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Constance Georgine, Countess Markiewicz

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Countess Markiewicz

Constance Georgine Markiewicz (1868–July 1927), was an Irish politician and nationalist.

Born Constance Gore-Booth, the daughter of baronet and explorer Sir Henry Gore-Booth, she lived as a child at the Anglo-Irish family's ancestral home, Lissadell House in County Sligo. Constance and her sister, Eva Gore-Booth, were close friends of the poet W. B. Yeats who frequently visited the house, and were influenced by his artistic and political ideas.

Constance studied art at the Slade School in London and then in Paris, where in 1893 she met and married Polish artist Count Casimir Markiewicz. They settled in Dublin in 1903, where she became involved in radical politics through the suffragette movement and in the Irish nationalist movement, joining Sinn F驮 in 1908, and founding the militant nationalist boy scouting movement Fianna ɩreann in 1909.

In 1913 her husband moved to the Ukraine and never returned. Shortly thereafter she joined James Connolly's Irish Citizen Army (ICA), and, though a member of the landed gentry, she devoted herself to the cause of socialism. As a member of the ICA she took part in the 1916 Easter Rising and was sentenced to death by the British government. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and she was released under the amnesty of 1917.

In the December 1918 General Election, while in prison, Markiewicz was elected for the constituency of Dublin St Patrick's as one of 73 Sinn F驮 MPs. This made her the first woman elected to the House of Commons. However, in line with Sinn F驮 policy, she declined to take her seat on release from prison in 1919. Instead she joined her colleagues assembled in Dublin as the first incarnation of Dᩬ ɩreann, a new Irish Parliament. She was re-elected to the Second Dᩬ in the House of Commons of Southern Ireland elections of 1921.

Markiewicz served in as Minister for Labour from April 1919 to Jan 1922, in the Second Ministry and the Third Ministry of the Dᩬ. Holding cabinet rank from April to August 1919, she became the first Irish female Cabinet Minister. She held this record until 1979 when Mᩲe Geoghegan-Quinn was apointed to the then junior cabinet post of Minster for the Gaeltacht.

Markiewicz left government in January 1922 along with Eamon de Valera and others in opposition to the Treaty. She fought actively for the republican cause in the Irish Civil War, and joined Fianna Fᩬ on its foundation in 1926. She was not elected in the Irish General Election of 1922 but was re-elected in the 1923 and June 1927 elections. She died in July 1927 after a short illness.

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