Margaret Cousins

Criticism

Life
1878-1954 [née Gillespie; fam. “Gretta”]; b. Boyle, Co. Roscommon; m. James Cousins, with whom she shared theosophical and educational interests, 1908; fnd. with her husband, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, et al., the Irish Women’s Franchise League, 1908; participated in English suffragette demonstration at Downing St.; arrested and jailed for a month (‘a living death’); twice imprisoned in Ireland for her suffrage and Trade Union work, and went on hunger; emigrated with Cousins to India, 1913; estab. Indian Women’s Association, 1914; appt. the first woman magistrate in India, 1922; jailed for protesting laws restricting free speech, and went on hunger strike in support of Gandhi, before being released in Oct. 1933; fnd. Children’s Aid Society; elected President of the All-India Women’s Conference, 1938; d. 11 March 1954, at Madras.

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Criticism
Catherine Candy, ‘“Untouchability”, ‘vegetarianism and the suffragist ideology of Margaret Cousins’, in Irish Women and the Vote: Becoming Citizens, ed. Louise Ryan & Margaret Ward [with a foreword by Rosemary Cullen Owens] (Dublin: IAP 2007) [Chap. 9.]

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Commentary
Margaret MacCurtain
, The Irish Women’s Franchise League ‘from its inception harried the Irish Home Rule Bill’ (‘Women, the Vote and Revolution’, in Women and Irish Society, the Historical Dimension, ed. MacCurtain & Donncha Ó Corrain, Dublin 1978; quoted in Cheryl Herr, For the Land they Loved 1991).

Luke Gibbons, Transformations in Irish Culture (Field Day/Cork UP 1996), refers to the support for Jim Gralton given by I. K. Yajnik of the Indian Independence League, and his comparison with the crack-down on the Indian trade unionists, commenting: ‘There is a fitting irony in the fact tha Margaet Cousins, jailed in India, was brought up ... not ten miles from Gralton’s own locality’ (p.106.)

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