Elizabeth Corr

Elizabeth Corr (1887-1987)

Born into a middle class family living on the Ormeau Road, her father was James Corr and her mother Eleanor Alice Kerr. Elizabeth was one of eleven children. James Corr set up an estate business and was, for a time, a member of Belfast Corporation. Elizabeth worked as a clerical assistant in Belfast Central Library. She and her sister Nell joined the Belfast branch of Cumann na mBan in 1914 and were amongst the group of six women who travelled to Coalisland prior to the Rising, to join with the Belfast and Tyrone Volunteers in the march to support the rising in Galway. They travelled to Dublin when news of the countermanding orders became known and were the first women to see the Republican Proclamation, returning to the north with new mobilisation orders from Patrick Pearse. Corr was subsequently dismissed from her post in the library on the grounds that she had been absent without leave. Her brother George died at the Somme later that year.

In the post-rising period, Elizabeth supported the Longford by-election campaign of Sinn Fein and visited republican prisoners in Crumlin Road jail, providing assistance to such well-known figures as Terence McSwiney. She met Alice Milligan at the gates of the prison one day when Milligan was visiting prisoners. In the 1918 election, Corr worked for Sinn Fein in West Belfast, where Eamon de Valera stood unsuccessfully against Joe Devlin, the long-standing nationalist MP. She administered first aid when necessary she said, as ‘the opposition crowd was very violent.’ During the war of independence, she was asked by the IRA to set up another branch of Cumann na mBan in Belfast, in the North Queen Street area. Her sister Nell also remained active and the Corr family experienced a number of raids on the family home by security forces. Elizabeth remained an active member of Cumann na mBan until after the Treaty, attending the Cumann na mBan Convention of February 1922 when the women’s organisation became the first to reject the Treaty.  In later years, she published a number of newspaper articles on her experiences of those times.