Lady Aberdeen, née Ishbel Marjoribanks (1857-1939), wife of Lord Aberdeen who was Viceroy in Ireland for a short period in 1866 and from 1906 to 1915, was loved and loathed, respected and ridiculed during her stay in Ireland. She worked tirelessly for the promotion of Irish industry, especially arts and crafts. She was active in social issues and founded the Women's National Health Association to fight tuberculosis in Ireland.
Maureen Keane, Ishbel, LadyAberdeen in Ireland, Dublin, 1999.

Mary Aikenhead (1787-1858) was born in Cork. On the advice of Dr. Murray, later to be Archbishop of Dublin, she entered the Bar Convent, York but returned to Dublin in 1815 where she founded the Congregation of the Irish Sisters of Charity. It was an order of 'walking sisters', uncloistered, free to move outside their convents and dedicated to the service of the poor in hospitals, refuges and poor schools. St. Vincent's Hospital, Dublin was founded in 1834 and the congregation made foundations in several places in Ireland and abroad.
Sara Atkinson, Mary Aikenhead: her life, her work and her friends, Dublin, 1879.
Catherine Rynne, Mother Mary Aikenhead 1787-1885, Dublin, 1980.

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Sarah Allgood (1883-1950) was a leading actress in the early days of the Abbey Theatre and later made a career in films in Hollywood.
Medb Ruane, Ten Dublin women, Dublin, 1991.

Margaret Aylward (1819-1889) was born in Waterford to a wealthy merchant family. She was educated at the Ursuline Convent, Thurles and made two failed attempts at religious life . She worked for the relief of the poor in Dublin as a lay woman directing the Ladies of Charity of St Vincent de Paul. In her work for orphans she became embroiled in a controversial custody case and served a six month prison sentence. She pioneered a fosterage system of care for destitute children, established schools for the poor and founded the Sisters of the Holy Faith as a congregation who would be uncloistered 'walking sisters', free to move about the community and with no distinction between 'choir' sisters and 'lay' sisters.
Jacinta Prunty, Lady of charity, sister of faith: Margaret Aylward 1810-1889, Dublin, 1999.
Jacinta Prunty, 'Margaret Louisa Aylward' in Mary Cullen & Maria Luddy (eds.), Women, power and consciousness, Dublin, 1995.

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Frances Ball (1794-1861), also known as Mother Teresa Ball, was born in Eccles Street, Dublin and educated at the Bar Convent, York. On the advice of Dr Murray, Archbishop of Dublin, she joined the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary there and later returned to Dublin where she founded a school at Loreto Abbey, Rathfarnham. The Irish sisters of the IBVM came to be known as Loreto sisters and made a considerable contribution to the education of Irish girls, especially those of the middle class. Several other Loreto convent schools were founded in Ireland and abroad.
Desmond Forristal, The first Loreto Sister: Mother Teresa Ball 1794-1861, Dublin, 1994.

Anne (1808-1872) and Mary (1812-1898) Ball from near Cobh, Co. Cork made important collections and studies of seaweeds, shells and insects but did not publish their findings under their own names in accordance with the traditional custom for women scientists at the time. Their brother Robert, also a naturalist and founder member of the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland, encouraged them and made use of their findings in his own publications.
Jane Hanly with Patricia Deevy, 'Stepping stones in science' in WITS (eds.), Stars, shells and bluebells: women scientists and pioneers, Dublin, 1997.


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Dorothea Beale (1831-1906) attended Queen's College, Harley St., London, a pioneering institution also attended by Frances Buss. 'Miss Buss and Miss Beale' became famous as headmistresses with new radical ideals for the education of girls and their influence spread to Ireland. In 1858, Dorothea became Principal of Ladies' College, Cheltenham, an exclusive school for the daughters of gentlemen and professional men. In 1863 Miss Beale invited Oxford examiners to inspect her pupils' work and from then on Cheltenham Ladies College was closely connected with the University local examinations of both Oxford and Cambridge.By the 1880's Cheltenham Ladies College had a kindergarten, a junior department, a secondary department and a higher department which prepared students for higher certificates and the university. The idea that the whole range of education could be covered in one institution was to have a lasting influence on girls' education. Cheltenham Ladies' College influenced the growth of girls' public boarding schools founded in the late nineteenth century in England and Ireland.

Thekla Beere (1901-1991) graduated in law from Trinity College, Dublin and also studied in the USA. She joined the civil service and rose to the rank of secretary of the Department of Transport and Power in 1959, the first woman to become head of a civil service department in Ireland since independence. She was a founder member of the youth movement, An Óige. Taoiseach Jack Lynch appointed her to chair the Commission on the Status of Women in 1970 and the 'Beere Report' of the Commission in 1972 was an important milestone in the struggle for women's rights in Ireland.

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Louie Bennett (1870-1956) was born at Blackrock, Co. Dublin into a wealthy Protestant business family. She studied at Alexandra College, Dublin and in London and Germany. She was very musical and wrote two novels. As a pacifist, she disapproved of militant suffragette activities but worked with her lifelong friend Helen Chenevix to combine fifteen suffrage groups in Ireland into the Irish Women's Suffrage Federation (IWSF) in 1911. She co-operated with Frank and Hanna Sheehy Skeffington on the journal Irish Citizen and was drawn into the labour movement, taking an active part in the Dublin lockout in 1913. She helped found the Irish Women's Reform League (IWRL) in 1913. She was invited to become general secretary of the Irish Women Workers' Union (IWWU) in 1917, a post she retained until 1955. The IWWU became a powerful organisation and helped bring about reform in pay, working conditions and rights to annual holidays. She was twice elected president of the Irish Trade Union Congress and consistently opposed limits on women's rights to work. She is commemorated by a seat in St. Stephen's Green, Dublin and a stamp was issued in her honour in 1996.
R.M. Fox, Louie Bennett: her life and times, Dublin, 1957.
Mary Jones, These obstreperous lassies: a history of the Irish Women Workers' Union, Dublin, 1988.
Medb Ruane, Ten Dublin women, Dublin, 1991.
Rosemary Cullen Owens, 'Louie Bennett (1870-1956) in Mary Cullen & Maria Luddy (eds.), Female activists: Irish women and change 1900-1960, Dublin 2001.
Rosemary Cullen Owens, Louie Bennett, Cork, 2001.

Helen Blackburn (1842-1903) from Knightstown, Valentia Island, Co. Kerry became a prominent activist for women's suffrage in England. She edited The Englishwoman's Review and wrote books including A handbook for women engaged in social and political work (1881). Her history of the suffrage movement, Women's suffrage: a record of the movement in the British Isles (1902) is an important source for the period.

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Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) belonged to a prosperous landed family at Bowen's Court, Co. Cork. She was a leading writer of short stories and novels.
Victoria Glendenning, Elizabeth Bowen, London, 1977.
Hermione Lee, Elizabeth Bowen, London, 1981.

Margaret Burke Sheridan (1889-1958) was born at Castlebar where her father was postmaster. Her mother died when she was young and she was educated by the Dominicans at Eccles St., Dublin where she was encouraged to develop her voice. She won a gold medal at the Feis Ceoil in Dublin and set out on a singing career which led to performances in such famous opera houses as Covent Garden in London and La Scala in Milan. In 1989, on the centenary of her birth, the Irish government printed a stamp in her honour.
Anne Chambers, Margaret Burke Sheridan, Irish prima-donna, Dublin, 1989

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Frances Buss (1827-1894) from London was educated at Queen's College, Harley Street, London, a pioneering institution also attended by Dorothea Beale. 'Miss Buss and Miss Beale' became famous as headmistresses with new radical ideals for the education of girls. Frances Buss was ahead of her time when she founded the North London Collegiate School in 1850. As a private day school, it was open to all creeds and classes and since she believed that girls had the same intellectual abilities as boys, she included Mathematics and Latin in the curriculum of her school. She encouraged girls to enter for examinations, compete for the civil service and aspire to university education.

The evidence she gave before the Schools' Inquiry Commission was of crucial importance in the development of girls' secondary education in England and Ireland and many girls' schools followed her model and ideals, including Alexandra College, Dublin.

She was an active supporter of the suffrage movement and was one of those who petitioned parliament in 1866 to grant the vote to women. She also helped Josephine Butler in her campaigns against the white slave trade and the Contagious Diseases Acts.

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Elizabeth Butler (1615-1684), née Preston, Countess and later Duchess of Ormond and a Butler heiress, married her cousin James Butler who became Duke of Ormond on the Restoration of Charles II. Her husband had been loyal to the Royal cause during the Commonwealth but Elizabeth took a pragmatic approach to politics, her main concern being to protect the family property and the inheritance of her children. She took legal action, petitioned Cromwell and other people in high places, made use of personal contacts and lived apart from her husband during the Commonwealth. Her surviving correspondence also shows how she advised and warned her husband, worried about her sons and used her considerable influence in court as Duchess of Ormond after the Restoration.
Field Day anthology of Irish writing, Vol. V, Cork, 2002.

Mildred Anne Butler (1858-1941) from Co. Kilkenny studied art in England and was a talented painter, well known for her watercolours of gardens, farmyards, plants, birds and animals. She was strongly influenced by a period spent in Newlyn, Cornwall but did most of her work at her family home in Kilkenny. She exhibited in Ireland and England, achieved distinction in her lifetime and her work hangs in major galleries in Ireland and England.
Anne Crookshank, Mildred A. Butler, Dublin, 1992.

Josephine Butler, née Grey (1828-1906) from Northumberland married a Church of England clergyman who, like herself, had a strong social conscience. She campaigned for women's education and against white slavery and all aspects of the double standard of morality. She is best known for vigorously drawing attention to the effects of the Contagious Diseases Acts. This campaign was successful and the Acts were repealed in 1886.

