Over the summer while on hiatus from my GGP internship, I had the opportunity to go to Ireland for my study abroad class, the Psychology of Terrorism. I was blown away by how incredibly kind the people were and how beautiful of a place it is. I also had the opportunity to learn about Countess Constance Markievicz. She was a wealthy Irish woman who was one of the leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916. Constance was appointed staff lieutenant at St. Stephen’s Green and was arrested with the other leaders of the Rising. Even though she had grown up wealthy, she dedicated her life not only to Irish Independence but also to help the poor. She died in a public ward, having given away her wealth. To hear the story of a woman who dedicated her life to helping the poor and fighting for her country’s freedom was so inspiring! I mean, she really helped shape a country at a time when women around the world didn’t even have the right to vote. She also founded or helped found several organizations, like a group that trained boys to fight and a woman’s organization. I loved hearing about how she was able to go out and to actually fight for her cause and effect real change. So here are some of my favorite facts about this incredible woman’s life:
Before becoming a revolutionary, she went to the Slade School of Fine Art in London then to the Académie Julián in Paris. She even “married” art and would wear a wedding ring.
She took out loans and sold her jewelry to feed the poor and started her own soup kitchen.
After she was arrested for being a leader in the Easter Rising, she was sentenced to death. However, the courts reduced her sentence to life because she was a woman. When she learned this, she’s quoted as saying, “I do wish your lot had the decency to shoot me.” She eventually was released.
She was the first woman elected to the British House of Commons, but her political party Sinn Fein has an abstention policy and she had been imprisoned again for her activism, so she never took her seat. She later was elected to Dáil Éireann, the Irish independence parliament, but was jailed again for her activism. After she was released again, she was elected to the Irish General Election in 1927, after most of Ireland had been freed from British Oppression. However, she became ill and died before she could take office.
She knew W.B. Yeats and he wrote a poem about her and her sister, Eva, called “In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markievicz.” Despite being a family friend, Yeats clearly disapproves of Constance and Eva’s choice to become political in the poem.
King, Gilbert. “Daughters of Wealth, Sisters in Revolt.” Smithsonian.com. July 10, 2012. Accessed November 1, 2017. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/daughters-of-wealth-sisters-in-revolt-1319484/.
Gaby Scelfo is a Production Intern at Gazing Grain Press and a senior English major at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. Her internship is hosted through the English Department and the Center for Career Education at Millsaps College.