The Duty and Pleasure of Memory: Constance Markievicz
The year 2018 marks a hundred years since the proclamation of the Representation of the People Act and of the Qualification of Women Act by the UK Parliament. It also marks a hundred years since a woman – Constance Markievicz – was first elected in Westminster. A protagonist in the Irish fight for independence, serving almost five years in prisons in England and Ireland, Markievicz devoted her life to political and civil reforms. She became a member of the first Irish Parliament, and in 1919 was nominated Secretary for Labour, thus making also the first female Cabinet Minister in Europe. Women like her contributed to make history and were often the victors, but somehow became marginalised in official chronicles or went lost in the folds of time. Long trapped in the selective mechanisms of collective memory, these women are finally being acknowledged their fundamental role in the shaping of modern nations. Where Markievicz is concerned, the duty and pleasure of memory prompts the work of people engaged in reassessing and promoting her legacy. Two such examples are Olivia Crichton-Stuart, a great-great child of Markievicz’s, and Constance Cassidy-Walsh, since 2003 co-owner of Lissadell House, the Gore-Booths historical property, to which she and her family have since committed. What follows is an informal conversation with both.
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