Woman’s Suffrage Meeting in Limerick (Jan 1913)

BBh4AFwCQAA5QrGA meeting on woman’s suffrage took place in the Town Hall  in Limerick on Thursday, 30th January 1913. The purpose of the meeting was to form a local branch of the Munster Women’s Franchise League. Despite the bad weather a large crowd was present, including Canon Langbridge, Miss Gibson, Thomas and Nora Ashe. According to a local reporter “in the hall passage a group of young men gathered” and they proceeded to tease the attendees as they filed into the chamber. It was also noted that as the suffragettes left the meeting they were “ironically cheered amid shouts of ‘You won’t get the Vote!'” by some sections of the crowd.

The principal speakers at the meeting were Miss Day and Mrs. Cowan (no first names were listed by the press)
Mrs. Cowan stressed that the Franchise League was non-militant and operated entirely outside of party politics.

“Every duty of responsible citizens was expected from women – yet the one thing which made citizenship real and alive, was denied to them. Those who told them that women were too precious and should be kept out of the dust path of party politics [were] the very men who got women to canvas for them at elections! (laughter) They were perfectly fit to get the vote for a man, but they could not vote for themselves. I agree that a woman’s duty began at home, but there were 1.25 million women who did not have husbands. The condition of women labour was very unsatisfactory and the worst employers of sweated labour were the Government.”

Miss Day then discussed how women were not legally recognised as ‘persons’, and that this aided their disfranchisement.

I have never found a lawyer sufficiently clever to tell me what a woman really is, if she is not a ‘person’.

Future IRA leader Michael Colivet (then of the AOH) questioned the speakers about their opposition to David Cleghorn Hogg, the Liberal candidate in Derry, and did this mean that they were now against Home Rule? Ms. Day replied that since neither Mr. Hogg nor Col. Pakenham would agree to support Women’s Suffrage, they did not canvas support for them. Michael Colivet then said that he was glad that the meeting “disassociated itself from the militant policy” and he bullishly added that

Irishmen required no argument on the question of women’s suffrage.

Echoing this hostility, the consistently anti-suffragette Limerick Leader afterwards reported that

a number of suffragettes had a “screech” at the town hall last night.

The paper then intimated that the woman’s suffrage movement in Ireland was possibly a Tory plot to undermine Home Rule.

Nationalists are not to be blamed for suspecting that there is a Tory plot underlying the agitation in this country for votes for women.

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