Tuesday, October 05, 2021

An Irish Patriot in Radnorshire

The Irish War of Independence saw Cork born Sheila Browne commanding Liverpool's Cumman na mBan.  As such she engaged in various revolutionary activities: an arms raid, obtaining paraffin for arson attacks and transporting money to Dublin. Finally arrested she spent three months in jail before she was released through lack of evidence.

This was enough to obtain her a small military pension from the Free State government, although it might have alarmed the good folk of Radnorshire, where she was evacuated along with a class of Liverpool schoolchildren in 1941. Billeted in the wilds of Rhiwlen, Miss Brown now encountered some difficulties with the Dublin bureaucrats.  They wanted a person of sufficient stature to confirm her existence, but where, she complained, was she to find such a person when her only neighbours were mountains and her companions children?  Eventually she moved closer to civilization in Hundred House.

Miss Browne was clearly able through education and connections to cope with the red tape.  Sadly this was not true of Kate Evans, a miner's wife from the Irish community of Dowlais.  We've met Mrs Evans before, she was the leading light of a group who were obtaining explosives from the mines and transporting it to Ireland.  Eventually she was caught and jailed for 7 years.  The bureaucrats were unimpressed and wondered about her maiden name, some of her comrades could not be traced, the evidence of others was ignored while they engaged in an ill-tempered correspondence with an official who had had enough of their enquiries in other cases.  Mrs Evans, a widow in ill-health had her pension application rejected.

Mrs Evans wrote to De Valera complaining of being forgotten after suffering much for Ireland, her letter was passed back to the pensions office and ignored. It's ever thus for the working class.  Here's a song about Cumann na mBan: