Maths Teacher and Revolutionary

I wrote around the time of the Easter Rising one hundred year commemorative events about the role of Margaret Skinnider a Scottish woman who became famous for her role as a sniper during the events of Easter Weekend. Skinnider who had joined Cumann na Ban in Glasgow in 1914 was attached to James Connolly’s Irish Citizen Army at St Stephens Green during the Easter Rising. Connolly was the leader of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (founded by James Larkin) from 1914. The ICA had been formed in 1913 originally to protect striking workers from the violence directed at them by the Dublin Metropolitan Police. Connolly later throw in his lot with the IRB and turned out his ICA members to support the Easter Rising.

RTE have this article on her:

https://www.rte.ie/…/1049649-margaret-skinnider-easter-191…/

The piece is illustrated by a photo of Actress Niamh Algar who played Margaret Skinnider in an episode of RTÉ’s Réabhlóid: Margaret Skinnider – A Woman of Calibre from 2011. Fortunately that’s available on Youtube at this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-zQbaGNAgU

The article also contains some rare RTE archive audio interview footage with Skinnider.

Margaret Skinnider was eventually shot three times while involved in action at the College of Surgeons of St Stephens Green she was the only woman combatant injured in the Rising.

After the Rising collapsed she fought on during the War of Independence carrying out fund raising as a Cumann na Ban member in the United States. Afterwards disillusioned with the Treaty that established the Irish Free State she supported the anti treaty faction.

Even after the War of Independence and then the Irish Civil War ended Skinnider had to keep on fighting as the RTE account reports:

“She was released from prison in November 1923 and stayed in Ireland despite the increasing oppression experienced by women. In 1925, Skinnider applied for a pension on “account of wounds received in 1916” and as a member of the Irish Citizen Army, but was refused one by the Government because she was a woman! She was eventually granted the pension in 1938 and her success was followed by the granting of pensions to many other women.”

Skinnider continued her role in the Trade Union movement and as a feminist for many years she:

“Worked as a teacher at the King’s Inn Street School in Dublin until her retirement in 1961 and became an active trade unionist with the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) campaigning for women’s rights and equal wages. She served as a member of the INTO central executive from 1949 to 1961 and became president in 1956. She also served on the Irish Congress of Trade Unions executive council until 1963. She died in 1971 and is buried in the Republican Plot beside her close friend Countess Markievicz in Glasnevin Cemetery.”

Image Actress Niamh Algar who played Margaret Skinnider in RTÉ’s Réabhlóid: Margaret Skinnider – A Woman of Calibre (2011) – Inset Margaret Skinnider in the uniform of Cumann na Ban

Bernard Moffatt
Assistant General Secretary Celtic League

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