Helena Concannon

Helena Concannon (née Walsh; 28 October 1878 – 27 February 1952) was an Irish historian, writer, language scholar and Fianna Fáil politician.

Helena Concannon
Senator
In office
1938–1952
ConstituencyNational University of Ireland
Teachta Dála
In office
1933–1937
ConstituencyNational University of Ireland
Personal details
Born
Helena Walsh

28 October 1878
Maghera, County Londonderry, Ireland
Died27 February 1952(1952-02-27) (aged 73)
NationalityIrish
Political partyFianna Fáil
Spouse(s)Tomás Bán Ó Conceanainn
Alma materRoyal University of Ireland
National University of Ireland
ProfessionHistorian, writer, language scholar

Born in Maghera,[1] County Londonderry, she attended secondary school in Dublin in Loreto North Great Georges Street and Loreto Stephen's Green. She attended university at the Royal University of Ireland in Belfast and then the National University of Ireland. She also studied abroad at the Sorbonne University Paris, Berlin University and in Rome.[2] She was Professor of History at University College Galway. In her youth Concannon, as well as her husband, was a member of "The Irish Fireside Club", which in the 1880s was the largest children's association in Ireland where children took responsibility upon themselves to teach others and themselves to make Ireland a better place.[3]

Many of her writings were on the subject of Irish women, including Canon Sheehan's Woman Characters (1910), Women of Ninety Eight (1919), Daughters of Banba (1922), The Poor Clares in Ireland (1929), and Irish nuns in penal days (1931).[4]

She was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) at the 1933 general election for the National University of Ireland constituency.[5] At the 1938 general election, she was elected to Seanad Éireann for the National University of Ireland constituency. She was re-elected at each successive election and served in the Seanad until her death in 1952.[6]

Her husband was the Irish scholar Tomás Bán Ó Conceanainn (Thomas Concannon), a national health inspector, and she authored several books as "Mrs Thomas Concannon".[4][7]

University Life and Life as Professor

Concannon was educated by the Loreto nuns in Coleraine. In 1897, she studied modern languages at the Royal University of Ireland on a three-year scholarship. She studied abroad during these years as in 1899, she travelled to Germany and studied German in Berlin University accompanied by her friend, Mary Macken. Concannon then travelled to France to study French in Sorbonne. In 1900, Concannon graduated Bachelor of Arts with first class honours and went on to study Master of Arts in 1902 at the Royal University of Ireland. Concannon was fortunate to being one of the first generation of educated women.[8]

In 1906, Concannon married Thomas Concannon who she met in 1900, when he arrived home from America. They settled down in County Galway where they shared the same love for the Irish Language and wrote many Irish texts. In Galway, Concannon was a professor at the University of Galway where she taught history, which mainly involved the history of Irish Women. In 1909, Concannon was offered a lectureship at University of College Dublin, in Italian, but the offer was then drawn before she could accept, so she decided to pursue the writing career.[8]

Writing career

In 1909 she was offered a lecturer position at University College Dublin and after the offer was withdrawn she began her writing career.[8] She produced over twenty books and published a number of works on religion, history of Ireland and Irish women's history. Her works were highly impacted by her political and nationalist views. Her 'analyses of Irish history was based on Catholicism and patriotism'.[8][9] She was also an advocate of Irish language restoration.[8]

Her first writings were love poems to her husband Tomás Bán Ó Conceanainn. These poems were 'simple, sensuous and passionate'.[10]

She also produced a number of imaginative historical text for children. She used her married name for her publications and her first book was published in 1914 titled as A Garden of girls, or the famous schoolgirls of former days, it was about 'school life and education of real little girls'.[11] Her next well known piece was the Life of st. Columban in 1915, which was a study about the Irish ancient monastic life and a biography of a sixth-century.[12]

