Women and the Irish Revolution: Vital and valuable insights

Book review: By highlighting multiple female experiences, these essays serve to broaden and complicate the narrative of the Irish revolutionary decade

 A procession  of uniformed Cumann na mBan that paraded to Glasnevin Cemetery carrying four biers representing the four executed Irish Republican leaders. Photograph:  George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

A procession of uniformed Cumann na mBan that paraded to Glasnevin Cemetery carrying four biers representing the four executed Irish Republican leaders. Photograph: George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

The horrific gang rape of Protestant woman Eileen Biggs in Dromineer, Tipperary in June 1922 is believed to have been carried out by four young local anti-Treaty IRA men. Bigg’s mental and physical health never recovered; she died in St Patrick’s psychiatric hospital in 1950 and is buried in an unmarked grave in Mount Jerome Cemetery.

As explained by Marie Coleman in this book, the archive of the Irish Grants Committee, established by the British government in 1923 to make financial restitution to southern loyalists and which awarded £6,000 to Eileen and her husband, Samuel, provides further detail on the after-effects of the rape. The couple abandoned their home and livelihood in Ireland and the stigma associated with the attack also appears to have led to the suicide of Eileen’s sister Margaret, in her Dublin home in 1924.

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