Rebel Irishwomen: Helena Moloney, Kathleen Behan, Maud Gonne

Sunday 5th February, 2023

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Landless
Niamh Bury
Dr Mary McAuliffe 


Rebel Irishwomen, the 1966 Claddagh Records release, brought listeners into the personal experiences, recollections and songs of three women who were particularly associated with the 1916 Rising.

A special event for the St Brigid’s Day Bank Holiday, celebrating this landmark recording, this event sees the songs reinterpreted by outstanding artists of the stature of Niamh Bury and the female vocal group Landless and explored by historian Dr Mary McAuliffe.

As Cathal Ó Seanáin wrote in the sleeve notes at the time, Helena Molony, Maud Gonne McBride and Kathleen Behan, were ‘among the militant nationalists’ who were passionate about Irish independence. Celebrating this landmark recording, this event sees the songs reinterpreted by outstanding artists of the stature of Niamh Bury and the female vocal group Landless and explored by historian Dr Mary McAuliffe.

Rebel Irishwomen reminds us of the significance of the 1966 commemoration and opens a window on the deeper impact of the role of women and the ways in which their role had been previously represented. In 1947, The Bureau of Military History was established to record the experiences of those who took part in the fight for independence. These included almost two thousand ‘witness statements’ which were made available following the death of the last witness. The richness of this resource emerged in stories told in the rebels’ own words. The personal and subjective memories of the rebels in the heat of the action give an authentic, immediate reflection of the motivations and experiences of the participants.

The song tradition of Ireland is overflowing with themes associated with rebellion, insurrection, uprising and war. Popular song played a central role in documenting the effects, the personal reality and the memories and beliefs of some of the men and women of 1916. In addition to the well-known verses by Peadar Kearney, as sung by his sister Kathleen Behan on this recording, dissenting women such as Maeve Cavanagh, Eva Gore-Booth, Winifred Letts, Lily M. O’Brennan and Dora Sigerson all raised a poetic voice. There was a sense of a united cause in the songs and poems around 1916 and rebel songs continued to be made following the Rising. Spoken word recordings become more valuable and significant with the passing of time and this reissue by Claddagh creates an opportunity to hear first-hand accounts from women whose voices are now silent. 

If you wish to purchase Rebel Irishwomen album, you can buy online here   

Presented by NCH

 

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