Two of her books, Daughters of Banba (1922) and St. Patrick (1932), received the Tailteann Medal for Literature, and The Poor Clares in Ireland (1929) won the National University Prize a DLitt higher doctorate degree for historical research.[13][14]

Her most common publication the Women of Ninety Eight was dedicated to all the dead women and all the living ones who have given their loved ones. This book emerged on the ideologies of Catholicism and patriotism "praising the devotion of Irish nationalist women while emphasising the centrality of women's spiritual and domestic role in the home to the well-being of the nation"[15] As this work was written during the time of War of Independence, Concannon stressed the importance of women help during the rebellion as "they acted as messengers and intelligence officers", and in some cases, they fought as any men.[16]

Life in the Dáil

Concannon started her political career in Dáil Éireann, she was in the Dáil from 8 February 1933, after the 1933 general election, until 14 June 1937. She was as a Fianna Fáil TD for the National University of Ireland constituency. Her constituency was the National University of Ireland also had two other TDs representing in the same Dáil, Conor Maguire, a fellow Fianna Fail member and Patrick McGilligan of Fine Gael.

Concannon, in 1933, voted 'Yes' along with 81 others for De Valera to become the President of the Executive Council.[17][18]

In 1935, she voted for 'The Control of Imports Orders' Quota 2 and Quota 3 along with 65 other TDs in the first and 60 others in the latter. She voted yes with the majority on every issue posed on 13 February 1935[19]

She voted 'No' to for the Dáil to condemn the Executive Council for 'its neglect to secure a quota for the export of cattle to Great Britain adequate to the needs of our agricultural industry.'—(Patrick Hogan, Richard Curran.)on the issue of Exporting cattle to England, with the majority.[20]

She voted 'No' to for the Dáil to condemn the Executive Council for 'its neglect to secure a quota for the export of cattle to Great Britain adequate to the needs of our agricultural industry.'—(Patrick Hogan, Richard Curran.)on the issue of Exporting cattle to England, with the majority.[20]

Concerning the 'Land Purchase (Guarantee Fund) Bill, 1935' which according to Bennet would have negatively impacted the rural middle class of which he was a representative, Bennet accuses Concannon and her fellow Dublin men of not caring about the people of the country "If Deputy Kelly, Deputy Donnelly or Deputy Mrs. Concannon were asked to apply a retrospective liability of this character to the citizens of Dublin, would they comply with the request? They know they would not. Because this Bill affects, in the main, the hardworking agriculturists, Deputy Kelly, Deputy Mrs. Concannon and other City Deputies can view it with equanimity."-Bennet Concannon went on to vote that the Dail should disagree with the Seanad propose bill with 71 others[21]

Though, she was a TD in the Dáil as a University representative, she voted to annexe University representation in the Dáil, in following with her parties views. Leading to one TD saying " I am very much surprised to see such a distinguished scholar and such a great contributor to Irish literature as Deputy Mrs. Concannon voting for the disfranchisement of the University that she has so well and so ably represented. "-Mr. J.M. Burke[22]

Concannon spoke on behalf of Irish women in the Dáil in 1936. She spoke on how Irish women a fundamental role in Ireland's agricultural economy and so more money should be put towards educating these women.[23]

Concannon didn't object to Bunreacht na hEireann the constitution put forward by her party man De Valera, although many women at the time did.

She did not contest the Dáil election of 1937

Life in the Seanad

Concannon was elected in the 1938 general election to the Seanad Eireann for the National University of Ireland constituency. She was a popular figure and was re-elected by voters each election in the Seanad until she died in 1952. Concannon was one of the minority voices against the part appointed to women De Valera's constitution. Concannon was a member of the Seaned for 8 years.[24][25]

Cocannon's very first year in the Seanad was in 1938. She was a member for a year and then was re-elected by popular vote in the next general election. She spent the next five years of her life (1938-1943) in the 3rd Seanad with the party Fianna Fáil. In 1944 she was voted back in again until 1948, and so on until her death in February 1952.

