While we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I’m reminded about some inspiring Irish women I discovered on a recent trip to Dublin.

While they aren’t saints, they have certainly earned their place in the rich heritage of Irish culture and can teach their American sisters a few lessons in activism.

If you’re ever in Ireland, stop by Glasnevin Cemetery, one of my favorite places.

In addition to seeing some of the most elaborate Celtic crosses, you’ll encounter the grave of Constance Markievicz , a woman whose elegance didn’t get in the way of her tenacity and relentless pursuit for women’s suffrage. William Butler Yeats would describe Constance in her youth as “a beautiful gazelle,” and throughout her life she leaped over many hurdles in the political jungle. 

She was the first woman elected to the U.K. House of Commons in 1918. She would also become one of the first women to hold a cabinet position as Minister for Labour until 1922.

A vocal proponent of women’s suffrage, Markiewicz put her glamour and sense of flair to good use: she theatrically  drove a carriage with four white horses through town, prompting a male critic to ask her if she would cook dinner. 

"Yes,” she responded. “Can you drive a coach and four?”

Her approach to clothes while protesting was equally saucy: “Dress suitably in short skirts and strong boots, leave your jewels in the bank and buy a revolver."

Another Glasnevin lady is Maude Gonne, revolutionary, actress, and renowned muse of Yeats. Gonne dedicated her life to Irish nationalism, and fiercely protested the British, including Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

In 1938, she cheekily titled her memoir, A Servant of the Queen, in reference to her “queen,” the mythical Irish heroine,  Cathleen Ni Houlihan.

Not far away from the graves of Gonne and Markievicz, is Kitty Kiernan, the fiancée of Michael Collins, the legendary chairman of the Irish Provisional Government.

Collins was assassinated in 1922, four months before their wedding.

She would later marry, and name her son after Collins, who also was laid to rest to rest at Glasnevin.


Photo By Stephanie Green