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Margaret Byers, née Morrow (1832-1912) was born at Rathfriland, Co. Down. She married Rev. John Byers, a Presbyterian missionary, and paid a brief visit to America en route to his mission in China. She was deeply impressed by the American High School system of education. Its wide curriculum and the idea that the education of boys and girls should be similar, remained central to her educational thinking. Widowed at the age of 21, she returned to Ireland in 1853 and five years later set up the Ladies' Collegiate School, Belfast for girls over thirteen years.

She took part in the successful delegation organised by Isabella Tod to extend the benefits of the Intermediate Education Bill to girls and according to her son, Sir John Byers, it was she who persuaded Lord Chancellor Cairns to change his mind on this subject. Mrs Byers took immediate advantage of the new public examination system and her school became one of the top prizewinners in the 1880s and 1890s. A separate University department was opened in 1884 and Queen Victoria conferred the title Victoria College on the Ladies' Collegiate School in 1887 her Jubilee Year. The degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred on Mrs Byers by the University of Dublin (TCD) in recognition of her outstanding services to education.
Alison Jordan, Margaret Byers, Belfast, 1991.

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Winifred Carney (1887-1943) was involved in nationalist, suffragist and trade unionist activities in Belfast. She was secretary of the Textile Workers' Union organising girls working in the mills. She joined Cumann na mBan and was James Connolly's secretary during the 1916 Rising, remaining by his side in the GPO after the general evacuation. She was arrested and detained in Aylesbury Prison until December 1916.

She was one of two women (Constance Markievicz being the other) who contested seats for Sinn Féin in the 1918 general election. Winifred Carney was defeated by a Unionist candidate in Belfast. She continued to work for the labour movement in Belfast and Dublin.
Sinéad McCoole, No ordinary women, Dublin, 2003.
Helga Woggan, Silent radical: Winifred Carney 1887-1943, Dublin, 2000.

Campbell, Agnes (1540-1590) daughter of the Earl of Argyll married Turlough Luineach O'Neill, chief of the O'Neills in 1569, the same year that her daughter Finola MacDonnell married Hugh O'Donnell, chief of Tirconnell. Both chieftains wanted to make alliances in Scotland and to increase their armed troops and both women had inherited dowries of 'redshanks' or Scottish mercenary soldiers. Agnes retained the loyalty of her mercenaries who could be lodged with O'Neill's subjects by the Gaelic custom of coyne and livery. Her ability to speak English and French was helpful in her husband's many negotiations with the English and even the Earl of Essex referred to her as 'a wise and civil woman and an instrument of peace.'

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Kathleen Clarke, née Daly (1878-1972) was born into a Fenian family in Limerick and earned her living as a dressmaker and shopkeeper. A confirmed nationalist, she was a founder member of Cumann na mBan. Her husband Tom was active in the IRB and the Irish Volunteers and their shop at Parnell Street, Dublin became a centre for IRB activity. The plans for the 1916 Rising were confided to Kathleen and she was pregnant with her fourth child when both her husband Tom and her brother Ned Daly were executed after the Rising. She immediately set to work organising the Prisoners' Dependants' Fund to support the relatives of the dead and imprisoned.

She was one of four women elected to the executive of Sinn Féin at its Convention in October 1917 and she was elected to the executive of Cumann na mBan later in the year. Her recent bereavements which also included a miscarriage, together with the worry of three young children at home made her nine months imprisonment at Holloway Prison, London very difficult and she fell ill after her release in 1919. She was elected to Dublin Corporation in 1919 and was appointed a judge in the Sinn Féin courts in 1920. As a member of the Second Dáil she voted against the Treaty. She joined Fianna Fáil and was again elected to the Dáil in 1927. As a senator from 1928 to 1936, she was committed to equality for women. She supported the right of unmarried mothers to seek maintenance from the fathers of their children and to raising the age of consent in the case of indecent and sexual assault. She opposed restrictions on women's employment in the Conditions of Employment Bill (1935) and her demand for equal pay was radical at that time. Kathleen Clarke became the first woman Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1939.
Kathleen Clarke, Revolutionary woman: an autobiography, Dublin, 1991.
Medb Ruane, Ten Dublin women, Dublin, 1991.
Sinéad McCoole, No ordinary women, Dublin, 2003.

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Agnes Mary Clerke (1842-1907) from Skibbereen, Co. Cork was interested in astronomy from her earliest years. Her Popular history of astronomy during the nineteenth century is recognised as an important contribution to the subject.
Máire Brück, 'Bringing the heavens down to earth' in WITS (eds.), Stars, shells and bluebells: women scientists and pioneers, Dublin, 1997.

Frances Power Cobbe (1822-1904) from Newbridge House, Donabate, Co. Dublin moved to England after her parents died. She had a deep social conscience and was a strong campaigner for reforms in education for the poor, conditions in workhouses and the rights of women, children and animals. She travelled widely and was a prolific writer for her many causes.
Frances Power Cobbe, Life of Frances Power Cobbe, 2 vols., London, 1894 & 1904.
Deirdre Raftery, 'Frances Power Cobbe' in Mary Cullen & Maria Luddy (eds.), Women, power and consciousness, Dublin, 1995.

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Mary Colum, née Maguire (1884-1957) from Sligo, a teacher and writer, was involved in many of the cultural movements of the early years of the twentieth century in Dublin including the Irish Literary Revival and Cumann na mBan. She married Padraic Colum, poet and playwright of the early years of the Abbey Theatre. They moved to America where they lived most of their lives and both continued to write. Mary Colum's Life and the dream (1947) is an account of her early years in Dublin and an important source for the period.
Mary Colum, Life and the dream, New York, 1947.

Helena Concannon, née Walsh (1878-1952) was born in Derry. Her husband Tomás Concannon was a prominent member of the Gaelic League and they lived in Salthill, Co. Galway. Helena became Professor of History at University College, Galway , wrote about fifty books and pamphlets and contributed to magazines and journals. Many of her writings were on the subject of Irish women, including Women of Ninety Eight (1919), Daughters of Banba (1922), The Poor Clares in Ireland (1929), and Irish nuns in penal days (1931). She joined Fianna Fáil, was elected to the Dáil in 1933 and supported De Valera in the controversy over the articles concerning women in the Constitution in 1937. She was a senator from 1938 to 1952.

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Margaret Cousins, née Gillespie (1878-1954) from Boyle, Co. Roscommon was a founder member and treasurer of the Irish Women's Franchise League in 1908. With her husband James, she took an active part in the suffrage movement. She attended the Parliament of Women in London in 1910 and organised meetings and lectures in Ireland. She served a sentence in Tullamore Jail for breaking windows in Dublin Castle and another sentence for throwing stones at 10 Downing St., London.

In 1915 the couple left for India where Margaret campaigned on several women's issues, including the right to vote. She was appointed the first woman magistrate in India in 1924. Her support for Gandhi's civil disobedience campaign led to a year in prison in 1932. She continued to be involved in many women's issues, including that of child marriages. She was commemorated in her native Boyle in 1994 by a plaque unveiled by President Mary Robinson.
James and Margaret Cousins, We two together, Madras, 1950.
Catherine Candy, 'Margaret Cousins (1878-1954) in Mary Cullen & Maria Luddy (eds.), Female activists: Irish women and change 1900-1960, Dublin 2001.

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Margaret Anna Cusack (1829-1899), popularly known as the 'Nun of Kenmare', was born to wealthy Dublin Protestant parents. When her father's health and medical practice were failing, her mother brought the children to England. Margaret joined an Anglican sisterhood after the death of her fiancé and worked for the poor in London's East End. She became a Catholic in 1858 and joined the convent of Poor Clares in Newry. In 1861 she went with a group of nuns to found a Poor Clare convent in Kenmare, Co. Kerry.

'The Nun of Kenmare' became famous for her publications on Irish history and social and religious topics and for her criticism of Irish landlords. In the 1870s she was urging the poor to demand fair treatment, fair pay and education. She called on women to organise in their own interest, demand equal rights, equal education and an end to slavery in marriage while asking men to concede fairer treatment to women. She launched a Famine Relief Fund which realised £15,000 from many parts of the world.

Church authorities attempted to restrain her, especially when politically active women met with hostility during the period of the Ladies' Land League. She opened a convent at Knock, Co. Mayo but had to leave again after two years. Having travelled to the Vatican to clear her name and reputation, she founded the Sisters of Peace and set out for America in 1884 to open refuges for emigrant and working class girls. Church authorities there treated her with suspicion and disapproval. In ill health, she retired from the order she had founded, returned to England and to her original Anglican faith. Those who had opposed her were bitterly criticised in her autobiography, The story of my life, published a year before she died in 1899.
Irene Ffrench Eager, Margaret Anna Cusack: a biography, Cork, 1970.

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Mary Delany, née Granville (1700-1788) from Wiltshire was married off at seventeen to an elderly man. After his death seven years later, she married Rev. Patrick Delany and came to live at Delville in Glasnevin, Dublin. Her husband and herself were friends of Jonathan Swift and Mrs Delany's writings are useful sources for many aspects of the social history of the period. She was also a competent musician and she made drawings and paintings of places she visited as well as a botanical collection of hundreds of flower collages.
Angelique Day (ed.), Letters from Georgian Ireland: the correspondence of Mary Delany 1731-1768. Belfast, 1991.
Jane Hanly & Patricia Deevy, 'Imitating nature' in WITS (eds.), Stars, shells and bluebells: women scientists and pioneers, Dublin, 1997.

Maude Delap (1866-1953), a marine biologist, lived most of her life on Valentia Island, Co. Kerry where she made a detailed study of jellyfish which she reared in her home-made laboratory. She helped explain the complex life-cycle of the jellyfish.
Anne Byrne, 'Untangling the medusa' in WITS (eds.), Stars, shells and bluebells: women scientists and pioneers, Dublin, 1997.

