What women thought

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Daniel O’Connell addressing a Repeal meeting. Note the women in the gallery above, a designated female space. (NLI)

Daniel O’Connell addressing a Repeal meeting. Note the women in the gallery above, a designated female space. (NLI)

If it is possible to detect a new politicisation of women in Ireland during the O’Connellite era, to what extent is this manifest in the views expressed by women? It is clear from the statements of the women supporters that they were politically aware and knowledgeable about the specific demands of the Catholic Emancipation and Repeal campaigns. A striking feature of the statements is also the absence of any apology for the women’s participation in public affairs. In one of the earliest printed letters, Emily McNevin, on behalf of a group of women in Loughrea, Co. Galway, wrote of her ‘enthusiastic zeal for civil and religious liberty’ and explained that O’Connell had convinced her and the other women that ‘our cause is the cause of justice’. The group presentations during the Repeal campaign also outlined the political views of the women. A letter from Bridget Teresa Scully on behalf of women in Limerick denounced the decline in the Irish economy as a consequence of the Union and expressed the hope that Ireland would soon have its own parliament restored in Dublin. In Kilkenny the women subscribers noted their detestation of the Union, which they believed had ‘branded slavery on our nation’.

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