Maud Gonne McBride - Born In England & Irish Nationalist & Suffragist
Although of English birthright, Maud Gonne MacBride was outraged when she came to Ireland and discovered at first hand the atrocities inflicted on defenceless and very poor Irish citizens. These acts were perpetrated by her own people and she vowed to rise up and condemn such domination of Irish people.
Maud’s father was a British Army Colonel at Aldershot and when he was posted to Dublin Castle, he requested his daughter to come to Ireland in 1882. The Colonel wanted her to host many special events on his behalf.
Maud was then aged sixteen and educated privately. She arrived misty eyed to take up her first major job and soon discovered some disconcerting facts around the dining table when she overheard officers tales of striking down many innocent Irish people. Not amused by such terrible brutality, Maud let it be known that she could not condone such actions.
Her father died unexpectedly in 1886 and Maud now inherited sufficient funds to leave her financially independent for the rest of her life.
She decided to leave Ireland because of ill health and settled in France where she met Lucien Millevoye. They had two children and the youngest child died of meningitis, aged just eighteen months.
Unlucky in love, Maud returned to Dublin. In 1886 she made acquaintances with noted Irish Fenian, John O’ Leary, who later introduced her to W.B. Yeats. Yeats became besotted with Maud and offered his hand in marriage but she declined and sought just good sincere company.
When Ireland experienced another famine in the 1890’s, Maud travelled through Donegal and Mayo and persuaded the British authorities to provide essential aid.
When Queen Victoria’s jubilee was celebrated by loyalists, Maud organised counter attractions in many parts of Ireland. She joined the Amnesty Association, Cumann na Gaedhael, Irish Transvaal Committee and also the National Council.
Maud also co-founded ‘Inghinidhe na Heireann’ in 1900 for women and she also took the lead role in Yeat’s play, Cathleen ni Houlihan, specially written for her.
An introduction to Major John MacBride resulted in a three year marriage and exile in France. Her husband returned to Dublin when the couple separated and he was later executed for his part in the 1916 Easter Rising.
Maud came back to Dublin in 1917 in disguise and in May 1918, she was arrested and imprisoned at Holloway Jail until she plotted an escape and returned to Dublin.
The Irish Treaty was opposed by Maud and she supported all the Republicans imprisoned in the civil War.
Maud’s son was Sean McBride who formed his own political party, Clann na Poblacht.
Maud Gonne MacBride died in 1953, aged eighty seven years.