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Friday, February 23, 2018

Helena Moloney, republican and trade unionist

Posted by Jim on February 3, 2018

DOMHNAIGH — On January 28, 1967 , Helena Moloney, republican and trade unionist, died in Dublin. Moloney was born in Dublin in 1884. While only at teen-ager Moloney heard Maud Gonne give a pro-nationalist speech near the Customs House. Inspired by Gonne, Helena began a lifelong commitment to republicanism. Moloney joined Inghinidhe na hÉireann (Daughters of Erin) in 1903 and five years later was named editor of Bean na hÉireann (women of Ireland), a republican – as well as feminist – monthly founded by Moloney’s role model, Maud Gonne. Helena began an acting career at this time as well, joining the Abbey Theater, but her commitment to political and then labor activism would eventually end her acting. During this time Helena also became more active in the Irish labor movement, where she worked closely with James Connelly and Countess Markievicz. Connelly made her secretary of the Irish Women Workers’ Union in November 1915. She was jailed in 1911 for throwing stones during the protest of a royal visit, making her the first woman jailed in the cause of Irish freedom since the days of the Ladies Land League some three decades earlier. Moloney took an active role with Connelly’s Citizen’s Army during the 1916 Easter Rising. She took part in the attack on Dublin Castle, where her commanding officer, Sean Connolly, was killed. She was arrested and held until December of that year. Moloney opposed the treaty and supported the republican side during the Civil War. She continued to work for labor causes after the Civil War and was the first woman to become president of the Irish Trade Union Congress. She did not abandon the republican cause, however. She was active with the Women’s Prisoner’s Defense League and the People’s Rights Association during the 1930s. Moloney continued to work for the causes she believed in until illness forced her to retire from public life in 1946.

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