Hanna Sheehy Skeffington: fighting Ireland’s ‘masculine monopoly’

Having helped win independence, she spent rest of career championing women’s rights

Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, left, Kathleen Shannon and Kate Sheedy in their graduation robes and mortar boards, carrying a banner saying “Votes” (for women)

Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, left, Kathleen Shannon and Kate Sheedy in their graduation robes and mortar boards, carrying a banner saying “Votes” (for women)

Almost 100 years ago women in Ireland and Britain over 30 years of age won the right to vote and to stand for election. If we scroll back to a few years earlier, we can see that Irish feminists and Irish republicans were far in advance of this limited concession passed by the British parliament.

In June 1912 Irish suffragists smashed window panes in the GPO and in other official buildings, frustrated by women’s exclusion from the terms of the Home Rule bill. Four years later the Easter Rising became, as suffrage campaigner Hanna Sheehy Skeffington recognised, “the first time in history that men, fighting for freedom, voluntarily included women”. A further landmark for Irish feminists was the election, in December 1918, of Constance Markievicz, a leading figure in the Rising, who became the first woman in Ireland or Britain to triumph at the ballot box. The Irish Citizen, paper of the Irish suffrage movement, was triumphant:

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