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1916 Centenary preparations have gathered momentum at national and local level. For County Monaghan, and North Monaghan in particular, one of the most interesting stories is that of Glasgow-born Margaret Skinnider who, as a member of Cumann na mBan and the Irish Citizen Army, fought in St. Stephen’s Green, under the command of Michael Mallin, and was seriously wounded in combat. By August 1916 Margaret Skinnider and Nora Connolly, daughter of executed leader James Connolly, were in America fundraising for the Irish Volunteer Dependents’ Fund.  While there Margaret wrote and published her autobiography “Doing My Bit for Ireland.” In the book Margaret alludes to her North Monaghan connections.  Exhaustive research by Patsy Brady (Cornagilta) and Pat McKenna (Dernasell East) has established her paternal roots in Cornagilta (Tydavnet parish) and both men were recently honoured at an Awards Night hosted by Monaghan County Council for their work. In 2011 TG4 presented a four-part series, Réabhlóid, on the EasterRising.  One of the presentations focused on the participation of Margaret Skinnider. More recently the Margaret Skinnider Appreciation Society (MSAS) has been established and initiated a number of projects for 2016 and beyond.  In July society members, Anthony Watterson, Patsy Brady and Pat McKenna, travelled to Scotland and attended a number of functions which included a lecture entitled “Schoolteacher, Suffragette and Sniper: Margaret Skinnider and 1916” by Kirsty Lusk, Ph.D., Chairperson of 1916 Centenary Committee (Scotland). The week-end trip to Glasgow included a visit to St Kentigern’s Cemetery(guided by Stephen Coyle), where a stone, with a simple cross engraved by Pat McKenna, from the home of Margaret’s grandmother, Isabelle Skinnader-nee Kelly, was placed on the family grave.  The fruits of the Monaghan and Glasgow collaboration will become more manifest in the months and years ahead.  At present Maggie Chetty, former director of the West of Scotland Racial and Equality Council has written a play on Margaret Skinnider which, hopefully, will be presented in Monaghan and Dublin.  A Sligo-based writer is also working on a play focusing on the intertwined lives of Margaret Skinnider and Nora Connolly. RTE will feature an extended programme on seven women of the 1916 Rising which will highlight the role of Margaret.   A number of projects are in the pipeline locally and these include a booklet/book which will elaborate on Margaret Skinnider’s autobiography and much more.  
The Skinnader surname is almost exclusively linked in North Monaghan to the parishes of Errigal-Truagh and Donagh and, indeed, research has shown that many of the relatives of Margaret Skinnider still reside in those, and neighbouring, parishes.  The committee of MSAS under the chairmanship of Ms Josephine O’Hagan were pleased with the visit of Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage and The Gaeltacht, and County Councillor Ciara McPhillips, to the Heritage Stand at Tydavnet Parish Show in August.  Their obvious interest, and the interest at local level, augurs well for the success of a number of MSAS projects in the pipeline.  MSAS is registered with the Monaghan Heritage Network and society members are available as guides to those, from home or abroad seeking a guided tour of the Margaret Skinnider countryside in County Monaghan.  Work on this aspect of the project, by Secretary Ms Angela O’Hagan, is at an advanced stage.  
Honorary President of MSAS, former teacher and INTO activist Nora McCinna, is particularly interested in the Margaret Skinnider dimension of the 1916 Centenary celebrations  as Margaret was, in the nineteen-fifties, an executive member of INTO and was elected President of the organisation at the 1956 INTO Congress.  Retired teacher Mary McQuaid (nee Skinnader), from Ballinman, Glaslough, clearly recalls the obvious delight of Ms Skinnider when they met at that congress. Margaret Skinnider had seen Mary’s name in the INTO membership register at head-office.  Nora McCinna was introduced to Margaret (then retired) at the 1966 congress held in Bundoran, County Donegal, where Ms Skinnider, as a special guest, received a standing ovation for her role in the 1916 Rising.
As an element of the Ireland 1916 Centenary programme the MSAS project is fully supported by Monaghan County Council and the committee is liaising closely with their counterparts in Scotland.  Committee members from Scotland, Councillor Fearghal Dalton (born in Beech Hill Nursing Home Monaghan) and his wife, Carol Monaghan (Scottish National Party) M.P. at Westminster met with the MSAS committee in Monaghan in August and cherished their visit to the ruins of the ancestral homestead at Cornagilta.  Members of MSAS are presently engaged in research and any anecdotal contributions from the public on the subject should be forwarded to Mackie Rooney, Tyraverty, Scotstown, County Monaghan (mackierooney@gmail.com)

Margaret Skinnider Celebrations - 1916 Centenary

Members of the Margaret Skinnider Appreciation Society (MSAS) pictured recently:

 

Front Row L to R: Anthony Watterson, Angela O'Hagan, Josephine O'Hagan, Patsy Brady.

 

Back Row L to R: Pat McKenna, Mackie Rooney, Paul Moyna, Eugene McCague.

 

Missing from photo: Nora Ní Cinna, Hon Pres.; Mary Rafferty, Assist Sec, and Laurence McKenna, Joint Treasurer.

Pat McKenna presents Maggie Chetty with a hand painted image of Margaret Skinniders ancestral home. The image was painted by Rachael McKenna, Feebaghbane, Scotstown.

Patsy Brady presents Stephen Coyle with a copy of the Sean McElwain C.D. "Our dear dark mountain, with a sky over it".

Pat McKenna presents a copy of "Townlands of Tydavnet Parish" to Kirsty Lusk.

Kirsty Lusk (PhD) delivering her talk on Margaret Skinnider

Scottish and Irish members present at the talk

An aerial view of the ruins of Margaret Skinniders ancestral Irish home in Cornagilta
(Copyright Darren McCara).

The County Council Award being presented by Padraig McNally. Chairman, to Pat McKenna and Patsy Brady.

Pat McKenna places a hand crafted stone cross on the Skinnider family plot, Glasgow.

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Copyright Darren McCara

Press Release HERE

Press Release: – Tabling of 1916 Rising motion in Glasgow City Council welcomed     Date: 20th December 2015
The 1916 Rising Centenary Committee (Scotland) welcomes the tabling of a motion in Glasgow City Council in support of the Scottish based men and women of 1916 and the work of our committee. Cllr Feargal Dalton moved the motion and started in the Irish language in recognition of Conradh na Gaeilge, a key influential organisation in the decades before the rising which raised the confidence of the nation and inspired the men and women of 1916. Bailie Phil Greene made a respectful tribute to the Irish who served in British uniform during World War 1 and he pointed out that while those who survived came home to find themselves on the wrong side of history, many used the military skills they had gained in the subsequent fight for Irish independence. Several other councillors made contributions including the Council leader, Frank McAveety. Commenting afterwards, Cllr Dalton said, ‘It was a great honour to table this motion and pay tribute to the men and women of 1916, including those based in Scotland, and to highlight the exciting programme of events planned by Scotland’s 1916 Rising Centenary Committee. I want to thank all my fellow councillors who spoke with warmth and respect and, as someone who grew up in Dublin hurling, I want to say a special ‘míle maith agat’ to Bailie Liz Cameron who mentioned hurling, shinty and Hill 16 in her speech. I’m not sure I’ll get the opportunity again to shout ‘Up the Dubs’ across Glasgow City Council’s Chamber.’

Link to webcast of debate (you have to scroll down and select motion under the name of Feargal Dalton): http://www.glasgow.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/202568

Maggie Chetty, Chairperson  1916 Rising Centenary Committee (Scotland),

Click HERE for Fergan O'Sullivan's visit.