Cooney Sisters

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Cooney Sisters
Anne Cooney.jpg
Anne Cooney in her Cumann na mBan uniform 1916
Ethnicity Irish
Members Anne, Lily, Eileen
Connected members Thomas, Michael

The Cooney sisters were three Irish sisters, notable for their involvement in Irish Nationalism and Cumann na mBan.

Biographies

Anne, Lilly and Eileen were born in Dublin to Michael and Mary Cooney who lived in Usher's Quay, Dublin. Their father was an engineer.[1][2]

The three sisters were involved with the nationalist movement in Ireland. This involvement was through the people who lived in and visited their house on a regular basis on the years leading up to the 1916 Easter Rising, like Christopher Byrne and Con Colbert. They joined Cumann na mBan in 1915 and were trained as usual in all the first aid and military training which took place on Harcourt and Camden streets. Along with Byrne and Colbert, Joe McGrath and Phil Cosgrave frequently visited the house and were senior officers in their branches of the Volunteers. The house was used to store ammunition in preparation for the Rising and used as a distribution centre in the days leading up to it. A younger brother, Thomas, was used in the Rising as a runner.[3]

Con Colbert was one of the leaders of the rebellion and was executed by the British for his involvement. He set out for the events of the Easter Rising from the Cooney house in Usher's Quay.[3]

All three women were members of the Inghinidhe branch of Cumann na mBan. The eldest girl involved was just 18 when they joined the Cumann. They all served in the Marrowbow Lane garrison during the Easter Rising with others like Marcella Cosgrave. Their father was arrested during the Rising when he tried to supply the garrison with food. He was kept in Kilmainham gaol for the duration and for some time after the Rising. He was then sent to Wakefield in Britain before eventually being sent back to Dublin. All three sisters were arrested with the other women after the Rising and sent to Richmond Barracks initially and then on to Kilmainham gaol. They were all released with the others on May 8, 1916.[3][4]

After the Rising all three sisters were involved in the Irish National Aid Association and Volunteer Dependants' Fund, their own family being one of the dependants as a result of their father's arrest. They appear in the photo taken in the garden over the summer. They continued their involvement through the Irish War of Independence and into the Irish Civil War where they were Anti-Treaty.[5][6]

A quilt was created to remember the 77 women of Richmond Barracks and the three Cooney sisters are part of that memory, stitched with a green shamrock on their squares.[7]

Anne

Anne was born about 1897. She was a seamstress and fashioned her military uniform from one that Colbert gave her. She later married Denis O’Brien, who had been one of the volunteers in the Marrowbow Lane garrison with his two brothers.[3][2]

Lilly

Elizabeth or Lilly Cooney was born in 1898. She was the one of the sisters sent by bicycle to mobilise the Chapelizod section of F. Company, the main company that the sisters worked with during the lead up to the Rising. She served with her sisters in the Marrowbow Lane garrison and continued to serve through the War of Independence. She collected funds for prisoners and arms as well as transporting both arms and information around the country. She was instrumental in identifying an agent of Crown forces. She later married Curran.[3][6]

Eileen

Eileen was born on the 26th of December 1899. She is listed as Alice on the 1901 census.[1] After the Rising she was involved in the First World War anti-conscription activities. As part of the Cumann she collected money for weapons and was involved in propaganda work. Her area during the War of Independence was to ensure the welfare of the interned Irish. She also worked on First aid stations and acted as a courier. She held the rank of Section Commander from November 1920. Her married name was Harbourne. She died on the 22nd of April 1982.[6][3]

References

Further reading

  • "Statement By Witness Document No. W.S. 805 Witness (I) Mrs. Annie O'Brien Thomond House, Ballyboden Road, (II) Mrs. Lily Curran Rathfarnham, Dublin" (PDF). 
  • "Marrowbone Lane". Irish Medals. 
  • "Censusreturn for House in Usher's Quay". National Archives of Ireland. 
  • "Censusreturn for House in Usher's Quay". National Archives of Ireland. 
  • Lorcan Collins (22 February 2016). 1916: The Rising Handbook. O'Brien Press. ISBN 978-1-84717-848-0. 
  • "Meeting of the Irish National Aid Association and Volunteer Dependents' Fund". Kilmainham tales. 
  • "Quilt to wrap up warm tales from 77 women interned at Richmond Barracks". The Irish Times. 7 January 2016. 
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