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Mary Ellen Spring-Rice

Birthplace: London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
Death: December 01, 1924 (44)
Clwyd, Wales, United Kingdom (tuberculosis)
Place of Burial: Ireland
Immediate Family:

Daughter of The Hon. Thomas Spring-Rice and Elizabeth Butcher
Sister of The Hon. Stephen Spring-Rice and The Hon. Thomas Aubrey Spring-Rice

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Mary Spring Rice

Mary Spring Rice was an Irish nationalist activist during the early 20th century.

Spring Rice was born into an aristocratic Anglo-Irish family in London. She was the daughter of Thomas Spring Rice, 2nd Baron Monteagle of Brandon, and a great-granddaughter of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Thomas Spring Rice. Her maternal grandfather was the bishop, Samuel Butcher. She was brought up on the family's Mount Trenchard estate overlooking the River Shannon. It was a progressive, liberal household and independence of thought was encouraged. So too was the Gaelic culture and, at home, Spring Rice and her brothers were taught how to speak fluent Irish.

Before the First World War, Spring Rice hosted many Irish nationalist and Conradh na Gaeilge meetings at her home, and she became a close friend of Douglas Hyde and her cousin Nelly O'Brien. During 1913 and 1914, Spring Rice was actively involved in gun-running, most notably the Howth gun-running.

This involved helping to ship weapons to be used in an Irish uprising from Germany into Ireland. Together with Molly Childers, she raised £2,000 towards the purchase of 900 Mauser rifles from Germany, many of which were used in the 1916 Easter Rising. Spring Rice sailed on the Asgard to collect the guns and helped to unload them in Ireland.

During the Irish War of Independence, she allowed her Mount Trenchard home to be used as a safe house by Irish Republican Army fighters and the family boat was used to carry men and arms over the Shannon Estuary.

Con Collins stayed with her regularly. She helped train local women as nurses to tend to wounded nationalists and acted as an IRA message carrier between Limerick and Dublin. Throughout this time, she maintained her aristocratic façade and society connections, inviting senior Liberal Party politicians to Mount Trenchard to pressure them to support Irish independence.

Spring Rice started to suffer from tuberculosis in 1923, and died unmarried in a sanatorium in Clwdyy, Wales, in 1924. She was buried in Ireland, where her coffin was draped in the Irish tricolour and escorted by an IRA guard of honour.

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Mary Spring Rice's Timeline

September 14, 1880
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
December 1, 1924
Age 44
Clwyd, Wales, United Kingdom