Identity Statement for Sighle Humphreys

  • Reference code: IE UCDA P106
  • Title: Papers of Sighle Humphreys (1899–1994)
  • Dates: 1845–1989
  • Level of description: Fonds
  • Extent: 30 boxes
  • Context
  • Content and Structure
  • Conditions of Access and Use

Biographical History

Sighle Humphreys was born in Limerick in 1899, the only daughter of Dr David Humphreys and Mary Ellen (‘Nell’) O’Rahilly. Her father died four years after her birth, having spent much of the intervening time travelling in search of a cure for his tuberculosis. Her mother was one of the O'Rahillys of Ballylongford, County Kerry, her brother Michael Joseph, ‘The O'Rahilly ,’ being the Volunteer leader killed in 1916 leading a charge down Moore Street from the GPO during the Rising. The family background was uncompromisingly nationalist. Sighle’s two brothers, Emmet and Dick both attending Pearse’s school, St Enda's, and Dick served in the GPO with his uncle in 1916. They took the anti-Treaty position and the family home at 36 Ailesbury Road was the object of regular raids by government forces, the most significant involving the wounding and arrest of Ernie O'Malley in November 1922.

Sighle own political involvement was centred on Cumann na mBan of which she was variously secretary, director of publicity and national vice-president. She maintained her republican convictions throughout her life, continuing her involvement with Cumann na mBan, contributing significantly to republican causes throughout the 1930s, and supporting political prisoners’ rights organisations until her death. She had married Donal O’Donoghue, a veteran of the IRA Dublin Brigade, in 1935. He had been interned during the Civil War and participated in the hunger strike of anti-Treaty prisoners in 1923. He became editor of An Phoblacht in 1934 and was imprisoned again in 1936 for making seditious speeches. He was actively involved with Clann na Poblachta, serving as Chairman of both the National Executive and Standing Committee and stood as a Clann candidate in the 1948 general election.

Archival History

This collection was deposited in UCD Archives on 26 August 1991 by Cróine O'Donoghue Magan.

Scope and Content

Papers relating to members of the O’Rahilly and Humphreys families, principally Sighle Humphreys and her husband Donal O’Donoghue (1897–1957) but including papers of Margaret Rahilly, Richard Rahilly (1840–1896), Michael J. O’Rahilly [The O’Rahilly] (1875–1916), Anna O’Rahilly (d.1958), Dr David Humphreys (1861–1903), Ellen Rahilly Humphreys (1871–1939), Dick Humphreys (1896–1968) and Emmet Humphreys (1902–77).

Margaret Rahilly: personal correspondence mainly relating to the education of her children, 1845–61.

Richard Rahilly: business papers and correspondence relating to the administration of his estate, 1884–1931.

Michael J. O’Rahilly [The O’Rahilly]: correspondence with his sisters and letters to other members of his family from Ireland and the U.S., 1889–1915; correspondence of his wife Nancy Browne O’Rahilly, 1897–1928; family photographs and memorabilia, 1905–18; papers relating to the involvement of The O’Rahilly in the 1916 Rising including letters of condolence and commemorative material, 1916–86.

Anna O’Rahilly: personal, business and family correspondence, 1900–51, including papers relating to her imprisonment in the North Dublin Union, 1923; personal financial papers, 1899–1954; material relating to the political and charitable bodies in which she was involved including Sinn Fein, 1910–26, the Irish National Aid Association, 1901–37, and campaigns in favour of the Irish language, 1908–32, and St Enda’s School, Rathfarnham, 1910–27; personal memorabilia and photographs, 1883–1957.

Dr David Humphreys: correspondence concerning his medical practice, personal, family and financial affairs, 1890–1903.

Ellen O’Rahilly Humphreys: correspondence with her family from abroad on trips to assist her husband, David’s, recuperation, 1899–1903; material concerning the Easter Rising including a personal account of events, 1916; correspondence while imprisoned in the North Dublin Union, Kilmainham and Mountjoy jails, 1922–3; family and personal correspondence, 1899–1938; household and personal accounts, 1895–1958; photographs and memorabilia, 1880–1940.

Dick Humphreys: correspondence and reports relating to his education at St Enda’s College, Rathfarnham, 1909–13 and Clongowes Wood College, 1913–14; material relating to his imprisonment in Wakefield, 1916, and Mountjoy, 1920; memorabilia, especially relating to motoring, 1916–89; photographs, 1905–50.

Emmet Humphreys: correspondence mainly concerning personal affairs (1908–26) including his imprisonment, 1918–23; personal memoir relating mainly to the revolutionary period (c.1975); photographs, 1913–30.

Sighle Humphreys O’Donoghue: papers relating to her education including school reports and certificates and correspondence with her family, 1912–16, including material relating to her stay in Paris, 1919–20. Personal and family correspondence, 1919–37, including a series of coded letters from Jenny Wyse Power, 1921–2, and letters from Ernie O’Malley, 1923–32, and from Mary and Eithne MacSwiney, 1924–44. Diaries, notes and memoirs, 1910–87, with particular reference to the revolutionary period. Correspondence and memoirs from her periods of imprisonment, 1922–3, 1931–2. Photographs, 1900–87, and personal memorabilia, 1912–72. Material relating to her involvement with various political bodies such as the Republican Congress, 1934, and charitable organisations such as the Ladies Association of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, 1937–75, and with Irish language, anti-E.E.C. and prisoners’ dependents’ campaigns, 1951–89.

Archives of Cumann na mBan including Executive Committee desk diaries and minutes, 1924–46, reports and policy statements, 1918–28, correspondence, 1914–43, and memorabilia, 1916–36. Papers relating to the organisation’s educational role, 1930–6, the Easter Lily Commemoration Committee, 1926–65, the Irish Republican Prisoners’ Dependents’ Fund and the Political Prisoners’ Committee, 1914–49. Correspondence, statements and reminiscences arising from the move to collect records and write a history of the organisation, 1969–70. Material relating to applications from members for Military Service Pensions, 1938–50. Newscuttings and printed matter, 1915–86.

Donal O’Donoghue: material relating to his political career and his involvement with the I.R.A. and Sinn Fein, mainly organisational records of Dublin Brigade, I.R.A., but including copies of reports from other brigades, 1921. Correspondence of Ernie O’Malley and material relating to his arrest and imprisonment, 1922–3. Correspondence between Donal and Sighle O’Donoghue during his periods of imprisonment in Mountjoy Jail and Newbridge Military Barracks, 1922–3, the Curragh, County Kildare and Crumlin Road Prison, Belfast, 1935, and Arbour Hill, 1936. Papers relating to his work with An Phoblacht newspaper and The Republican Review journal, 1930–36, and to his involvement with republican organisations including the Boycott British League, 1922–3, the Republican Committee, 1944–5, and Clann na Poblachta, 1948–57. Family correspondence, photographs and memorabilia, 1860–1957.

Large collection of printed matter including pamphlets, leaflets, posters, journals and serials, mainly of republican and nationalist interest, 1887–1982.

  • Access: Available by appointment to holders of a UCD Archives reader's ticket. Produced for consultation in digital format.
  • Language: English
  • Finding aid: Descriptive catalogue
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