Margaret Connery

Map County Mayo
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ireland_map_County_Mayo_Magnified.png
Custom House Dublin
Dublin Castle
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dublin_Castle_Coach_House_01.JPG
Drone pic Dublin 2015
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Luftbild_von_Dublin,_Irland_(21953997218).jpg

Suffragist Organizer / Activist

Amongst Ireland’s Women Margaret Connery deserves to be acknowledged for her persistence in her efforts for all women to have a vote plus activities within the I W F L.

The birth of Margaret Connery occurred in Westport during 1879.  She married Con Connery while in her twenties.  She is mentioned among a list of Irish Suffragettes   [i]

IWFL

During 1908 in Dublin Hanna Sheehy Skeffington with Margaret Cousins set up the Irish Women’s Franchise League: although women only, men could be associate members, in fact two of the early male recruits were the husbands of the Founding members.  Margaret Connery was elected as Vice – Chairwomen of the IWFL.  (Louis Ryan Irish Times, 17th Oct 2012)  [ii]  The organization had offices with a tea – room in Westmorland Street where that held meetings, debates plus social events. (Independent Opinion 10th August 2019)  [iii]

Aims

Inspired by militant strategies of the British Women’s Social & Political Union (WSPU) the vast majority of Irish Suffragettes became involved with a movement that unlike the British tactics were in actual effect much more constitutional as they opposed any form of militancy.  (Louis Ryan Irish Times, 17th Oct 2012)  [iv]

Activities

The IWFL were impatient for change, ready to challenge social conventions; they were adamant in the pursuit of winning the vote for women, they lobbied for female enfranchisement that included the Home Rule Bill.  The Irish Suffragettes heckled politicians or broke windows of Government Offices: eight women were arrested for the latter offence in Dublin on 13th June 1912 with each sentenced to either a fine or two months’ imprisonment.  [v]  Margaret Connery told the Judge in Court that she was driven to smash windows because of the ‘intolerable grievances under which women had to live.’  In the eyes of the State ‘She was an outlaw; she was not a person.’  [vi]  Also, during that year; she heckled Winston Churchill.  [vii]  During 1913 Edward Carson & Andrew Bonar Law in Dublin provided speeches on Home Rule when Margaret Connery with Hanna Sheehy – Skeffington broke through the police cordon to try to shove their Pamphlets into Carson’s hands.  They both led a protest against the fact that no female delegates were allowed into the closed Talks also that Bonar Law refused to meet with any Suffragettes. [viii]   Mistrust of the legal system led several suffragists to set up a Courts Watch Committee to monitor several court cases.  During 1915 Margaret Connery arranged for the first speakers on ‘Suffrage’ in Counties Longford, Leitrim plus Roscommon.  When the British Government closed the North Sea for a few days around the International Women’s Conference during 1915 Margaret Connery chaired the Irish Protest Meeting in Dublin as Irish women were prohibited from being in attendance.  She based a Talk to Dublin Socialists also two articles in the Irish Citizen on the South African Author Olive Schreiner’s book Woman in Labour. (Therese Moriarty Irish Times, 2018)  [ix]

Incarceration

Margaret Connery’s internment during November 1911 for one week was followed by her imprisonment for breaking windows at the Custom House in November 1912.  In January 1913 Margaret Connery was arrested for breaking windows of Dublin Castle with one month’s imprisonment to follow.  During her confinement at Tullamore Goal, King’s County (now Co. Offaly) with Mrs Hoskins & Margaret Cousins; she successfully publicised their hunger strike. [x]

Publication

The Irish Citizen was edited by both Francis & Hanna Sheehy – Skeffington between 1912 – 1920.   Many of the IWFL members were represented in the publication during that time.  In addition to the invaluable letters pages plus the ‘activities notice board’ that provided an insight into the views or activities of all suffrage groups, it also featured articles by men or women that represented a broad spectrum of groups, local branches with their supporters.  In the Saturday, 8th June 1912 issue; the editorial outlined its aims: ‘(a) to form a means of communication between Irish Suffrage Societies and their members, (b) to provide a reliable source of publicity for suffrage activities in Ireland, (c) to provide a means of cheap and effective propaganda.’  For the aims to be achieved the editors requested that, ‘(a) all responsible officers of societies will send reports of meetings and notices of forthcoming events, (b) all suffragists should induce newsagents to display copies and posters, (c) those who have the power of expression will send us articles, notes and letters.’  Part of the Irish Citizen’s feminist agenda discussed a very wide range of issues that affected women or girls while socialist voices argued that working – class women required traded unions, better working conditions plus the need to lead themselves plus decide their own priorities.  Mrs. Priestly Mc Cracken & Marion Duggan were among contributors who regularly penned articles on the incidence of domestic violence also sexual assaults in Irish Society.  They also argued that the legal profession with the judiciary did not take such offences seriously.  Attempts to eject ‘ladies’ from some Dublin courts prompted the question: ‘when will men realise that women are part of the public? that they are fully entitled to be present at all cases open to the public’ in the Irish Citizen edition of 19th June 1915. [xi]

Margaret Connery commented in the 28th December 1912 edition that ‘the Votes for Women movement is but a side issue of a much greater and more far – reaching problem.  It is true that the Votes for Women movement is the chief manifestation of feminism in these countries; but through public attention has been particularly focused on this one phase of feminism, the girl who first defied conventions by riding a bicycle…the poorest and meanest woman anywhere who is revolting against the conditions of her life and longing for a chance to relieve its monotony – all these are part and parcel of the great uprising amongst women.’  Another quote by her was ‘In Ireland, as elsewhere, public morals must continue in an unhealthy state while we tolerate the shameful double moral standards.’ [xii]

