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A Woman of Many Firsts

by Grainne Colreavy Gilgunn


Beautiful first born daughter

Born in 1868

Born at Buckingham Gate


Inspired by kindness – her father and teacher

Concern shown to the famine poor at Lissadell

Food for tenants who in working poverty did dwell


Dublin, London, Paris – free to learn

Fortunate by birth

To paint and be painted – To see and be seen


Art and Politics – her lifework begins

Interests, influences and Influencers

Foster suffrage, activism and socialism


Satin ball gown and diamond tiara

Features of her double life

Her uniform to prepare for revolution


Breeches, slouch hat and feathers

Just as her comrades wore

The Patriots uniform for active revolution


1918 jailed and elected

First woman elected to House of Commons

But bravely abstained as mandated


1919, jailed and missed

Unable to take her seat in the first Dáil

“Imprisoned by the foreign enemy” was her call


First female cabinet minister in the Republic

Only female to have this honour until 1979

Ahead of her time


Civil War – Republican views

Jail, hunger strike and release

In these times she knew no peace


1927 – died at 59

Her wordly belongings already bequeath

“among the poor where she wanted to be”

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