Constance Georgine Markievicz, was a Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil politician, revolutionary nationalist, suffragette and socialist. A founder member of Fianna Éireann, Cumann na mBan and the Irish Citizen Army, she took part in the Easter Rising in 1916, where she was sentenced to death but this was reduced on the grounds of her sex. On 28 December, 1918, she was the first woman elected to the British House of Commons – though she did not take her seat – and, along with the other Sinn Féin TDs, formed the first Dáil Éireann. She was also the second woman in the world to hold a cabinet position – writes RAY CLEERE

Countess Markievicz, politician, revolutionary, socialist, suffragette, tireless worker with the poor and the dispossessed, and a leading figure in the Irish Republican Movement, was a remarkable woman.

Born Constance Georgina Gore-Booth, into a life of wealth and privilege 150 years ago, on February 4th, 1868, at 7, Buckingham Street in London, near Buckingham Palace, she was the eldest child of the famous Arctic explorer, Sir Henry Gore-Booth of Lissadell House, in County Sligo, and Lady Georgina Hill Gore-Booth, originally from Tickhele Castle in Yorkshire.

She was most famous for her leadership in the 1916 Easter Rising and the subsequent struggle for freedom in Ireland, for which she risked her life.

As an Anglo-Irish landlord, her father was not typical of his kind and he administered his land with a degree of compassion for the peasantry who farmed it at the time. He provided food relief to the starving tenants in the indoor riding arena on the Lissadell estate during the famine of 1879.

That act of compassion undoubtedly inspired humanity and concern for the poor in his daughter who was then 11 years old.

In the 1890s a regular visitor to Lissadell House was the poet William Butler Yeats, who was captivated by both Constance and her younger sister Eva, who later involved herself in the Labour movement in England, and in women’s suffrage.

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