Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


War and Society

First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Keene

Second Advisor

Dr. Charissa Threat

Third Advisor

Dr. John Emery


Women were an integral part to the Easter Rising, yet until recently, their contributions have been forgotten. Those who have been remembered are often women who bucked conservative Irish society’s notions of femininity and chose to actively participate in combat, which has led to a skewed narrative that favors their contributions over the contributions of other women. Historians and scholars favor these narratives because they are empowering and act as clear foils to the heroic narratives of the male leaders in the Easter Rising. In reality, however, most of the women who joined Cumann na mBan or worked for the leaders of the Easter Rising chose to do so knowing they would take on a supportive role. They did so willingly, and even put the cause of Irish independence above the need for women’s rights. Their duties reflected this reality. Once the Easter Rising was underway, women were needed to support the rebels and did so often under fire from British and Irish fighters. For their participation in the rebellion, some women were arrested, while as a whole, the contributions of these women were derided and downplayed by the larger public. Those women not imprisoned would go on to establish the martyr-myth of the heroic and male Irish revolutionaries executed for their part in the Easter Rising. This led to the women’s histories being forgotten or ignored in favor of the heroic narrative. Even when pensions were made available to compensate participants of the Easter Rising, women only applied out of need and for fear of poverty, rather than to receive recognition. To this day, Ireland and Irish history scholars have ignored the participation of gender-conforming women in favor of the more heroic narrative of women whose experiences more closely resemble those of the Easter Rising’s male martyrs.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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