Great credit is due to those at Northern Visions TV (NVTV) for this recent documentary on Winifred Carney. Born in Bangor, she was raised on the Falls Road in West Belfast and became an active trade union campaigner in Belfast. The Dublin connection is that Winnie was present in the General Post Office in 1916, as Secretary to James Connolly. In the folklore of the rebellion, she has become known as ‘the typist with the Webley’.
Carney was one of three women to remain in the General Post Office after the roof of the rebel headquarters caught fire, and she took part in the dangerous evacuation to Moore Street. Carney stood as a Sinn Féin candidate in the 1918 Westminster elections, though unusually her manifesto included her call for a Workers’ Republic. Standing in the solidly Unionist Central East Belfast, she unsurprisingly failed to take a seat.
This documentary includes great contributions from Margaret Ward, the author of one of the most important studies in Irish historiography, in the form of Unmanageable Revolutionaries. First published in 1983,it was the first in-depth study of women in the Irish revolution. The documentary also includes fine contributions from relations of Carney and Belfast local historians.
This is a great effort and hopefully we will see a lot more like it in the year ahead, highlighting the often overlooked contribution of women a century ago.