Meeting in Dublin in 1914, over 100 women organized and became known as Cumann na mBan; Mary Colum, founding committee member said of the national aims, ‘We would collect money or arms, we would learn ambulance work, learn how to make haversacks and bandolier… we would practise the use of the rifle, we would make speeches, we would do everything that came in our way—for we are not the auxiliaries or the handmaidens or the camp followers of the Volunteers—we are their allies.’
These women became couriers (known as ‘basket girls’ or ‘pram women’) delivering dispatches to IRA commanders throughout Ireland. They organized cultural productions, first aid classes, rifle training, and raised money for the guns smuggled during the Howth gun running. During the Rising, they were active as they helped organize the evacuation of buildings at the time of surrender and to destroy incriminating papers.
The commitment of women before, during and after the Rising was instrumental in bringing the Irish nation to support the separatist movement, and helped fill the voids in leadership, ensuring that Irish independence did not die with their loved ones.