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President Higgins unveils plaque at Dublin Castle where an Irish suffragette smashed a window

Hanna Sheehy Skeffington was one of the founders of the Irish Women’s Franchise League, which aimed to ensure that women got the right to vote as part of the Home Rule Bill.

Hanna Sheehy Skeffington commemorative plaque Dublin Lord Mayor Mícheál Mac Donncha, President Michael D Higgins and Sabina Higgins, as they unveiled a plaque to commemorate Hanna Sheehy Skeffington Source: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins has unveiled a plaque outside Dublin Castle to commemorate where Irish suffragette Hanna Sheehy Skeffington smashed a window as part of a campaign to get women the right to vote.

The granddaughter of prominent nationalist and suffragette Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, Micheline, made a submission to the Office of Public Works earlier this year for the plaque to be erected.

In November 1908, Hanna was one of the founders of the Irish Women’s Franchise League, which aimed to ensure that women got the right to vote as part of the Home Rule Bill.

On 13 June 1912, she and seven other women were arrested for smashing the glass windows of Dublin Castle as part of a protest. She spent a month in Mountjoy prison after being convicted, followed by another month after they refused to pay a fine.

(Click here if you can’t see the video)

While she had hoped the plaque would be ready in time for 6 February, the 100th year anniversary of women getting the right to vote and run in Irish elections, Micheline told TheJournal.ie that she was “honoured” today’s event was happening.

“It’s great to be doing it today and I’m really honoured that President Michael D Higgins has agreed to launch and unveil it because that gives it full State recognition. It’s very honouring that the State should be honouring it in this way,” she said.

(Click here if you can’t see the video)

Speaking before he unveiled the plaque earlier today, President Michael D Higgins said: “It is a very great honour as president of Ireland to join you all here today as we gather to honour those brave women of a century ago who dedicated themselves to the cause of equality of women.

We gather particularly to commemorate the courageous act of resistance carried out by Hanna Sheehy Skeffington and her comerades not far from where we stand today, 106 years ago.

To honour the part played by other Irish suffragettes, a list of all Irish women imprisoned for suffrage activities, provided by Dr Margaret Ward of Queens University Belfast, was read aloud at today’s event by members of the Galway Feminist Collective.

The women held a replica of the original banner of the Irish Women’s Franchise League used by Hanna Sheehy Skeffington in 1912.

Hanna Sheehy Skeffington

Hanna Sheehy Skeffington was born in Cork in 1877; her family relocated to Tipperary when she was three years old. As well as being a prominent Irish suffragette and an ardent Irish republican, she also has some interesting famous names attached to her family.

Hanna’s uncle Father Eugene Sheehy was a teacher of the future President of Ireland Éamon de Valera. Hanna was also good friends with the famous Irish writer James Joyce. Joyce would introduce Hanna to her future husband, Francis; whom she met with regularly in Bewley’s Cafe to discuss politics.

During the 1916 Rising, Skeffington carried messages and food to and from the GPO. Her husband Francis was wrongfully arrested and then murdered by British soldiers during that time.

Adding to the words of President Higgins, Lord Mayor of Dublin Micheál Mac Donncha said that it is “entirely fitting” that Dublin City Council recognises Hanna Sheehy Skeffington’s role in Irish political life.

“Hanna was elected to Dublin Corporation in 1919 and was active in numerous organisations and associations in the city,” Mac Donncha said.

Hanna was Ireland’s best known suffragette and her actions and agitation directly contributed to Irish women winning the vote in 1918. She was a key leader in the struggle for national independence and social justice.

(Click here if you can’t see the video)

Commenting on what she believes Hanna Sheehy Skeffington would think of the plaque unveiled today, Micheline said: “Oh, Hanna and my grandfather Frank Sheehy Skeffington, they would have been really bowled over. There’s a lot to do yet still for women and I’m sure she’d be out there fighting for women’s equality.

“She wasn’t one for boasting but she would be quietly quite pleased.”

The application for the plaque was made under the Commemorative Plaques Scheme, which was established to commemorate “people, organisations and events that have made a unique and significant contribution to the life or history of Dublin through outstanding achievement, distinctive service or significant community contribution”.

With reporting by Gráinne Ní Aodha.

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