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Josie McGowan Commemoration 2020 
Josie McGowan was just 20 years old when she was batoned to death in 1918. Her crime? Attending a protest meeting!

Josie had fought in the Marrowbone lane garrison during the Easter Rising, and remained active after the Rising.

Josie was the first member of Cumann na mBan to be killed during the revolutionary period, yet has been almost completely forgotten, as have her brothers Charles and Claude who were also active in the Easter Rising, War of Independence and Civil War.
This year (2020) we had intended to hold a commemoration at Josie's grave in Glasnevin on the anniversary of her death on September 29 1918, but circumstance forced the cancellation of that.

Therefore, Mícheál Ó Doibhilín together with Liz Gillis and members of the Dublin Brigade Irish Volunteers History Group - by kind permission of Glasnevin - held a brief private ceremony during which Mícheál laid some flowers on behalf of Kilmainham Tales Teo. and also on behalf of Josie's family.

Mícheál then said:

Josie McGowan was only 20 years old when she was batoned to death by a policeman in Dublin, just another victim of a time in our history when we were not free.

She was buried in this grave, only to be followed into it less than a fortnight later by her father Charles – dead from a broken heart at just 45 years of age.

Josie died because she cared, cared for us, her future, and for those who surrounded her. She cared for the people of her own time. As a young girl, she joined Inighinidhe ns hÉireann and, through that organisation, helped those poorer than herself. She made clothes for them, gave them food, and tried to give them some education, so that they might raise themselves up.

Then, in 1916, as a member now of Cumann na mBan, she fought in the Easter Rising, in Marrowbone Lane. She fought for what she believed in – the rights of all, the entitlements of all, the equality of all and, above all, the right to self-determination, to decide our own future and direction, free of foreign interference, as Robert Emmet and Anne Devlin had done 113 years earlier.

It was that concern for others that cost her her young life, and her father his. Her brothers Claude and Charles, who had also fought in the Easter Rising, were to continue that fight for as long as they could.

Today Josie’s sacrifice is remembered by her nephew Claude, who purchased this grave and erected this headstone. The grave, thanks to his generosity, is now in the ownership care of the National Graves Association.

I attended here when the headstone was unveiled in 2006, proudly bearing the Cumann na mBan badge. It was wonderful to see so many here that day to honour Josie and remember her father.

Today we cannot have a large gathering, but we are honoured to have you, the members of the Irish Volunteers Dublin Brigade, to pay tribute to a brave soul.

Josie was buried in a shared grave, something I think she would not have minded, for it meant she was buried among the people she fought for. 

There are only two names on this headstone – Josie’s and her father’s – as permission could not be obtained to remember those others buried here also.

So today, as we Remember Josie and her dad, let us remember all those who share this grave:

Mary Hoey, died 20th Feb 1957, 26 years young, a waitress and single;

Charles McGowan, died 6th Oct 1918, 46 of age, Drayman and married;

Josephine McGowan, died 29th Sep 1918, age 20, single and a silk weaver;

Eliza Kelly, died 18th Mar 1897, Age 5, a labourer’s child;

Catherine Coleman, died 29th Oct 1888, Age 62, Butler’s wife;

James Kirwan, died 6th Feb 1878, age 64, a sailor;

James Dolan, died 8th Oct 1860, age 60;

Alicia Mansfield, died 18th Aug 1846, age 60;

Ar dheis Dé go raibh said uilig.

Mícheál Ó Doibhilín.

Below we show some photos from the ceremony, courtesy of James Langton and Terry Crosby
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