Interests

Among Margaret Connery’s other interests were The Irish Red Cross, the Irish Linen Worker’s Union plus she participated as a Delegate to review the Destruction of Tipperary & Cork by Ireland’s Wars.  Margaret Connery died during December 1956. [xiii]

Footnotes

According to Sarah & Beth Watkins book; ‘Ireland’s Suffragettes: the Irish Women who fought for the vote’ stated that during 1918 Margaret Connery Chaired the Conference of Cumman na dTrachaire; an Organization set up to monitor the political environment in respect of women’s interests. (Watkins. S. & B.  2014 The History Press.) https://www.amazon.com/Irelands-Suffragettes-

You never saw such excitement…info / photo of Meg Connery with other suffragettes at the 1918 Election of Countess Markievicz may be seen at: https://artsandculture.google.com/

Margaret Connery with Kathleen Emmerson in Green Street Dock, Dublin from the 1912 Private Collection Photographs at Trinity College, Dublin is featured at this link: https://artsandculture.google.com/

The General Prison Board Suffragette Papers of 1908 – 1919 are available on this site:  https://www.archivesportaleurope.net/ead-display/-/ead/pl/aicode/IE-NAI/type/fa/id/GPB/unitid/GPB_SLASH_SFRG_SLASH_1/page/4

Also may be of interest: Prison Poetry by Irish Suffragette in Holloway: https://www.indietours.biz/blog/2018/7/26/prison-poetry-by-irish-suffragette-in-holloway

The National Library of Ireland featured a picture of the Tullamore Suffrage Prisoners in their exhibition ‘From Ballots to Bullets 1918 – 1919’ in the National Photographic Archive Dublin event during 2015 – 2019. http://catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000670101/HierarchyTree

In the Dāil Eireann Minutes of 6th February 2018 The Minister for Culture, Heritage, & the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan opened a debate on the Centenary of Women’s Suffrage plus the granting of Votes to several women during 1922.  Margaret Connery was mentioned among many ladies by deputiesa Ruth Coppinger & Joan Collins who also paid tribute those women; Several contributions may be read online at: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2018-02-06/29/

Louise Ryan stated in an Irish Times article on 10th December 2018 re the 1918 Election in Ireland that Margaret Connery has a humorous quote in the Irish Citizen ‘That having opposed votes for women for decades – politician of every persuasion now chased the female vote.’  Ryan’s article may be read at this link: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/why-did-only-two-women-stand-for-election-in-1918-1.3697445

The National Archives article on Suffragettes at Prison in Ireland may be read at this Link: https://www.nationalarchives.ie/article/suffragettes-prison-conditions-ireland/

Further Reading

Smashing Times – A History of Irish Women’s Suffragette Movement 1889 – 1922. Owens Cullen Rosemary 1995 Attic Dublin. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/554304.Smashing_Times

Unmanageable Revolutionaries: Women & Irish Nationalism. Ward Margaret 1996 Plutto Press. https://www.goodreads.com/

Irish Women & the Vote: Becoming Citizens, new Edition. 2018 Ryan Louise /Ward Margaret Irish Academic Press. https://irishacademicpress.ie/product/irish-women-and-the-vote-becoming-citizens-new-edition/

Women, Press & Politics during the Irish Revival. 2007 Steel Karen Syracuse University Press. https://books.google.ie/books?

Women’s Ireland;1800 – 1918 -a Documentary History, page 277 1995 Luddy Maria Cork University Press. https://books.google.ie/

An interesting PDF ‘Divided Sisterhood? Nationalist Feminism & Feminist Militancy in England & Ireland’ by S. Crozier -de Rosa may be seen at: https://www.academia.edu/37757065/_Divided_Sisterhood_Nationalist_Feminism_and_Feminist_Militancy_in_England_and_Ireland_

Bibliography

[i]  Meg Connery (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meg_Connery ) [assessed 3rd August 2019]

[ii]  Read all about it – writing wrongs (https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/century/century-women-and-the-vote/read-all-about-it-writing-wrongs-1.553431 ) [assessed 3rd August 2019]

[iii] When Freedom was in the air (https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/when-freedom-was-in-the-air-irish-suffragettes-took-steps-to-win-equality-36206599.html ) [assessed 5th August 2019]

[iv]  Read all about it – writing wrongs (https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/century/century-women-and-the-vote/read-all-about-it-writing-wrongs-1.553431 ) [assessed 3rd August 2019]

[v] IWFL & IWWU  (https://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/irish-womens-franchise-league-and-irish-womens-workers-union/ ) [assessed 5th August 2019]

[vi] When Freedom was in the air (https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/when-freedom-was-in-the-air-irish-suffragettes-took-steps-to-win-equality-36206599.html ) [assessed 5th August 2019]

[vii] Meg Connery (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meg_Connery ) [assessed 3rd August 2019]

[viii]  You never saw such excitement (https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/JAJSWRI_Y2-KIA ) [assessed 3rd August 2019]

[ix]  Suffragettes at War (https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/suffragettes-at-war- ) [assessed 3rd August 2019]

[x]  Meg Connery (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meg_Connery ) [assessed 3rd August 2019]

[xi] Read all about it – writing wrongs (https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/century/century-women-and-the-vote/read-all-about-it-writing-wrongs-1.553431 ) [assessed 3rd August 2019]

[xii] Read all about it – writing wrongs (https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/century/century-women-and-the-vote/read-all-about-it-writing-wrongs-1.553431 ) [assessed 3rd August 2019]

[xiii]  Meg Connery (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meg_Connery ) [assessed 3rd August 2019]

No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *