted on equal terms with the men. When the men protested to James Connolly about the participation of these women - he said that if necessary that he would fight just with the women.

When a Volunteer movement was set up in response to the Ulster Volunteer Force, it was said 'there would be work for the women'. Cumann na mBan was established and branches were attached to the Battalions of Volunteers. There were four battalions in Dublin.