On St. Patrick’s Day, March the 17th, every woman in the world that wears green is an honorary citizen of Ireland! Below, you will find a few of the many women that I want to celebrate; these women, I want to stress, are authentically Irish. Sinead O’Connor is a successful singer and activist. Her hit record, “Nothing Compares 2U” was a huge international hit. Recently, she stated her belief that Pope Benedict’s best accomplishment was his retirement in 2013.
Enya: This talented musician, songwriter, and painter has sold the most records of any Irish artist. She is a native Irish speaker and her name is the closest English translation of her Irish name. Enya lives in a castle in Dublin.
There have been two women elected as President of Ireland. Mary Robinson was the first (1990-1997) followed by Mary McAleese in 1997. Both women are lawyers, and have taught as Law Professors.
When it comes to telling stories of ordinary Irish folk living out colourful lives in colourful villages, Maeve Binchy comes quickly to mind. This beloved Irish novelist died, at the age of 72, in Dubin in 2012.. Some of her books have been made into movies, and her novel Tara Road was a hot-seller on Oprah’s Book List.
It is difficult for a small country like Ireland, (population under 5 million), to win gold medals at Olympic Games, but two female athletes have accomplished this deed. Five medals have been earned by men. Michelle Smith was twenty-six years old when she dove into the pool at the 1996 Atlanta Games. She came home decorated with three gold medals!
Fast forward to the London Olympics in 2012, where the young female boxer, Kate Taylor, brought Irish folk from all parts of the country, and Europe together to cheer and watch her defeat a Russian for the Gold Medal.
Kate Taylor’s father was a boxer and he encouraged his sons to box. Kate asked for gloves and thanks to a loving and open-minded father, Kate brought a gold medal back to Ireland.
Well, who else can I celebrate on this day of “the wearing of the green”? Perhaps a saint, a warrior queen, a pirate, or a real freedom fighter who took up a gun. St. Brigid was a strong character in her own right. She was a friend of St. Patrick and so she deserves mention on St. Patrick’s Day. Her leadership and power allowed her to carry out a function that only bishops usually could perform, that of ordaining priests. Later, Rome took away that power of the Irish Church.
Queen Maeve, according to folklore, was a warrior queen. She is said to have been a goddess before men made her a mere mortal. Maeve in Irish Gaelic means “she who intoxicates”. (Good tie-in with Saint Paddy’s Day, and green beer!) I like this picture.
Freedom Fighter: Constance Markievicz: 1868-1927. This Irish woman married a Count and earned the popular title the “Countess of Irish Freedom.”
She took part in the Easter Rising of 1916, a bid for Irish independence from Great Britain. She was imprisoned in England after the Rising. She was elected to the British House of commons in 1918 becoming its first elected woman. (She, however, never took her seat, as an act of protest. Constance was also one of the first women in the world to hold a cabinet position. (Minister of Labour of the Irish Republic, 1919-22) She is known as a nationalist heroine, suffragette, labor activist and a patron of the arts.
And lastly, I celebrate the life of a pirate, Grace O’Malley, who lived between 1530 and 1603 when England was ruled by Henry VIII and later Queen Elizabeth I. Grace cut off all her hair after being told she could not go to sea because she was a woman. She was very successful in her trade and was accused of the crime of piracy. Being a member of the Irish royalty, Elizabeth I agreed to receive her in a private audience, and, subsequently, all charges were dropped. Elizabeth granted land to Grace on the condition she would not plunder any more English boats. The conversation between both queens was carried out in Latin, since Grace did not know English and Elizabeth could not converse in Gaelic.
Yes, I have chosen only a few women to celebrate on March 17, 2013. There are countless more Irish women whose accomplishments we could celebrate. I promise to do just that, on every St. Patrick’s Days to come. I’ll write of their fame, or perhaps, their shenanigans!
HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY