Bridget Lyons – Thornton
Veteran of the 1916 Rising, Dr Bridget Lyons, volunteered in the library of the Rotunda. She was a widow with no children. Coming to the hospital kept her in touch with the medical profession. Born in Roscommon, her mother died in childbirth when Bridget was two. Her father managed with the help of his unmarried sister Anne, but by the age of nine his daughter’s academic ability was evident and her mother’s brother Frank offered to raise her along with other McGuinness cousins in Longford.
Bridget was educated by the Ursuline nuns in Sligo (1911–1915) and University in Galway (1915–1920). It was on a holiday from university at Easter 1916 she travelled to Dublin from Longford when Uncle Frank went seeking news of his brother Joe. They gained access to the Four Courts with the password ‘Antonio’. As a medical student Bridget gave first aid assistance at Fr. Mathew Hall and in the Four Courts. She was arrested for a short time and held in Kilmainham Jail.
She returned to Galway and set up a Cumann na mBan branch there in 1917. During the War of Independence she qualified as a doctor and she worked closely with Michael Collins who was Director of Organisation and Intelligence. In 1922 she was involved in the establishment of the Irish Army Medical Service and became the first female commissioned officer in the Irish Free State Army. Later she worked as a child welfare paediatrician for Dublin Corporation.