Throughout history, there are individuals whose contributions are shrouded in secrecy but remain instrumental in shaping the course of national or world events.
It is with great honour that I raise sisters Nora and Sheila Wallace.for a commemorative plaque in St. Augustine Street, Cork City to remember two such women,
Who were the Wallace Sisters?
The Wallace sisters were remarkable spymasters who played vital roles in the Irish Republican Intelligence Network during the tumultuous Irish War of Independence against British occupation in Ireland (1919-1921).
Lest the huge contributions of these two young sisters in the fight for Irish freedom go unremembered by the next generation.
The Espionage Pioneers
Nora and Sheila Wallace, often operating in the shadows, were key figures in the Irish Republican Intelligence Network, a clandestine organisation dedicated to gathering intelligence and disrupting British forces in Cork City during the Irish War of Independence. Their role as spymasters placed them at the forefront of a covert operation that proved critical to the success of the Irish independence movement.
Nora Wallace, with her sharp intellect and exceptional organizational skills, played a pivotal role in establishing a sophisticated network of informants and agents throughout Cork City. Her ability to gather vital information, decipher codes, and maintain secure lines of communication were invaluable assets in the fight for independence. Nora’s unwavering dedication to the cause and her capacity to outwit British intelligence forces cemented her reputation as a formidable spymaster.
Sheila Wallace, Nora’s equally resourceful sister, possessed an uncanny ability to infiltrate enemy ranks and gather sensitive information. Her talent for disguises, coupled with her charismatic personality, allowed her to move undetected within British-controlled territories. Sheila’s expertise in counterintelligence measures safeguarded the network from infiltration, ensuring the integrity and effectiveness of the Irish Republican Intelligence Network.
The significance of St. Augustine Street
St. Augustine Street in the city centre holds historical and cultural significance within Cork City. This was the location of the Wallace sister’s newspaper shop that doubled as the Intelligence Headquarters of the Cork City Brigade of the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence (1919 – 1921).
The shop from which the Wallace Sisters ran their business is now long abandoned with nothing to mark its huge importance. Only a random act of street graffiti proclaiming “a woman’s role is the revolution” reminds a passing visitor of the building’s important history.
The significance of the plaque
The commemorative plaque’s installation will not only honour Nora and Sheila but also inspire future generations to appreciate the lesser-known heroes who shaped the course of history. It will serve as a pilgrimage for young Cork girls so they can see for themselves these revolutionary female heroes.
Women and the War in Ireland
The contributions of women to the struggle for Irish freedom will go down in legend. However, a little-known fact is after the War ended, Ireland’s newly installed president Éamon De Valera tried his best to erase the huge contributions of women from the story of the Irish struggle.
De Valera felt that to legitimise the struggle in the eyes of the international community during the 1920s, women should be written out of this story. Irish female fighters were denied their military pensions and were even airbrushed out of photos.
Only in the fullness of time did history reveal the huge part women like Nora and Sheila Wallace played in the cause of Irish freedom.
Commissioning a commemorative plaque for St. Augustine Street in Cork City to remember Nora and Sheila Wallace, spymasters of the Irish Republican Intelligence Network in Cork City during the Irish War of Independence, would be a testament to their extraordinary contributions to the cause of Irish independence.
While their efforts were largely clandestine, their impact on the course of history was immeasurable. The plaque will ensure that their bravery, resourcefulness, and unwavering commitment to the Irish cause are forever etched in the collective memory of the community. As Cork City continues to evolve, the plaque will serve as a timeless reminder of the indomitable spirit of the Irish people. Both at home and abroad.
Read more about the Wallace Sisters here.
Sign the petition to honour the Wallace Sisters
If you’d like to support the petition for a plaque to remember these two female heroes in Cork,.
Once we reach 1000 signatures or more, we’ll present the petition to the Lord Mayor of Cork City. Donations aren’t needed. Signing the petition at Change.org is all that’s required to help.
Follow our efforts on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook through #rebelcitytours.
*When Dara Burke isn’t writing about Irish Rebels and posting on social media, he’s runningfrom Cork, the gateway to the New World for millions of Irish emigrants. Check out his next time you’re in the City!
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