Working Class Movement Library

A blog from the Working Class Movement Library in Salford

“The typist with a Webley”

Posted by wcmlibrary on January 22, 2010

I met a remarkable woman when I was working at the Working Class Movement Library last Tuesday and she came to me in the pages of a biography by Helga Woggon called Silent Radical.

The woman was Winifred Carney, 1887-1943.

She was an active participant in labour, feminist, suffrage and republican movements in Belfast. Helga Woggon tells us that she became the personal secretary and highly trusted comrade of James Connolly before and during the Easter Rising of 1916. On the 14th April 1916 James Connolly sent Winifred a telegram and asked her to travel to Dublin immediately and throughout that week she helped in the preparations for the Rising, typing Connolly’s plans of action and orders.  She joined the insurgents in the General Post Office, equipped with typewriter and gun.  She was one of the few women in the GPO and one of the last to leave, as she refused to leave with the other women insisting on staying with the wounded Connolly.

An obituary in ‘The Torch’ by Cathal O’ Shannon describes her as ‘quiet, studious type more built for the role of good comrade, loyal follower and silent good worker than for leadership …. Beneath her placid almost timid exterior burned fires that could scorch when anybody provoked her … Above all she was deep and loyal in her friendships and allegiances, political as well as personal … a great and trusted custodian of confidences’.  Helga Woggon tells us that ‘ she did not share in the vanity or jealous greed for fame …. and she never ceased refusing to dramatise events connected with the Easter Rising’.

I had never heard of Winifred Carney and was fascinated by this story. Other more flamboyant characters of the time such as Countess Constance Markievicz are well known. You can read more about Winifred at the library: Silent radical – Winifred Carney, 1887 – 1943: a reconstruction of her biography by Helga Woggon.



4 Responses to ““The typist with a Webley””

  1. Joan Austin said

    Is there a place where I can purchase this book? I have searched the web extensively. This is my grand aunt.

    Thank you!
    Joan Austin

  2. wcmlibrary said

    You’re of course very welcome to come and read the book here, Joan. But it looks like it’s one of the many treasures we have here which are rarely found elsewhere. Can anyone help Joan?
    Regards, Lynette Cawthra, Library Manager

  3. Joan Austin said

    Dear Lynette,

    Thank you so very much for your quick reply. Unfortunately I live in California and cannot visit your library :(. Perhaps I can make it there next year and, if I haven’t found it, I will definitely visit your library. You are also very kind to ask for help from your other readers. To own this book would mean so very much to me on a personal level. Thanks again!

    Warmly, Joan

  4. Joan Austin said


    Could you provide me with the ISBN number, year published and the publisher’s name?

    Thank you!

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