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 Cumann na mBan 100th Anniversary Commemoration in Glasnevin Cemetery

On April 2 last Kilmainham Tales attended the 100th Anniversary Commemoration of the founding of Cumann na mBan. 

The commemoration was in Glasnevin Cemetery and attended by, among others, Uachtaran na hEireann, Michael D. Higgins, and Jimmy Deenahan, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

This was an invitation-only event, and we were delighted to be asked to attend. To mark the occasion the Guard of Honour consisted only of women serving in the Army, Air Corps and Navy, surely the first time this has ever happened?

The ceremonies began with the laying of a wreath on Nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell's grave.

Despite the rain, an almost carnival-like atmosphere existed as the band serenaded us with some wonderful appropriate music.

An actor in C na mB uniform read an address, and Minister Deenihan also delivered a short address before the President Michael D. Higgins laid a commemorative wreath at the Sigerson Memorial.

All then repaired to the Museum for a wonderful memorial lecture given by Dr. Mary McCauliffe, President, Women's History Association of Ireland, followed by excellent refreshments.

(The following day Mary again spoke on Cumann na mBan at the unveiling of a commemorative plaque at Wynn's Hotel, where Cumann na mBan was founded in 1914) 

Below are some of the photos our photographer, Micheal O Doibhilin, took during this event, beginning with the rehearsal for the laying of wreaths on Nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell's grave.

 The wreathlaying ceremony took place first. Minister Deenihan laid a wreath on behalf of the Government, then Lt. Gen. Conor O'Boyle laid a wreath on behalf of the Armed Forces. Next a wreath was laid on behalf of the British Ambassador to Ireland, Dominick Chilcott, and finally Dr. Mary McCauliffe laid a wreath as President of the Irish Women's History Society. John Green, Chairman of Glasnevin Trust, also laid a wreath on the grave. The Last Post and National Anthem were played, and then we all repaired to the site of the Sigerson Monument to await the arrival of the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins.

While we waited for the President to arrive we were treated to a recital by the Army Band. The Honour Guard - as noted already, composing solely of women from the various branches of the Defence Forces - was put through its paces. Eventually, the President arrived and was greeted by Minister Deenihan, the Chief of Staff, General Officer Commanding, and John Green, Chairman of Glasnevin Trust.

Then, while the Presidential Salute was played by the Army Band, the Honour Guard presented arms and was escorted through the Guard to take up his position near the Sigerson Monument.

The actual ceremony began with an address on behalf of Cumann na mBan by an actor in Cumann uniform, and she was followed by Minister Deenihan, who delivered a short address.  Then the President laid a wreath on the Sigerson Monument on behalf of the people of Ireland,  and a minute's silence was observed before the Last Post was sounded. 

The Tricolour, which had been at half-mast, was not raised to full mast and Reveille was sounded. 

Finally, the National Anthem was played before the President made his way into the Museum for the Memorial Lecture.

The Cumann na mBan Memorial Lecture was given by Dr.  Mary McCauliffe, President of the Irish Women's History Society. 

John Green, Glasnevin Trust, opened procedings, and paid a fine tribute to Glasnevin historian Shane Mac Thomais, recently deceased. He was followed byt the President, Michael D. Higgins, and then Minister Deenihan spoke before handing over to Dr. McCauliffe.

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Remembering those buried in Glasnevin. To see  their names go here

Meeting of the Irish National Aid Association and Volunteer Dependents' Fund

Get the story behind this picture, with the names of those in it here

Courage Under Fire
The GPO Cumann na mBan nursing contingent in the battlefield

Easter Week, 1916
Maeve O'Leary

Read this incredible story by the grand-daughter of one of the members of this incredibly brave group of women
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