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Updated: 13/04/18 : 07:38:11

'Voice of Women-100 years of achievement?’ at Lissadell

The Exhibition. Photo: Pamela Cassidy
Hundreds of invited guests arrived at Lissadell House this week to celebrate the opening of the ‘The Voice of Women — 100 years of achievement?’ exhibition.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin was there to officially open the exhibition and was accompanied by a host of of the party faithful.

The excellent exhibition marks the work of women, including Countess Markievicz and Eva Gore-Booth, for the emancipation of women through suffrage.

The displays also explores the actual achievements for the representation of women since Markievicz’s election as the first woman Member of Parliament in December 1918.

The omni-present owners Constance Cassidy and Eddie Walsh were bundles of energy as they welcomed guests, gave tours of the exhibition, served wine and food and still had time to chat to everyone.

Constance says the displays are a list of 100 inspirational women they felt had "shaped the Ireland we live in today" and includes writers, broadcasters, religious figures, artists, sportswomen, journalists, legal professionals, politicians, suffragettes and teachers.

Lissadell owners (l-r) Eddie Walsh and Constance Cassidy with Micheál Martin, Marc Mac Sharry TD, Cllr Tom Mac Sharry, Eamon Scanlon TD, Cllr Rosaleen O'Grady and Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council Seamus Kilgannon. Photo:

The exhibition also includes Constance's own mother, Eileen Cassidy, a former senator, entered with the caption 'homemaker, required to resign employment on marriage, 1958, appointed to the Senate, 1977, 1932-1995.

In her address Constance said, that for her and her husband Eddie Walsh, putting a question mark at the end of the exhibition title was extremely important.

“My husband insisted on putting the question mark there because he said, ‘Well what has been achieved? What have women achieved over the last 100 years?’

“So one has to look at pay gender discrimination, which is shocking, I blithely assumed, as a women in 2018, that everyone was paid equally.”

"Choosing just 100 women who have shaped this little country was a long and arduous task and there is talk of a ‘part two’ to include a further 100."

Bridie Durkin, (100 this year) with Nancy Farrell, Rosemary Walsh, Lissadell owner Eddie Walsh and Kathleen Walsh at the exhibition.

Three student girls from nearby Grange Post Primary School were delighted to see actress Saoirse Ronan included in the exhibition whom they see as an young contemporary inspiration.

Bridie Durkin, due to celebrate her 100th birthday was delighted to be back in Lissadell where she recalled many happy childhood memories on Lissadell beach.

          Micheál Martin (r) with Sligo County Council CEO Ciarán Hayes. Photo:

Micheál Martin in his address said, "The extraordinary beauty of this area remains as powerful as ever.  However we should never forget that Lissadell is a magical name in Irish history because of the spirit of the people associated with this house.

"The cause of the rights of women to be heard and to lead is one of the most important of these ideals and this is why this exhibition is so welcome.

"If you look back at the writing of most history – and not just Irish history – there is a tendency to present strong women as somehow eccentric and out of place.  This confuses the exceptional for the eccentric.

"The story of Eva and Constance trying to spark women’s suffrage agitation in the local community is a wonderful demonstration of their spirit."

Enjoying lunch on the day were (l-r); Ann Campbell, Gail McGibbon, Marian Scanlon, Lisa Chambers TD, Marie Kelly, Cllr Rosaleen O'Grady, Mary Carway and Cllr Marie Casserly.

"Little arrows'

Mr Martin continued, "Equally the dismissive attitude of the establishment is exposed in the words of Vanity Fair “if it amuses them and others I doubt if the tyrant has much to fear from their little arrows.”

"These little arrows, combined with the arrows of hundreds of thousands of other women throughout these islands ensured that twenty years later the right of many women to vote was finally enacted.

"Over the years there have been many debates where the condescending voice of Vanity Fair towards the Gore Booth sisters could easily fit in to the attitude of the system towards women’s voices."

The Kildare contingent included (l-r) Fionula McLoughlin TD, Marian Conlon, Yvonne Foley,
Marion Minivan and Mary Foran
. Photo:

Sligo Today editor, Ciarán McCarthy, pictured below, was honoured to see his Godmother, Helena Malony listed as one of the 100 women featured in the exhibition.
Ms Malony was a noted member of the Irish Citizen Army, fought in the 1916 Easter Rising and later became the second woman president of the Irish Trade Union Congress. As a labour activist, she was a close colleague of Countess Markievicz and of James Connolly, whose secretary she was for a time.
Along with her career as an actress, a member of the Abbey Theatre and a prominent member of Cumann na mBan, she found time to become  the editor of  the Inghinidhe na hÉireann (Daughters of Ireland) monthly newspaper, Bean na hÉireann.

Enjoying the day (l-r) were Ciara Chambers, Deirdre Healy-McGowan, mary Allen, Olive Brayden, Ethna Mac Sharry and Cllr Tom Mac Sharry. Photo:

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