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Charlotte Despard, née French (1844-1939) was involved in the suffrage movement in England and in projects for the poor in London. A wealthy woman and a rebel at heart, she assisted the workers during the Dublin lockout. Although her brother, Lord French was Viceroy of Ireland during the Anglo-Irish War, she supported Sinn Féin and the IRA and drew attention to British Army atrocities. Charlotte was a friend of Maud Gonne MacBride and she presided over the Women's Prisoners' Defence League during the Civil War.
Andro Linklater, An unhusbanded life: Charlotte Despard, London, 1980.
Margaret Mulvihill, Charlotte Despard: a biography, London, 1989.
Sinéad McCoole, No ordinary women, Dublin, 2003.

Anne Devlin (c.1780-1851) a native of Wicklow was a member of a rebel family and a cousin of the rebel leader Michael O'Dwyer. Anne was working in Robert Emmet's house when he was plotting his 1803 insurrection. After it failed she was arrested, tortured for information and left for a long time in prison. She later married, lived in extreme poverty and was living in destitution before her death in 1851. Her story was recorded by Brother Luke Cullen and by Dr. R.R. Madden, historian of the 1798 Rebellion.
Helena Concannon, The women of '98, Dublin, 1919.
John Finnegan (ed.), Anne Devlin: patriot and heroine, Dublin, 1968.

Bernadette Devlin McAliskey
was born in 1947 in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone and educated in Dungannon and at Queen's University, Belfast where she became involved in socialist and republican movements. She took part in the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) marches in 1968 and 1969. A founder member of People's Democracy, she was elected to Westminster for Mid-Ulster in 1969 at 22, the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Commons. In the same year she published a volume of autobiography The price of my soul and took part in the 'Battle of the Bogside' in Derry. She served four months in Armagh Gaol in 1970 and after 'Bloody Sunday' in Derry in 1972 became notorious for an incident in the House of Commons when she thumped the Home Secretary, Reginald Maudling. She lost her seat in 1974 and in 1981, with her husband Michael McAliskey, was shot and seriously wounded during a raid on their home by loyalist paramilitaries, though she played a prominent part in the National H-Block Committee campaigning on behalf of prisoners taking part in the hunger strike for political status at that time. She continued to associate herself with several leftwing and republican causes, was never in the mainstream of politics again and was critical of the 'Peace Process' in Northern Ireland.
Bernadette Devlin, The price of my soul, London, 1969.

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Susanna Drury (c.1710-c.1770) was a talented painter whose views of the Giant's Causeway, Co. Antrim were seen as landmarks in Irish landscape painting and in European scientific illustration. Her views were widely circulated as engravings and helped draw attention to this natural wonder which is now an important tourist destination.
Wanda Ryan-Smolin et al, Irish women artists from the eighteenth century to the present day, Dublin, 1987.

Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849) was the daughter of Richard Lovell Edgeworth, an enlightened Co. Longford landlord and an MP. She assisted her father with his research, with the management of his estate and with the care of his large family - he married four times and had twenty two children. He believed in equal opportunities for girls in education. Maria's first publication was a plea for women's education and she wrote about many other topics as well as moral stories for children. She is best remembered for her Irish novels, especially Castle Rackrent (1800), internationally renowned and influential as a regional novel set in a big house and including dialogue in Hiberno-English dialect. She was critical of irresponsible members of her own class and was active in relief work during the Great Famine.
M. Butler, Maria Edgeworth, Oxford, 1972.
James Newcomer, Maria Edgeworth, New Jersey, 1973.

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Millicent Garrett Fawcett (1847-1929) was born in Suffolk. Her father supported the efforts of her eldest sister Elizabeth Garrett Anderson to be admitted to the practice of medicine. Both John Stuart Mill and Millicent's husband Henry Fawcett, professor of political economy at Cambridge University encouraged Millicent in her campaigns for women's rights. She helped set up the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) in 1897 and became its president. She believed women's suffrage could be obtained by peaceful campaigning, disapproved of the militant tactics of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) led by the Pankhursts and tried to counteract the hostility they generated. After campaigning on women's issues for over fifty years, she lived to see women in the UK get the vote on the same basis as men in 1928.
Millicent Fawcett, The women's victory - and after, London, 1920.
Millicent Fawcett, What I remember, London, 1924.
D. Rubinstein, A different life for women: the life of Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Ohio, 1991.

Muriel Gahan (1897-1995) was a dedicated member of the Irish Countrywomen's Association (ICA) and was associated with the opening of the Country Shop in St. Stephen's Green, Dublin as a restaurant as well as an outlet for the sale of country crafts and home produce. She also helped establish the ICA residential college, An Grianán in Termonfeckin, Co. Louth.
Pat Bolger, And see her beauty shining there: the story of the Irish Countrywomen's Association, Dublin, 1986.

Grace Gifford Plunkett (1888-1955) from Dublin studied art in Dublin and London. She drew cartoons of writers, artists and other Irish personalities. She joined Sinn Féin and married Joseph Plunkett, one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising a few hours before he was executed. Her sister Muriel had been married to Thomas McDonagh, another leader who was also executed. She was one of four women elected to the Sinn Féin executive at the 1917 convention and she used her artistic skills in making propaganda posters. She opposed the Treaty and was imprisoned for a time with her sister in Kilmainham where she decorated the walls of her cell with her drawings.
Marie O'Neill, Grace Gifford Plunkett and Irish freedom, Dublin, 2000.
Sidney Czira, The years fly by, Dublin, 1974.
Sinéad McCoole, No ordinary women, Dublin, 2003.

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Maud Gonne McBride (1866-1953) was born in England. Her mother died when she was young and she accompanied her father, a British army officer to Ireland. He died when she was twenty and she became financially independent at twenty one. Maud was a tall and fine looking young woman with leadership qualities and a deep devotion to nationalism and to social justice. She assisted tenants threatened with eviction in Donegal where she nursed the sick, raised funds and gained publicity for the tenants. Unable to join cultural and political organisations as a woman in Dublin, she founded Inghínidhe na hÉireann in 1900 and wrote many articles for Bean na hÉireann, the journal of the association.

The impetus of Inghínidhe na hÉireann led to the foundation of a professional theatre group which later developed into the Abbey Theatre. The poet and playwright W.B. Yeats who publicly professed his love for Maud Gonne, wrote plays for the new theatrical movement and was a founder member of the Abbey Theatre. Maud, who had two children with Lucien Millevoye, a French politician, rejected Yeats's proposals. She eventually married John MacBride who was executed for his part in the 1916 Rising. Their son Seán MacBride would later have a varied career as a republican, IRA chief of staff, lawyer, government minister and winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace and of the Lenin Peace Prize.

Maud was interned in Holloway Jail in 1918. She opposed the Treaty, attempted to reconcile the opposing sides in the Civil War and founded the Women's Prisoners' Defence League with Charlotte Despard to help Republican prisoners and their families. Imprisoned by the Irish Free State in 1923, she was one of ninety-one women who went on hunger strike and was released after twenty days.
Maud Gonne MacBride, A servant of the queen, Suffolk, 1983 (reprint).
Nancy Cardoza, Maud Gonne: lucky eyes and a high heart, London, 1979.
Samuel Levenson, Maud Gonne, London, 1977.
Margaret Ward, Maud Gonne: Ireland's Joan of Arc, London, 1990.
Sinéad McCoole, No ordinary women, Dublin, 2003.

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Eva Gore-Booth (1870-1926) was born at Lissadell, Co. Sligo, the sister of Constance, later Countess Markievicz. She lived most of her life in England where she became active in socialist, feminist and pacifist movements with her friend Esther Roper. She wrote and edited papers, pamphlets and articles, was a popular platform speaker and served on committees for causes such as working women, women's suffrage and pacifism. She also published several volumes of poetry and verse drama.
Gifford Lewis, Eva Gore-Booth and Esther Roper: a biography, London, 1988.

Alice Stopford Green (1847-1929) from Kells, Co. Meath was a historian whose research into Irish history convinced her of the need to counter the British bias in most existing histories of Ireland. Her publications were therefore bound to be controversial as they supported the nationalist cause. A friend of Roger Casement, she was involved in the organisation of the Howth gun-running in 1914 though she disapproved of the 1916 Rising. She supported the Treaty as well as the Commonwealth and was one of four women nominated to the first Seanad of the Irish Free State in 1922. Her contributions to Irish history and culture were considerable.
R.B. McDowell, Alice Stopford Green: a passionate historian, Dublin, 1967.

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Lady Gregory, née Isabella Augusta Persse (1852-1932) from Co. Galway married Sir William Gregory, Coole Park, Gort, a politician, diplomat and landlord. Although born and married into the gentry class, she sympathised with the rural poor and collected local folklore. Having worked with W.B. Yeats and Edward Martyn to found the Abbey Theatre in 1904, she wrote many plays, especially one act plays and was involved in the management of the theatre for many years. Lady Gregory also published popular translations of Irish myths. Her house at Coole Park was demolished but the estate was later turned into a national park.
Elizabeth Coxhead, Daughters of Erin, London, 1979.
Mary Lou Kohfeldt, Lady Gregory: the woman behind the Irish renaissance, London, 1984.
Colm Tóibín, Lady Gregory's toothbrush, Dublin, 2002.

Anna Haslam, née Fisher (1829-1922) from Youghal, Co. Cork was born into a Quaker family of seventeen children. Her parents were involved in movements such as famine relief, anti-slavery, peace and temperance. Her husband Thomas Haslam (1825-1917) also a Quaker from Mountmellick, Co. Laois, had been interested in the 'woman question' before their marriage. Anna and Thomas took an active part in campaigns for girls' education, for the reform of laws concerning women and for repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts.

