Born in Scotland to immigrant parents from Monaghan, Margaret Skinnider became involved in the women’s suffrage movement. In 1914 she joined the Glasgow branches of the Irish Volunteers and Cumann na mBan. She became a first class shot while a part of the women’s rifle club.
The Countess Markievicz invited Skinnider to Dublin at Christmas 1915, wherein she smuggled detonators into Ireland by concealing them in her hat. Margaret joined the Irish Citizen Army and used her mathematical skills to draw up detailed plans for weapon raids.
When the Irish Boy Scout movement, Fianna Éireann organized excursions, she participated, claiming she could pass for a boy, even in wrestling or whistling, and her ability to disguise herself as a man.
Serving in the ICA’s St. Stephen’s Green contingent, she argued for equal rights for women. Under the command of Michael Mallin, he rejected her plan to hurl a bomb from a passing bicycle into the British-occupied Shelbourne Hotel, as being too dangerous for a woman. Her point was that as women we’re equal with men under the Irish Republic, and had an equal right to risk their lives.
On Wednesday 26th April, she bravely led a sortie of five men in an effort to prevent the retreat of a British sniper party and was shot and critically wounded. She slowly recovered and managed to evade arrest through the intervention of the hospital’s head doctor. With her Scottish accent, Skinnider deceived the authorities, and was allowed to return to Glasgow.
In 1925 Margaret applied for a pension, but despite her injuries and involvement, she was denied because the law was “applicable to soldiers as generally understood in the masculine sense”. After repeated rejections, her pension application was finally approved in 1938.