So far, most of the 1916 commemoration stuff has left me cold. I attended a very interesting lecture on the Proclamation of Independence in UCC, by the venerable Professor John A. Murphy, with contributions from Diarmuid Ferriter and John Borgonovo, but the national fandango about it really doesn’t appeal much. Perhaps I’m just wary of jingoism.
But I do like the sound of a new collaboration between Bus Éireann and the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) aimed at commemorating leading female participants in the 1916 Rising.
According to the PR bumph, “The campaign features a specially wrapped double decker commuter bus, and posters illustrating the stories of six women who featured prominently in the Easter Rising, on 650 buses nationwide. Bus Éireann travel centres across the country – as well as bus bays, some bus shelters, Parnell Place Station in Cork and Busaras in Dublin – will also feature billboards and a short digital video for the campaign.”
The figures will be profiled on board buses in the regions they are most associated with, so in the West of Ireland it’ll be Kathleen Lynn, for the Northwest, Countess Markievicz, for the East, Helena Molony and Elizabeth O’Farrell, for the Southwest, Mary Perolz and for the Northeast, Margaret Skinnider.
Despite our best attempts, the Southwest hadn’t much of a role in the Rising (unlike in the War of Independence), so I was intrigued to learn about Mary Perolz, whom I’d never heard of. She was born in 1874-1950 was born in Market Alley, Limerick and raised in Tralee and Cork City, where her father worked (like everyone else in Cork, ever) at the Cork Examiner.
Involved in Cumann na mBan and in the Irish Citizen Army, she was the courier who carried the remobilisation orders from Patrick Pearse to the Cork city Volunteers.
Not only was she involved in the Rising, but she was elected acting president for the Working Women’s Union in 1917, and remained an outspoken champion of the rights of women in industry and the labour movement.
The clever folks at Bus Éireann are using the campaign as a launchpad for their drive to hire more female apprentices in their male dominated mechanic apprenticeship scheme. It’s a four year placement and they have 14 roles open, with women actively being encouraged to apply. Nice one.