The memoirs of a Scottish woman who played a key role in the Easter Rising that was to eventually lead to Irish independence have been published almost a century after she wrote them.
Margaret Skinnider’s own version of the hugely controversial violent insurrection of Easter 1916 is a vivid account of her own role as a sniper shooting British troops and a reminder of republican links between Ireland and Scotland.
Born in Coatbridge, Ms Skinnider became involved in the Irish republican movement, smuggling detonators from Scotland to Dublin. During the rising which took place while many Irish soldiers were fighting with the British during the Great War, she acted as a dispatch rider and sniper for her fellow rebel James Connolly.
She became the only female combatant to be severely wounded when she was shot three times in the back when setting fire to houses in Harcourt Street during the rebellion, which is regarded as a crucial staging post on the road to the creation of the Republic of Ireland.
Her book “Doing My Bit for Ireland” has been out of print for many decades having originally been published in New York in 1917.
In an attempt to bring her story to a wider audience it has just been reproduced by the Edinburgh-based publisher Luath Press.
In a foreword to the new edition, the academic and expert in Scottish/Irish connections Kirsty Lusk argues that the name of Ms Skinnider “should be more widely known and her vital connection to the struggle for Irish independence more fully acknowledged both in the centenary year of the Easter Rising and beyond”.
Ms Skinnider’s name did come up on Nicola Sturgeon’s recent trip to Dublin when the First Minister addressed the Irish Senate.
Welcoming Ms Sturgeon to Ireland, the Sinn Fein politician Rose Conway-Walsh referred to Ms Skinnider as an iconic Scottish revolutionary. The reference was made despite many Scottish Nationalists preferring not to compare their civic style of politics with a violent rebellion that was the prelude to a bitter Irish civil war and which was recalled by republican terrorists during the Northern Irish troubles.
Her book describes her role as a sniper, operating from the roof of Dublin’s Royal College of Surgeons.
Sitting astride the rafters and shooting through a “loophole”, she recalled: “It was dark there, full of smoke and the din of firing but it was good to be in action. More than once I saw the man I aimed at fall.”