Some of those taking part in the March of the Women re-enactment on June 10 in Mullingar, from left, Nicole Griffin, Paula Griffin, Karl Griffin, Ann Downes, Alice McDonnell and Joseph McDonnell.

Re-enactment of the March of the Women planned for event anniversary

The one hundredth anniversary of the March of the Women will be marked locally with a re-enactment through the streets of Mullingar on this Sunday June 10.

A protest against the British government's decision to extend conscription to Ireland during the last months of World War 1, the March of the Women saw in the region of 1,000 local women take to the streets of Mullingar in June 1918. The women, who came from a diverse range of organisations including delegates from Cumann na mBan, the Protestant Anti-conscription Women, the Catholic Business Girls and the Irish Tailoresses, were also joined on the march by men opposed to the prospect of their relatives being forced to go to war.

The event, which is organised by Paula Griffin from the Transformative Recovery College in collaboration with historian Ruth Illingworth, will begin at St Mary's CBS at 2pm. It will then make its way through the streets of Mullingar to the steps of the County Hall Buildings where Ms Illingworth, whose grandmother and other relatives took part in the original march, will deliver the authentic speech from 1918. There will also be a re-enactment of the signing of the anti-conscription pledge, which it's estimated was signed by two thirds of Irish women, followed by a traditional tea party in the garden in Caffrey's on Mount Street.

Alice McDonnell coordinator of the Recovery College says, “Thanks to the dedication of Ruth and Paula in bringing to life this very important event in Westmeath’s history and as part of the Heritage and Landmarks project that the college students have been working very hard on for some months. Students, mentors, children and community members will have the opportunity to experience what it was like back then and the power of people coming together to support life-changing decisions. Mullingar will step back in time as participants will walk in Vintage Dress, uniforms, and sing songs to represent the times, banners to reflect the voice of dissatisfaction, and bunting to celebrate the end of the walk with a traditional tea party in Caffrey’s.”

“This will be a fun day for all, with a competition for the best costume, traditional music, tea party and more. All are welcome to join in this event and the college is hosting costume making, song practice and other activities to make this day one to remember.

“Our members will be out over the coming weekends in vintage dress to promote this event in Mullingar. With Bloomsday Day the following weekend we are encouraging everyone to celebrate in the style of the period and bring heritage to life. Contact Paula at 086 778 0510 if you want to know more or get involved.”

The Transformative Recovery College would like to thank the Heritage Office and Westmeath County Council for funding support for the Heritage and Landmarks Project. We are grateful to Ruth Illingworth, students from the National Learning Network, Women’s Community Projects, Gaelscoil An Choillin, St Loman's Hospital, retired army veterans, Individual community members and historians, Gretta our local librarian who guides us in the local archives.

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