During the Rising many women acted as dispatch carriers, scouts and snipers.
In the days leading up to Easter 1916, Kathleen Clarke tasked Sorcha MacMahon with compiling a list of reliable girls. These girls then travelled the country handling key intelligence.
Máire Deegan cycled from Gorey, Wexford, with dispatches for the 1916 leaders braided into a bun in her hair.
Chris Caffrey was arrested, stripped and searched by British soldiers, but by then had eaten the dispatch.
Other dispatchers were Min & Phyllis Ryan, Ina Connolly-Heron, Julia Grennan, Elizabeth O’Farrell, Margaret Skinnider, and Molly O’Reilly (who was just 15 years old when James Connolly asked her to raise the flag over Liberty Hall). Catherine Byrne sent by Pearse to the Four Courts also hid messages in her hair.
All these women left their garrisons under the deadliest of fire. Early 20th Century Ireland had a vibrant women’s equality movement, cemented by the roles they assumed in 1916 and subsequent years.