[Jennie Wyse Power was an activist in agrarian, nationalist and feminist causes. She was a member of the Ladies' Land League, Inghinidhe na hÉireann, became vice-president of Sinn Féin, first president of Cumann na mBan and later a senator of the Irish Free State. Here she pays tribute to the Gaelic League, Sinn Féin and to women members of Boards of Guardians of the workhouses.]
The echoes of the Parnell affair had not yet died when a new movement was inaugurated by the founding of the Gaelic League. This novel cultural body rejected the false sex and class distinctions which were the result of English influence. And to the Gaelic League is due the credit of having established the first Irish national society which accepted women as members on the same terms as men.
From the beginning, women sat on its Branch Committees and Executive, and helped to carry out the programme. The work was of such a nature that women's help was essential. The study of the Irish language was for all; the social side was almost wholly in the hands of the women members, who by absorbing the Irish tradition, and themselves giving expression to Gaelic ideals and culture, influenced in no small degree the growing effort to wean the people from an Anglicisation that had gone all too far.
In 1905 the Sinn Féin movement was formally launched at a public meeting in the Dublin Rotunda. Its growth was slow, for its policy of abstention from Westminster seemed at first too novel to a people whose eyes had been so long turned to the 'Mother of Parliaments'. But the seeds of the subsequent revolution were carefully sown in those years by the late Arthur Griffith; and it is noteworthy that throughout the sowing period of many years and during the recent years of reaping, the Executive of this powerful organisation has never been without a woman member.
We were asked to support Irish manufacturers, and here women naturally played a prominent part, both in private and public, many of them being now members of the elected Boards through the country. Women speakers began to be heard at public meetings; and from now on it may be safely stated that their influence was completely on the side of Irish Ireland, which was to say an Ireland wholly separated from England.
In their capacity as Poor Law Guardians, women used their influence to break down the Engish Poor Law system, under which Irish money was misspent and the Irish poor completely demoralised.
In W.G. Fitzgerald (ed.), The voice of Ireland, Dublin, 1924, p.158. Reprinted in Margaret Ward, In their own voice; women and Irish nationalism, Cork, 2001, p.16.