1. Irish Women's Franchise League members in court

2. The Munster Women's Franchise League tours in Kerry

3. The Irish Women's Franchise League tours in the North Midlands

4. Women and the franchise: public meetings in Roscrea

1. Irish Women's Franchise League members in court.

The eight members of the Irish Woman's Franchise League who initiated the militant protest in Ireland on Thursday, June 13th, were arrested before six o'clock in the morning. They were kept in custody from that hour until two in the afternoon, when the cases were brought up in the Police Courts. They were allowed to have breakfast sent in to them, but were not allowed to see any of their friends ...

Two of the women
Two of the women, Mrs. Sheehy-Skeffington and Miss Margaret Murphy, were charged with having broken glass in Dublin Castle. The windows broken were in Ship Street Barracks, the property of the War Department. As in the other cases, the damage was done about 5.30 a.m. Constable 119B said he saw Mrs. Skeffington using a stick on the windows and Miss Murphy throwing stones. Nineteen panes were broken and the police values them at 30s [€1.90]; but Mr. Swift insisted that proper evidence of value must be forthcoming when the case was next taken up.

Mrs. Skeffington asked the Constable whether he was correct in stating that he had arrested the two, and whether he was not reinforced by the military? He admitted that a soldier had assisted him. 'You did not arrest me at all,' said Miss Murphy, 'it was the soldier who caught hold of me?' The constable admitted this.

The constable swore that Mrs. Skeffington said she did this 'for the purpose of showing up the Government.' Cross-examined by Mrs. Skeffington, he admitted that her exact words were 'as a protest against the action of the Government.'

Both the accused were remanded for a week on £5 [€6.35] bail. Mr. F. Sheehy Skeffington bailed both.

Reported in the Irish Citizen, June 1912.


  1. Considering that the above report appeared in a paper sympathetic to the Irish Women's Franchise League, can you detect any bias in the report? Give reasons for your opinion.
  2. List some of the advantages and disadvantages of using publications sympathetic to an issue as historical evidence.


Organise a mock trial of Hanna Sheehy Skeffington on a charge of 'damaging government property by smashing windows at Dublin Castle sometime after 5 a.m. on June 13th 1912.' Base your evidence on the report above and on the extract in the section Women's suffrage and Home Rule.

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2. The Munster Women's Franchise League tours in Kerry

The campaign opened in Cahirciveen on Tuesday night, when the Carnegie Hall was filled with an audience which listened intently to the speeches. No need to drive home the principles of liberty and emancipation in the town which gave birth to Daniel O'Connell!

... From Cahirciveen, we went to Waterville, where, owing to difficulties connected with the halls, we had to speak in the open air to a crowd composed of fishermen, shopkeepers, farmers and farm labourers, telegraphists from the cable station and English visitors ... Here again, we were received with the utmost courtesy and interest and the constant 'that's true' and 'you're right' showed how the points went home.

... Valentia was, in speaker's parlance, a 'soft job'. The island has been splendidly worked by the Hon. Mrs Spring Rice who enrolled numbers of 'Friends of Suffrage' there last year and is still doing invaluable work ... As an example of what can be done by individual effort, Valentia, in our experience, stands supreme ... 'There is a woman in the room tonight who signed the suffrage petition in '66''.

... In Killorglin there was the largest crowd ... They inclined to be facetious at first and 'out for a lark' many of them. A few trenchant remarks on the labour question, the importance of the vote for working women and its benefits through them to working men, soon caught their attention and in spite of an element in the audience which might easily have spoiled it, the meeting was one of the best we held.

Good collections were taken at all these meetings, over 130 pamphlets sold, and between 70 and 80 'Friends of Suffrage' cards signed ... A number of Irish Citizens were also sold.

Susan R. Day reporting in the Irish Citizen, 20 Sept. 1913. Reprinted in Louise Ryan, Irish feminism and the vote, Dublin, 1996, p.38.


  1. Considering that the above report appeared in a paper sympathetic to the Irish Women's Franchise League, can you detect any bias in the report? Give reasons for your opinion.
  2. List some of the advantages and disadvantages of using publications sympathetic to an issue as historical evidence.
  3. Why was there 'no need to drive home the principles of liberty and emancipation in the town which gave birth to Daniel O'Connell'?
  4. Why were the MWFL so pleased with Valentia?
  5. Explain the reference to the 'suffrage petition in '66.'
  6. How did the MWFL deal with the crowd in Killorglin who were 'out for a lark'?


