Remembering Margaret SkinniderMargaret Skinnider was born in Coatbridge Scotland in 1893, she trained as a teacher in Glasgow and taught mathematics.
In Glasgow, Skinnider got involved in the suffrage movement, Women’s Social and Political Union in Scotland and joined the Glasgow branch of Cumann na mBan. Skinnider also joined a rifle practice club in Scotland where women could learn to shoot in defence of the British Empire.
At Christmas 1915 Skinnider visited Dublin, on her journey, in preparation for the 1916 rising Skinnider smuggled detonators and bomb-making equipment in her hat and under her coat. She was also shocked at the poverty she saw in Dublin.
While in Dublin, Skinnider became good friends with countess Constance Markievicz who asked her to make plans to attack Beggars Bush Barracks in Dublin if conscription was introduced in Ireland, James Connolly was shown the plan and was very impressed with its detail.
Having joined the Irish Citizen Army (ICA) Skinnider returned to Dublin on Holy Thursday 1916 to take part in the rising, she was stationed in the College of Surgeons and St Stephens Green under the command of Michael Mallin & Constance Markievicz.
Skinnider was involved in taking ammunition from hiding places and bringing it to Liberty Hall and served as a despatch rider for Michael Mallin at St. Stephen’s Green. At one stage during the fighting, she was sent to Leeson St. Bridge to bring 16 men back to Stephen’s Green.
Skinnider was an excellent markswoman and led a squad of snipers which engaged the crown forces who were firing from the roof of the Shelbourne Hotel.
Skinnider was severely wounded when she was shot three times attempting to burn down houses on Harcourt Street to try to cut off the retreat of British soldiers who had planted a machine gun post on the roof of the University Church; she lay wounded for three days while the fighting continued.
She was brought to St Vincent’s Hospital where she was arrested and held in the Bridewell Police Station. Skinnider was interrogated until a surgeon from the hospital contacted the British authorities in Dublin Castle and said she was unfit for imprisonment.
She spent many weeks in the hospital, and on her release, managed to obtain a permit to travel back to Scotland. Skinnider stayed in Glasgow until August 1916 when she returned briefly to Ireland but quickly fled to America for fear of being caught and imprisoned.
While in America she collected funds and set out on a lecture tour raising awareness of the fight for Irish Independence. During this time, she also published her autobiography Doing My Bit for Ireland.
On her return to Ireland in 1917 Skinnider took up a teaching position in Dublin, but she also taught the volunteers in preparation for another fight against British rule in Ireland. During the Tan war, she was arrested and imprisoned in Mountjoy Gaol.
Skinnider took the Republican side during the civil war and became the Paymaster General of the Irish Republican Army, she was imprisoned again in 1923 this time in the North Dublin Union where she became Director of Training for the Republican prisoners.
After her release, she worked as a teacher at a Primary School in Dublin until she retired in 1961. She was also a prominent member of the Irish National School Teachers’ Association for many years.
Margaret Skinnider died on October 10th 1971 and is buried in the Republican Plot beside Countess Markievicz in Glasnevin Cemetery.
Thanks to Mariea Hughes for this brilliant information about this remarkable revolutionary woman.