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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Winifred Carney

Photo: ManfredHugh, CC By-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sculptor: Ralf (lead sculptor) and Naomi Sander

Materials: Statue: Bronze; plinth: limestone faced reinforced concrete.

Dimensions: Statue: h. 210cm.; plinth: h. 30cm.

Unveiled: 8 March 2024

Winifred Carney

Winifred Carney (1887–1943) was born in Bangor, Co. Down to a Protestant father and Catholic mother, who divorced while she was young. She was brought up by her mother in Belfast. In her twenties she became involved in the suffragist movement and the Gaelic League, and became secretary of the Irish Textile Workers’ Union in Belfast, which was led by James Connolly. She became his close friend and personal secretary. Carney was a founding member of a Irish republican women’s paramilitary organisation, Cumann na mBan in Dublin. In 1916 she assisted Connolly in preparing for the Easter Rising and remained with him in the Dublin General Post Office until they surrendered. She was imprisoned, but released in the December of that year. In 1918 she stood as candidate for Sinn Féin for Belfast Victoria in the General Election, but polled badly and disillusioned she joined the Northern Ireland Labour Party in 1924. She was critical of partition, but continued working as a trade unionist seeking support from both sides of the sectarian divide. In 1928 she married George McBride (1898–1988) a Protestant, who was a textile engineer, member of the Ulster Volunteer Force and a socialist. They disagreed about Irish nationalism, but were happily married.

In this statue Carney wears her 1916 uniform as Adjutant in the Irish Citizen Army. To one side of her is a typewriter, representing the one on which she typed Connolly’s despatches during the Easter Rising and on the other side she holds the Webley revolver, which she had with her throughout the rebellion. Winifred Carney and Mary Ann McCracken are the first non-royal, and republican, women to receive a statue in the grounds of Belfast City Hall.

Location: Grounds of Belfast City Hall, Donegall Square, Belfast, Northern Ireland.