"Women of the Irish Revolution"
by Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Gillis
“Ireland at the end of the nineteenth and in the early twentieth century was going through great change, especially where women were concerned. Women were becoming more political. Education, particularly a college degree, was becoming more accessible to both men and women, and not just those from a wealthy background. And it was through education that so many women realised they had a role to play in the future of their country. With organisations such as the Ladies’ Land League, the Suffragettes and the Suffragists, women with similar attitudes and political opinions came together. With the 100 year anniversary of the foundation of Cumann na mBan I wanted to mark the occasion a different way. From our history we know about the big names but we generally don’t know about the ordinary women who took part in this period. The whole process of this book was to show them as women and that the revolutionary period was part of their life’s. Through the generosity of their families I was able to tell their stories.”
Elizabeth Gillis, Historian
One such woman was Dolly Burke. Dolly (centre of photograph) was from Ballinure, Co. Tipperary, and was a member of Cumann na mBan, attached to the 7th Battalion, 3rd Tipperary Brigade. Her brother Michael was a member of the IRA, as was her fiancé, Thomas Donovan, who was shot and killed by the crown forces in November 1920. Dolly was arrested in February 1921 and imprisoned in Cork Gaol. With the help of her comrades in the IRA and Cumann na mBan she managed to escape in September 1921 when a man and two women went to the gaol requesting to see her. They were armed and by threatening the wardress they got the keys to the prison and were able to release Dolly. A painter who worked at the prison was later arrested for his involvement in the escape. Dolly was not recaptured.
Liz is also the author of "Revolution in Dublin" and "The Fall of Dublin."