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Constance Georgine Markievicz, also known as Countess Markievicz and Madame Markievicz, was a prominent figure in Irish politics, renowned for her revolutionary fervor, commitment to nationalism, and advocacy for women’s rights. Born Constance Gore-Booth in 1868 in London to an Anglo-Irish landlord family, she was deeply influenced by her father’s example of providing aid to tenants during the famine and her interactions with notable figures like W.B. Yeats. Initially drawn to art, she later transitioned into politics, joining the suffrage movement and nationalist organizations.

Markievicz’s political journey began with her involvement in suffrage activities and nationalist circles in Ireland. She joined Sinn Féin and became a founding member of Iníon na hÉireann, a women’s movement. Her theatrical flair and dedication to causes like suffrage garnered attention, as seen in her flamboyant campaigning against Winston Churchill’s election in 1908.

In 1909, she founded Fianna Éireann, a nationalist scouting organization, despite initial resistance due to her gender. Markievicz’s activism extended to various spheres, including supporting workers during the 1913 lock-out and running soup kitchens for impoverished children.

Her pivotal role came during the Easter Rising of 1916, where she fought alongside the Irish Citizen Army. Markievicz’s leadership and bravery during the Rising, notably in St. Stephen’s Green, showcased her commitment to Irish independence. Despite her capture and subsequent imprisonment, she remained resolute in her convictions.

Markievicz’s political career continued to ascend post-Rising. In 1918, she was elected as a Sinn Féin MP, becoming the first woman elected to the UK House of Commons. However, adhering to Sinn Féin’s abstentionist policy, she did not take her seat, opting instead to participate in the formation of the first Dáil Éireann.

Her significance transcended gender boundaries when she became the Minister for Labour in the new Irish government, marking her as Europe’s second female cabinet minister. Markievicz played a crucial role in labor disputes and welfare initiatives, championing the rights of workers.

The Irish Civil War saw Markievicz siding with the anti-Treaty faction. Despite her opposition to the Anglo-Irish Treaty, she remained steadfast in her dedication to the Republican cause, participating actively in resistance efforts. After the war, she aligned herself with Fianna Fáil, further solidifying her commitment to Irish republicanism.

Tragically, Markievicz’s life was cut short in 1927 due to complications from appendicitis. Denied a state funeral, she was mourned by thousands who admired her courage and dedication to the Irish cause. Eamon de Valera delivered her funeral oration, emphasizing her legacy as a fearless patriot.

Constance Markievicz’s legacy endures as a symbol of Irish nationalism, feminism, and social justice. Her multifaceted contributions to politics, arts, and activism cement her status as one of Ireland’s most iconic figures, remembered for her unwavering commitment to freedom and equality.

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Welcome to the Stair Wars Blog. I'll be posting more in-depth profiles of each of the thirty six people featured in my Stair Wars game here. Thanks for visiting.

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Blood of the Wolf is set during the 1651 siege of Galway. It was the last act of the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. Galway was the final stronghold of Irish Catholic forces in the country and it fell during this siege, marking the end of organized resistance against the Parliamentarian conquest. It also marked the end of the political power of the Tribes of Galway.

Leading the English Parliamentarians was Charles Coote, an English settler who had previously commanded Parliamentarian forces in the northwest of Ireland during the Irish Confederate Wars. The garrison in Galway consisted of Irish Confederate soldiers under Thomas Preston, many of whom had arrived in the city after an unsuccessful defense of Waterford. For my purposes, I invented Sir William Blake as the main Galway military leader.

During the 1640s, the citizens of Galway invested in extensive modern fortifications, making the city challenging to assault. The splendour of these fortifications is captured in the famous 17th century pictorial map of Galway.

Situated between Galway Bay to the south, Lough Corrib to the northwest, and Lough Atalia to the east, the city’s geographic layout further impeded direct attacks. Any assault would be confined to a narrow corridor to the north, allowing the defenders to concentrate their firepower. Recognising this, Coote chose to blockade the city upon his arrival in August 1651, rather than launching a direct assault. He established siege lines between Lough Atalia and Lough Corrib and stationed a Parliamentary fleet in Galway Bay to cut off supplies and reinforcements from reaching the city. However, Galway remained open to the west, where Irish general Richard Farrell quartered 3,000 additional troops in Connemara.

In November 1651, after the fall of Limerick, Henry Ireton, the Parliamentarian commander in Ireland, prioritized the capture of Galway. He reinforced Coote and intensified the blockade. Soon after, Ireton, Oliver Cromwell’s son-in-law, died of the plague. The siege endured for another seven months before Galway surrendered. Ulick Burke, the 1st Marquess of Clanricarde, who was nominally the supreme commander of the Irish Catholic forces, attempted to gather an army in Jamestown, County Leitrim, to relieve Galway. However, few of the demoralised Irish forces across the country responded to his call. In March, a conference of Irish officers in Galway, including Clanricarde, opted to initiate negotiations for surrender terms.

Eventually, Thomas Preston, the military governor of Galway, agreed to surrender the city on May 12, 1652. Food shortages and an outbreak of bubonic plague had made his position untenable. Coote allowed Preston to leave Ireland with most of his troops and join the Spanish service. The Parliamentarians generally respected the lives and property of the citizens of Galway, but the Catholic merchant families, known as the “Tribes of Galway,” were heavily fined and excluded from the municipal government. It was the end of an era and the city entered a long decline in wealth and importance.

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