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Elizabeth O'Farrell

On Sunday the 3rd April at 3pm, a ceremony was held to commemorate Midwife Elizabeth O Farrell, the volunteer who carried the white flag when the rebels surrendered and accompanied Padraig Pearce to surrender to General Lowe at the at the junction of Moore Street and Parnell Street in Dublin on April 28, 1916

Many of Ms O’Farrell’s extended family joined staff of The National Maternity Hospital including the Master Dr Rhona Mahony and the Director of Midwifery and Nursing, Ms Mary Brosnan, in a celebration of Elizabeth O Farrell’s contribution during the 1916 Rising. Her grand nephew Mr Ian Kelly gave a wonderful talk about Elizabeth’s life, her memories of the Rising during Easter week 1916. Ian described the events of Easter week in a beautiful poignant way, he sang the ‘Rocks of Bawn’ written by his paternal grandfather, and recited the poem ‘The Vision’ which is displayed in the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square. It was an emotional event and a fitting memory to Elizabeth O Farrell, his grandmothers sister. 

Elizabeth O Farrell trained as a midwife from 1920 to 1921 in the National Maternity Hospital and the records show she paid £6 &6 shillings and was ‘a fair nurse with a fair education’. She went on to practice in Dublin inner city as a midwife, dedicated to working with women in Dublin. She also assisted in the birth of her 12 nieces and nephews, some of whom were at the event in the NMH Boardroom.

The Hospital has an annual ‘Elizabeth O Farrell’ commemorative award, a silver medal for the student midwife who achieves academic excellence in her final examination for qualification as a midwife.

Mary Brosnan
Director of Midwifery & Nursing