  1. Selecting one of the above venues, conduct mock interviews with members of the audience as they entered and departed from the meeting. Ask them if their views on women's suffrage had changed, what impressions they had of the meeting and what further information they would like to obtain.
  2. Make a poster for one of the venues.
  3. The touring members of the IWFL travelled to Tralee on Saturday and then 'clambered into a train for Ventry (near Dingle), to enjoy a well-earned holiday'. Role play a conversation they might have had on the train.

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3. The Irish Women's Franchise League tours in the North Midlands

In Longford alone did there seem difficulties, the Bishop being hostile, refusing 'to argue with a woman', and using his influence against the granting of the Catholic Hall. As we had heckled the local MPs a few weeks previously, and as one of them, a pronounced 'anti', owns the chief newspaper in the town, we looked for some trouble in Longford. But as usual, a suffragette's life is full of surprises and in Longford alone did we find everything smooth in our path - a crowded hall, an enthusiastic meeting. Many converts who had come to jeer remained to join.

Next day we passed on to our next halting-place, Carrick, not many miles away - but what a difference! ... It is a small town of 1,100 inhabitants, containing thirty-two public houses ... Here we experienced the nature and horrors of a sympathetic lock-out, a steady boycott. The explanation of the mystery we learned later, bit by bit. The Canon had denounced us at first Mass on the Sunday previous, with other Lenten abominations, including a Patrick's Night dance that the young people were arranging. He advised the women of the town to remain at home, look after the families and to have nothing to do with votes ... Failing to get the Town Hall ... we tried to secure one of those under Protestant management, only to find the non-Catholic section equally fear-ridden and evasive ... At last, abandoning all hope of securing even a barn, we managed to enlist a journeyman carpenter to hammer a few planks on a couple of soap-boxes so that we might address Carrick from the Market Square ... But true to the tacit boycott, no Carrick shopkeeper would sell a board or even a nail for a free platform; no crier would cry the meeting through the town.

In Boyle a similar fate threatened. Here the local priests were sympathetic. We had secured St. Patrick's Hall without difficulty, till a local faction ... brought pressure to bear to prevent free-speech, threatened to wreck the hall, to cut off the lights and make the speakers forever silent ... But for the kindness of the Rev. J. Watson in giving us Clew's Memorial Hall ... no meeting would have been possible ... Towards the end of the meeting we had red pepper scattered by some boys and a broken pane from outside and when the meeting was over, the rival factions made use of the occasion for a fight, during which they rolled over the police in the mud of Boyle's chief thoroughfare and got their heads broken in consequence. Plate glass was shattered, a further diversion: five baton charges took place, stones rained. As one of the combatants said next day, 'Shure, we hadn't such a grand time since the Parnell split!'

Hanna Sheehy Skeffington reporting in the Irish Citizen 14 Mar. 1914. Reprinted in Louise Ryan, Irish feminism and the vote, Dublin, 1996, p.41.


  1. Why did the Irish Women's Franchise League expect to find difficulties in Longford?
  2. What difficulties did the IWFL experience in Carrick-on-Shannon?
  3. How were the IWFL received in Boyle?


  1. Compose an imaginary letter from one of the 'converts' who attended the Longford meeting.
  2. Role play a conversation between the 'journeyman carpenter' in Carrick-on-Shannon and a shopkeeper refusing to sell him boards and nails for the IWFL platform.
  3. Role play a conversation between two Boyle persons who met on the street the morning after the IWFL meeting.

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4. Women and the franchise: public meetings in Roscrea

On Friday last, two meetings were held in the Temperance Hall, Roscrea, in support of the extension of the franchise to women and were addressed by Miss Buchannan, PLG and Mrs. Haslam, the secretary and founder of the Irish Woman's Suffrage and Local Government Association, both of Dublin. Mrs. Haslam is a vigorous, white-headed old lady of 83 and has been identified with the suffrage and similar movements all her life. With her husband, another venerable figure, she took part in the great Women's Suffrage Procession recently held in London.

... The afternoon meeting was not largely attended and things passed off quietly. At the night meeting it was different. There had been rumours in the town, to which some confirmation was lent by a notice that had been posted up, that live mice would be introduced to the hall. This did not happen, but with red pepper or some such stuff, as well as a vilely smelling chemical, things were made uncomfortable from the start. There was constant coughing, sneezing and interruptions all through, so that the addresses were delivered with much difficulties. All the windows had to be opened and both the chairman, Mr. Houlihan and Dr. Powell had to leave their places to see to this and some other matters. Even an appeal by Miss Buchannan to the Irish chivalry of the disturbers had not much effect.

