As part of its series of events commemorating Liverpool and its links to the Irish revolution between 1913-1923, Cairde na hEireann Liverpool will be commemorating the establishment of Cumann na mBan (pronounced Cumin naa Mon) in Liverpool.
In a weekend of events culminating in a special commemorative parade through Liverpool City Centre, Liverpool ‘s Irish community will honour the memory of the Liverpool Irish women, who from 1914 onwards, supported Ireland’s fight for independence in Liverpool and beyond. Most notably this support consisted of participation in the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin when Nora Thornton, Kathy Doran, Francis Downey, Peggy Downey, Kathleen Fleming, Anastasia MacLoughlin, Kathleen Murphy and Rose Ann Murphy received orders to mobilise and travelled to Dublin from Liverpool for the Rising. The women of Cumann na mBan in Liverpool also organised céilís, cultural productions, first aid classes, rifle training and signalling. Their role within Liverpool Irish cultural life at the time was immense and their support for Irish freedom continued through to the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) and the Irish Civil War (1922-1923) when they overwhemingly rejected the Anglo Irish Treaty in favour of Anti-Treaty forces.
Last year, the formation of Cumann na mBan was marked by the Irish government with a ceremony in Dublin. Irish President Michael D. Higgins said the women of Cumann na mBan “rose up to vindicate the unfulfilled hopes and aspirations for liberty of previous generations”. But national independence did not yield “all the fruits” they had hoped for, he said.
Remembering the Liverpool Irish women of Cumann na mBan is important for the Irish community in Liverpool. Remembering them highlights an alternative narrative of a community in Liverpool that was not supportive of Britain’s war effort during World War 1 and who’s involvement in the fight for the right of small nations to be free was more real and more tangible compared to the efforts of Britain’s ruling classes to garner support from its working classes for the war in Flanders and beyond. We salute the volunteer women of Cumann na mBan Liverpool and their contribution towards the cause of Irish freedom and establishment of an independent Irish republic based on the ideals set out in the Proclamation of Easter 1916.