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Remembered Today:

Any Progress on Awards for Members of Cumann na mBan?


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Wexflyer

At the time of the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising there was considerable media attention given to the fact that members of Cumann na mBan were systematically discriminated against when it came time to award medals and pensions. Was anything actually done?

 

I must declare a personal interest. My grandmother was a member of Cumann na mBan. She was mobilised for Easter Week, and was present for the reading of the 1916 proclamation.

However, she was denied any official recognition, despite the uncontested evidence of her commanding officer, as well as the garrison commander and others that she served.

She continued to fight for an award until shortly before her death, but without success.   She always maintained that she had done as much as others who did receive both medals and pension.

Edited by Wexflyer
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  • 2 months later...

Could this have something to do with it?

Cumann na mBan was banned in January 1923

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumann_na_mBan#The_Treaty

Possibilty that any recognitiaon for  any member of a "banned" political party would in turn be a recognation that the party is "legimiate"???

 

De Valera held office as Prime Minister/President  11 August 1927 – 9 March 1932; 9 March 1932 – 29 December 1937; 29 December 1937 – 18 February 1948; 18 February 1948 – 13 June 1951; 20 March 1957 – 23 June 1959; 25 June 1959 – 24 June 1973

Did he ever change the Ban?

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1 hour ago, T, Fazzini said:

Could this have something to do with it?

Cumann na mBan was banned in January 1923

 

No, 1923 is after the period in question, and not relevant.

 

The issue is sex discrimination, in that members of Cumann na mBan, who were of course all women, were denied awards, or granted lesser awards, than men with equivalent service in the Volunteers, or IRA, during the period from 1916 to 1922.  The awards being both monetary (pensions), and of an honorary nature (medals).

 

In the specific case of my grandmother, for example, there was uncontroverted evidence that she served during Easter Week, but she received nothing. In 2016 there was considerable media and public attention regarding this discrimination. I was asking if anything came of it. Seemingly not.

 

 

Edited by Wexflyer
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My grandfather's brother served through the Easter Rising in Dublin and was killed.  He was an Irishman from Donegal but his relatives did not receive any form of pension from the government of the Free State or Republic.  I should add that he was killed while in the British Army and unfortunate enough to be on leave when the rising began and recalled to the Colours.

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3 hours ago, voltaire60 said:

My grandfather's brother served through the Easter Rising in Dublin and was killed.  He was an Irishman from Donegal but his relatives did not receive any form of pension from the government of the Free State or Republic.  I should add that he was killed while in the British Army and unfortunate enough to be on leave when the rising began and recalled to the Colours.

 

I don't think your great-uncle was qualified to serve in Cumann na mBan, and neither did he fulfill the conditions for an Irish service pension.

You can check the terms of the Military Service Pension Act here

http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/1934/act/43/enacted/en/print

For what it is worth, the British government didn't give my grandmother a service pension either, should I be upset?

I am upset that my grandmother appears to have met the conditions for an Irish pension, and 1916 Medal, but was denied.

Other than that, I would suggest it is best not to re-fight the events of 100 years ago.

Edited by Wexflyer
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4 hours ago, Wexflyer said:

I am upset that my grandmother appears to have met the conditions for an Irish pension, and 1916 Medal, but was denied.

Other than that, I would suggest it is best not to re-fight the events of 100 years ago.

 

    But you have not told us on what grounds the Dublin government -of whatever hue- refused. It might help.

      I am not concerned to "re-fight" the events of a century ago-merely to point out that Irish history has inconsistencies and paradoxes that cut both ways.

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5 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

 

    But you have not told us on what grounds the Dublin government -of whatever hue- refused. It might help.

      I am not concerned to "re-fight" the events of a century ago-merely to point out that Irish history has inconsistencies and paradoxes that cut both ways.

 

I don't know what the grounds for refusal may, or may not have been. I don't recall any mention in the two files I found. That may be my memory, but I think I would recall if there was anything obvious.

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1 minute ago, Wexflyer said:

I don't know what the grounds for refusal may, or may not have been. I don't recall any mention in the two files I found. That may be my memory, but I think I would recall if there was anything obvious

 

     Is it worth having a bash at Dublin to secure the medal?   

