Countess Constance Markievicz (nee Gore-Booth), the third child of Sir Henry Gore-Booth, was born at Lissadell in County Sligo, on 4th February, 1868.
Sir Henry Gore-Booth always attempted to act as a good landlord, like providing free food for his tenants during the 1879-80 famine for example. It was probably acts of goodwill like this, that helped develop in his two daughters, Constance and Eva Gore-Booth, a deep concern for the poor.
In 1893 Constance moved to London to study art at the Slade. It was at this time she joined the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. Later she moved to France where she continued her studies at the Julian School in Paris.
While in France, Constance met and married Count Casimir Markievicz from Poland, they settled in Dublin where Constance developed a reputation as a talented landscape artist. She also acted in several plays at the Abbey Theatre and joined Maud Gonne as a member of the revolutionary group, the Daughters of Erin.
Constance Markievicz continued her interest in the struggle for women’s rights and in the 1908 joined Eva Gore-Booth and Esther Roper in the campaign against Winston Churchill in the parliamentary election in Manchester.
In 1908 Constance joined Sinn Fein, an organization formed by Arthur Griffith six years earlier. The following year she founded Fianna Eireann, the youth movement of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. In 1911 Constance Markievicz was arrested with Helena Moloney when they took part in a demonstration against the visit of George V to Ireland.
Constance Markievicz also joined James Connolly, James Larkin and Maud Gonne in the campaign to force the authorities to extend the 1906 Provision of School Meals Act to Ireland. She also started a scheme to feed poor children in Dublin where she provided a soup kitchen in Liberty Hall during the lockout of unionized workers in 1913. Later that year she was elected Honorary Treasurer to the Irish Citizen Army.
Released in the General Amnesty of 1917, she was immediately elected to the executive of Sinn Fein. Soon afterwards she was imprisoned again for her part in the campaign against the conscription of Irish men into the British Army.
After the passing of the Qualification of Women Act, Constance stood as the Sinn Fein candidate for the St. Patrick‘s division of Dublin and became the first woman to be elected to the British Parliament, though she did not take her seat at Westminster instead becoming a member of the first Dil ireann.
In August 1917, Constance Markievicz was the first person to receive the Freedom of Sligo at the Town Hall.
After a short illness, Countess Markievicz died in Sir Patrick Dunn’s Hospital in Dublin on 15th July 1927 at the age of 59. She is buried in Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin.
A statue commemorating Countess Markievicz was erected at Rathcormack in 2003.
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