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history lesson

The story behind a Dublin chorus girl's British Military Medal

Louisa Nolan’s acts even made headlines in the US.

LOUISA NOLAN WAS just 18 years old when she was awarded the Military Medal by the British Monarchy for her actions during the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin.

The daughter of the former head constable of the Royal Irish Constabulary (Ireland’s police force before 1922), the Ringsend teenager was a chorus girl at the Gaiety Theatre.

On 24 February 1917, King George honoured her with the medal for heroism during Easter Week, 1916.

According to the Sinn Féin Rebellion handbook (pg. 259), she tended to “wounded officers and men” during a battle on Mount Street Bridge.

“Miss Nolan went calmly through a hail of bullets and carried water and other comforts to the wounded men,” the publication notes.

Her story made it across the Atlantic, where a Chicago newspaper dubbed her ‘Ireland’s Bravest Colleen’ on 20 March.

imageFor a larger image, click here. (The day book. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library/US Library of Congress)

After the rebellion, Nolan moved to London where she appeared as one of the ladies of the chorus in Three Cheers.

Her two sisters were nurses in England, while her two brothers were in the Army and Navy respectively. A third boy was killed in August 1916 on the Western Front during World War I.

image The Military Medal which is kept at the National Museum in Northern Ireland.

VIDEO: A stroll through Dublin in 1915

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