A female rebel who was wounded while fighting in 1916 during the Rising was denied a pension because of her gender, the newly opened Military Pensions Archive reveals. The story of primary school teacher Margaret Skinnider, who was shot and wounded while in command of five men during Easter week, is just one of many in the first installment of a huge archive that will offer the public a new understanding of the 1916-1923 time period.
The Military Service Pensions Collection was opened in the GPO, Dublin on Thursday by Prime Minister Enda Kenny. The archive contains more than 300,000 files with the pension applications and supporting documentation from more than 80,000 people who claimed to have been involved in the national movement from 1916 to 1923, the Irish Times reports. Skinnider, in her mid-20s, was in the Irish Citizen Army commanding five men on a mission to “destroy houses in Harcourt Street to cut off enemy approaches” when she was wounded on April 26th, 1916.
She applied for a pension in 1925 but was denied because the law was “applicable to soldiers as generally understood in the masculine sense." Skinnider's appeals were rejected repeatedly until 1938, when her application was finally approved. The scheme, which began in the 1920s and was expanded in the 1930s, ultimately granted pensions to a total of 15,700 people.
The first installment of files, now available online at www.militaryarchives.ie, relates to nearly 3,000 individuals and features around 452,000 images. According to the Irish Times, "the collection details individual applications for the award of pensions and gratuities for veterans who served as members of the Irish Volunteers, Irish Citizen Army, Irish Republican Army, Cumann na mBan, National Army/Defence Forces on active service and applications from those who were casualties or wounded while on duty from April and May 1916 through to September 30th, 1923."
The remainder of the collection will be released in installments between now and 2016.
Source: Irish Central