Sep 21, 2018

"You never saw such excitement"

Richmond Barracks

The 1918 Election of Countess Markievicz

“You never saw such excitement”: The 1918 Election of Countess Markievicz
“You never saw such excitement”: The 1918 Election of Countess Markievicz is a Richmond Barracks exhibition supported by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Dublin City Council.

Countess Markievicz dressed in a ball gown standing at fireplace. She was born Constance Gore-Booth in 1868 and came from an Anglo-Irish background.

Eva and Constance were devoted sisters and were regular correspondents throughout their lifetime.

Lissadell House was the family home of the Gore-Booth family in Co Sligo.

The poet W.B. Yeats visited the Gore Booth family at Lissadell. He wrote the poem "In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markievicz" in 1927, further to the death of both sisters who died within a year of each other. The poem begins "The Light of evening, Lissadell, Great windows open to the south, Two girls in silk kimonos, both Beautiful, one a gazelle."

While at art school in Paris, Constance met Count Casimir Dunin Markievicz, a Polish artist, and they married in 1900, locating to Dublin in 1902 where both soon moved in artistic and literary circles

Markievicz is in costume armour, dressed as Joan of Arc and presents Kathleen Houston, dressed as a suffragette prisoner with a sword. This postcard was created for the Daffodil Day Benefit organised by the Irish Women's Franchise League in Dublin, April 1914 to support Votes for Women.

Cover of A Call to the Women of Ireland published in 1918, the text of a lecture delivered to Students' National Literary Society under the title "Women, Ideals, and the Nation," by Constance de Markievicz.

Na Fianna Éireann was an Irish Nationalist Youth Organisation founded by Bulmer Hobson and Constance Markievicz in 1909. This organisation had male and female members and was modelled on the Scouts movement

Portrait of Countess Markievicz standing in military uniform with a revolver in right hand. As a member of the Irish Citizen Army, Markievicz took an active role in the Easter Rising of 1916, being second in command in St Stephens Green and the Royal College of Surgeons Garrisons.

Quotation from Esther Roper Prison Letters of Countess Markievicz p. 73 (Virago, 1987)

Eamon De Valera was elected Sinn Féin MP for East Clare in 1917 further to a By-Election following the death in the First World War of Irish Parliamentary Party MP, Willie Redmond. Constance, wearing a white coat, took part in the victory procession led by pipers.

Countess Markievicz addresses Sinn Féin supporters in Kilkenny from a platform during the 1917 By-Election. She was supporting Sinn Féin candidate W.T. Cosgrave

Constance, holding a bouquet, is seated on a platform with W.T.Cosgrave and E.T.Keane in the background.

Title page of UK Parliamentary document detailing the Representation of the People Act 1918, which allowed women aged 30 years and older (under certain conditions) and men aged 21 years and older to vote for the first time. This Act tripled the electorate for the 1918 General Election in the UK and Ireland.

Dr Mary McAuliffe, Gender Studies, UCD talks about the limited franchise available to women in 1918 and attempts by Irish suffrage campaigners to get Votes for Women on the Home Rule Bill of 1912

Half length full facing portrait of Maud Gonne Mac Bride wearing a high-collared dress. Maud Gonne was an Irish nationalist who had been married to Major John Mac Bride, executed for his role in the 1916 Rising. Maud Gonne was famously a muse for poet W.B. Yeats who referred to her in many of his poems. She was imprisoned in Holloway Jail with Constance Markievicz in May 1918, under suspicion of conspiring with the enemy aka The German Plot

Extract of letter from Countess Markievicz to Eva Gore-Booth, Holloway Jail, 8th June 1918 Prison Letters of Countess Markievicz

Head and shoulders portrait of Kathleen Clarke (née Daly) who was the widow of Tom Clarke, executed for his role in the 1916 Rising.She was imprisoned with Constance Markievicz and Maud Gonne Mac Bride in Holloway Jail in May 1918, under suspicion of conspiring with the enemy aka The German Plot.

Dr Mary McAuliffe, Gender Studies, UCD talks about the 'German Plot' whereby prominent Sinn Féin members, including Constance Markievicz, Maud Gonne MacBride and Kathleen Clarke were arrested in May 1918 and held in British prisons

Map of the Parliamentary Borough of Dublin, 1917. In the General Election of December 1918 Countess Markievicz contested a seat for Sinn Féin in St. Patricks division, an area in the South City Centre near St. Patrick's Cathedral

In the Summer of 1916 many of the women who participated in the 1916 Rising were photographed at Ely O'Carroll's house in Peter's Place, Dublin

The Irish Women's Franchise League (IWFL) was set up in 1908 by Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington and Margaret Cousins to secure the Vote for Women. In 1912 members of the IWFL attended a suffrage rally at Hyde Park, London.

Women's suffrage poster created by the Irish Women's Franchise League advertising a meeting in the Antient Concert Buildings. Black type on red paper.

Margaret (Meg Connery), Mabel Purser, Barbara Hoskins and Margaret Cousins were members of the Irish Women's Franchise League in Dublin who broke windows in Dublin Castle in 1913 and were jailed in Tullamore Jail, Co Offaly. Dublin Castle was the headquarters of the British Government in Ireland and they thought it prudent to remove the women from their support base in Dublin.

Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington with her son Owen Sheehy-Skeffington

Extract of letter from Countess Markievicz to Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, 12th December 2018 (NLI MS 22684)

Meg Connery from the Irish Women's Franchise League breaks through a police cordon to present Bonar Law (Conservative Party) and Edward Carson (Ulster Unionist Party) a suffrage poster on the steps of Iveagh House, Kildare St, Dublin. In the background Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington (unseen) is apprehended by a member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police.

Extract of letter from Meg Connery to Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, December 1918 (NLI MS22684)

Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington, grand-daughter of Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, talks about Hanna's early life and involvement in the Suffrage movement and her setting up of the Irish Women's Franchise League

Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington with Mary Sheehy-Kettle, Kathleen Sheehy Cruise O'Brien and Meg Connery at Richmond Barracks in June 1916 on the occasion of the court-martial of Capt. J. C. Bowen-Colthurst for the unlawful killing of her husband Francis Sheehy-Skeffington during the Easter Rising.

Portrait of Jennie Wyse Power, President of Cumann na mBan

Extract of letter from Jennie Wyse Power to Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, 1919 (NLI, MS24,091)

Map of Irish Republic showing results of the General Election 1918

David Lloyd George, Liberal Party Statesman and British Prime Minister (1916-1922) addressing an audience indoors

Countess Markievicz was still imprisoned when elected to the House of Commons, and celebrated the historic win from her cell, where she received a letter from 10 Downing Street inviting her to attend the state opening of parliament, addressed “Dear Sir…”. However, she never took her seat in Westminster.

Portrait of Esther Roper, lifelong partner of Eva Gore-Booth and Trade Union activist

Esther Roper on Countess Markievicz receiving an invitation to attend the opening of Parliament - from Prison Letters of Countess Markievicz, p. 88

Portrait of Winifred Carney, Irish Republican and Trade Unionist who contested a seat in the 1918 General Election in the Victoria Constituency of Belfast. Carney was disappointed to lose her election registration fee of £150, as she received just 395 votes.

Extract of letter from Winnifred Carney to Joe McGrath, Helga Woggon Silent Radical, (SIPTU 2000) p. 20

Letter from James Bone, London Editor with the Manchester Guardian to the Home Secretary requesting an interview for journalist Evelyn Isitt with Constance Markievicz. Bone states "she is the first woman in the British Isles to be elected to Parliament." His request was turned down.

Dr Mary McAuliffe, Gender Studies, UCD talks about the significance of Markievicz's election in December 1918 and her subsequent appointment as Cabinet Minister to the First Dáil in April 1919

Portrait of Eva Gore-Booth (sister of Constance Markievicz) poet and Trade Union activist based in England

Letter from Eva-Gore Booth to Secretary of State dated 4th March 2019 requesting visit to her sister Constance in Holloway Jail. She questions the logic of stipulation that politics must not be discussed (transcript with image)

Extract of letter from Constance Markievicz to Eva Gore-Booth (after March 1919) Prison Letters of Countess Markievicz (Virago 1987) p. 297

Group photo including Countess Markievicz, Kathleen Lynn and Madeleine ffrench-Mullen taken at Liberty Hall on her release from Holloway Jail in March 1919

Extract of letter from Constance Markievicz in Cork Jail to Eva Gore-Booth (16th July 1919) Prison Letters of Countess Markievicz (Virago 1987) p. 231-232. Markievicz is heartened by the involvement of Irish women in politics at municipal and national level.

Constance Markievicz embarked on a lecture tour of the United States in 1922. Here she is addressing a large crowd in Boston on the 30th May 1922.

Joseph McGarrity and Constance Markievicz with a crowd waving the Irish and American national flags. Markievicz embarked on a lecture tour of the United States in 1922.

Eamon De Valera and Countess Markievicz, standing in a garden with house in background

Alison Cowzer (Women for Election), Senator Ivana Bacik and Mary McAuliffe at launch of "You never saw such excitement": The 1918 Election of Countess Markievicz on 20th September 2018 at Richmond Barracks

Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington (Emeritus) NUIG, Galway talks about gender discrimination today and how women should be represented on an equal basis to men in all walks of life

Richmond Barracks
Credits: Story

Exhibition funding: The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht under the Regional Museum Exhibition Scheme 2018

Project Research: Catherine Neville (Richmond Barracks) and Maren Reeder (Public History and Cultural Heritage, TCD)

Project Development: Eadaoin Ní Chléirigh, Catherine Neville

Audio-Visual Exhibition Design: DMW Creative – Heather Dowling Wade, Rob Reid and Rob Molenaar

Online Exhibition Design: Neo-Archaic – Martin Steffens

Image and Video Partners:
IFI Irish Film Archive – Stephen Boylan, Aaron Healy
National Library of Ireland – Berni Metcalfe, Glenn Dunne
Library of Congress
Dublin City Library and Archive – Enda Leaney
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland – Rebecca Geddes, Patrick Reilly
Manchester Library and Archive – Jane Hodkinson
The National Archives of Ireland – Hanne Sheeran, Tom Quinlan
Joe Lee, Filmmaker
Damien Maddock, Photographer

Historical Sources:
National Library of Ireland
Prison Letters of Countess Markievicz, ed. Esther Roper, Virago (1934 and 1987)
Helga Woggon, Silent Radical, SIPTU (2000)

Google Arts and Culture: Izabela Palinska, Agata Wieczorowska

Special thanks to:
Mary McAulifffe, Gender Studies, UCD
Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington, Emeritus, NUI Galway
Kate Manning, UCD Archives

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.