The sight of the bright young kids from St Brigid’s school reenacting the suffragette ambush that took place on Greystones harbour exactly 108 years ago today would have brought a smile to the faces of Hilda Webb and Hanna Sheehy Skeffington.
Heck, it would have brought more than a few tears to the eye too.
It was on October 25th, 1910 when Ireland’s Chief Secretary, Augustine Birrell, had finally made his way out to Greystones to inspect our crumbling harbour, little suspecting that he was about to be at the receiving end of a different kind of pier pressure from two pioneering suffragettes.
Confronting Birrell over the fight for women’s rights, Hilda Webb and Hanna Sheehy Skeffington knew they were unlikely to be seen as welcome guests by many of those present. But they also knew the fight for equal rights was far greater than any personal humiliation or dismissal, and, as hoped, their shouts were heard all across the nation.
Even if The Irish Times did report on the incident the following day as little more than ‘an amusing scene’.
Talking to Rosemary Raughter from The Greystones Archaelogical & Historical Society in July, we covered much of what went on that day, and how much of an impact this confrontation had on the suffragette cause in this country – so, it’s hardly surprising that this is the smart lady behind a harbour plaque, commemorating this historical moment.
A plaque that should be an inspiration to a whole new generation of women.
You can check out that July 2018 interview here. In the meantime, you can revisit the day itself, as those wonderful boys and girls from St Brigid’s help us jump back in time…
You can find more insight into local suffragette movement in Rosemary Raughter’s December 2018 essay here.