Rebel Protestants: unearthing the story of radical Irish nationalists

Heather Jones in the Irish Times:

ScreenHunter_2606 Feb. 24 19.54“I’ve found another one!” My mother is delighted, full of excitement, cup of tea in hand at our small kitchen table in Dublin, overloaded with notes and books. She has long had a passionate interest in Irish history but this is her biggest project yet – an investigation into Irish Protestant nationalists who contributed to the Easter Rising.

She has a hunch that there were more of them than anyone has realised. I know she is writing a book for the centenary. It has become all-consuming: for several years she has scoured archives, libraries, interviewed descendants of Protestant rebels, including Garret FitzGerald, whose rebel mother was Presbyterian. Each document seam uncovers a new lead, a fresh name. She feels a need to reinsert these lives that she believes have been overlooked into the history of the Rising, especially the working-class Protestants of Dublin, long neglected.

I don’t dare ask her to what extent it is a search for self. From a practising Church of Ireland family, of very humble Dublin and Wicklow origins, my mother was a scholarship girl, educated through Irish in Coláiste Moibhí, the training college established by the State to produce Gaelic-speaking, nationalist teachers for Protestant primary schools. Devout and liberal, patriotic and pacifist, she defies easy stereotypes, just like the lives she is researching.

Five months later she is dying.

More here. [Thanks to Kris Kotarski.]