Plaque honours Derry Cumann na mBan lady
A plaque has been unveiled at the former city centre home of a Derry woman who joined fight for Irish freedom along with her siblings after of the Easter Rising.
Elizabeth (Lizzie) Doherty’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren were present at the unveiling of the commemorative plaque at the Checkpoint Charlie shop on Waterloo Street on Wednesday evening, just days before the actual 100th anniversary of the Rising. Over 100 people gathered with them to witness the event on Wednesday.
The idea for the commemoration came from the Derry store’s owner Stephanie English, who named the store after her brother Charles English, who was also an IRA volunteer. Charles English was killed on the August 6, 1985 at the age of 21 during an engagement with an RUC patrol in Abbey Street. Speaking at the unveiling his sister Stephanie said: “The idea came about when Elizabeth’s daughter Rosa came into my shop one day and asked if I had access to the building because she would love a wee look around as her mother used to live there. We got chatting and she was telling me about her mother and the involvement with Cumann na mBan. It struck me that both Elizabeth and my brother, although they came from different eras, were working class people had both joined the struggle for national liberation, and both died in 1985. This building marks that connection. I think it was important to recognise and celebrate the history of Republicanism. I’m very proud that my wee shop has that sort of heritage.”
Both Elizabeth Doherty and her sister, Mary joined Cumann na mBan in Derry in the immediate aftermath of 1916 and in the period around partition.
The sisters and their brothers. George and Willie, both of whom were in the IRA, plumber Eddie, and teachers Tommy, Mickey and Barney, grew up above the sewing machine shop owned by their father, Michael, at 35 Waterloo Street. The house became a prominent meeting place for Republicans including figures such as Peadar O’Donnell, whose name graces one of pubs further down the street, and Tyrone-born Joe McKelvey, who was executed by the Free State in 1922.
Elizabeth’s daughter, Rosa Gallagher said she was very grateful to Stephanie for organising the plaque.
“There were so many people from here who were involved then: 15 in my mother’s section, and a lot of other sections too, and they are not mentioned so it is lovely of Stephanie to do this. My brothers and myself are so proud of my mother.”
Speaking at the event, Foyle Sinn Fein Assembly candidate Raymond McCartney, the lead organiser of centenary events, said: “What we have seen in recent times is local historians and local authors searching out and bringing out the connection of 1916 and the history of Republicanism since 17098 in this city in particular, and Elizabeth Doherty and the Doherty family are a particular link in that. They were formidable people.”