Elizabeth O'Farrell and surrender, 1916

Elizabeth O'Farrell was sent to Athenry to deliver a despatch on Easter Monday and on her return she reported at the GPO with her friend Julia Grenan. They were sent on errands around the bullet-torn streets of Dublin during the week with despatches, food and ammunition hidden in their long skirts to garrisons at Boland's Mill, Powers' Distillery, Jacobs' Factory, St. Stephen's Green and the Four Courts. They were sent to a British officer to protest against an attack on a medical base.

Women and wounded were evacuated from the GPO on the Friday of Easter Week but Elizabeth O'Farrell, Julia Grenan and Winifred Carney stayed behind with the remainder of the garrison which retreated to a nearby house in Moore St.

On Saturday, Pearse chose Elizabeth O'Farrell to deliver the surrender notice to Brigadier-General Lowe. She walked out into the crossfire waving a white handkerchief and approached the British barricade with her message. After disbelief and some ridicule, she was taken to meet Lowe in Parnell St., brought a message back to Pearse and later visited the commanders of the outlying garrisons under British Army escort with the signed orders of surrender from Pearse. She was arrested in error and sent to Kilmainham Jail where she was strip searched but soon released.

There was mixed reaction to the insurgent prisoners now being marched off to jail. Many people profoundly admired their courage whether they agreed with them or not. There was anger at destruction and loss of life. There was ridicule also, and amongst those who jeered at the prisoners were 'separation women', anxious about losing their separation allowances as dependants of British soldiers fighting in World War I.

About 79 women and 3,340 men either surrendered or were arrested. Women received special treatment when punishment was being meted out. Some were deported to England but only five women were kept in prison for any length of time. Constance Markievicz as a senior officer was sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment because she was a woman.


  1. Elizabeth ____ was sent to ____ to deliver a ____ on ____. Pearse chose Elizabeth ____ on _____ to deliver the ____ to ____ ____ ____.
  2. Suggest reasons why Pearse chose a woman to deliver the surrender.
  3. Describe some reactions of the public to the 1916 Easter Rising.
  4. About ____ women and _____ men either surrendered or were arrested. Only ___ were in prison for any length of time.


  1. Role play a conversation between women and men on the street watching the insurgent prisoners being marched to jail.
  2. Write a speech in defence of Constance Markievicz at her trial in 1916.
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