Lissadell House and Gardens, Sligo, Ireland
EVA GORE BOOTH
Poet & Suffragist
1870 - 1926
Born at Lissadell in 1870, EVA GORE BOOTH, suffragist, artist and poet, was steadfastly devoted to her elder sister Constance Markievicz all her life, although she spent many years in Manchester working to alleviate the condition of working women. Letters to Eva from Constance were preserved by Eva’s long time companion and biographer, Esther Roper. Eva died some months before Constance, who was heartbroken.
Eva made this promise to her sister:
"We meet beyond earth's barred gate
where all the world's wild Rebels are"
(recited in the film Song for a Raggy Boy).
A Biography of Eva, written by Sonja Tiernan, published by Manchester University Press in April 2012, entitled:
Sonja Tiernan, Eva Gore-Booth: An Image of Such Politics
is the first dedicated biography of the radical Irish writer and political activist, Eva Gore-Booth. A vast body of material from private collections and state archives has been used to uncover this remarkable life history.
"This book illuminates the fascinating life of Eva Gore-Booth. Often lost in the shadow of her more famous sister, Constance, Eva finally emerges as a key figure. Historian Sonja Tiernan has written an exciting and vibrant life of this extraordinary woman, at once an intrepid feminist, pacifist and advocate for social justice." Professor Maria Luddy, University of Warwick
Born into West of Ireland Anglo-Irish landed gentry, Gore-Booth dramatically rejected her aristocratic heritage, choosing to live and work amongst the poorest classes in industrial Manchester. Her pioneering work on behalf of barmaids, circus performers, flower sellers and pit-brow lasses is traced here with clarity and enthusiasm. The story of Gore-Booth's life is captivating and provides new insights into key political issues of early twentieth century Ireland and Britain. A prolific author who enjoyed a place within W.B. Yeats' literary circle, Gore-Booth also fostered a well-deserved reputation as a determined and successful political activist, at one stage defeating no less an adversary than Winston Churchill. This ground-breaking book reveals Gore-Booth’s experiences of militant pacifism during the Great War, her campaign to reprieve Roger Casement's death sentence, her instrumental role in the fight for sexual equality in the English workplace and her unwavering struggle for Irish independence. Her close bond with her sister, Countess Markievicz, an iconic and sometimes divisive Irish nationalist, offers the reader a new dimension into Markievicz's personal life.
Comprehensive and engaging, this book establishes Eva Gore-Booth as a significant player in Irish and British politics and as a major figure in literary, women’s and trade union history.
Sonja Tiernan lectures in History at Liverpool Hope University and is Secretary of the Women’s History Association of Ireland.
Eva Gore Booth, painted by her sister Constance, Countess Markievicz
A gentle, spiritual and sympathetic person, Eva was always interested in expressing herself in poetry and drawing. The poet William Butler Yeats responded to her sympathetic nature by confiding in her his (unrequited) love for the beautiful Maud Gonne. He also encouraged her poetic aspirations, advising her that ‘whenever the feeling is weightiest you are at your best’.
Yeats was editing the works of English Poet William Blake at the time, and clearly influenced Eva’s reading. Her three volume copy of the work is now in the Yeats’ study at Lissadell. Eva’s first book of poetry was published in 1898. Many of Eva’s drawings, and beautiful editions of her poetry, are now on display in Lissadell.
Eva’s most beautiful poetry is of her childhood memories of Sligo:
The little waves of Breffny