Úna Neiland
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Úna Neiland


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Molly Hyland joined Cumann na mBan in 1917, and was jailed on two occasions during the War of Independence and the Civil War. She was reared in Chester Road in Dublin and the family home was raided by the Black and Tans and badly damaged. Her daughter, Una Neiland, recalls an occasion when Molly was captured by the Free State Army during the Civil War. Through her researches, Una has discovered that her mother was considered the best marksman in her company. She remarks that later there appears to have been no bitterness between the two opposing sides, describing the occasion when her mother was offered a job as Welfare Officer at the Irish Sweepstakes by Joe McGrath, a supporter of the Free State. Her mother considered him to be very generous, especially to the members of the Old IRA who were down on their luck. Una and other members of her family later worked for the Irish Sweepstakes. Una has discovered that her maternal grandfather was a nationalist and had been imprisoned. She regrets the fact that she did not think to ask her mother about her activities. Her mother’s sister, Kathleen Hyland, was also in Cumann na mBan. Una has in her possession a costume which her mother wore to ceilidh. Some letters written by Molly Hyland as Adjutant Quartermaster from D Wing at Kilmainham Gaol to the prison governor are read, as also is his reply. Una’s father, George Lalor, lived on Rugby Road close to Chester Road, and his father was a member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. She describes the way in which her mother voted frequently at the election in 1918. She recalls meeting some old IRA members when accompanying her mother to meetings, and also when she herself was a member of a Fianna Fáil youth cumann. Molly Hyland would give talks about Madame Markievicz to the Old IRA Literary and Debating Society, her daughter explains, and says she has discovered much of what she now knows from her mother’s pension application. From this document she reads an account of Molly’s activities from 1917 onward. Her interrogation in 1921 and her internment at Mountjoy Prison while awaiting trial are mentioned. She was also imprisoned in 1922 and again in 1923. The document contains an extensive list of Molly’s activities around the country, and is witnessed by Éamon de Valera amongst others. While she was in Kilmainham Gaol she developed rheumatic fever which led to her death at the age of 60. A story is recalled concerning Cork woman, Madge Coughlan, who managed to steal a piece of ammunition from Seán Budds’s care. Another story is told involving ‘Blimey’ O’Connor who on one occasion warned Molly to lie flat to avoid the gunfire from a Black and Tan Crossley Tender. Una reads a letter to her mother from the military governor of Kilmainham Gaol concerning a prisoner who was ill. Una’s father, George Lalor, and his brother Frank were in the IRA. Frank was Section Commander D Company 1st Brigade. He was shot at Milltown in December 1922, and Una reads his obituary. She considers it extraordinary that their father was a member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. A photograph of Molly is examined and the accompanying text from Tim Pat Coogan’s book is read. Some further photographs are examined and discussed. Una remarks that the entire family were keen supporters of Fianna Fáil and of Éamon de Valera. She recalls a gift of 10s which she received from Seán MacEntee. Molly Hyland was presented with a badge from Fianna Éireann, and was apparently the first female recipient. Her daughter recalls some of her Cumann na mBan connections, people such as Sighle Humphreys and Mary Twamley. Molly served on the board of St Ultan’s Hospital which was founded by another Cumann na mBan member, Dr. Katheen Lynn. Molly had worked at the Dublin Rheumatism Clinic for years but when Joe McGrath offered the better remunerated position as Welfare Officer at the Irish Sweepstakes, she accepted. She was a heavy smoker and Una recalls the fact that only men were allowed to smoke in their offices there. She explains that after her marriage her parents lived on Elmwood Avenue in Ranelagh. Her uncle, Tom Farren, was a Labour senator. Una believes that at one time Éamon de Valera may have asked her mother to become a member of Seánad Éireann, but she refused for family reasons. Molly’s valiant efforts in later life on behalf of those seeking assistance are remembered. Una regrets the fact that her mother was not buried in the republican plot at Glasnevin Cemetery. Her resting place is at Deansgrange Cemetery with her husband, and her headstone bears the inscription “She loved her country”.

Additional information



Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

52.83 MB

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Molly Hyland (Interviewee’s mother), George Lalor (Interviewee’s father)

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