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'Vanity Fair' sneered at Markievicz's feminist efforts

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Countess Markievicz

Countess Markievicz

Eva Gore Booth

Eva Gore Booth

Vanity Fair article

Vanity Fair article

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Countess Markievicz

She was one of the leading figures in the fight for Irish independence - but, in her lifetime, Constance Markievicz faced the sneers of London high society for her efforts to promote the rights of women.

In December 1896, the Sligo-born revolutionary, along with her sister Eva Gore-Booth, were pilloried in a London publication, 'Vanity Fair'.

The periodical was known as the cream of the period's "society magazines" and is best remembered for its witty prose and caricatures of men - and occasionally women - of privilege.

The magazine closed in 1914 and is not related to the American magazine 'Vanity Fair' of today.

"In the far-away regions of Co Sligo, amongst the wives and daughters of the farmers and fishermen, the three pretty daughters of Sir Henry Gore-Booth are creating a little excitement (not to say amusement) by their efforts for the emancipation of their sex," the article says.

It goes on to sneeringly describe how the Gore-Booths, "supported by a few devoted yokels", had held Suffragette meetings with speeches that were "eloquent, (un-) conventional, and (non-) convincing".

"They are used to striking out a line for themselves in more senses than one; for Miss Gore-Booth has already distinguished herself as a lady steeplechaser and public oratory is their new toy," it says.

The archived article was posted on Twitter by the owners of Lissadell House, the Gore-Booths' old home in Sligo, to mark International Women's Day, noting how the sisters were dismissed as "air-heads" by the London periodical.

The 'Vanity Fair' article goes on to say that the sisters "make a pretty picture on the platform", but adds: "It is not women of their type who need to assert themselves over Man. However it amuses them - and others; and I doubt if the tyrant has much to fear from their little arrows."

British soldiers, against whom Countess Markievicz bravely went on to fight while second-in-command of the Irish Citizen Army at St Stephen's Green during the 1916 Rising, would no doubt have begged to differ.

Irish Independent