Peter Berresford Ellis reviews Linda Kearns: a revolutionary Irish woman by Proinnsíos Ó Duignein, Drumlin Publications, £15pbkLINDA KEARNS (1888-1951) played a significant role in the events of 1916-23, along with many other women whose role is only now being acknowledged.
Born in Sligo, she trained as a nurse and set up a field hospital for the republican forces in 1916, acting as a despatch carrier for them.
She fought in the war of independence and nursed volunteers ‘on the run’. Imprisoned both in England and then Mountjoy, she made a spectacular escape from jail and remained active with the republicans until the civil war.
She was in Hamman’s Hotel when Free State troops attacked the republican garrison there and attended the mortally wounded commander Cathal Brugha. Captured, she was then imprisoned until 1923.
She was one of five women elected to the executive of Fianna Fail when it was formed in 1926. She later became a Senator and received several international awards on behalf of nursing organisations.
This work fills an important gap in our knowledge of the fight for women’s equality in the emergent Irish state. Proinnsíos Ó Duignein is to be congratulated for a concise, sympathetic and well-documented account. A must for anyone interested in this period.
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