Hanna Sheehy Skeffingon (1877-1946)

Quotations

Life
dg. David Sheehy, MP; wife of Francis Skeffington [q.v., becoming Sheehy Skeffington - prop. without hyphen]; feminist and suffragette; b. Loughmore, Co. Tipperary; ed. Royal University; with Francis Sheehy-Skeffington and others, fnd. Irish Women’s Franchise League, with aim of getting women’s voting rights included in Third Home Rule Bill, 1908; imprisoned for breaking windows in opposition to John Redmond at the exclusion of women’s suffrage from the Bill, 1912; imprisoned in Mountjoy with eight others for her part in a protest at the GPO that involved breaking windows, June 1910 (including Majorie Hasler, who died in 1913);
 
she was close to James Connolly and Constance Markievicz and carried messages in the 1916 Rising; she refused compensation for murder of her husband Francis [q.v.], murdered by the British officer Bowen-Colthurst - who then harrassed the widow at her home during subsequent raiding parties; contrib. to Irish Citizen and United Irishman; extended lecture tour in America, Dec. 1916-1918; supported Sinn Féin and served as asst. ed. of An Phoblacht; issued “British Militarism as I Have Known It” (NY 1917), a pamphlet - jointly with a reprint of her husbands “A Forgotten Small Nationality” [Century Magazine, 1916]; met President Wilson, Jan. 1918; arrested and imprisoned with Maud Gonne and others, 1918; hunger-strike lead to her release; executive committee of Sinn Fein;
 
served as judge in pre-Independence Dáil courts; supported the Republican side in the Civil War as a member of Women’s Prisoners’ Defence League; played active part in fomenting the Plough and the Stars riot in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin (Feb. 1926); revisited America, and later visited Russia, 1929; arrested in Newry and imprisoned for one month in Northern Ireland for defying exclusion order, 1931 [var. 1933]; fnd. Women’s Social and Progressive League; died at Easter 1946, near the anniversary of her husband’s murder; her “British Militarism [... &c.]” was then reprinted in the Kerryman (Tralee). DIH

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Works
British Militarism as I Have Known It
[digest of a lecture] (NY 1917) [jointly with A Forgotten Small Nationality, by Francis Sheehy Skeffington, as pp.17-32; available at Internet Archive - online]; Do. [rep. edn.] (Tralee: The Kerryman 1946), 22pp.; ‘The Women’s Movement - Ireland’, in The Irish Review (July 1912); ‘Reminiscences of an Irish Suffragette’, in Votes for Women: Irish Women's Struggle for the Vote, ed. A. D. Sheehy-Skeffington & R. C. Owens ([priv.] Dublin 1975).

Her journalism includes -
  • ‘Sinn Fein and Irishwomen', in Bean na hEireann, 20, 13 (Nov. 1909), pp.5-6.
  • ‘Why We Throw Stones at Government Glass Houses’, in Irish Citizen (22 June 1912), p.17;
  • ‘Jail, a University’, in Irish Citizen (10 Aug. 1912), p.95;
  • ‘The Duty of Suffragists’, in Irish Citizen (15 Aug. 1914) [q.p.];
  • ‘The Women’s Movement - Ireland’, in Irish Review, 2, 17 (July 1912), pp.225-27.
  • ‘Constance Markievicz and What She Stood for’, in An Phoblacht (16 July 1932), pp.7-8.
—All cited in Karen Margaret Steele, Women, Press, and Politics During the Irish Revival (Syracuse UP 2007), Notes [see extract].

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Criticism
  • Leah Levenson & Jerry H. Natterstad, Hanna Sheehy-Skeffinton: Irish Feminist (Syracuse UP 1986);
  • Maria Luddy, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington [Historical Association of Ireland; Life and Times ser., No. 5: ] (Dundalk: Dundalgan Press 1995), 63pp.;
  • Margaret Ward, Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington: Suffragist and Sinn Féiner (Dublin: Attic Press 1996), 329pp. [pb. 1997];
  • Margaret Ward, ‘Nationalism, Pacificism, Internationalism: Louie Bennett, Hanna-Sheehy Skeffington and the Problems of “Defining Feminism”’, in Gender and Sexuality in Modern Ireland, ed. Anthony Bradley & Maryann Gialanella Valiulis (Massachusetts UP 1997) [q.pp.];
  • Margaret Ward, Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington: A Life (Cork UP/Attic 1997), 392pp.
  • Bryan Fanning, ‘ James Connolly and Catholic nationalism’, in Histories of the Irish Future (London: Bloomsbury 2015), pp.151-68 [Chap. 10; partially available at Google Books - online].
Women’s Studies.
  • Ethel Mannin, Women and the Revolution (London: Secker & Warburg 1938), and Privileged Spectator (London: Jarrolds 1939);
  • C. L. Innes, ‘“A Voice in Directing the Affairs of Ireland”, L’Irlande libre, The Shan Van Vocht, and Bean na h-Eireann’, in Paul Hyland & Neil Sammells, eds., Irish Writing, Subversion and Exile (London: Macmillan 1991), pp.146-58. [on her contribution to Bean na h-Eireann]
  • 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);
  • Conor Cruise O’Brien, ‘My Time at Trinity College’, in The Recorder: Journal of the Irish American Historical Society, 13, 1 (Spring 2000), pp.7-37 [see extract], and O’Brien, Ancestral Voices, Religion and Nationalism in Ireland (Dublin: Poolbeg 1994) [ chiefly in connection with her espousal of the role of Republican widow after 1916 and her active part in the Plough and the Stars riot];
  • Joanne Mooney-Eichacker, Irish Republican Women in America: Lecture Tours 1916-1925 (Dublin: IAP 2003), xxii, 329pp.
  • Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, the most resistant writer of the lot [Alice Milligan, Anna Johnston, and Maud Gonne] distanced herself from the capitulating pressures of nationalist discourse about feminity by refusing to draw on the ethos of motherhood in militant suffrage debates. (p.16.)
See also
  • Lis Phil, ‘Fragments of Feminism in Hanna Sheehy Skeffington and Signe Toksvig’, in Fund og Forskning, Bind 40 (2001) - online; accessed 29.05.2014 [incls. photos of Hanna Skeffington, et al.
  • Karen Margaret Steele, Women, Press, and Politics During the Irish Revival (Syracuse UP 2007), 275pp. see extract].
Note: Lis Pihl (b.1930) died on 22 Feb. 2010.

