Constance Markivicz- Sligo Born Politican With Privileged Background Serves Ireland' Struggle For Freedom With Courage & Dignity
In Ireland’s domination by foreign invaders over many centuries, Irish women had the difficult task of rearing their families on pauperism and oppression and also support their husband’s grinding daily duty of providing for the family homestead.
Countess Constance Georgina Gore - Booth, born in Sligo in 1868, had no such skimpy lifestyle. Born into a middle class background, Constance was charming and polite to all her Sligo neighbours and she became a much admired person by all classes and creeds in her native County Sligo.
Her early life suggested an ability as an artist and she left home to study in France. In Paris she met and married a Polish man, Casimir Markievicz and soon after returned to live in Dublin.
In 1898 she joined Maud Gonne’s popular ‘Women’s Association’ which was devoted to helping the poor and exploited Irish people. She later became associated with Arthur Griffith and was elected on to the national council of Sinn Fein.
With the assistance of Jim Larkin she founded Fianna Eireann, a youth organisation which was designed to become the foundation of an Irish army to fight for Irish freedom.
During the 1913 Dublin lock - out she organised a food kitchen and milk depot in Liberty Street and recruited helpers from all walks of life. Her Dublin home also became a mini hospital for many casualties. She later joined James Connolly’s Citizen Army and later the Irish Volunteers.
Countess Markievicz also assisted in the historic Howth gun running episode and put on a military uniform to fight in the 1916 Easter Rising at the College Of Surgeons, St. Stephen’s Green, as second - in - command to Michael Mallin.
After the Rising surrender she was captured by British troops, tried and sentenced to death. This was later commuted to Penal Servitude.
In June 1917 she was released, again rejoined Sinn Fein and was interned once more. In the General Election of 1918 she became Sinn Fein member for Dublin and became Minister for Labour.
During this term of office she was twice imprisoned and was only released when the 1921 Irish Treaty was signed by Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins and their associates at the London meeting.
However Constance did not support the division of Ireland resulting from the Treaty. She supported Eamon de Valera when the Irish Civil War broke out as a consequence of the Treaty, but her public profile succeeded in getting her re-elected to Dail Eireann in 1923. She then refused the Oath of Allegiance and sacrificed her seat in the new Dail Eireann.
In 1927 she was again elected but her failing health was directly responsible for her untimely death, aged just fifty nine years.
The county G.A.A. grounds in Sligo, ‘Markievicz Park’ commemorates this famous daughter of Ireland.