Transatlantic Subversive? Irish Nationalist and Feminist Hanna Sheehy Skeffington’s American Lecture Tours: 1916-1923
Virtual lecture by Professor Elizabeth McKillen, University of Maine
In 1916, a rebellion against British rule broke out in Ireland. Suffragist Hanna Sheehy Skeffington did not initially participate in the rebellion because she believed that gaining the vote for women took precedence over Irish independence. But when British troops arrested her pacifist husband and executed him without trial, Sheehy Skeffington became a leading voice of the Irish nationalist movement and travelled to the United States to win financial support for the rebels. She proved a wildly popular lecturer and soon made friends not just within the Irish-American community, but among leading American women suffragists and labor activists. When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, intelligence agents became concerned she was undermining support for the U.S. war effort and radicalizing American women already clamoring for women’s suffrage. American suffragists, by contrast, welcomed her as a sister in the struggle.
This lecture will trace Sheehy Skeffington’s lecture tour and activities in the United States, and suggest their importance in politicizing American women on the eve of winning the vote. It will highlight the transnational connections among women suffragists.
Presented by Bangor Public Library and Bangor Celtic Crossroads
Sponsored by the Maine Humanities Council