Elizabeth O’Farrell, Irish Nationalist & Easter Rising Survivor Passed Away 1957

#OnThisDay 1957 Elizabeth O’Farrell passed away while on holiday in Bray.
‘Elizabeth trained as a nurse and midwife at the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, Dublin. Both Elizabeth and Julia Grennan (a lifelong friend but most likely they were in a relationship together) joined the Gaelic League as they were proficient in Irish. They had joined the Irish Women’s Franchise League and were suffragettes. In 1906 they joined Inghinidhe na hÉireann and also later joined Cumann na mBan, the women’s branch of the Irish Volunteers. Elizabeth and Julia were sent around the country as couriers delivering important information.

On Easter Monday several women were in the General Post Office in Dublin including Elizabeth and Julia who tended to the wounded. When the order came to evacuate, the two women decided to remain behind together with Winnie Carney who wouldn’t leave the wounded James Connolly.

On Saturday 29th April the decision was made by Padraig Pearse to surrender. Elizabeth was chosen to deliver the unconditional surrender to General Lowe who was the Senior Officer of the British troops. Accompanied by a priest and three soldiers, O’Farrell brought the order to surrender, signed by Pearse, to the Volunteer and Citizen Army units at the Four Courts, the College of Surgeons, Boland’s Mill and Jacob’s factory. She dodged sniper fire and dealt with confrontational British authorities. She returned with a note and instructions from the British. The British refused to treat until Pearse himself surrendered and met with the British at the British Headquarters in Britain Street. Elizabeth then criss-crossed the city to convince the Rising leaders that the decision to surrender was genuine, ordering them to lay down their arms and line up in O’Connell Street. Later she was recommended for clemency as General Lowe stated that she had been of “Great assistance by voluntarily accompanying a staff officer to various Rebel Commandants”.’

Lowe gave her his word that she would not be held as a prisoner after delivering these orders. Despite this, O’Farrell was then taken to the Dublin Castle hospital where she was stripped of her clothing and possessions and stayed for one night. The following day she was taken to Ship Street barracks, and was informed was to be sent to Kilmainham jail and held as a prisoner. O’Farrell and some other prisoners were escorted to Richmond Barracks. It was then that O’Farrell noticed Fr. Columbus of Church Street, who had accompanied her to the Four Courts on the evening of 29 April. He told her he would let General Lowe know of her situation. After being sent to Kilmainham jail she was later released.

O’Farrell remained an ardent republican for the rest of her life. When the Government began collecting the oral history of the Revolutionary Period, O’Farrell refused to give her’s saying “All governments since 1921 have betrayed the Republic.”

Elizabeth O'Farrell

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