A special tour of Glasnevin Cemetery on Bank Holiday Monday offers participants a great opportunity to explore the lives of some of Ireland’s most influential women, each of whom played their part in the social, cultural, and political life of this country.
Travel back in time as you visit their graves, and discover the stories of women such as Maud Gonne MacBride, Constance Markievcz, Elizabeth O’Farrell, Jennie Wyse-Power, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, and other legendary women of Irish history buried in the cemetery, each of whom have played pivotal roles in Irish history.
Maud Gonne MacBride
These include women such as Maud Gonne MacBride who devoted her considerable energies to the Irish cause from a very early age, when she was involved in raising funds to alleviate the poverty of tenants in the West.
Having joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) Maud subsequently founded a women’s republican organisation – Inghindhe na hÉireann (Daughters of Ireland). She worked with the Red Cross in France during the first World War and on her return to Ireland organised relief during the War of Independence and assisted republican prisoners and their dependents during the Civil War. She was imprisoned in 1923 and released after going on hunger strike. In 1938, she published an account of her early life, A Servant of the Queen. She died in Dublin in 1953.
Hanna Sheehy Skeffington
Also included in the tour is a visit to the grave of Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, a tireless campaigner for women’s rights amongst many other things, who lived an incredible and fascinating life by anyone’s standards.
One of the first women to graduate from an Irish university, she was well-versed in domestic and international affairs as well as being as very talented orator. Her efforts to advance the rights of women saw her incarcerated a number of times throughout her life. She was also an avid supporter of Irish independence, raising awareness and funding for the cause. She initially rejected the Anglo-Irish treaty, and in 1937 objected to the place ascribed to Irish women in de Valera’s constitution. She continued to actively stand up for workers and women’s rights until her death in 1946.
Jennie Wyse Power
Another of those featured is life-long political activist and campaigner, Jennie Wyse Power who joined the Ladies Land League in the early 1880s, and quickly found herself immersed in their activities during the Land War.
Later, the Wicklow born woman was instrumental in helping to set up the Irish Women’s Franchise League and was also a founding member of Inghinidhe na hÉireann and Sinn Féin. She became Vice-President of both organisations, and was later on the Provisional Committee that set up Cumann na mBan. Jennie was elected the first President of that organisation in October 1914, and just two short years later, the 1916 Proclamation was signed in her home at 21 Henry Street, Dublin. She was subsequently elected as one of five women members onto Dublin Corporation in 1920 for the Inns Quay – Rotunda District. During the Civil War Jennie helped found the pro-Treaty women’s organisation, Cumann na Saoirse (The League of Freedom) and became its Vice President. She was a Free State Senator from 1922 until 1936 and was also a member of Cumann na nGaedheal.