In an interview which the writer had the next morning, Mrs. Haslam said that she had been attending meetings for over 40 years and had never before had such an experience, though on one occasion, and when speaking for another object, a rotten egg had been thrown at her in Dublin. Miss Buchannan also stated that she had never been through anything like it before. At both meetings a good deal of suffrage literature was distributed and the 'Common Cause,' the organ of the non-militant movement was also on sale.

... At the evening meeting there was much cheering as the speakers came on the platform. Mr Houlihan, solicitor, smiled and beamed good-humouredly on the crowd. Mrs. Birch proposed that he preside. Women's place, she remarked had been stated to be in the home. At this there was a vigorous 'hear, hear.' But that was no reason, she added that women should be prevented from taking an intelligent interest in matters which often affected themselves.

There was great applause when Mr. Houlihan took the chair. He said that he felt very highly honoured and was sure that the organisers could have got a much better chairman or one that would give the proceedings greater weight, but he doubted if they could get a more convinced advocate than himself. (hear, hear.) He had been giving the question close study for several years (laughter), and had come there convinced that women should have equal rights to men. If people only felt half as strongly as he did, the cause would be advanced a considerable stage. (hear, hear). The little turmoil in London might have a damping effect in some places, but he did not think it would have the least effect in Roscrea. (applause). He thought that if the poor ladies had kicked up a bit of a row, it was through an excessive zeal, courage and devotion they had done so; and even if a few were misguided to act in a way more in keeping with their brothers, that it would not have such a bad effect. (hear, hear). He had never been on a political platform, but it had been said that men had grown grey in their struggles, and personally, it gave him great pleasure in introducing Mrs. Haslam who had grown white in the cause.

... As the chairman was speaking, the pepper began to make itself felt and there was some coughing and sneezing. The smell was also pronounced.

... When Miss Buchannan had finished speaking, and question-time was announced, a lady in the hall asked are women to rule the seas? The chairman thought that this was not quite relevant. Of course if they liked, they could become sailors, but they would have a tough job of it.

... Miss Congdon proposed a vote of thanks to the speakers. There was loud cheering when Miss G. Madden rose and seconded it. The chairman, in putting it to the meeting, drew a picture of which he said was some people's idea of a suffragette. They could imagine a horrible creature with distorted features and a frightful face who chased around breaking windows and such like. There was much merriment when he said that he knew hundreds of suffragists and that none of them were of the type painted all over the country and in the papers. They might see a few in London, whose antics might not be acceptable. He knew now that all there would take away a different impression and that it would be a rude awakening to some. Even people who had come out of curiosity would leave confirmed and convinced suffragettes (hear, hear).

Mr Killeen then rose. Ladies and gentlemen, he said. He had not got any further when a storm of applause burst forth, mingled with cries of 'free kick,' etc. He then said that he had great pleasure in proposing a vote of thanks to the chairman who had proved himself such an able advocate of justice. Miss Campbell seconded. Afterwards there was much disturbance when Miss Congdon came forward to ask for the names of members and the chairman appealed to the Irish chivalry of the interrupters. We understand that a number of names were handed in for membership.

Reported in the Midland Tribune, 23 Mar. 1912.


  1. What kind of source is this? Briefly assess the reliability of this source.
  2. Another local paper, the King's County Chronicle, reporting the same meeting stated that the ladies found 'they had an audience capable of making an intelligent scrutiny of the arguments advanced and that the hearers by their interest and applause would be very glad to see the fair sex in possession of the same rights as men.' Which report do you consider more reliable? Give reasons for your opinion.
  3. List some of the advantages and disadvantages of using local newspapers as historical evidence.
  4. How would you describe the attitude of the Midland Tribune reporter who wrote about the meeting? Give brief reasons for your answer.
  5. What was the reporter's purpose in publishing the article, in your opinion?
  6. Did you find this extract amusing? If so, select three amusing incidents and say what you think is funny about them.


  1. Compose the imaginary entry Anna Haslam might have made in her journal after the meeting.
  2. Role play an imaginary conversation Mr. Houlihan might have had with a friend after the meeting.
  3. Role play an imaginary conversation between Anna Haslam and Miss Buchannan after the meeting.
  4. Role play an imaginary conversation between two or more of the persons who disrupted the meeting with 'pepper,' 'vilely smelling chemical,' etc.,
    (a) before the meeting;
    (b) after the meeting.
  5. Role play a conversation between two Roscrea people who met each other on the street next morning.
  6. Compose a short drama based on the scene reported above.

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