To secure these reforms meant lobbying members of an all-male Parliament and when a women's suffrage movement developed, the Haslams took an active part. Anna's was one of 1,499 signatures to the first women's suffrage petition to parliament in 1866 and she was among the organisers of a suffrage meeting in Dublin in 1872. In 1874, Thomas published three issues of The Women's Advocate, the first women's suffrage paper in Ireland. He argued in favour of votes for women and gave practical advice on how to organise local groups for effective political action.

Anna was a founder member of the Dublin Women's Suffrage Association in 1876 and served as its secretary until she retired to become Life President in 1913. This was a small organisation with both female and male members and it changed its name to the Irish Women's Suffrage and Local Government Association (IWSLGA) when the laws allowed women in Ireland to be elected as Poor Law Guardians in 1896 and members of certain Local Government bodies in 1898.

The suffrage movement was now determined to secure parliamentary votes for women and both Anna and Thomas attended a suffrage demonstration in London in 1908. Although they disapproved of militant suffragette tactics, they did not condemn them outright. The Home Rule Bill posed problems for them as they were unionist in sympathy.

Hanna Sheehy Skeffington and Margaret Cousins visited Anna Haslam in 1918 to inform her they intended to found a more militant women's suffrage organisation, the Irish Women's Franchise League (IWFL), the members of which would tend to be more nationalist in sympathy.
Sadly, Thomas Haslam died in 1917, the year before his wife Anna voted for parliament for the first time. Anna Haslam died in 1922, the year women in Ireland over 21 could vote for parliament on the same basis as men. She is commemorated by a seat in St. Stephen's Green, Dublin.
Mary Cullen, 'Anna Maria Haslam' in Mary Cullen & Maria Luddy (eds.), Women, power and consciousness, Dublin, 1995.

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Mary Hayden (1862-1942) was educated at Dominican College, Eccles Street, Alexandra College, Dublin and the Royal University of Ireland where she took her BA in 1885, and MA in Modern Languages in 1887. She was appointed Junior Fellow in English in 1895 and with Agnes O'Farrelly campaigned for women's rights in the university. In her evidence before the Robertson Commission (1901) Mary Hayden said she favoured women attending university on equal terms with men.

She became a member of the senate of the National University of Ireland and in 1911 was appointed the first Professor of History in University College, Dublin, a post she held for 27 years. She was a prominent member of the Irish Women's Suffrage and Local Government Association and was also deeply involved in the Gaelic League. Although a close friend of Patrick Pearse, she opposed violence and disapproved of the 1916 Rising.

She colloborated with George Moonan in A Short History of the Irish People (1921) which remained a textbook in Irish schools for over forty years. She was president of the National University Women Graduates' Association from 1913 until 1942 and she represented them, together with the National Council of Women, in their struggle against Fianna Fáil's attempts to limit women's rights in the Conditions of Employment Bill (1935) and in the 1937 Constitution.
Medb Ruane, Ten Dublin women, Dublin, 1991.

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Nora Herlihy (1910-1988) from Ballydesmond, Co. Cork, was a pioneer of the Credit Union movement in Ireland. As a teacher in Dublin she witnessed at first hand the effects of unemployment, poor housing, illness, malnutrition and exploitation by moneylenders and she resolved to do something about these problems. She made a detailed study of co-operative movements in Ireland and abroad and was closely associated with the earliest co-operative credit societies in Ireland in the late 1950s. She managed the Irish League of Credit Unions from its formation in 1960 until 1966 and served on the Credit Union Advisory Committee to the Government from 1967 to 1980. By the time of her death in 1988, the credit union movement in Ireland had over 850,000 members and 493 credit unions.
A.T. Culloty, Nora Herlihy: Irish Credit Union pioneer, Dublin, 1990.

Evie Hone (1894-1955) from Dublin trained as an artist. She and her friend Mainie Jellett studied with Walter Sickert in London and with André Lhote and Albert Gleizes in France. Many of her paintings were cubist or abstract in style. She was a founder member of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art in 1943 and an important influence in Irish art. Evie Hone was a deeply religious person and is best known as a stained glass artist. She worked at Sarah Purser's studio, at An Túr Gloine and later at her studio at Marlay Grange, Rathfarnham, Dublin. She received many prestigious commissions, and her work can be seen in many churches and galleries throughout England and Ireland.
Ryan-Smolin Wanda et al, Irish women artists from the eighteenth century to the present day, Dublin, 1987.

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Ellen Hutchins (1785-1815) from near Bantry, Co. Cork was taught to paint and draw, these being considered essential accomplishments for genteel young women at the time. She took a keen interest in botany, especially non-flowering plants such as lichens, mosses and seaweeds. She knew and corresponded with leading collectors and her own collection and work were highly respected but it was then considered immodest for a woman to publish her findings under her own name. Nevertheless, several botanists commemorated her by naming plants after her.
H.C.G. Ross, 'Ellen Hutchins: botanist' in C.Mollan et al (eds.), Some people and places in Irish science and technology, Dublin 1985.
Helena C.G. Chesney, 'The young lady of the lichens' in WITS (eds.), Stars, shells and bluebells: women scientists and pioneers, Dublin, 1997.

Mainie Jellett (1897-1944) from Dublin trained as an artist in Dublin and London. She and her friend Evie Hone were pupils of André Lhote and then of Albert Gleizes. Mainie Jellett was a leader of the modern movement in Ireland between the wars, making Cubism and Expressionism better known to an artistically conservative public. She was a founder member of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art in 1943.
Ryan-Smolin Wanda et al, Irish women artists from the eighteenth century to the present day, Dublin, 1987.

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Anne Jellicoe, née Mullin (1823-1880) was born at Mountmellick, Co. Laois, the daughter of a Quaker schoolmaster. She married John Jellicoe, a flour miller in 1846 and moved to Clara, Co. Offaly two years later. There she set up an embroidery and lace school to provide employment for young girls. The Jellicoes moved to Dublin in 1858 where she helped revive Cole Alley Infant School for poor children of all creeds run by the Quakers. She prepared a paper on working conditions for young factory girls in Dublin in 1861 and a year later visited the women's prison at Mountjoy. She founded the first employment society for women in Ireland known as the Queen's Institute to provide adult technical training classes for women. This led her to realise that women must be educated before they could be trained. In 1866, with the help of Archbishop Chenevix Trench, she founded Alexandra College, Dublin, the first women's college in Ireland to aim at a university type education. The Governess Association of Ireland followed in 1869 and Alexandra School was founded in 1873.
Anne V. O'Connor, 'Anne Jellicoe' in Mary Cullen & Maria Luddy (eds.), Women, power and consciousness, Dublin, 1995.

Matilda Knowles (1864-1933) from Ballymena, Co. Antrim collected and catalogued the lichens found on Irish rocks. Her work The lichens of Ireland was published by the Royal Irish Academy in 1929.
Maura Scannell, 'Inspired by lichens' in WITS (eds.), Stars, shells and bluebells: women scientists and pioneers, Dublin, 1997.

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Delia Larkin (1878-1949) was born into a poor family in Liverpool. She came to Ireland to help her brother Jim Larkin to found the Irish Women Workers' Union (IWWU) in 1911 and acted as its first secretary until Louie Bennet took over in 1917. Delia Larkin helped manage the soup kitchen at Liberty Hall during the Dublin lockout. She travelled in England and Ireland with the Irish Workers Dramatic Company raising funds for those affected. A good public speaker and organiser, she was frequently involved in controversy.
Mary Jones, These obstreperous lassies: a history of the Irish Women Workers' Union, Dublin, 1988.

Mary Lavin (1912-1996), born Massachusetts, lived mostly at Bective, Co. Meath. She had a distinguished career as a writer of short stories and received many awards and honours for her work. She actively encouraged young writers.
Leah Levenson, The four seasons of Mary Lavin, Dublin, 1998.

Anita Lett, née Studdy (1872-1940) was a founder member of the United Irishwomen, later called the Irish Countrywomen's Association in 1910. An Englishwoman married to a Co. Wexford farmer, Anita saw the need for an organisation dedicated to improving life for rural women in Ireland. She was the first president of the United Irishwomen.
Pat Bolger, And see her beauty shining there: the story of the Irish Countrywomen's Association, Dublin, 1986.

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Kathleen Lynn (1874-1955) was born in Cong, Co. Mayo where her father was a Church of Ireland rector. She was one of the first medical graduates from the Royal University of Ireland in 1899, was involved in the suffrage movement and acted as medical adviser when members encountered violence and went on hunger strike. Having joined the Irish Citizen Army at James Connolly's invitation, she assisted at Liberty Hall during the 1913 lockout.

She took part in the 1916 Rising as Chief Medical Officer of the Irish Citizen Army and it was she who gave the surrender of the City Hall station to a surprised British officer because the captain in charge was fatally wounded. She was arrested, spent a term in prison and on her release was one of four women elected to the executive of Sinn Féin at its Convention in October 1917. She campaigned for Constance Markievicz in the general election of 1918 and was one of five women elected to the Dáil in 1923 but as an abstentionist in opposition to the Treaty she did not take her seat. She was a member of Rathmines Urban District Council and vice-president of the Irish Women Workers' Union.

Appalled by the fact that 16.4% of Dublin infants in 1919 were dying from preventable diseases, Kathleen Lynn and her friend Madeleine Ffrench-Mullen founded St. Ultan's, a hospital for sick children at Charlemont St., Dublin. They introduced a Montessori ward in the hospital and made a significant contribution to the eradication of tuberculosis in Ireland.
Medb Ruane, Ten Dublin women, Dublin, 1991.
Medb Ruane, 'Kathleen Lynn (1874-1955)' in Mary Cullen & Maria Luddy (eds.), Female activists: Irish women and change 1900-1960, Dublin 2001.
Sinéad McCoole, No ordinary women, Dublin, 2003.
Marie Mulholland, The politics and relationships of Kathleen Lynn, Dublin, 2002.

