"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." ~Toni Morrison

Thursday, April 21, 2016

M is for Countess Markievicz

A to Z Challenge 2016:  Easter Rising of 1916
2016 is the 100 year anniversary of this important moment in Irish history.  Join me throughout the month of April for an A to Z of the Easter Rising of 1916.

A is About the Easter Rising
B is for Boland's Mill
C is for Cumann na mBan
D is for Dublin Castle
E is for Enniscorthy
F is for The Foggy Dew
G is for General Post Office (GPO)
H is for Henry Street
I is for the Irish Republican Brotherhood
J is for Jacob's Biscuit Factory
K is for Kilmainham Gaol
L is for Liberty Hall

M is for Countess Markievicz

Constance Gore-Booth was born in 1868 in London.  Her father was a philanthropist and a landlord in Ireland.  They lived in Sligo.  Constance became interested in Irish Nationalism and was inspired by William Butler Yeats, who later wrote a poem about her and her younger sister.  She married Count Casimir Dunin-Markievicz and became known as Countess Markievicz, although there is some debate as to whether she was an actual countess or not.
image source:  easter1916.ie

In 1903 she moved to Dublin and joined a number of nationalist groups.  She was appointed second-in-command at St. Stephen's Green during the 1916 Rising.  When the Countess surrendered, it is said that she kissed her revolver before handing it over to the British.  She was condemned to death after the rising, but the sentence was changed to life in prison because she was a woman.  She was later released from prison in 1917.

William Butler Yeats wrote this poem about the Countess and her younger sister:

In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markievicz

Related Poem Content Details

The light of evening, Lissadell,
Great windows open to the south,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.
But a raving autumn shears
Blossom from the summer's wreath;
The older is condemned to death,
Pardoned, drags out lonely years
Conspiring among the ignorant.
I know not what the younger dreams –
Some vague Utopia – and she seems,
When withered old and skeleton-gaunt,
An image of such politics.
Many a time I think to seek
One or the other out and speak
Of that old Georgian mansion, mix
Pictures of the mind, recall
That table and the talk of youth,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.

Dear shadows, now you know it all,
All the folly of a fight
With a common wrong or right.
The innocent and the beautiful
Have no enemy but time;
Arise and bid me strike a match
And strike another till time catch;
Should the conflagration climb,
Run till all the sages know.
We the great gazebo built,
They convicted us of guilt;
Bid me strike a match and blow.

W. B. Yeats, "In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markievicz" from The Winding Stair and Other Poems. Copyright © 1933 by W. B. Yeats.  Reprinted by permission of Scribner (Simon & Schuster, Inc.).

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