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Commentary
Sean O’Casey, Inishfallen, Fare Thee Well (London: Macmillan 1949) [Chap., ‘Temple Entered’], giving account of public debate with Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, who he describes thus: ‘A very clever and a very upright woman … turned the dispute into an academic question because … she wished him to do the same.’ (pp.188; and see under Notes, infra.)

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Conor Cruise O’Brien, ‘My Time at Trinity College’, in The Recorder: Journal of the Irish American Historical Society, 13, 1 (Spring 2000), pp.7-37. O’Brien gives a full account of her personality and several episodes in which her republican nationalism was manifested; also tells of of tongue-lashing that he received from Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington as a child and another years later when he and Christine Foster accidentally set fire to a curtain, causing him to experience a ‘regression’ so that he could not answer back, and attributes the break-down of his marriage to Foster to this event. He further remarks, ‘Years later, when I readof Hanna’s shattering impacton Seán O’cAsey in the debate over The Plough and the Stars, I know exactly how O’Casey felt. I had been unnerved, at a critical moment in my life, just as he had been unnerved.’ (p.36.)

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Bernard Adams, Denis Johnston: A Life (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2002) [on The Treaty with the Barbarians, a provocatively-titled play by Gordon Campbell]: ‘The occasion was attended by the high priestesses of Irish nationalism, Maud Gonne, who brought along supporters - including Hanna Sheehy Skeffington - ready to create trouble if the temple were defiled. However, the play proved disappointingly unpolitical and no opportunities for protest presented themselves.’

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Karen Margaret Steele, Women, Press, and Politics During the Irish Revival (Syracuse UP 2007): ‘Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, the most resistant writer of the lot [Alice Milligan, Anna Johnston, and Maud Gonne] distanced herself from the capitulating pressures of nationalist discourse about feminity by refusing to draw on the ethos of motherhood in militant suffrage debates.’ (p.16; available at Google Books - online.)

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Quotations
Disillusion? ‘What a time we live in! Here we are rapidly becoming a Catholic statelet under Rome’s grip - censorship and the like. […] I have no belief in de Valera. Well-meaning, of course, better than Cosgrave, but really essentially conservative and church-bound, anti-feminist.’ (Quoted in Margaret Ward, Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, 1997; in Louise Ryan, review, Irish Studies Review, Aug. 1998, p.197.)

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Emancipation [on ‘the disabilities of Irish women suffer today’:] ‘The result of Anglicisation? This is partly true; much of the evil is, however, inherent in latter-day Irish life. Nore will the evil disappear, as we are assured, when Ireland comes [in]to her own again, whenever that may be. For until the women of Ireland are free, the men will not achieve emancipation.’ (Margaret Ward, In Their Own Voice: Women and Irish Nationalism, Attic Press 1995, q.p.; quoted in Marie Duffy, UU Diss., UUC 2007.)

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British myth: According to her foreword to the 4th edition, British Militarism As I Have Known It ‘disposes forever of the myth (widely circulated by British writers and military apologists) that the murder of Sheehy Skeffington was the isolated act of a demented British officer’. (See Abebooks - online; accessed 01.01.2015).

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Notes
Sean O’Casey: The Plough and the Stars riot was fomented by Hanna Sheehy Skeffington on the first [var. fourth] night, followed by a public debate with her in which O’Casey fumbled for his notes – events causing him to leave Ireland for London, 1926. On that occasion she accused him of insulting ‘the Ireland that remembers with tear dimmed eyes all that Easter week stands for’, to which he replied that ‘some of the men cannot even get a job’, and that Mrs Skeffington [‘]appears to be blind and deaf to all the things which are happening around her’ (1926; q. source.)

IWFL: [Francis] Skeffington founded the Irish Women’s Franchise League with Margaret Cousins in 1908 - a group that ‘from its inception harried the Irish Home Rule Bill.’ (See Margaret MacCurtain, ‘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, p.60.)

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