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Mary McAleese, née Leneghan was born in Belfast in 1951. A graduate of Queen's University, Belfast, she qualified as a barrister and became Reid Professor of Law in Trinity College, Dublin. She also pursued a career as a journalist in television, radio, and print media and was involved in several campaigns for justice and equal opportunities. She was elected President of Ireland in 1997.
Mary McAleese, Love in chaos, New York, 1999.
Justin McCartney, Mary McAleese: the outsider: an unauthorised biography, Dublin, 1999.

Catherine McAuley (1778-1841), whose parents died when she was young, was adopted as a teenager by a wealthy couple, the Callaghans. When they died, she inherited a huge property and income which enabled her to build a large residence in fashionable Baggot Street, Dublin where the children of the poor were educated, orphans housed and poor young women trained for employment. Her aim was to form a group of secular women who would assist in this work but such lay institutes were not approved by the Catholic church and she was persuaded to form a religious congregation. She entered the Presentation order with two colleagues and then left to form the Congregation of Mercy in 1831, not as a cloistered or enclosed order but as 'walking sisters' free to visit the poor and needy in their homes.

Her school in Baggot Street was already well-established by 1831 with over 200 pupils to cater for. She had decided to introduce a modified version of the Lancasterian monitorial system to her poor schools in Dublin. Catherine McAuley affiliated her schools with the National Board in 1839.

During the last ten years of her life, she founded other convents in Ireland and England and the congregation later spread to become one of the largest religious congregations in the world, especially active in the fields of education and health.
Angela Bolster, Catherine McAuley, venerable for mercy, Dublin, 1990.
Mary C. Sullivan, Catherine McAuley and the tradition of mercy. Dublin, 1995.

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Patricia McCluskey and her husband Conn McCluskey, a medical doctor in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, joined the Homeless Citizens League (HCL), founded in 1963 to protest against the denial of decent public housing to young Catholic families in Dungannon. They collected systematic evidence, so thoroughly researched that it proved without doubt the existence of discrimination. Pressure was put on Dungannon Council to make better provisions and the McCluskeys and others formed the Campaign for Social Justice (CSJ) in 1964. They collected data about gerrymandering and perceived discrimination in employment, housing, and public appointments in Northern Ireland and published their findings in The plain truth in 1964. Patricia McCluskey and three other CSJ members were elected to Dungannon Council in 1964. She presented her data to prominent politicians in Westminster where a Campaign for Democracy in Ulster (CDU) was set up but the British and Northern Ireland governments took no effective action at this time. Patricia McCluskey became a member of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) founded in 1967.
Conn McCluskey, Up off their knees: a commentary on the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland, Belfast, 1989.

Mary Ann McCracken (1770-1866) born into a Presbyterian merchant family in Belfast, attended a co-educational school run on advanced ideas for the time and was a woman of strong leadership and business skills. She and her sister Margaret ran their own muslin business for a time.Her brothers Henry Joy and William joined the Society of United Irishmen. The letters she wrote to her two brothers imprisoned at Kilmainham in 1796 have survived and are important sources for her views at this time and for the history of the period. After the defeat of the insurgents at the Battle of Antrim in 1798, Mary Anne tried to arrange an escape route for Henry Joy. She failed to save him from the scaffold and also failed in her attempts to revive him when he was taken down.
Helena Concannon, The women of Ninety Eight, Dublin, 1919.
Mary McNeill, The life and times of Mary Ann McCracken 1770-1866, Dublin, 1960.
John Gray, 'Mary Anne McCracken' in Dáire Keogh & Nicholas Furlong (eds.), The women of 1798, Dublin, 1998.

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Margaret MacCurtain is an Irish historian specialising in the seventeenth century and in the history of religion and of women in Ireland. Her contribution to women's history in terms of writing, editing, organisation and encouragement is widely acknowledged and Women in Irish society: the historical dimension which she co-edited with Donncha O'Corráin in 1978 is a recognised landmark in the field. A Dominican sister, she lectured at University College, Dublin from 1966 until her retirement in 1994.
Thomas O'Loughlin, 'Sister act: interview with Margaret MacCurtain' in History Ireland, Spring 1994.
Mary O'Dowd & Maryann Gialanella Valiulis (eds.), Women & Irish history: essays in honour of Margaret MacCurtain, Dublin, 1997.

Norah McGuinness (1921-1980) from Derry studied art in Dublin, London and Paris. Both her painting and her personality were forceful and energetic. She was a leading figure in the Irish art world in her day, was a prolific painter, gave encouragement to younger artists and her work is to be found in galleries in Ireland, England and America.
Ryan-Smolin Wanda et al, Irish women artists from the eighteenth century to the present day, Dublin, 1987.

Mary MacSwiney (1872-1942) was born in Surrey but spent most of her life in Cork City where she was educated by the Ursuline sisters and later became a teacher in their school. She joined the Munster Women's Franchise League but resigned in November 1914 because of their support for the World War I effort. An ardent nationalist, she joined Cumann na mBan, organised their branch in Cork City and served on the national executive. Soldiers arrested her in her classroom in May 1916 and having lost her teaching post because of her political activities, she set up her own school, St. Ita's in Cork. Her brother Terence, lord mayor of Cork, died in Brixton Prison in 1920 after 74 days on hunger strike and Mary embarked with his widow Muriel on a publicity tour in America. She was TD for Cork from 1921-1927 but abstained from taking her seat in Dáil Éireann as she vigorously opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty. She was imprisoned twice during the Civil War and spent 24 days on hunger strike in Mountjoy in 1922 and 21 days on hunger strike in Kilmainham in 1923. She supported the republican cause for the rest of her life, did not join Fianna Fáil and was defeated in a general election in 1927.
Charlotte H. Fallon, Soul of fire: a biography of Mary MacSwiney, Cork, 1986.
RM Fox, Rebel Irishwomen, Dublin, 1935.
Sinéad McCoole, No ordinary women, Dublin, 2003.

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Constance Markievicz (1868-1927) was born Constance Gore-Booth in London and educated by governesses at the family home in Lissadell, Co. Sligo. Having studied art in London and Paris she settled in Dublin in 1903 with her Polish husband, Count Markievicz. She became involved with cultural, feminist, political and socialist groups in Dublin such as the Abbey Theatre, United Arts Club, Gaelic League, Sinn Féin, Inghinidhe na hÉireann, Irish Women Workers Union and the Irish Citizen Army. In 1909 she founded Na Fianna, a nationalist boy scout organisation. She ran a soup kitchen during the 1913 Dublin lockout.

Having served with the Irish Citizen Army as second-in-command at the St. Stephen's Green garrison in 1916, she was arrested, court-martialled and sentenced to death. Her sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life but she was released from Aylesbury Gaol in June 1917 to a rapturous welcome in Dublin. Re-arrested the following year, she successfully contested the 1918 general election from Holloway Prison, London. She became the first woman ever elected to the British House of Commons but in accordance with Sinn Féin policy she did not attend. Instead, on her release from prison, she took her seat in the First Dáil Éireann in April 1919 and was appointed Minister for Labour, the first woman cabinet minister in Western Europe. Her responsibilities included labour disputes which were occasionally sectarian in origin.

While in prison once again in 1921, this time in Mountjoy, she became a member of the Second Dáil but cabinet status did not accompany her re-appointment as Minister for Labour on this occasion. She opposed the Treaty and was defeated in the general election of 1922. She succeeded in being elected in 1923 but as a Sinn Féin republican she abstained from taking her seat in the Dáil. She was briefly on hunger strike after being arrested for promoting republicanism in November 1923.

She presided over the first meeting of Fianna Fáil in April 1926 and was elected to the Dáil as a member of that party in 1927. She died in the public ward of a Dublin hospital in July of that year. Both the City Hall and the Mansion House in Dublin were refused for her lying-in-state which was subsequently held in the Rotunda. She received a huge funeral for which the working class people of Dublin lined the streets in thousands.
Anne Marreco, The rebel countess, London, 1967.
Jacqueline Van Voris, Constance de Markievicz and the cause of Ireland, Amherst, 1967.
Elizabeth Coxhead, Daughters of Erin, Gerrard's Cross, 1985.
Constance Markievicz, Prison Letters of Countess Markievicz, London, 1986, reprint.
Diana Norman, Terrible beauty: a life of Constance Markievicz, London, 1987.
Anne Haverty, Constance Markievicz: an independent life, London, 1988.
Sinéad McCoole, No ordinary women, Dublin, 2003.

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Mary Martin (1892-1975) born in Dublin, served as a volunteer nurse during World War I and also during a spell in Nigeria in the 1920s. She witnessed immense pain and distress and despite her own health problems, committed herself to the relief of human suffering. In 1934 she founded a small religious missionary group trained and dedicated to bring health-care where it was greatly needed. She founded the Medical Missionaries of Mary in 1936, by which time the Vatican had finally agreed to allow religious sisters train as midwives and obstetricians. Her institute was dedicated to health care and her sisters studied all branches of nursing and medicine, some qualifying as surgeons and obstetricians. She founded a training hospital at Drogheda and the Medical Missionaries of Mary grew to number over 400 members of many nationalities and spread to 16 different countries. In 1966 she was the first woman to be made an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Sylvia Meehan née Shiel from Dublin was born in 1929 and educated by the Loreto Sisters at North Great George's Street and at UCD where she studied legal and political science. Married in 1954, she was widowed with five young children in 1969. Qualified as a teacher, she was appointed vice-principal of Cabinteely Community School before leaving to chair the Employment Equality Agency (EEA) which was set up in 1977 to oversee the enforcement of the Employment Equality Act (1977). She became the first chief executive of the agency which sponsored research into girls in Irish education, sex-stereotyping and other problems of women in employment and the need for maternity leave and childcare. After retiring from the EEA in 1992, she undertook two APSO placements on Gender Balance in Namibia. Since her retirement she has also been active as a board member of Age & Opportunity to support the inclusion of older people and combat ageism and as President of the Irish Senior Citizens' Parliament, an umbrella group for organisations for older people. She received a doctorate from the University of Limerick in 1997.

Helena Molony (1883-1967) from Dublin joined Inghínidhe na hÉireann and edited Bean na hÉireann the first women's newspaper in Ireland and acted with the Abbey Theatre. A friend of James Connolly, she worked in the soup kitchen in Liberty Hall in 1913 and took part in the 1916 Rising as a member of the Irish Citizen Army, following which she was imprisoned in Aylesbury Jail. She opposed the Treaty and worked as an organiser for the Irish Women Workers' Union. She campaigned for the Women's Prisoners' Defence League and opposed the Conditions of Employment Bill in 1935.
RM Fox, Rebel Irishwomen, Dublin, 1935.
Nell Regan, 'Helena Molony (1883-1967)' in Mary Cullen & Maria Luddy (eds.), Female activists: Irish women and change 1900-1960, Dublin 2001.
Sinéad McCoole, No ordinary women, Dublin, 2003.

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Agnes Morrogh-Bernard (1842-1932) also known as Mother Arsenius, was reared in Cork and Kerry and educated in Limerick and Paris. She joined the Irish Sisters of Charity in Dublin in 1863 and worked in schools, a laundry and an orphanage. She led a group of sisters to found a convent at Foxford, Co. Mayo in 1891 and there they established a school and organised relief work. Determined to set up a factory to give employment in the area, she sought the advice of John Charles Smith of Caledon, Co. Tyrone who replied, 'Madam, are you aware that you have written to a 'Protestant and a Freemason' but agreed to help. With financial assistance from the Congested Districts Board, her Providence Woollen Mills at Foxford went from strength to strength, producing woollen cloth and blankets and employing 250 workers in the 1930s.

Convinced that people must be helped to help themselves, she also organised instruction in dairying, poultry breeding and horticulture. The Sisters fostered a love of music and culture in the school children and mill workers by encouraging a children's choir and orchestra and a Brass and Reed Band for the workers. Other projects included housing and road building. The industry closed in 1987 but is commemorated by a Heritage Centre.
Rev. Denis Gildea, Mother Mary Arsenius of Foxford, Dublin, 1936.
Foxford IRD, Agnes Morrogh-Bernard 1842-1932, Foxford, no date.

Teresa Mulally (1728-1803) from Dublin was a milliner. She opened schools in Dublin for poor Catholic girls at a time when such activities were forbidden by law. She also founded orphanages and corresponded for several years with Nano Nagle who did similar work for the poor in Cork. A group of women who had helped with her projects in Dublin joined with Nano Nagle's Cork group in 1794, though Teresa Mulally did not join them, and eventually this group became the congregation of the Presentation Sisters.
Savage, Roland Burke, A valiant Dublin woman: the story of George's Hill, Dublin, 1940.

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Nano Nagle (1728-1784) was born in Co. Cork to a Catholic landed gentry family and educated in a French convent. During the period of the Penal Laws she opened her first school for the poor in a mud cabin in Cork about 1754. Such activity was still illegal but she had founded seven poor schools by 1759, receiving financial assistance from family and friends. She brought the Ursuline Sisters to Cork but they were unable to work for, or educate the poor because the Catholic church then required religious sisters to remain enclosed in their convents. Nano and her assistants continued their original work without becoming an established religious congregation so they were free to work for the poor without being enclosed. After her death, the group was established as the Presentation Sisters and, although enclosed, made a major contribution to the education of girls in Ireland.
T.J. Walsh, Nano Nagle and the Presentation Sisters, Kildare, 1959.

Asenath Nicholson, née Hatch from Vermont, USA was a fifty-two year old widow when she came to Ireland in 1844 to make the Bible more popular amongst the Irish. She returned as a relief worker during the Famine and wrote a vivid account of her work and experiences as she travelled around the country seeking to meet a wide variety of people rich and poor. Her books are important primary sources for the period because of her concern for justice, respect for the poor, independence of mind and strong character.
Asenath Nicholson, Ireland's welcome to the stranger, London 1847. Reprinted, A.T. Sheppard (ed.), New York, 1997.
Asenath Nicholson, Annals of the famine in Ireland in 1847, 1848 and 1849, New York, 1851. Reprinted, Maureen Murphy (ed.), Dublin, 1997.

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Mairéad Ní Ghráda (1899-1971) from Co. Clare was a graduate in Irish and a member of the Gaelic League. She worked as a teacher, civil servant and radio announcer. She wrote Irish language textbooks for schools, short stories and many plays. In 1964, her Irish language play, An Triail, dramatised the practical and social problems faced by single pregnant girls. It was disturbing and thought-provoking at the time and was translated into English as On trial.

Gráinne Ní Mháille also known as Granuaile (c.1530-c.1603) had a career that was exceptional for a woman in sixteenth century Ireland. The main sources for her life are to be found in English state papers and Mayo folklore since Irish annals and histories provided little or no information about her. Emerging as an aggressive leader of men on land and on sea, she acted with great determination in the interests of her two husbands, both of them warlike and ambitious men. She assembled a force of two hundred fighting men and was reputed to have led fleets of up to twenty ships. She made a display of seafaring strength at Galway to impress Lord Deputy Sir Henry Sidney whose report to London about the event is one of the sources for her career. She raided the territories of the Earl of Desmond in Munster, was captured, tried before the Earl at Askeaton Castle and sent to jail for two years. She came into conflict with the interests of the English in Ireland but also recognised how powerful they were and that the Gaelic world needed to come to terms with them. In 1593 she went to London with other Connacht notables to complain to Queen Elizabeth about English administration in their areas. The concessions Queen Elizabeth made did not deter Gráinne from returning to her old trade of 'maintenance by sea and land' and in her late sixties she was reported to be still plundering off the coasts of Ireland and even of Scotland.
Anne Chambers, Granuaile, Dublin, 1988.

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Charlotte Grace O'Brien (1845-1909) from Cahermoyle, Co. Limerick, was the daughter of William Smith O'Brien, MP, and landlord. His sentence of death for leading the Young Ireland rebellion in 1848 was commuted and he was transported to Tasmania but allowed to return in 1856. Charlotte's parents had both died by the time she was nineteen, she never married and she helped rear her brother's children. She contributed poems, stories and articles to magazines, wrote novels, studied botany and was a keen gardener.

Although sympathetic to the ideals of the Ladies' Land League, she did not actually join them but instead worked tirelessly for the cause of emigrants. On visiting Cobh (then called Queenstown), she was appalled at the conditions in lodging houses there, especially for young single women. In 1881 she toured an emigrant ship and saw for herself the lack of privacy and hygiene as well as the risk for single women travelling alone of being assaulted or sexually harassed in the overcrowded sleeping quarters provided for steerage passengers. Her article in Pall Mall Gazette shocked the public and led to controversy and an inquiry. She opened a 105-bed lodging house in Cobh and campaigned for reform of Atlantic shipping.

Her appeal to Roman Catholic authorities to take responsibility for their emigrants fell mostly on deaf ears - Charlotte was a Protestant then, though she became a Catholic later. In 1882 she travelled to New York and saw for herself how Irish girls could be exploited on arrival there and many lured into crime and prostitution. She convinced Catholic authorities to establish an immigrant centre in New York. During her campaign for emigrants, Charlotte Grace O'Brien was subject to much criticism and ridicule.
Stephen Gwynn, Charlotte Grace O'Brien: selections from her writings and correspondence with a memoir, Dublin, 1909.
Anne O'Connell, 'Charlotte Grace O'Brien' in Mary Cullen & Maria Luddy (eds.), Women, power and consciousness, Dublin, 1995.
Chandra Miller, 'Tumbling into the fight' in History Ireland, Winter 1996.

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Kate O'Brien (1897-1974) from Limerick was sent to a convent boarding school at the age of six after her mother died. She graduated from UCD, worked as a journalist in England and as a governess in Spain before achieving fame with her novel Without my cloak (1931). She wrote several other novels, dramatised three of them and That Lady (1946) was made into a film. She also wrote travel books and a biography of St. Teresa of Avila (1951). Both Land of spices (1941) and Presentation Parlour (1963) incorporate her youthful experience of nuns, convent boarding school life and education in Ireland in the early twentieth century.

Kate O'Callaghan (1885-1961) née Murphy from near Macroom, Co. Cork was a graduate of the Royal University of Ireland and a teacher. A founder member of Cumann na mBan, she married Michael O'Callaghan who became Lord Mayor of Limerick and was murdered in her presence at their home in Limerick in 1921. She was elected to Dáil Éireann in May 1921. She opposed the Treaty in 1922 and was elected to the Dáil again in June 1922 but lost her seat in June 1923. During the Civil War she was interned in Kilmainham Jail where she went on hunger strike for nineteen days.
Sinéad McCoole, No ordinary women, Dublin, 2003.

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Agnes O'Farrelly (1874-1951) also known as Úna Ní Fhaircheallaigh from Virginia, Co. Cavan graduated from the Royal University of Ireland with an MA and spent a year at the Sorbonne in Paris. She was co-founder with Mary Hayden of the Irish Association of Women Graduates in 1903. A devoted member of the Gaelic League, she studied Irish in Aran Islands and was a close friend of its president Douglas Hyde. She was present at the first meeting of Sinn Féin in 1906 and chaired the first meeting of Cumann na mBan in April 1914. She took no active part in the 1916 Rising or in the Anglo-Irish War but took part in delegations attempting to prevent the Civil War. In 1932 she was appointed to the Senate and became professor of Modern Irish Poetry at University College, Dublin. With Mary Hayden, she led the National University Women Graduates' Association in their demand for the deletion of articles in the draft Constitution of 1937 which were seen as offensive to women.
Field Day anthology of Irish writing, Vol. V, Cork, 2000.

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Maureen O'Hara née FitzSimons, born 1920 in Dublin, began her acting career in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin at age 14. After taking part in films in England, she went to the US where, as Esmeralda, she co-starred with Charles Laughton in The hunchback of Notre Dame at age 19 and entered on a Hollywood career playing opposite many of the great stars of the time such as John Wayne, James Stewart, Anthony Quinn, Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda and Alec Guinness. She was cast as Mary Kate opposite John Wayne in John Ford's The quiet man (1952) set in the West of Ireland. In 1968 she married General Charles Blair and after he was killed in a plane crash in 1978, Maureen continued to run his airline business in the Caribbean for a time. She played mature female parts in a few films in the 1990s.


Alice Oldham (1850-1907) was a member of the deputation organised by Isabella Tod to persuade Lord Cairns to include girls in the Intermediate Education Act of 1878. As honorary secretary of the Central Association of Irish Schoolmistresses (CAISM), Alice Oldham was the motivating force behind the movement for the reform of girls' secondary and university education in Ireland during the last two decades of the nineteenth century. Among the first nine women graduates of the Royal University of Ireland in 1884, Alice Oldham was appointed a lecturer in Alexandra College, Dublin, in 1886. She was responsible for the campaign to open degrees and teaching at Trinity College, Dublin to women (1904).

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Anna Parnell (1852-1911) from Avondale, Co. Wicklow was a sister of Charles Stewart Parnell, MP. Anna and her sister Fanny had lived in Paris and the USA where they gained experience of running organisations, fund raising and attracting publicity. When it seemed that the Land League men were likely to be arrested, it was suggested that a women's league in Ireland could take over the work in their absence. Public opinion at the time was against women in politics but Michael Davitt was positive and Anna Parnell, aged 28, returned to Ireland from the USA to help lead the Ladies' Land League in Ireland in 1881.

When Parnell and other leaders were imprisoned in 1881, as predicted, the Ladies' Land League took over their work. Offices were given to the ladies in O'Connell St., Dublin, but very little help or detailed instructions. However, the women held public meetings and encouraged country women to be active in withholding rent, in boycotting and in resisting evictions. They raised funds for the League and for the support of prisoners and their families. They distributed Land League wooden huts to shelter evicted tenant families and by the beginning of 1882 they had 500 branches, thousands of women members and considerable publicity.

Their meetings were frequently broken up by police and thirteen members were imprisoned - but as criminals and not as political prisoners like the men. Many people disagreed with the way they implemented their policies while others disapproved of women activists so they were highly controversial. Archbishop McCabe of Dublin publicly opposed them but Archbishop Croke of Cashel came to their defence. Anna Parnell felt that the efficiency of the Ladies' Land League was resented by many men

Charles Stewart Parnell was released from Kilmainham Jail in May 1882 and initially praised the women for their work but changed his mind soon after. The Ladies' Land League was to be brought firmly under male control and it was eventually dissolved in a humiliating manner, leaving a legacy of bitterness and resentment amongst the women. Anna Parnell parted on bad terms with her brother and lived the rest of her life in the south of England under an assumed name. She wrote an angry account of her Land League experience in Tale of a great sham, which was published in 1986, long after her death.
Anna Parnell, (ed. Dana Hearne), Tale of a great sham, Dublin, 1986.
Jane Côté, Fanny and Anna Parnell: Ireland's patriot sisters, Dublin, 1991.
Jane Côté & Dana Hearne, 'Anna Parnell' in Mary Cullen & Maria Luddy (eds.), Women, power and consciousness, Dublin, 1995.
Danae O'Regan, 'Anna and Fanny Parnell' in History Ireland, Spring 1999.
Margaret Ward, Unmanageable revolutionaries, Dingle, 1983.

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Fanny Parnell (1849-1882), sister of Charles Stewart Parnell and of Anna Parnell had lived in Paris and the USA where she gained experience of running organisations, fund raising and attracting publicity. She founded the American Ladies' Land League to raise funds for famine victims in Ireland. She was a poet and her poem Hold the harvest was described as the Marseillaise of the Irish tenants. When her sister Anna went to Ireland to help found the Ladies' Land League, Fanny did promotional and fund raising tours in America. Her death in 1882 at the height of the Ladies' Land League controversy was a bitter blow to Anna Parnell.
Jane Côté, Fanny and Anna Parnell: Ireland's patriot sisters, Dublin, 1991.
Danae O'Regan, 'Anna and Fanny Parnell' in History Ireland, Spring 1999.
Margaret Ward, Unmanageable revolutionaries, Dingle, 1983.

Emmeline Pankhurst née Goulden (1858-1928), born in Manchester married Richard Pankhurst, lawyer and staunch supporter of equality for women. With her daughter Christabel, she founded the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1903, a group which became increasingly militant in the cause of women's suffrage and earned the name 'suffragettes' in contrast to the non-militant 'suffragists'. From 1905 to 1914, the WSPU directed by Mrs Pankhurst used an astonishing variety of illegal or 'militant' strategies to attract attention by disturbing the peace. When Parliament continued to frustrate them, they summoned a 'Women's Parliament' nearby. They chained themselves to railings and smashed windows of important public and commercial buildings in London. They interrupted Parliament and political party meetings demanding votes for women. Emmeline Pankhurst was imprisoned many times, went on hunger-strike and was force-fed. She called off the militant campaign during World War I, after which women over 30 were granted voting rights in 1918. After campaigning for over forty years, she died in 1928, having been selected to run for MP the very year women were granted voting rights on the same basis as men.
Emmeline Pankhurst, My own story, London, 1914
Sylvia Pankhurst, The life of Emmeline Pankhurst, London, 1935.

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Sarah Purser (1848-1943) from Dún Laoghaire became a renowned portrait painter and painted several of the national figures in the Ireland of her day. A talented leader, she organised exhibitions, encouraged young artists, founded a stained glass co-operative called An Túr Gloine and made other major contributions to the arts in Ireland during her long lifetime.
Ryan-Smolin Wanda et al, Irish women artists from the eighteenth century to the present day, Dublin, 1987.

Mary Robinson, née Bourke from Ballina, Co. Mayo was born in 1944. She studied law at Trinity College and at Harvard Law School and became Reid Professor of Law at Trinity College, Dublin in 1969. She was a member of the Seanad from 1969 to 1989. As a barrister, she was active on many social issues and took several landmark constitutional cases to the higher courts in Ireland as well as to the European Court of Human Rights. These included women's rights to serve on juries, to obtain legal aid, equal access to social welfare and to import contraceptives. Her election as President of Ireland in 1990 was widely welcomed: she attributed her success partly to 'Mná na hÉireann.'

She was recognised as the most active and outstanding president in the history of the state. In 1993, she attended a memorial service in Warrington, Cheshire for two young boys killed by a Provisional IRA bomb, visited the Queen at Buckingham Palace and provoked controversy when she shook hands with Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Féin at a reception in Belfast.

Her visits to deprived groups and areas in Ireland and to other parts of the world, especially during famine, drew attention to the needs of the underprivileged and to the problems of developing countries. She was appointed United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in 1997.
Fergus Finlay, Mary Robinson: a president with a purpose, Dublin, 1990.
Michael O'Sullivan, Mary Robinson: the life and times of an Irish liberal, Dublin, 1993.
Deirdre McQuillan, Mary Robinson: a president in progress, Dublin, 1994.
John Horgan, Mary Robinson: an independent voice, Dublin, 1997.
Olivia O'Leary & Helen Burke, Mary Robinson: the authorised biography, London, 1998

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Mary Rosse, née Mary Field (1813-1885) from Bradford was a young heiress when she married William, later Third Earl of Rosse. Her immense fortune enabled him to build a 'monster telescope', the largest in the world for seventy years at their home, Birr Castle, Co. Offaly. Mary had eleven children of whom only four survived to adulthood. She designed furniture, buildings and gates and was an early pioneer of photography. She developed her own photographs, won prestigious prizes for her work and her darkroom has survived, the earliest in existence anywhere in the world.
David H. Davidson, Impressions of an Irish countess: the photographs of Mary, Countess of Rosse, Birr, 1989.
Susan Barry, 'Photographs from the Birr darkroom' in WITS (eds.), Stars, shells and bluebells: women scientists and pioneers, Dublin, 1997.

Peig Sayers (1873-1958), born into a poor family at Dunquin, Co. Kerry, spent several years in domestic service before going to live on the Great Blasket Island after her arranged marriage with Padraig O'Guithín. She had ten children, four of whom died young. A native Irish speaker, Peig's recollection of the seanchas or traditional culture of the area was deeply respected by scholars and she recited over four hundred items for the Irish Folklore Commission. Having been encouraged to tell her own story, she dictated it to her son Mícheál and it was published as Peig in 1936. Further books and translations appeared later. Peig, her son and other inhabitants of the Blasket Islands were settled on the mainland under a government scheme in 1953 when the hardships of island life were considered too harsh. She died in Dingle Hospital in 1958.
Peig Sayers, Peig, Dublin, 1936.

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Hanna Sheehy Skeffington (1877-1946) was born in Kanturk, Co. Cork into a strongly political family. Her father was an MP and she had an early memory of visiting her uncle, Fr. Eugene Sheehy, in prison in Kilmainham for Land League activities. She attended the Dominican Convent School in Eccles Street, Dublin, being among the first generation of girls to benefit from the new educational reforms. She was conferred with an MA from the Royal University of Ireland in 1902 and married fellow student, Francis Skeffington the following year. They combined their surnames on marriage and it was to her husband she gave credit for awakening her commitment to women's issues.

The Sheehy Skeffingtons, together with another couple, Margaret and James Cousins, founded the Irish Women's Franchise League (IWFL) in 1908 as a more militant and nationalist suffrage group than the existing Irish Women's Suffrage and Local Government Association (IWSLGA). Frank and James established and edited an influential suffrage paper the Irish Citizen which ran from 1912 until 1920.

