Famous Irish Mothers
Mother’s Day isn’t far off, so it is time to celebrate the women who made us who we are today. Mothers today are often shouldering a huge amount of work, especially when you add supervising distance learning for their children into the mix. They are heroes! And they deserve all the love, cups of tea, cards and Irish gifts they get.
Ireland has an incredible tradition of strong women leaders from the days of the pirate queen Grace O’Malley to the present. In honor of Mother’s Day, it is time to shine a spotlight on a handful of them who were also mothers.
Famous Irish Mothers – Lady Jane Francesca Wilde, Writer & Activist
Before Oscar Wilde uttered his first word, his mother was an important figure in Dublin’s literary and political circles. She published controversial pro-independence editorials under the pseudonym Speranza. Lady Wilde was also a very respected folklorist, and her writings were critical to preserving Irish folk tales and beliefs.
She was a very progressive mother and allowed her children to attend the gatherings she hosted in the family home on Merrion Square where they heard lively debates on social and political issues of the day.
Famous Irish Mothers – Countess Constance Markiewicz, Political & Military Leader
The first woman elected to the British parliament, Markiewicz refused to take her seat because she did not recognize the right of the British to rule Ireland. When she was elected to the first Dail Eireann, she couldn’t take her seat because she was in jail for her political activities.
She went on to become the Minister for Labour in the newly independent Ireland. Markiewicz joined the Easter Rising of 1916 when her only child, a daughter, was a teenager. She also played an important role in feeding Dublin’s hungry children during all of the upheaval of the strikes and the rising. Her husband had returned to Ukraine in 1913 when their daughter was 12.
Famous Irish Mothers – Maureen O’Hara, Actress
This star’s feistiness was no act. Maureen O’Hara did most of her own stunts, which was just one of the many ways she was unlike typical Hollywood starlets of the time. Her string of Hollywood classics is well known, including The Quiet Man, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, How Green Was My Valley and Miracle on 34th Street. O’Hara married three times and had one child, a daughter, with her second husband. She and her third husband lived in the Virgin Islands, where they owned a local airline. After he died, O’Hara returned to Ireland.
Famous Irish Mothers – Mary McAleese, Academic, Barrister & Former President of Ireland
Ireland’s second woman president has an impressive legal resume that includes teaching criminal law at Trinity College Dublin, being the first woman to serve as pro-vice-chancellor at Queens University Belfast and holding a doctorate in canon law.
A member of the Council of Women World Leaders, she is dedicated to human rights and a strong LGBTQ advocate. She has three grown children, one of whom is gay. Some might assume her advocacy for LGBTQ equality stems from an instinctive drive to protect her child, but in fact, she was a driving force in decriminalizing homosexuality in Ireland before he was born.
Famous Irish Mothers – Sonia O’Sullivan, Track & Field Athlete
She brought home the silver for Ireland in the 2000 Olympics, and she’s earned an impressive number of gold medals in other competitions including the World Championships, World Cross Country Championships and the European Championships. In 2012, she carried the Olympic torch when it traveled through Ireland. One of Ireland’s most popular athletes, she has two daughters, one of whom is running in her footsteps as a competitive runner.
This is our list of famous Irish mothers, who else would you add into the mix?
Every mother is a hero to her own children, and these famous Irish mothers are heroes to women everywhere. How will you celebrate your mother on Mother’s Day? What Irish gifts would she love to receive?