Mary McFadden (b. 1949)
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Mary McFadden (b. 1949)


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Bríd Connolly was grandaunt to Mary McFadden and she lived in the home of Mary’s mother, Rosaleen Shanahan, in Whitehall for 21 years. Mary provides details of family life at that time, when she was quite unaware of Bríd’s involvement during the revolutionary period. Mary qualified as a nurse in 1969 and went on to Edinburgh and London for further training. After her return home, her grandaunt Bríd developed dementia. She was bedridden for the final few years of her life. Mary recalls some remarks she had made relating to her arrest and release. A photograph of Bríd Connolly with her two sisters, Ellie and Mary, taken probably at Artane where the Connollys lived when they came to Dublin from Carlow, is discussed. Mary feels that the Connollys may have been evicted from their land in Carlow. Bríd was the youngest of seven children, just one of whom married. She was Mary’s grandmother Katherine. Mary reads from Bríd’s application for the military service pension and from a sworn statement made in 1936. Bríd Connolly was Captain of her branch of Cumann na mBan in 1919 and was appointed secretary in 1920. In 1921 she became a member of the Executive. Her activities during the Rising in carrying despatches and moving ammunition are detailed. Bríd was a teacher by profession. A family story goes that her uniform is plastered into the ceiling of her sister’s old home at Quarryland, Dunboyne in Co. Meath. Mary feels sad that she did not know more about her grandaunt’s activities while she was alive. The night of her death is recalled. Her burial place is in Carlow. Mary is certain that her grandaunt was a supporter of Michael Collins, and she explains that Bríd and her father would have political discussions. Her father was a strong supporter of Fianna Fáil. Bríd’s father was a nightwatchman at CBS Artane and one of her brothers worked in the grounds. The family lived at Kilmore Cottages in Artane, which were tithe houses associated with CBS Artane. To the Connolly family, Friarstown in Carlow was always home. A photograph taken in 1953 in Wexford, showing Bríd at the ordination of Mary’s uncle Ultan, is discussed. Mary reads further from Bríd’s sworn statement relating to her work during the Easter Rising. She evaded arrest by leaving Dublin city centre and staying at home while awaiting further orders. In the statement Bríd indicates that she stored arms from the Howth gun-running until Easter Week and again in 1919. She also looked after the dependents of men in prison, and Mary discusses her nursing work. Bríd’s father died in 1915 and in 1916 Bríd lived in the house in Artane with her mother, her sister Ellie and her brother Pat. Further extracts from Bríd’s statement are read. During the Civil War period she travelled to England about five times to send cables to the USA on the orders of Austin Stack, and she waited there for replies. She also purchased guns. Mary discusses the way in which the guns may have been transported to Quarryland, and explains that the railway line was close to the old family home. She reads from Bríd’s appeal to the Referee of the Military Services Pension Board. In 1921 she acted as secretary of Fingal District, Cumann na mBan which included seven branches. She collected shotguns from local farmers and stored them. She provided first aid at the burning of Santry, Coolock and Raheny barracks. She also carried despatches for Michael Collins and, with her own typewriter, typed up army forms for P. Traynor and Brigadier Dom Collins. Her home was raided by the Black and Tans. She visited prisoners and made her home available for meetings. Mary discusses the reason why her grandaunt may have been initially refused the military service pension which was subsequently granted on appeal. A letter written to Brid by Dr Joe P. Williams of Naas Hospital, possibly when she was in Kilmainham Gaol, is read. Mary explains that the family knew that Bríd had been on hunger strike on two occasions and that her health had been affected. Letters written to her by Dr Williams in later years are also read.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

56.99 MB

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Bríd Connolly (Interviewee’s grandaunt)

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore