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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.
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