Suffragist City

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SuffragistIn February 1918 the Representation of the People Act was passed and women who were over 30 years of age, owned property, or were married to a rate-payer were finally allowed to participate fully in the democratic process. Although women were still not on equal terms with men (who could vote from the age of 21 years), the breakthrough had been made.

Eleven months later, the voters of Dublin elected Constance Markievicz, the first woman to win a seat at Westminster.

View Suffragist City Image Gallery.

Suffragism was the conviction that votes should be extended to women. It had its origin as a movement among social reformers in the mid-nineteenth century. By the early years of the twentieth century, the suffrage campaign had gained sufficient momentum to be regularly debated in parliament. Suffragette was a pejorative term coined initially by the Daily Mail to describe militant female activists in England.    

The 1910s was a decade of great social and political turbulence. The Home Rule crisis, labour unrest, the outbreak of the Great War, and the Easter Rising splintered the cosy certainties of the British Empire. The cause of suffragism added to the tumult as women asserted their political rights and rejected their perceived subservient role in society. Suffragists in Ireland endured ridicule, assault, and imprisonment in their quest for social justice but 1918 was their year of victory. This is their story.

Suffragist City Image Gallery contains some of the images from the collections of the Dublin City Library & Archive that feature in the Suffragist City: Women and the Vote in Dublin exhibition.

Selected Further Reading:

Lauren Arrington, Revolutionary lives: Constance and Casimir Markievicz (Princeton University Press, 1986).

Mary Cullen and Maria Luddy (eds.), Female activists: Irish women and change 1900-1960 (The Woodfield Press, 2001).

Anne Haverty, Constance Markievicz: an independent life (Pandora Press, 1988)

Maria Luddy, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington (Dundalgan Press, 1995).

Rosemary Cullen Owens, Did your granny have a hammer?: a history of the Irish suffrage movement 1876-1922 (Rosemary Cullen Owens and Women in Community Publishing Course in conjunction with Attic Press, 1985).

Rosemary Cullen Owens, Smashing times: a history of the women’s suffrage movement: 1889-1922 (Attic Press, 1984).

Louise Ryan and Margaret Ward (eds.), Irish women and the vote: becoming citizens (Irish Academic Press, 2007).

Andrée Sheehy Skeffington and Rosemary Owens, Votes for women: Irish women’s struggle for the vote (Andrée D. Sheehy Skeffington and Rosemary Owens, 1975).

Margaret Ward (ed.), Hanna Sheehy Skeffington: suffragette and Sinn Féiner: her memoirs and political writings (University College Dublin Press, 2017).

Margaret Ward, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington: a life (Attic Press, 1997).

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