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Cumann na mBan is an Irish republican women's paramilitary organisation supporting the republican cause. Formed in Dublin on 2 April 1914, it merged with and dissolved Inghinidhe na hÉireann. In 1916, it became an auxiliary of the Irish Volunteers and played a critical role in the Easter Rising. Although it was otherwise an independent organisation, its executive was subordinate to that of the Volunteers.

Project Purpose

This project is primarily concerned with the women who were involved in the pre-Provisional years of the C na mB, through the 1950s. Most of these women were important in Irish history and we should have their trees in Geni.


The Rising & Anglo-Irish War

During the Rising, the majority of the C na mB worked as Red Cross workers, were couriers, or procured rations for the men. Members also gathered intelligence on scouting expeditions, carried despatches and transferred arms from dumps across the city to insurgent strongholds. Some members were also members of the Citizen Army, and as such were combatants in the Rising.

Revitalized after the Rising and led by Countess Markievicz, Cumann na mBan took a leading role in popularising the memory of the 1916 leaders, organising prisoner relief agencies and later in opposing conscription, and canvassing for Sinn Féin in the 1918 general election, in which Countess Markievicz was elected Teachta Dála. Jailed at the time, she became the Minister for Labour of the Irish Republic from 1919 to 1922.

During the Anglo-Irish War, its members were active. They hid arms and provided safe houses for volunteers, helped run the Dáil Courts and local authorities, and in the production of the Irish Bulletin, official newspaper of the Irish Republic. In the Irish elections of May 1921, Markievicz was joined by fellow Cumann na mBan members Mary MacSwiney, Dr. Ada English and Kathleen Clarke as Teachtaí Dála.


Cumann na mBan continued to exist after the Treaty, forming (alongside Sinn Féin, the Irish Republican Army, Fianna Éireann and other groups) part of the Irish republican milieu. The government of the Irish Free State banned the organisation in January 1923 and opened up Kilmainham Jail as a detention prison for suspect women.

Its membership strength was adversely affected by the many splits in Irish republicanism, with sections of the membership resigning to join Fianna Fáil, Clann na Poblachta and other parties. Máire Comerford, a lifelong member from 1914, reflected in later years that it became a "greatly weakened organisation" that "gathered speed downhill" from the founding of Fianna Fáil in 1926. The organization effectively ceased in the 1950s, later to be revived -- at least in name -- by the Provisional IRA in the 1960s and 1970s.

Present Day

In Northern Ireland, the revived Cumann na mBan was integrated into the mainstream Irish Republican Army during the conflict, although they continued to exist as a separate organisation in the Republic of Ireland.

In 1986, Cumann na mBan opposed the decision by the IRA and Sinn Féin to drop the policy of abstentionism and aligned itself with Republican Sinn Féin and the Continuity IRA. In 1995, RSF general secretary and Cumann na mBan member Josephine Hayden was jailed for six years on charges relating to the possession of a shotgun and a revolver.

In 2014, C na mB celebrated the Centenary of their foundation in Wynn's Hotel, Dublin, where they were founded in 1914.

Due to their continued association with and support for separatist militant republican groups, the modern C na mB is classified as a Proscribed Organisation in the United Kingdom under the Terrorism Act 2000.