At Home in the Revolution

What Women Said and Did in 1916

By Lucy McDiarmid

On the morning of April 24, 1916, Catherine Byrne jumped through a window on the side of the General Post Office on O'Connell Street to join the Irish revolution. Meanwhile, Mairead Ni Cheallaigh served breakfast to Patrick and Willie Pearse - their last home-cooked meal - and then went out to set up an emergency hospital with members of Cumann na mBan. Maire Nic Shiubhlaigh persuaded Thomas MacDonagh to let her into the garrison at Jacob's Biscuit Factory. At Home in the Revolution derives its material from women's own accounts of the Easter Rising, interpreted broadly to include also the Howth gun-running and events that took place over the summer of 1916 in Ireland. These eyewitness narratives - from diaries, letters, memoirs, autobiographies, and official witness statements - were written by nationalists and unionists, Catholics and Protestants, women who felt completely at home in the garrisons cooking for the men and treating their wounds, and women who stayed at home during the Rising. The book's focus is on the kind of episode usually ignored by traditional historians: cooking with bayonets, arguing with priests, resisting sexual harassment, soothing a female prostitute, doing sixteen-hand reels in Kilmainham Gaol, or disagreeing with Prime Minister Asquith about the effect of the Rising on Dublin's architecture. These women's 'small behaviors,' to use Erving Goffman's term, reveal social change in process, not the official history of manifestos and legislation, but the unofficial history of access to a door or a leap through a window; they show how issues of gender were negotiated in a time of revolution. [Subject: History, Irish Studies, Women's Studies, Gender Studies]

Publication Date: 12/30/2015
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781908996749