By CAROL BYRNE
THIS year’s Easter commemorations in Tuamgraney and Scariff will focus on Cumann na mBan as this year marks the centenary anniversary of the organisation’s founding.
The East Clare Memorial Committee has decided to place a central focus on Cumann na mBan to commemorate the 100th anniversary while also acknowledging the contribution made by women to the struggle for independence in East Clare and across the county.
According to oral historian and member of the East Clare Memorial Committee Tomás Mac Conmara, the East Clare Memorial Park in Tuamgraney, which was officially opened in 1952, is the only public monument in Clare to make explicit reference to Cumann na mBan.
The monument in Tuamgraney features a Cavalry also contains a bronze plaque which has the following iniscription, “Erected as a tribute to the Patriotism of the East Clare Brigade of the Irish Republican Army and the members of Cumann na mBan who by their valour and sacrfices from 1916 to 1921 contributed so much to the Irish Republican Cause”.
Mr Mac Conmara is currently conducting a PhD on the Social Memory of Clare’s War of Independence and he said “It is a shame that the vital role of women in the republican movement has not been recognised sufficiently.”
“Given the nature of the war, it is absolutely certain that the IRA could not have survived without the active support of Cumann na mBan. We want to ensure that our commemorative actions reflect their central involvement in the revolutionary period. The fact that the monument in Tuamgraney is one of only two across Clare which acknowledged Cumann na mBan and is the only public memorial of its kind, is reflective of the broader neglect of women within the narrative on the Irish War of Independence,” he added.
Meanwhile Councillor Pat Hayes who has been leading member of the East Clare Memorial Committee for many years explained that the decision to place a focus on Cumann na mBan is part of the committee’s broader plans to lead up towards the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.
“We have a long and proud tradition of commemoration in the East Clare Memorial Committee and we have sought to shed light on the lesser known aspects of our history as well as the major landmarks. Cumann na mBan were acknowledged in stone in 1952 and it’s only fitting that we continue that recognition today. We will also acknowledge the Scariff Martyrs who were shot in November 1920 as we do annually. This year is all the more poignant as John Michael Tobin who was the last living person to have attended the funeral passed away earlier this year”.
According to Councillor Hayes, without official records, it can be difficult to obtain information relating to Cumann na mBan activities, particularly at a local level. As a result the committee have issued an appeal to anyone who has a family connection to Cumann na mBan.
“We hope that people will contact us and offer their family and local tradition regarding the members of Cumann na mBan across East Clare and beyond,” he said.