NUI Galway Host Lecture on Historical Sisters

Monday, 21 March 2011

The NUI Galway Centre for Irish Studies will host a free public lecture on Tuesday, 29 March, in the Joseph Larmor Lecture Theatre, NUI Galway at 8pm. The lecture, 'Hanna and Her Sisters: The lives of Hanna Sheehy Skeffington and Margaret Sheehy Culhane Casey, as told by their granddaughters', will be a joint presentation delivered by NUI Galway Lecturer, Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, and Professor Dara Culhane, Simon Fraser University, Canada. While studying in the then Royal University in Dublin, Hanna became very aware of the lack of power given to women, specifically in relation to the vote. Joining various campaigns for votes for women, she finally co-founded the Irish Women's Franchise League with Margaret Cousins in 1908. She was imprisoned for suffrage activities and then, when her husband, Francis Sheehy Skeffington, was murdered in 1916, she was elected to tour the US to expose the truth behind this and campaign for Irish freedom. She returned in 1918 to serve on the Sinn Féin Executive. In the first presentation, Dr Sheehy Skeffington will give an account on aspects of Hanna Sheehy Skeffington's life, using archive photos and material housed in the National Library, Dublin. The second presentation, by Professor Culhane, is based on a reading of Margaret Sheehy Culhane Casey's letters to her sister, Hanna. An actress and elocutionist, Margaret lived in Montreal, Canada from 1922 to1939. Her letters home offer insights into Margaret herself, her life in Ireland and in Canada, and into the relationship between these two sisters. Speaking about the upcoming lecture, Mary Clancy of NUI Galway noted, "The personal and political lives of Hanna and Margaret Sheehy show in fascinating detail how early twentieth century Ireland tried to construct itself, in public and in private, as it strived to determine and to define a democratic and progressive national state."
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