Hanna Sheehy Skeffington Plaque

Unveiling of the Hanna Sheehy Skeffington commemorative plaque by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins

As part of Dublin City Council’s commemorative plaque initiative, President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, in the presence of An tArdmhéara Bhaile Átha Cliath Mícheál Mac Donncha, will today unveil a plaque to Irish Suffragette Hanna Sheehy Skeffington. The plaque, at the Ship Street Great entrance to Dublin Castle, marks the spot where, in 1912, Hanna smashed windows in the Castle in protest against votes for women being excluded from the Home Rule Bill for Ireland. The formal unveiling ceremony takes place from 2 p.m. at Ship Street Great, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2 on Wednesday 13th June, 2018.

Ardmhéara Bhaile Átha Cliath Micheál Mac Donncha said, “It is entirely fitting that Dublin City Council recognise Hanna Sheehy Skeffington’s role in Irish political life by erecting this plaque in her honour. Hanna was elected to Dublin Corporation in 1919 and was active in numerous organisations and associations in the city. Hanna was Ireland’s best known suffragette and her actions and agitation directly contributed to Irish women winning the vote in 1918. She was a key leader in the struggle for national independence and social justice.”

To honour the part played by other Irish Suffragettes, a list of all the Irish women imprisoned for suffrage activities, provided by Dr. Margaret Ward, of Queens University, Belfast, will be read aloud by members of the Galway Feminist Collective. The women will be dressed in period costumes to add to the occasion and they will be holding a replica of the original banner of the Irish Women's Franchise League used by Hanna Sheehy Skeffington in 1912.

Photographs from this event will be circulated to picture desks by Fennell Photography.

ENDS

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Notes to the Editor:

Dublin City Council’s Commemorative Naming Committee:

A Commemorative Naming Committee was established by Dublin City Council to consider and recommend the selection of individuals or events which will be commemorated through the erection of monuments / plaques. These Commemorative Plaques provide the City with an opportunity to honour and remember a significant person, group or event and to celebrate the uniqueness of the City and create a sense of place which is identified as being of great importance to citizens and visitors.

Biography:  Hanna Sheehy Skeffington  (1877-1946)

Born on 24th May, 1877 in Kanturk, Co. Cork, Hanna was the eldest among two sons and four daughters of David Sheehy, mill owner and later nationalist MP, and Elizabeth Sheehy. The family moved to Dublin in 1887 where Hanna was educated at the Dominican Convent, Eccles Street. She went on to graduate from the Royal University of Ireland with an honours BA in modern languages and was awarded an MA in 1902.

Hanna met her future husband Francis (Frank) Skeffington in 1896 and they married in 1903 taking each other’s names as a symbol of the equality of their relationship.  Their only child Owen was born in 1908. The couple were committed to many causes, particularly feminism, pacifism, socialism and nationalism.

In 1902 Hanna joined the long-established Irishwomen’s Suffrage and Local Government Association, which campaigned for the vote for women. The formation in London in 1903 of the militant suffrage organisation, the Women’s Social and Political Union, revitalised the suffrage campaign.  Hanna was aware of the activities of the WSPU and in 1908 with several other women, organised the Irish Women’s Franchise League (IWFL), an independent, non-aligned, and militant group. By 1912 the IWFL claimed a membership of over 1,000 making it the largest suffrage group in Ireland.

In May 1912 the first issue of the suffrage paper The Irish Citizen, edited by Frank Sheehy Skeffington and James Cousins appeared.  Following Frank’s death in 1916 Hanna edited the journal intermittently until 1920.

The failure of the Irish parliamentary party to support women’s suffrage led to the first militant suffrage activity in Ireland.  On 13th June 1912 a number of women of the IWFL, including Hanna, broke some windows in government buildings. The women were arrested and imprisoned for a month. In prison they immediately and successfully lobbied for political status. Because of her feminist activities Hanna was sacked from her German teaching post at the Rathmines School of Commerce. She then devoted her time to suffrage and to her work on The Irish Citizen, corresponding with suffragists in England and the United States.

At the invitation of friends of Irish Freedom, Hanna toured the USA from October 1916 to August 1918, speaking at over 250 meetings; this was the first of four American tours.

In late 1919 Hanna was elected as a Sinn Féin candidate to Dublin Corporation.  She opposed the Anglo-Irish treaty and in 1922-23 accompanied Linda Kearns and Kathleen Boland to the USA on a fund-raising trip for the relief of the families of Irish republican soldiers held as prisoners in the Irish Free State. Hanna was also a member of the Prisoners’ Defence Association and helped form the Women Prisoners’ Defence League in 1922.  Throughout her life Hanna remained an active feminist. She worked to support herself and Owen through her journalism writing extensively for the Irish World, and giving public talks and lectures. Hanna died on 20th April, 1946 and was buried beside her husband Frank in Glasnevin cemetery.

List provided by Dr. Margaret Ward:

Irish Women known to have been imprisoned for Suffrage actions in Ireland or the UK

Margaret Cousins    1 month hard labour in Tullamore Jail and 1 month

in Holloway, London.

Meg Connery    1 month hard labour in Tullamore, 1 week in Mountjoy, and

1 week in Holloway.

Kathleen Emerson    2 months hard labour in Holloway.

Anna Garvey Kelly    1 month in Holloway.

Marjorie Hasler    6 months in Mountjoy.

Barbara Hoskins    1 month hard labour in Tullamore.

Kathleen Houston    6 months in Mountjoy, 2 months in Holloway and 6 weeks in

Mountjoy.

Olivia Jeffcott    2 months hard labour in Holloway.

Maud Lloyd    6 months in Mountjoy, and 1 week in Holloway.

Maggie Murphy    2 months in Mountjoy and 2 months hard labour in Holloway.

Jane Murphy      2 months in Mountjoy and 2 months hard labour in Holloway.

Marguerite Palmer    2 months in Mountjoy, 6 months in Tullamore, and 1 week

in Holloway.

Dora Ryan    6 months in Tullamore.

Hanna Sheehy Skeffington    2 months in Mountjoy and 1 week in Mountjoy.

Mabel Small    2 months hard labour in Crumlin Road Jail, Belfast.

Eva Stephenson    2 months in Holloway.

Annie Walsh    6 months in Tullamore.

Hilda Webb    6 months in Mountjoy and two months in Holloway.

Elfreda Baker,    

Elizabeth Bell,    

Marion Bourke-Dowling and     

Margaret Robinson    Each 1 week in Holloway

Dorothy Carson,    

Lilian Metge and    

Joan Wickham    All imprisoned in Crumlin Road Jail but not sentenced
 

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