An Post has chosen to commemorate Women in Public Life with a unique mini collection of 4 stamps and a first day cover. Each of the women featured in the collection have made monumental contributions to the progress of womens liberties in Irish society and deserve to be remembered as we celebrate International Womens Day today.
Jennie Wyse Power (nee O’Toole) (1858-1941) played a prominent role in Irish politics for more than 40 years. She was aptly described as ‘one of the most formidable and under-estimated women in nationalist history’ by historian Ann Matthews in her book, ‘Renegades: Irish Republican Women 1900-1922’,
Jennie O’Toole was born in Baltinglass in 1958 to Edward O’Toole and Mary Norton. The youngest of 7 children born to the West Wicklow family, she was just 2 years old when they relocated to Dublin.
It wasn’t until 1881 and with both of her parents dead that Jennie opted to join the newly formed Ladies Land League, an organisation set up to protect & support tenant farmers. Indeed, it was likely that her involvement in the Land League led her to meet her husband, John Wyse Power who had been arrested in Baltinglass for Land League activities that year.
Over the years, Jennie became more and more embroiled in both political and family life and yet still managed to hold a number of high profile positions whilst looking after her family.
She held leading roles in Cumann na mBan, Dublin Women’s Suffrage Association, Women’s Franchise League, Ladies’ Land League, served as vice-president of Sinn Fein and was a member of Seanad Éireann from 1922 to 1936.
The stamp set also includes 3 other indomitable women: Mary Robinson, Thekla Beere and Hon Justice Susan Denham.
Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson (b.1944) has achieved international recognition as a human rights campaigner and climate change activist. A senator from 1969-1989, she later served as United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and was appointed Chair of The Elders in November 2018.
Thekla Beere (1901–1991) was the first woman to serve as Government Department Secretary. In 1959, she was appointed to the highest-ranking post in the Department of Transport and Power. She joined the Civil Service in 1924, retired in 1967 but later chaired the Commission on the Status of Women.
The Hon Justice Susan Denham (b. 1945) was the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court in 1992 and the first woman Chief Justice (2011-2017). She was the longest serving member of the Supreme Court when she retired. Called to the Bar in 1971, she became a Senior Counsel in 1987 and High Court Judge in 1991.
Debbie Byrne, Managing Director, An Post Retail said: “The Women in Public Life stamp series celebrates women who are change makers in their own lifetime. Whether through their service to public life or their determined focus on social justice, the stamps capture the career achievements of these women in living their purpose to improve the lives of others in Ireland and globally.”
“With International Women’s Day on 8th March, it’s a great time to send a note or letter to a woman who has inspired us or supported us along the way.”