Co-commander of St. Stephen’s Green in 1916 and the first woman to ever hold a cabinet ministry, Countess Markievicz celebrates her birthday today, February 4.
Countess Markievicz was a renowned Irish revolutionary figure known for her leadership in the Easter Rising and struggle for Irish freedom.
Born as Constance Gore-Booth in Lissadell, Co Sligo, on February 4, 1868, Markievicz started out as an art student early on in life, having attended London’s Slade School of Art.
When in Paris, aged 25, she continued studying art and met her husband and namesake, Casimir Dunin-Markievicz. The couple had only one child, Maeve Allys, who was born in Lissadell in 1901.
Before her revolutionary activities in helping the Irish Citizen Army, Markievicz was an advocate for the poor in Dublin as part of her political career.
In the 1916 rising, she became a fully-fledged officer in the Irish Citizen Army and had fought in St Stephen’s Green during the uprising, eventually surrendering and then sentenced to death.
Because she was a woman, however, Markievicz was spared the death penalty and was given a life sentence. One year later, in 1917, the Countess was given amnesty and released from Ailsbury Gaol in England.
In 1918, Markievicz was elected as a member of Sinn Fein, but due to the abstentionist policy of her party in refusing to swear allegiance to the monarch, she never took her seat in parliament.
She was the first Irish woman to be elected to parliament and one of the first female politicians at the time, serving as the Minister of Labor between 1919 and 1922.
In 1926, she, along with fellow revolutionaries Eamon De Valera, Sean Lemass, Gerry Boland, and Frank Aiken, branched off from Sinn Fein to form another party, Fianna Fáil, after extensive talks.
A year later, in June of 1927, Markievicz had become ill with peritonitis and was swiftly brought to St. Patrick Dun’s Hospital for urgent care and eventually surgery.
After a month-long battle with the illness, she passed away in the early hours of the morning of July 15, 1927, leaving behind a legacy that Irish men and women to look back on with pride.