Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

Ann Ryan/ Aine ni Rian 1887 -1955

 Aine ni Rian was born at Listreenagh/Legan, County Longford in 1887 to Michael and Eliza Ryan. Her sister Ellis was active member of the Dublin Cumann na mBan and later served as President of its veteran’s organisation in the 1930s. Another sister Teresa worked as a member of the republican propaganda department during the Civil War and acted as a typist to Kitty O’Doherty when the later worked as a ghost writer on Dan Breen’s ‘My Fight for Irish Freedom’.

Moving to Tullamore in 1909, Aine was in employed with Scally’s and her statement to the Military History Bureau given in 1953 paints a vivid picture of the economic and political divisions that existed in a small provincial town at the outbreak of the Great War. Describing her Irish-Irelander friends as a small but committed group ‘active in keeping alive the flame of nationality’. These advanced nationalists promoted groups like Clan Na Gaedhael and the Gaelic League. Later their hall on Williams Street would serve as a base for the Irish Volunteers and was the focal point of clashes in March 1916.

A frequent visitor to Dublin, her first sighting of a Cumann na mBan uniform was while watching the funeral of O’Donovan Rossa in 1915. When Mini Plunkett established a branch of the organisation at Tullamore later in the year, Ryan was an enthusiastic recruit.

Visiting her sister during the Easter holidays she became aware of the rebellion and on Tuesday travelled to O’Connell Street to offer her assistance. Stationed at Reis chambers, the Hibernian Bank and finally the GPO, she helped carter to both the rebels and on occasion British soldiers who had been taken prisoner.

The summer of 1916 she left Tullamore to take up a position with Co-Op stores in Merrion Row. Transferring to the Ard Craobh/Central Branch of the Cumann na nBan she was also involved in the activities of the Prisoners Dependants Fund.

Stationed at Barry’s Hotel and the Hamman Building during the Battle for Dublin at the beginning of the Civil War, her Cuman unit surrendered with the rest of the anti-Treaty forces but were released shortly afterwards. She quickly returned to republican activity, operating as a courier and serving as a member of the honour guard at the funeral of Cathal Brugha.

A member of the third order of St Francis, in later life she worked as clerical assistant with the Department of Defence. On her death in 1955 the funeral mass to the church of St Francis Xavier near her home in Gardiner Street was well attended by comrades from the revolutionary period including Phyllis Ryan, Gerry Boland and Oscar Traynor. She was buried in her native parish of Ardagh Co. Longford.


Sources:

Bureau of Military History Statement. Aine Ni Riain (Witness 887). Search online at https://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/bureau-of-military-history-1913-1921/bmhsearch/

Military Service Pension Files. Aine Ni Riain MSP34REF21698. Search online at https://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/military-service-pensions-collection-1916-1923

Aine Ni Rian Profile Longford at War Website, online at http://www.longfordatwar.ie/soldiers/775

Irish Press. 1 January 1955.Dr. Phillip McConway. ‘Offaly’s links to the 1916 Rising’. Online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkEiuHJc8J0

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