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10 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

 

     Is it worth having a bash at Dublin to secure the medal?   

 

Well, that was why I posted my initial query! My grandmother's case was not at all the only one. There was very considerable media coverage of the issue in 2016 during the centenary celebrations.  If anyone else made progress on a similar case then I would certainly press to reopen her case. Being at a remove of over 7,000 km I am not in the best position to bring a test case.

Edited by Wexflyer
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Fair go-  But the 2016 celebrations did have an element of current politics in them with regard to the participation of banned groups-either then or among who was doing the remembering-which is off GWF.  Distance is no bar- have a go at writing in.  

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Wexflyer, do you know if your grandmother had been issued with a military service certificate for her work with Cumann na mBan? I am sure I read somewhere that it was needed as evidence for a pension after the 1924 Act (and on that basis, was it also needed after the 1946 Act that introuduced the Service Medal?).

 

But to your original question (in which a branch of my family also has an interest) I have not heard of any post-2016 development in this matter. Would it be a question for the Ministry of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht?

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2 hours ago, Chris_Baker said:

Wexflyer, do you know if your grandmother had been issued with a military service certificate for her work with Cumann na mBan? I am sure I read somewhere that it was needed as evidence for a pension after the 1924 Act (and on that basis, was it also needed after the 1946 Act that introuduced the Service Medal?).

 

But to your original question (in which a branch of my family also has an interest) I have not heard of any post-2016 development in this matter. Would it be a question for the Ministry of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht?

 

No, she was not so issued. You are correct that the service certificate was a requirement. Essentially that was the first step, and my understanding is that the pension, and later Medal, followed along from that semi-automatically.

 

As for where to pursue the issue in Ireland, I think there are several avenues that could be pursued. If I were back on the ground in Ireland I would:

- Discuss with a sympathetic TD (if one could be found).

- Query the Ministry of Defense as to their position

- Query the Department for Equality as to their position

- Query the Department for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

 

Having said all that, I need to (re)-read through the 1924 and 1934 Acts to check on requirements. I have a suspicion that in addition to sex discrimination, there may have been another somewhat perverse requirement or attitude at play. That is, I now recall that there may have been an aspect that they wanted to see evidence of "action".  In the case of Enniscorthy, however, the patriot forces successfully liberated the town and surroundings in 1916 without any major action. That very success, and the fact that the local British Army commander (a Wexford man), did not stage an assault of any sort, meant that there was virtually no fighting. Instead of viewing that as a very positive, desirable  outcome, a success, I have a suspicion it was somehow turned into a negative later, by officials who may only have been familiar with the conditions that pertained in Dublin. There is very little understanding or recognition of what was achieved in Co. Wexford in 1916. Put another way: if the town had gone up in flames, with hundreds of casualties, medals and pensions would have been doled out. But by successfully taking the town with only a few minor casualties, they reduced the drama, and were passed over.

 

A final comment is that the original 1924 Act was designed such as to exclude from benefit those who served on the losing side in the Irish Civil War. The 1934 Act, passed by a new government composed of those who had lost the Civil War, broadened the qualification criteria, and removed the exclusion of those who were on the "wrong" side.

Edited by Wexflyer
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Your best bet would be to contact Military Archives.ie, they hold all the records and would be able to give advice. They are releasing more pension records soon. 

The issue of the Cumann na mBan women is still ongoing. One of the main criteria for awarding a pension was having been engaged in "active service"

Many men failed to qualify also for a pension also simply because they never saw any action, they trained and were members of IRA units but the conditions for qualifying was quite strict.

You can read letters and appeals made under the Pension File records on the website. Some claims dragged on for years, and some died in the meantime. 

 

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18 hours ago, voltaire60 said:

My grandfather's brother served through the Easter Rising in Dublin and was killed.  He was an Irishman from Donegal but his relatives did not receive any form of pension from the government of the Free State or Republic.  I should add that he was killed while in the British Army and unfortunate enough to be on leave when the rising began and recalled to the Colours.


Do you mind sharing his name? 
I have an interest in Donegal soldiers. 

Edited by Jervis
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9 minutes ago, Jervis said:


Do you mind sharing his name? 
I have an interest in Donegal soldiers. 

