Celebrate International Women’s Day with these inspiring Wicklow women through history

Celebrating women

International Women’s Day offers us a chance to reflect on the great accomplishments of women throughout history and in the modern age, while also reflecting on the history of women’s rights and the work that still needs to be done.

And while International Women’s Day is as important today as it was when the tradition began in the early 20th century, the aims and goals of women’s rights groups have evolved over time and have developed a more intersectional framework – meaning that there is still much work to be done for women of all backgrounds.

Some of the core goals of today’s movement include increasing women’s influence in politics, encouraging women to enter into STEM careers, and curbing violence against women overall.

While women’s representation in the Dáil has increased since 2018, women still only make up around 23%, or 1 in 4.

In more recent statistics, only 16% of female students had been encouraged to study in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) courses.

And sadly, 6% of women have experienced domestic violence, with 31,229 calls made to Women’s Aid in 2022.

So while there is still very much to be done in terms of creating fair conditions for women to thrive in our society, it can be heartening to look to women from our past and our present for inspiration when tackling these issues head-on.

And though you could write a series of books on the amount of Wicklow women who have made a difference in the world, we have compiled a list to get you started. Women from our past and women from our present who have shaped the world we live in for the better.

Fanny Parnell

Fanny, known as The Patriot Poet, was a poet whose work dealt with Irish nationalism and brimming with the pride of home. She used her writing to discuss her contempt for the injustices done to the Irish by both the British and the land-owning class (A class she belonged to, but nonetheless despised). She was born in Avondale in 1848, and she published much of her work in The Irish People and then, later, The Boston Pilot. She wrote a pamphlet called The Hovels of Ireland where she outlined the various injustices done unto the Irish working class. She was also heavily involved in the Ladies’ Land League, an organisation that fought on the behalf of poor tenant farmers.

Máirín Cregan

While she was born in Kerry, Máirín Cregan made Wicklow her home when she moved to Delgany after a life made busy through her tireless political work as a member of Cumann na mBan. She participated in the 1916 rising by smuggling weapons to Tralee in an ultimately tragic and fruitless mission where a car carrying some volunteers went off the edge of a cliff. She also participated in the Irish War of Independence for which she received a medal. Cregan wrote for the Irish Press and the Sunday Press as a journalist and dedicated the remaining years of her life to writing children’s books and plays.

Averil Deverell

Averil Deverell, who grew up in Greystones, was one of the first two women barristers in Ireland and Great Britain. She studied in Trinity College Dublin starting in 1911, just six years after the university began accepting women. She drove an ambluance in France during the World War 1, and her brave participation allowed her an exemption of the full requirements needed to become a barrister. Deverell and Frances Kyle were the first two women called to the bar on the 1st of November 1921, with both women making international headlines in doing so. She went on to become the first woman to achieve many feats within the Irish courts system, including being the first to attend The Supreme Court and the first female barrister to appear before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Katie Taylor

Known to many today as Ireland’s most beloved sportsperson, Katie Taylor’s career is one that will go down in the history books for her continual dedication to her craft, her long list of athletic accomplishments, and the class and dignity which she brings to the sport of boxing. Growing up in Bray, Taylor’s early exposure to boxing and football prepared her for the shining career that we are now watching unfold. Her amateur career as a boxer began when she was just 12-years-old, and she would go on to collect world boxing championships all over globe, including gold at the Summer Olympics in 2012. Her professional career began in 2016 and has seen her become an undisputed champion with 23 victories to 1 loss. She will fight again this coming May at the 3Arena, though her opponent has yet to be announced.

Elaine Cassidy

Elaine Cassidy is an Irish actress from Kilcoole whose career has seen her collect many awards and nominations for best actress in films and TV shows such as The Sun, the Moon and the Stars, Disco Pigs, Harper’s Island, and for her career overall as Most Promising International Talent for Ireland. She has been as prolific on the stage as she has before the camera, appearing in theatrical favourites such as The Crucible, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, and Les Liaisons Dangereuses. She also appeared in the music video for Coldplay’s “The Scientist”.

But great women aren’t just politicians, actors, or athletes; they’re mothers, wives, friends, healthcare workers, artists, teachers, carers, and more. They work in shops, hotels, pubs, libraries, and offices all over the country.

There simply isn’t enough time to cover all of the great women to come from our county, so why not tell us in the comments about someone you know or someone close to you who has made a difference in the world, or even just in your life.

Happy Interntional Women’s Day

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