John Wisley, from Michigin, sent us some fascinating history about his grandmother May Moore. This information will really help us in writing histories and making the Commemoration Quilt, so please keep the information coming.

Here are some extracts from his letter:

Dear Eadaoin,

I came across your internet page about the commemorative quilt recognizing the 77 women who were incarcerated in Richmond Barracks.
I wanted to share some of the stories of my grandmother, May Moore, who is one of the 77. Unfortunately, our family has almost no photographs of her and certainly none from her service time. She died 20 years before I was born, but through my father’s memories, Census records and the Military Archives, I’ve been able to piece together some of her story.

May Moore, was born May 3, 1896. She was the third child of Christopher and Annie Moore. At the time of the Rising, they lived at 16 St. Joseph Square, Clontarf.

Portrait of May Wisely, nee Moore

The Fairview Branch of Cumann na mBan drilled at Fr. Matthew Park and worked mostly on First Aid and rifle cleaning. She was a committed rebel and despite their reputation as mere helpers, May Moore, and others were ready to fight.

She carried a revolver on her hip and recounted to my father one time she pulled it out. In the lead-up to the Rising, rebels leaders were meeting frequently. She was headed to a meeting in Clontarf one evening and as she approached the meeting place, she saw a man hiding nearby listening outside the door.

As she drew closer, she could see that he was taking notes on what was being said at the meeting. She didn’t recognize the man and concluded that he was a spy. She crept up behind him, drew her revolver and pointed at the back of his head.

When he realized his position he surrendered to her. She marched him into the meeting at gunpoint, made him turn over his notes and told the rebel leaders what she’d seen him doing.

In terms of her actual service during Easter Week, May Moore said in her pension file that she was at the Stephen’s Green/Royal College of Surgeons Garrison and served with Countess Markievicz. Nora O’Daly’s witness statement mentions May Moore as one of the two women she served with that week and offers a more detailed account.

May Moore was arrested at the surrender and marched to Richmond Barracks before being transferred to Killmainham Goal. She was incarcerated from April 28 until May 8, 1916.

May 3, 1916 was her 20th birthday. She spent it locked inside Kilmainham. She told my father that she could remember hearing the gunshots very early in the morning when Thomas Clarke, whom she knew well, along with Pádraig Pearse and Thomas MacDonagh were executed that day. The women inside knew what was happening.

John Wisely
West Bloomfield, Michigan