The gun-slinging rebel Countess


A 90-YEAR-OLD black-and-white photograph of a gun-toting Countess Markievicz shows her in a woodland setting a world away from the image conjured up in Yeats’s poem about Lissadell House in Sligo: “two girls in silk kimonos/both beautiful, one a gazelle”.

Constance Gore-Booth – as she was before marrying a Polish count – attended her first Sinn Féin meeting dressed in a ball-gown and tiara but soon swapped the glad rags for a tweedy Republican look.

She was sentenced to be shot by a firing squad for her role in the 1916 Rising.

When the British authorities decided to commute her sentence to life in prison she reputedly said: “I do wish your lot had the decency to shoot me”. The Anglo-Irish had such exquisite manners.

The other woman (on the left of the picture) is believed to be a Miss Barton, a sister of Robert Barton who was a member of the delegation sent to London to negotiate the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921.

Auctioneer Niall Dolan would like to hear from readers of The Irish Timeswho can confirm her identity.

The photograph is included in Dolan’s art auction tomorrow, January 23rd, at the Rochestown Park Hotel , Cork at 3pm and has an estimate of €600-€800.

The auction also features over 200 paintings, including 18 works by Thelma Mansfield, the former RTÉ presenter who is now a full-time artist based in Co Galway, and which will be sold without reserve. –MP