 

    We are not sure-  My grandfather, Andrew Thompson  was from Convoy, Donegal  and born 1886. He left for England and joined the Royal Navy as a Boy in 1900-thereafter his life was in England until he died in 1946. He served  RN to 1927, was recalled in 1938 and served again until 1944.  At the beginning of the Great War, he was already a deserter and his records show he surrendered under the amnesty at the beginning of the war. In 1944 he was demoted from CPO and court martiled for smuggling. My father had recollections of him keeping in contact with a sister (?) in Belfast  in  the 1930s.  All we know in my generation is that he was a "Wee Free" 

     There is one casualty who seems to fit on CWGC but I hesitate to name him as we are not sure of matters.  (We have a very slight suspicion from something my late father-died 1979- said-that someone in his family may have been a Black and Tan). I have a cousin -not seem for 25 years-who may know, so Ill try to get in touch with him.

  ( I should add that I have only ever been to Ireland for one day but during that day I did get an apology from Ian Paisley........... thats another story!!)

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23 hours ago, voltaire60 said:

 

    We are not sure-  My grandfather, Andrew Thompson  was from Convoy, Donegal  and born 1886. He left for England and joined the Royal Navy as a Boy in 1900-thereafter his life was in England until he died in 1946. He served  RN to 1927, was recalled in 1938 and served again until 1944.  At the beginning of the Great War, he was already a deserter and his records show he surrendered under the amnesty at the beginning of the war. In 1944 he was demoted from CPO and court martiled for smuggling. My father had recollections of him keeping in contact with a sister (?) in Belfast  in  the 1930s.  All we know in my generation is that he was a "Wee Free" 

     There is one casualty who seems to fit on CWGC but I hesitate to name him as we are not sure of matters.  (We have a very slight suspicion from something my late father-died 1979- said-that someone in his family may have been a Black and Tan). I have a cousin -not seem for 25 years-who may know, so Ill try to get in touch with him.

  ( I should add that I have only ever been to Ireland for one day but during that day I did get an apology from Ian Paisley........... thats another story!!)

 

Hi Mike,

 Well, whatever his later adherence or preference, Andrew Thompson does not appear to have been born a "Wee Free", but was a "Churchman", from a CofI family.

His parents were married in 1879 in Raphoe, in a CofI ceremony

https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/images/marriage_returns/marriages_1879/11081/8055308.pdf

Andrew himself was baptized in the CofI, in the parish of Raphoe on the 25/11/1886 (born 12/4/1886).

This is his civil birth registration

https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/images/birth_returns/births_1886/02603/1961507.pdf

His two brothers and two sisters were likewise baptized in the CofI.

 

As you are trying to determine what happened to brothers, I can say he had two:

John, born 18/8/1879, baptized Raphoe 22/12/1879. As he was born before his parents marriage, his civil birth record is under John Strain.

James Campbell, born Sept 1882, baptized Raphoe 12/2/1883.

 

Andrew's father, Galbraith Thompson, died suddenly in 1895, when Andrew was just 9 years old, see

https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/images/deaths_returns/deaths_1895/05915/4679302.pdf

Buried Raphoe CofI 29/11/1895.

Andrew's grandfather, also Galbraith, died in Convoy on 11/8/1873, aged 87, and was buried in the same place (Raphoe), also CofI (newspaper gives age as 78).  Civil death registrations for 1873 are not yet available online.

 

There are many, many references to Galbraith Thompsons in the newspapers over many decades. There is no doubt that Andrew's father was CofI - appears as sidesman and Select Vestryman for the cathedral in Raphoe. May have been the Grand Juryman of that name in 1876. Active in Conservative/Unionist politics. Appeared in many guises in various court cases.

 

I don't see any trace of the family in the 1901 or 1911 census, so I presume they emigrated.

 

I am not adept with the CWGC site, but at first glance I do not see any matching candidates for a death for either brother at the time of the 1916 Rising.

 

The Thompsons can probably be traced back easily to the 1770s in the Raphoe parish records - all CofI.

The Strains appear to have been from Letterkenny. Several William Strains in the area, all shoemakers, some CofI, some Catholic.

 

Edited by Wexflyer
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