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Rose McNamara

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Rose McNamara (1885-1957)

Census 1911 Address: 24.2, in Ormond Quay Upper (Inns Quay, Dublin)1

This Census return records Rose McNamara and her mother Joanna. The Census return is completed in Irish.

Róis Nic Chon Mara (25) is a shop assistant, her mother Siobhán Nic Chon Mara (62) is a widow and a tailoress, she had been married 35 years and had 7 children of which 3 are still living. Others present in the house are Máire Ní Mhurchadha (35), Anna Ní Mhurchadha (29), both of whom are green grocers, Micheál Ó Murchadha (24) and Seaghán Ó Murchadha (20) a clerk.

There is also a Census return for Matthew McNamara, her brother and Johnanne, her sister in the 1901 Census.

Census 1901 Address: 14, Ormond Quay Lower (North City, Dublin)1

This Census return records Matthew McNamara, the brother of Rose McNamara, aged 23 and a furniture dealer, and also his sister Johnanna aged 21, who was also a furniture dealer. Both are single and can read and write. The head of the household is recorded as Maria Mangan, their aunt. She is aged 60, a furniture dealer and a widow. There is one servant, Margaret Matthew (45) who cannot read or write. A visitor to the house on Census night is William Ryan, a poulterer from Birr, King’s County (which is now Co. Offaly). All members of the household are Roman Catholic. We also have a Census return for Matthew McNamara in the 1911 Census. He married a sister of Marie Perolz, a comrade of Rose McNamara and this Census return for 1911 can be seen in the biography of Marie Perolz.

Rose McNamara was born on the 10th September 1885 at 8, Denmark Street to Benjamin and Johanna (nee Mangan) McNamara. She was baptised in the Pro Cathedral on the 16thSeptember 1885. Her father had died in 1898 when Rose was 15. Rose McNamara joined Inghinidhe na hÉireann around 1906 after an introduction by Marie Perolz whose sister Delia was married to Rose's brother Matthew. She joined Harcourt Street Sinn Féin and later also became a  member of Cumann na mBan which had military ranks. The Commandant was Eileen Walsh, (later Mrs. Martin Murphy). For some time before the Rising this branch of Cumann na mBan marched in public parades, such as the O'Donovan Rossa funeral.  They made field dressings, sold flags and made collections to raise funds for arms and equipment of the Volunteers. They learned and practised first aid and conducted military drills. 

On Good Friday 1916, Rose McNamara and a number of other women spent the day making field dressings to ensure that there would be enough for the Volunteers when the Rising took place. On Easter Monday her group from Cumann na mBan were mobilised in full uniform and marched to Emerald Square to get their orders from Commandant Eamonn Ceannt. Rose served as Vice Commandant of the female battalion which marched with the Volunteers to the Distillery in Marrowbone Lane which was used as a forage stores for the British Government.

Rose spent the next few days preparing food for the Volunteers. On Sunday, April 30th Fr. Augustine and Commandant McDonagh arrived by motor car to inform them of the orders to surrender. Commandant Eamonn Ceannt arrived with an enemy officer who was present to accept the surrender. Rose McNamara, leading the Cumann na mBan women, presented the surrender of herself and twenty one other women. They marched between two lines of the Volunteers to the jeers of the British Army and the public.

On the route to Richmond Barracks we were right behind Commandant Thomas McDonagh and Major McBride. When we reached somewhere about Kilmainham, both Major McBride and T. McDonagh said: "That's right, girls, sing away" and Major McBride said to me: "Sing away, girls. You'll be alright. You'll be out tomorrow", and I replied "and what about you" meaning all the men. He said, very sadly, "Ah no. We won't be out. We'll be shot2".

For the next few days Rose McNamara and the other Cumann na mBan women who were in jail could hear the shots of those being executed ringing out each morning. They tried to keep their spirits up by singing in their cells and praying.

She was imprisoned until the 8th May.McNamara went on to play an important role in the Civil War serving under Countess Markievicz. Her mother Joanne died in December 1925.

Rose McNamara died 6 March 19573.

Included in the appendix of the Witness Statement is a list of the Inghinidhe Branch members of Cumman na mBan before 1916, those on active service in Jameson's Distillery Marrowbone Lane and those on active service in other centres.


  2. Bureau of Military History: Rose McNamara: Witness Statement pg. 11
  3. Mr. Brendan Ryan, Stillorgan nephew of Rose McNamara

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