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Josie McGowan Centenary Conference 2019

On Saturday 21 September we hosted the Josie McGowan Centenary Conference in the Labour History Society’s conference room, Beggar’s Bush barracks.

Josie McGowan was fatally injured in a police baton charge in Foster Place, Dublin 2, on 22 September 2018, and died a week later. So Saturday was the last day of the centenary of her injury, and almost the end of the centenary of her death.

There were four speakers in all – at 10.00 am Mícheál Ó Doibhilín started the Conference with a talk on 20-year-old Josie herself, and gave a meticulously illustrated and researched account of here life, while Mary McCauliffe – who was to talk on the women of the Irish Citizen Army but, due to a serious injury was unable to prepare this – spoke instead on the women of Cumann na mBan – a fascinating talk. Cathy Scuffil followed with a wonderful account of the women of Cumann na mBan in Dolphin’s Barn (where Josie was a member) and the final talk was an excellent and lively talk on the women of Cumann na mBan who were killed in the early 20th century revolutionary period.

Councillor Donna Cooney, of the Green Party, spoke briefly early in the Conference about the role of women today and how this had changed, and needed to change still more for equal partnership.

There was much debate from the floor before the Conference broke for lunch at 1.00 pm.

Then, at 1.30 pm Liz Gillis led a guided tour from Beggars’ Bush to Foster Place, stopping along the way at many well-known and not-so-well-known site of historic interest (including Mount Street Bridge for an detailed account of that battle in 1916). At Foster Place Mícheál outlined the circumstances of the DMP baton charge that led to Josie McGowan’s death, and announced the intention of erecting a plaque in memory of Josie there.

All involved declared this a most satisfactory event and, in the absence of any official commemoration of this, the first Cumann na mBan member to be killed during the revolution, a fitting way to remember young Josie McGowan 100 years after her tragic death.

We are grateful to the DDC's Decade of Commemorations Fund and the Irish Labour History Society for their support.
Irish Labour History Society, Beggars' Bush
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