HANNA SHEEHY SKEFFINGTON

By Tim Sullivan

Born in County Cork in 1877, Hanna Sheehy married Francis Skeffington after being introduced to him by their mutual friend, James Joyce. They took the joint surname Sheehy Skeffington, an act that was pretty revolutionary in 1903. Francis' father disowned him as a result.

Hanna and Francis both devoted their lives to advancing the causes of women's rights and Irish independence. They founded the Irish CItizen, a feminist newspaper, in 1912. The paper's motto was, "For Men and Women Equally The Rights of Citizenship; For Men and Women Equally The Duties of Citizenship."

A founder of both the Irish Women Workers' Union, which organized against British Imperialist rule, and the Irish Women’s Franchise League, the latter became the largest feminist organization in Ireland.

Francis was arrested and killed by British soldiers without a trial during the Easter Uprising of 1916. Hanna refused a £10,000 settlement from the British government, because it came with the condition she could not speak publicly about his death.

She went on the road in the U.S. for the next seven years to tell the story of her husband's murder and raise support for Irish independence.

She was arrested many times throughout her life for protesting for women's suffrage and the end of British rule in Ireland. She would live to see full women's suffrage in 1935 and Irish independence in 1937, though she was a fierce critic of what she viewed as rollbacks for women's equality in the new Irish Republic. She died in 1946.

“It is barren comfort for us women to know that in ancient Ireland women occupied a prouder, freer position than they now hold even in the most advanced modern states.”

“Until the women of Ireland are free, the men will not achieve emancipation.”

"To fight men's battles for them and to neglect those of women has always been regarded as true womanly, though when men fight for their rights on the broad basis of humanity, they are not accused of selfishness. The cause of an oppressed group is fully as great as that of an oppressed nation and deserves no taut of narrowness."

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