By Staff Reporter
Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys welcomed women from across all sectors of Irish society to the Royal Hospital Kilmainham for a special event on International Women’s Day (Tuesday 8 March) to highlight the role of women in the 1916 Rising.
President Michael D Higgins gave the keynote address, outlining the diverse and often boundary-breaking roles played by women in the Rising as well as the impact of the post-1916 conservatism on the role of women in Irish society.
The President’s speech was followed by an excerpt from a new music commission by Simon O’Connor, performed by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and dedicated to the widows of those who lost their lives in 1916.
There was also a short performance by a local community group of a specially devised piece entitled Flames, Not Flowers.
“In the decades that followed the Rising, the role played by women in bringing about our independence was diluted, often deliberately,” said Minister Humphreys ahead of the day. “The stories of those such as Margaret Skinnider and Dr Kathleen Lynn were overlooked and diminished over time.”
The minister added: “It is particularly fitting that the State pays tribute to the women of the Rising, and the achievements of Irish women at home and abroad over the last 100 years, on International Women’s Day.
“This is a moment when we, as a nation, remember the enormous contribution made by generations of Irish women, not just in the events of 1916, but right through to the Ireland of today. ”
Later in the day, President Higgins viewed the specially commissioned Living for Ireland quilt, each panel of which was designed by a women’s activist to commemorate the 77 women held in Richmond Barracks in 1916.