Friday 22 September 2017

Grand-daughter to recreate Sheehy Skeffington US tour

Hanna Sheehy Skeffington with her husband Francis on their wedding day
Hanna Sheehy Skeffington with her husband Francis on their wedding day
Claire Murphy

Claire Murphy

An Irish activist is recreating her grandmother Hanna Sheehy Skeffington's 1917 journey across the US, where she helped spread the word about the battle for Ireland's independence.

Revolutionary hero and pacifist Francis Sheehy Skeffington had been shot without trial by a British firing squad in Easter week 1916.

A year later, his widow, Hanna, escaped to the United States under a false passport and delivered powerful speeches across the country, exposing the truth about her husband's death and Ireland's fight for independence.

She spoke to capacity crowds from New York to San Francisco.

Micheline Sheehy Skeffington
Micheline Sheehy Skeffington

Now the couple's grand-daughter, Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, will bring the historic tour back to life.

Starting in September, Micheline, a plant ecologist who lives just outside Galway, will travel by ship to New York. She will locate the recording of the false names of Hanna and her son Owen (Micheline's father) when they were registered at Ellis Island.

She will then travel on to the archive section of Carnegie Hall, where Hanna gave her first speech on January 6, 1918.

From there, she will travel to Boston, Chicago and St Louis.

Micheline will be accompanied on the epic journey by a documentary crew and the footage will become part of a new film 'Hanna and Me: Passing on the Flame'.

"Both my grandparents were prominent feminists and Hanna is well known in Ireland for her suffrage activities," said Micheline, who recently took early retirement from NUI Galway.

"But her political career and her contribution to the Irish struggle for independence are largely forgotten, possibly in part because she was a woman.

"This is why I want to give as much publicity as I can to her epic journey 100 years ago."

The film will look at the fight for human rights from 1917 to 2017 through the lives of one family in Ireland along with the support of Irish-Americans.

An online fundraising drive has been started.

Irish Independent

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