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Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, Ireland
Constance Georgine Markievicz (Polish: Markiewicz [marˈkʲɛvitʂ]; née Gore-Booth; 4 February 1868 – 15 July 1927), known as Countess Markievicz, was the first woman MP elected (Sinn Féin, Dublin St Patrick) in 1918.
She was an Irish politician, revolutionary, nationalist, suffragist, socialist, the first woman elected to the Westminster Parliament, and was elected Minister for Labour in the First Dáil, becoming the first female cabinet minister in Europe. She served as a Teachta Dála for the Dublin South constituency from 1921 to 1922 and 1923 to 1927. She was a Member of Parliament (MP) for Dublin St Patrick's from 1918 to 1922. A founder member of Fianna Éireann, Cumann na mBan and the Irish Citizen Army, she took part in the Easter Rising in 1916, when Irish republicans attempted to end British rule and establish an Irish Republic. She was sentenced to death but this was reduced on the grounds of her sex. On 28 December 1918, she was the first woman elected to the UK House of Commons, though, being in Holloway Prison at the time and in accordance with party policy, she did not take her seat. Instead, she and the other Sinn Féin MPs (as TDs) formed the first Dáil Éireann. She was also one of the first women in the world to hold a cabinet position, as Minister for Labour, from 1919 to 1922.[a]
Constance Georgine Gore-Booth was born at Buckingham Gate in London in 1868, the elder daughter of the Arctic explorer and adventurer Sir Henry Gore-Booth, 5th Baronet, an Anglo-Irish landlord who administered a 100 km2 (39 sq mi) estate, and Georgina, Lady Gore-Booth, née Hill. During the famine of 1879–80, Sir Henry provided free food for the tenants on his estate at Lissadell House in the north of County Sligo in the north-west of Ireland. Their father's example inspired in Gore-Booth and her younger sister, Eva Gore-Booth, a deep concern for working people and the poor. The sisters were childhood friends of the poet W. B. Yeats, who frequently visited the family home Lissadell House, and were influenced by his artistic and political ideas. Yeats wrote a poem, "In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz", in which he described the sisters as "two girls in silk kimonos, both beautiful, one a gazelle" (the gazelle being Constance). Eva later became involved in the labour movement and women's suffrage in Great Britain, although initially Constance did not share her sister's ideals.
Markievicz died at the age of 59 on 15 July 1927, of complications related to appendicitis. She had given away the last of her wealth, and died in a public ward "among the poor where she wanted to be". One of the doctors attending her was her revolutionary colleague, Kathleen Lynn. Also at her bedside were Casimir and Stanislas Markievicz, Éamon de Valera and Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington. Refused a state funeral by the Free State government, she was buried at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, where de Valera gave the funeral oration. Seán O'Casey said of her: "One thing she had in abundance—physical courage; with that she was clothed as with a garment."
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