Mary MacSwiney

Life
Sister of Terence MacSwiney; secretary of Munster Women’s Franchise League, resigning in 1914 when the group lent its support to the war effort; toured America in Republican cause and was arrested for picketing the British Embassy in Washington, 1922; known as a ‘sea-green incorruptible’ republican, she proclaimed the all-Ireland sovereignty of the Republic in 1924; was a political confidant of Eamon de Valera.

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Quotations
Irish citizens: ‘All the citizens of Ireland today are legal citizens of the Republic; some are loyal, some disloyal, but all owe the same allegiance even if all do not now pay it.’ (Where We Stand Now: The Truth About the Republic, 1924; cited in D. George Boyce, Nationalism in Ireland, London: Routledge 1982, p.340.)

English suffragettes: While secretary of the Munster Women’s Franchise League, she expressed ‘abhorrence of the wicked actions of the English suffragettes’ (Irish Citizen, 3 Aug. 1912), when Leigh and Evans attempted to burn the theatre in which Asquith appeared in Dublin. (See Margaret Ward, ‘“The Suffrage Above All Else!”: An Account of the Irish Suffrage Movement”, in Irish Women’s Studies: A Reader, ed. Ailbhe Smyth, Dublin: Attic Press 1993, p.32.)

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Commentary
Martin Mansergh, ‘An Unfading Green: Mistaken attempts to deny legitimacy to the new Ireland’, in Times Literary Supplement (10 July 1998), p.15: ‘In 1939 the Second Dáil was effectively wound up and its “authority” passed on to the IRA, because as Mary MacSwiney, sister of an earlier hungerstrike martyr, Terence MacSwiney, remarked of Sinn Féin, “it was hopeless to expect the rank and file of the people … to join our organisation which stands on the position of 1919”.’

Margaret Ward, ‘“The Suffrage Above All Else!”: An Account of the Irish Suffrage Movement”, in Irish Women’s Studies: A Reader, ed. Ailbhe Smyth (Dublin: Attic Press 1993) gives an account of her objection to English suffragette violence in Ireland [see Quotations, supra], and reports her resignation from the secretaryship of the Munster Women’s Franchise League when that group lent its support to the war effort, forming an ambulance corps while banning the Irish Citizen in Nov. 1914 (Ward., op. cit., p.39.)

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