The glamorous "rebel countess" who became the first ever woman elected to the House of Commons: Countess Markievicz's road to the Dáil
No other Easter Rising participant was as well known nationally and internationally as Countess Constance Markievicz. Born into the Anglo-Irish ascendancy class, Constance Georgina Gore-Booth spent her childhood at Lissadell, her father's expansive estate in Co Sligo. Well-connected with a passion for art and theatre, she married a fellow artist, the Polish Count Casimir Dunin-Markievicz, in 1900. Their wide social network included poets, playwrights and advanced nationalists.
By 1911 Markievicz was a member of Sinn Féin and deeply committed to feminism, republicanism and socialism. She supported the striking workers during the 1913 lock-out and fought as an armed combatant with the Irish Citizen Army in St Stephen’s Green during the 1916 Rising. Her sentence of death commuted, served fourteen months in prison before the general amnesty of June 1917. Upon her release she was celebrated across Ireland and received the freedom of the city of Dublin.
Defiant, charismatic and one of the independence-movement’s most popular leaders, Markievicz was elected to the Sinn Féin executive in October 1917. She was simultaneously President of Cumann na mBan, a major in the Irish Citizen Army, Chief Scout of Fianna Éireann and the recognised spokeswoman for Labour. The Countess was back in prison at the time of the 1918 election but won over 65% of the votes and became the first woman elected to the House of Commons. On her release in March 1919, she took her seat in Dáil Éireann, becoming the first female TD and served as Minister for labour in the first Dáil Éireann government.