Cumann na mBan founded in Dublin
Cumann na mBan met for the first time, today, at Wynn's Hotel on Abbey Street in Dublin Photo: National Library of Ireland

Cumann na mBan founded in Dublin

Published: 2 April 1914

A new organisation of Irish women has been founded today at Wynn’s Hotel in Dublin

‘Cumann na mBan is dedicated to advancing the cause of Irish liberty by organising Irish women to that purpose. It is also dedicated to assisting the arming and equipping of a body of Irishmen for the defence of Ireland.

The meeting was chaired by Agnes O’Farrelly who asked whether the women of Ireland should stand idly by while the most sacred things in life were at stake.

Miss O’Farrelly, a lecturer in Irish at UCD, said that they had come to the meeting to declare for the integrity of the nation and for the inalienable right to self-government. They did not want a divided Ireland, she said, and nor did she want some temporary settlement that would lead to years of uncertainty.

Dr Mary McAuliffe talks about the role of Agnes O'Farrell in Cumann na mBan and the importance of her speech at the inaugural meeting. To view the full series of Cumann na mBan biographical sketches click here.

She continued by saying that the first duty of the women present was to give their allegiance and support to the men who were fighting for the cause of Ireland, whether in the British House of Commons or at home in Ireland organising the Volunteers.

Miss O’Farrelly was criticised by another speaker, Mary Kettle (wife of Professor Tom Kettle, the former MP), for referring to the Irish Parliamentary Party ‘in a sneering manner.’

This was denied by Miss O’Farrelly, who said they all realised the difficulties of the situation that the Irish Parliamentary Party found itself and said that no sectional politics would be introduced into Cumann na mBan.

One speaker suggested that the women who joined Cumann na mBan should also learn how to fight. She told the meeting that there had been fighting women in Ireland before now and that there should be more again.

Other women who spoke at the meeting were Countess Markievicz, Mrs. Dudley Edwards, Mrs. Wyse Power and Miss Gavan Duffy.

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