The legacy of Constance Markievicz and her sister Eva Gore-Booth were remembered at a conference at Lissadell House in Sligo on Saturday.
As part of the ‘Revolution and Remembrance’ conference, academics from around the world gathered to discuss Constance Markievicz’s contribution to Irish freedom.
Held at the birthplace of the Gore-Booth sisters, nestled on the Sligo coast, Lissadell House was abuzz with historians, locals, and visitors from as far as the United States to acknowledge the crucial role of women in the 1916 Rising.
Men and women paraded in handmade uniforms; bright Cumann na mBan and Irish Republic flags draped on the walls; and black and white portraits hung from every corner, emphasising the time that has passed since Constance Markievicz roamed the green fields of Lissadell, but also what little time at all.
Opening the Sligo Field Club conference, chairperson and journalist Olivia O’Leary branded the government of the day “petty” for not granting Constance Markievicz a state funeral upon her death in 1927.
“She probably swashbuckled a bit too much with a gun in her hand,” nodded Ms O’Leary, “but she staked a claim for all of us in the founding of the State.”
After the centenary of the Easter Rising this year, archeologist and researcher Dr Laura McAtackney considered the idea of celebration versus commemoration, why women were not recognised in their own right but instead as wives and mothers, and looked at how cities have since tied themselves to particular leaders, for example Belfast to James Connolly and Dublin to Pádraig Pearse. She declared: “There’s a politics in what we remember and what we forget”.
UCD lecturer in women’s history, Dr Mary McAuliffe, said women were “pushed back into the home” in the years following the Rising and this led to their contribution being airbrushed from history.
“How far have we come? For many, not far enough,” she claimed.
The conference continues until Sunday.
All photos copyright of Marése O’Sullivan.
Have you been to Lissadell House, or would you like to visit? Let me know in the comments!