The Irish Parliamentary Party refused to support women's suffrage during the passage of the Home Rule Bill and the IWFL indulged in militant tactics. Hanna was arrested for breaking windows at Ship Street barracks and spent a month in Mountjoy Jail, including a week on hunger strike in protest at the treatment of two English women suffragettes, Mary Leigh and Gladys Evans. She was subsequently dismissed from her teaching post at Rathmines College of Commerce.

Hanna and Frank were friendly with James Connolly and supported the labour movement during the Dublin lockout but took no active part in the 1916 Rising. As pacifists, they had been critical in the Irish Citizen of recruitment for the British Army and as feminists they denounced the subordination of Cumann na mBan to the Irish Volunteers. During the Easter Rising, Frank was arrested for no obvious reason and shot by firing squad without trial. Hanna persisted in bringing the officer responsible to justice and went on a lecture tour of the US to raise awareness of her husband's murder and of the situation in Ireland. She gained access to President Wilson and presented him with a petition from Cumann na mBan.

She opposed the Treaty and subsequently worked for Sinn Féin and was a founder member with Maud Gonne and Charlotte Despard of the Women's Prisoners' Defence League. She spoke out against Irish Free State government restrictions on women's role in society. She campaigned against the articles concerning women in the 1937 Constitution and in that year she helped found a women's party, the Women's Social and Political League. She was one of four independent women candidates endorsed by that party in the general election of 1943, all of whom were defeated and she died two years later.
Medb Ruane, Ten Dublin women, Dublin, 1991.
Leah Levenson & Jerry Naderstad, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington: a pioneering Irish feminist, Syracuse, 1998.
Maria Luddy, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, Dublin, 1995.
Margaret Ward, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington: a life, Dublin, 1997.
Leah Levenson, With wooden sword: a portrait of Francis Sheehy Skeffington, militant pacifist, Dublin, 1983.
Margaret Ward,'Hanna Sheehy Skeffington (1877-1946)', in Mary Cullen & Maria Luddy (eds.), Female activists, Dublin, 2001.
Sinéad McCoole, No ordinary women, Dublin, 2003.

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Elizabeth Smith from Scotland lived most of her life at Baltiboys House near Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow. The journal she kept during the years of the Great Famine is an interesting source for the period, describing how a practical, sympathetic and conscientious woman of the landlord class responded to the problems of tenants in the area.
Elizabeth Smith, The Irish journals of Elizabeth Smith 1840-1850 (eds. D. Thomson & M. McGinty), Oxford, 1980.

Annie M.P. Smithson (1873-1948) from Dublin trained as a nurse and midwife. Her popular romantic and patriotic novels set in Ireland were an immense success in the first half of the twentieth century. She joined Sinn Féin and Cumann na mBan, took part as a nurse in the Anglo-Irish War and the on the Republican side in the Civil War and spent terms in prison. She helped found the Irish Nurses' Union, later the Irish Nurses' Organisation (INO) and served as its secretary and organiser until 1942.
Annie M.P. Smithson, Myself and others, Dublin, 1944.

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Margaret Thatcher née Roberts was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire in 1925. Educated at Oxford, she became a research chemist, married, studied law and specialised in tax law. She was elected MP in 1959, became Secretary of State for Education and Science in the government of Edward Heath (1970-74) and succeeded Heath as leader of the Conservative Party in 1975. She was Prime Minister in three successive governments from 1979 to 1990 and was Europe's first woman prime minister. Known as the 'Iron Lady', she was portrayed as following ruthless, unyielding economic, social and military policies. Having aroused the hatred of the IRA for her refusal to concede to their political demands, especially during the hunger strikes of 1980-81, an attempt was made on her life at the Conservative Party Conference at Brighton in 1984. Secret meetings were held between the British and Irish governments and in 1985 the Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed by Margaret Thatcher and Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald in an attempt to improve security cooperation between Britain and Ireland by recognising the right of the Republic to make proposals relating to Northern Ireland. The concessions she made frustrated and infuriated the Unionists who felt ignored and refused to take part in discussions. The Anglo-Irish Agreement became a stepping stone rather than a final solution. A split in the Conservative Party over her policies led to her resignation as party leader in 1990.
Penny Junor, Margaret Thatcher: wife, mother, politician, London, 1983.
Kenneth Harris, Margaret Thatcher, London, 1988.

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Isabella Tod (1836-1896) was born in Edinburgh of Scots Irish parents. She founded the Ladies' Institute, Belfast in 1867 to provide a series of winter lectures for middle class girls who had left school. Its primary importance was to rest on Isabella Tod's political skills in lobbying support for the reform of girls' secondary and university education in Ireland. In 1869 she successfully memorialised the Queen's University of Ireland to extend their local examinations to girls.

She helped found the North of Ireland's women suffrage committee in 1871, the first women's suffrage committee founded in Ireland. She organised a successful deputation to Westminster in July 1878 to ensure that girls were included in the Intermediate Education (Ireland) Bill. Isabella Tod was also involved in December 1880 in the setting up of the Ulster Head Schoolmistresses' Association which worked closely together with its sister organisation, the Central Association of Irish Schoolmistresses (CAISM), founded in Dublin in 1882. Both organisations agreed that their representations would gain greater weight and influence by united action on educational matters.
Maria Luddy, 'Isabella M S Tod' in Mary Cullen & Maria Luddy (eds.), Women, power and consciousness, Dublin, 1995.

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Mary Ward (1827-1869) née King from Ferbane, Co. Offaly, collected plants and animals from an early age. Like other girls at the time, she received no formal education but taught herself to use the microscope. She made detailed drawings of her discoveries, published her findings and made illustrations for other authors. She corresponded with well-known scientists and was especially friendly with Mary Rosse, wife of her cousin the Third Earl of Rosse. She gave birth to eight children and died after a fall from a steam-powered road carriage in one of the earliest recorded automobile accidents.
Ita Kavanagh, 'Mistress of the microscope' in WITS (eds.), Stars, shells and bluebells: women scientists and pioneers, Dublin, 1997.

Anna Doyle Wheeler (1785-c.1850) from a Co. Tipperary military family, contracted an unfortunate marriage at age fifteen. She left her husband in 1812 and lived much of her life in England and France where she was actively involved in political and socialist circles. She formed a close friendship with William Thompson, author of Appeal of one half the human race, women, against the pretensions of the other half, men…. Thompson wrote the book in response to the philosopher James Mill who was arguing that women should be excluded from the right to vote. Thompson declared in the introduction to the book that he was merely endeavouring to arrange the expressions, sentiments and reasonings of Anna Doyle Wheeler's mind - in other words, that she was the source of many of the ideas in the book.
William Thompson, Appeal of one half the human race, women, against the pretensions of the other half, men, to retain them in political, and thence in civil and domestic slavery; in reply to a paragraph of Mr. Mill's celebrated 'Article on Government', London 1825. Reprinted with introduction by Dolores Dooley, Cork, 1997.
Dolores Dooley, 'Anna Doyle Wheeler' in Mary Cullen & Maria Luddy (eds.), Women, power and consciousness, Dublin, 1995.

Peg Woffington (c.1714-1760) born in Dublin was one of the outstanding actors of her time. She made her name at an early age at Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin and went on to play leading roles in Covent Garden and Drury Lane Theatre in London. She starred opposite David Garrick in Dublin and London, taking Shakespearean parts such as Ophelia in Hamlet and Rosalind in As You Like It as well as roles in plays by leading dramatists of the time such as John Gay and George Farquhar.

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Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) was born in Middlesex. Her mother was from Co. Donegal and Mary came to Ireland in 1786 for a few months to work as governess to the children of Lord and Lady Kingsborough at Mitchelstown, Co. Cork. Radical by nature, she was an early feminist whose book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) was immensely influential for many years in drawing attention to the unequal status of women at the time. She travelled to Paris to witness and write about the effects of the French Revolution and gave birth to a daughter Fanny Imlay. She married William Godwin, a leading radical philosopher and died eleven days after the birth of their daughter Mary, later the author of the novel Frankenstein (1818) and wife of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Claire Tomalin, The life and death of Mary Wollstonecraft, New York & London, 1989.

Jennie Wyse Power, née O'Toole (1858-1941) grew up in Dublin in a nationalist family. She joined the Ladies' Land League in 1881, took an active part in its activities and became a member of its executive. She married John Wyse Power, a journalist on the Freeman's Journal , a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and one of the founders of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).

Jennie was an activist all her life. She was involved with the Dublin Women's Suffrage Association (later the IWSLGA) and the Gaelic League. She was a founder member and vice-president of Inghínidhe na hÉireann. She was a founder member of Sinn Féin, served on its executive from the beginning and was elected vice-president in 1911. She was elected first president of Cumann na mBan. She was elected Poor Law Guardian in 1903 and was one of five women elected to Dublin Corporation in 1920.

Jennie was a successful business woman and her restaurant in Henry Street, Dublin was a well-known meeting place for nationalists. In 1916, the Proclamation of the Republic was signed in her premises, she supplied food to the insurgents and, with her daughter Nancy, later helped organise relief for prisoners' dependants.

She supported the Treaty, joined Cumann na nGael and was appointed to the first Seanad of the Irish Free State where she had an outstanding record as champion of women's rights from 1922 to 1936. She opposed the Civil Service Regulation Bill, 1925 and the Juries Act, 1927. After a few years as an independent senator, Jennie Wyse Power drifted towards Fianna Fáil but vigorously opposed the Conditions of Employment Bill, 1935.
Sinéad McCoole, No ordinary women, Dublin, 2003.
Marie O'Neill, From Parnell to De Valera: a biography of Jennie Wyse Power 1858-1941, Dublin, 1991.