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Women in History

It's important to note that below I have given merely a snippet of each of these amazing women's lives. You can learn more from any internet search or from our podcast 'This is Familiar' which you can find on Spotify and ITunes.


Marie Louise O’Morphi 1736-1815

Royal Mistress

Discovered in 1751 by Casanova, and later lover to his friend  the artist Francois Boucher who painted her obsessively. At age 17 she met King Louis XV of France who was instantly captivated by her. She became his mistress and over the coming years...........

Kit Cavanagh 1677-1739


When Kit’s Husband, Richard Walsh, disappeared in 1692 without warning or explanation, Kit was then pregnant with their 3rd child and distraught.

She searched for a year and then received a letter from Richard explaining he had been in Holland! He had gotten blind drunk the night of this disappearance, woken in Holland, and was forcibly conscripted to fight for King William III against the French!

Kit put her children in her mothers care, cut off her hair, dressed as a man and enlisted.......


Dr. Kathleen Lynn 1874-1955

One of the first female doctors in Ireland


In 1909 she became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Kathleen was also a suffragist, a labour rights activist and a nationalist. She tended hunger striking suffragists in 1912 in their fight for the vote. She joined the ICA in 1913 and by 1916 she was made captain and Chief Medical Officer, she even collected and transported weapons in her car! During the 1916 Easter Rising, Kathleen set up a casualty station in City Hall. After the officer in charge of City Hall was killed, Kathleen and his fiancé defended the location through the night under heavy fire......

Grace O’Malley ~ Granuaile c.1530-1603



In 1584 her lands were confiscated and her oldest son was murdered and she and her remaining family became destitute. Grace was forced to write to Queen Elizabeth asking for what she was entitled to under Brehon Law from both her husband’s estates.  Granuaile later sailed a ship to England, up the river Thames and demanded and audience with the Queen which was granted. In the meeting both women spoke in Latin, as Grace didn’t speak English and Elizabeth didn’t speak Irish. Grace was given back her property and her son was released.......

Margaret Leeson (Peg Plunkett) 1727-1797


At age 57 Peg set up her own brothel in Pitt Street and employed only the best women to serve her high class clientele, including the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Her ‘house of  ill repute’ became notorious throughout Ireland and enjoyed huge success. Her girls dressed in sophisticated fashions and were able to hold their own in political conversations. Business boomed with Pegs clients including some of Ireland’s most prolific men of the day. Her wealth and notoriety  soared for the next few years.........

Dr. Emily Winifred Dickinson 1866-1944

First woman Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (FRCSI)

Emily Winifred Dickinson came up against gender discrimination countless times in an effort to simply to the job she loved. In 1887 she applied and was accepted to the Royal College of Surgeons, where she was the only woman student. After obtaining her certificate in 1891, she trained in midwifery in the Rotunda. In 1893 she graduated and was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (FRCSI).Over the years, Emily lectured and published papers on gynaecology, and organised a committee to help women students in Dublin with accommodation. She completed two post graduate degrees in medicine and obstetrics......

Anna Haslam 1829-1922

Pioneering feminist

In 1876 Anna and her husband founded the Dublin Women’s Suffrage Association (DWSA).  Anna held meetings to raise awareness and wrote to those in power including MPs. In the 1890s Anna campaigned for the right for women to be elected ‘Poor Law Guardians’, a local Government job. Her victory led to women being voted onto local councils. However, women could still not vote for national Government.......

Anna voted for the first time in a national election aged 90 in 1918 having spent more than fifty years fighting for women’s rights.

Queen Maeve (Maebh) of Connaught c. 50BC-50AD

Queen/Celtic Goddess

Maeve's most told story is that of the cattle raid of Cooley. While arguing with her husband about who had the most wealth, it turned out he out did her by just a white bull. In order to be on equal terms, Maeve raised an army and rampaged across the country to take the magnificent brown bull in Ulster by force. Her armies took on Cuchulainn in the fight. Some say she lived to be 120. She is buried upright on top of Knocknarea facing her enemies in Ulster.......

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