1916 Easter Rising nurse remembered

Elizabeth O'Farrell delivered the official surrender to the British military and never stopped fighting for a united Ireland

Commemorations at the weekend marking the centenary of the Easter Rising in Ireland included tributes to a nurse who played a key role in the event.

Elizabeth O’Farrell was a member of Cumann na mBan – the women’s republican group – who worked at Holles Street Hospital in Dublin until the events of April 24 (Easter Monday) 1916.

Along with lifelong friend and fellow nurse Julia Grenan she was part of the group of rebels against British rule who seized control of the city’s General Post Office.

During the five day stand-off she treated wounds and cared for a number of the injured, including socialist leader James Connolly.

In the afternoon of April 29 she was handed a white flag and Red Cross insignia and told to deliver the official surrender to the British military. Her actions stopped the shooting on Moore Street.

She was sent back to fetch leader Patrick Pearse – who was later executed - and together they surrendered in person to Brigadier General William Lowe.

Ms O’Farrell was then joined by a priest and three soldiers as she travelled to insurgent positions across the city to notify rebels of the surrender.

She was imprisoned overnight, but released and apologised to by Brigadier Lowe before continuing with republican politics until her death in June 1957 when she was laid to rest alongside Ms Grenan.

On Sunday (March 28) a wreath-laying took place at Moore Street attended by Ms O’Farrell’s great-grandniece, great-great-grandniece, and great-great-great-grandnephew.

Great-grandniece Maria Fitzpatrick told of how ‘Aunt Lizzie’ was remembered in the family as fiercely patriotic.

Explaining how her aunt only wore Irish tweed and gave Irish linen as gifts, Ms Fitzpatrick told the crowd she would have been proud of womens’ progress today but sorry she has still not got the united Ireland she fought for.

Her legacy includes the forming of the Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell Foundation in 1967 to support postgraduate nursing students and memorial plaques at Holles Street Hospital and City Quay Park.

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