Alice Milligan: Days of Blood and Tears

Alice Milligan is born in Omagh, the county town of Tyrone in Ireland, to a wealthy family with Methodist background.

In 1888, attending university in Dublin to pursue studies in Irish, her interest in republicanism begins.

In Belfast, Alice Milligan becomes involved in clubs and societies and meets many republican figures, including Roger Casement, who is later captured by British forces at Banna Strand and executed.

Together with others, Alice Milligan creates the Shan Van Vocht, first published in 1896.  Shan Van Vocht is a monthly publication and includes poetry, fiction, travel, historical events and personalities as well as commemorating the 1798 rising. It stresses the importance of Irish culture, of the Gaelic games and the Irish language. The Shan Van Vocht espouses a separatist and republican ideal.

Many including James Connolly and Arthur Griffith are regular contributors to the Shan Van Vocht. It is a widely read and distributed magazine with readers in England, South Africa and America.

Alice Milligan also becomes a leading activist in the Gaelic League. She travels the length and breadth of Ireland giving lectures on Irish history, culture and republicanism.

Together with Maud Gonne, Countess Markievicz and Mary McSwiney, Alice Milligan is among the many, many women who support and develop the struggle of the people. They set up the prisoner’s dependant fund in the aftermath of the Easter Rising, They are a leading force in the campaign for the release of all political prisoners. It is the organised women of Cumann na mBan who overwhelmingly reject the treaty with the empire.

The subsequent Civil War has a deep impact on Alice Milligan, like many republicans throughout the island. In a poem written at the time she writes…

And in these days of blood and tears
The words re-echo in my ears
As many a comrade yields his life
To former friend in desperate strife.

Weakened emotionally and mentally by the Civil War, Alice Milligan fades from public life.  She returns to her native home in Tyrone. She dies in poverty close to her birthplace in Omagh in 1953. Today her remains lie in Drumragh Graveyard, just outside Omagh.


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