Cocannon was not the only senator elected for the National University of Ireland. She was elected alongside Henry Barniville and Michael Tierney. Cocannon wanted Seán Goulding to by the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad. She was the first person to talk about nominating Goulding, and after she did, he won a place in the Seanad. She mentions that he was patient and helpful with everyone, and they all had to step in and help.[5][26]

List of Publications

  • A Garden of Girls, or the Famous Schoolgirls of Former Days (London: Longmans, Green & Co. 1914).
  • The Life of St. Columban (St. Columbanus of Bobbio): A Study of Ancient Irish Monastic Life (Dublin: Catholic Truth Society of Ireland, 1915).
  • Women of ‘Ninety Eight. (Dublin: M. H. Gill, 1919).[27]
  • Daughters of Banba. (Dublin: M. H. Gill, 1922).
  • The Poor Clares in Ireland. (A.D. 1629 – A.D. 1929), (Dublin: M.H. Gill, 1929).
  • St. Patric. His life and mission by Mrs Thomas Concannon (1932).[28]
  • Irish Nuns in Penal Days. (London: Sands & Co., 1931).
  • Poems. (Dublin: M. H. Gill, 1953).
  • Blessed Oliver Plunkett: Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland','by Mrs. Thomas Concannon, with appendix by Robert C. Simington.(Dublin: Browne & Nolan, 1935).
  • The Queen of Ireland: An Historical Account of Ireland's Devotion to the Blessed Virgin (Dublin: M.H. Gill, 1938).[29]

References

  1. "Concannon, Helena (1878–1952)." Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . Retrieved 21 November 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/women/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/concannon-helena-1878-1952
  2. OBITUARY. (28 February 1952). The Irish Times (1921–Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/524292057
  3. Congáil, R. N. (2009). "Fiction, Amusement, Instruction": The Irish Fireside Club and the Educational Ideology of the Gaelic League. Éire-Ireland 44(1), 91–117. Irish-American Cultural Institute. Retrieved 22 November 2017, from Project MUSE database.
  4. "Biographies – Women in History". Scoilnet.ie. Archived from the original on 15 June 2007. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
  5. "Helena Concannon". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 27 April 2009.
  6. "Helena Concannon". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 27 April 2009.
  7. Angela Bourke, The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing 2002 – Volume 4 -081479906X Page 479. "She married Thomas Concannon, a national health inspector, in 1906 and went to live in Galway. The Queen of Ireland: An Historical Account of Ireland's Devotion to the Blessed Virgin (Dublin: M.H. Gill, 1938)."
  8. "Helena Concannon". oxforddnb.com. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  9. Smith, N. (30 August 2006). A 'Manly Study'?: Irish Women Historians 1868–1949. Springer. ISBN 9780230596481.
  10. Macken, Mary M. (1953). "Musings and Memories: Helena Concannon, M.A., D.Litt. Obiit 27 Feb., 1952". Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review. 42 (165): 90–97. JSTOR 30098422.
  11. Bourke, Angela (2002). The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing. NYU Press. ISBN 9780814799062.
  12. Concannon, Thomas (1915). The life of St. Columban (St. Columbanus of Bobbio);a study of ancient Irish monastic life /. St. Louis. hdl:2027/nnc1.cr61063134.
  13. Macken, Mary M. (1953). "Musings and Memories: Helena Concannon, M.A., D.Litt. Obiit 27 Feb., 1952". Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review. 42 (165): 90–97. JSTOR 30098422.
  14. "Concannon, Helena (1878–1952) - Dictionary definition of Concannon, Helena (1878–1952) | Encyclopedia.com: FREE online dictionary". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  15. "Helena Concannon". oxforddnb.com.ucd.idm.oclc.org. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  16. Kennedy, Catriona A. (2004). "What can women give but tears': Gender, politics and Irish national Identity in 1790s" (PDF).
  17. Cocannon, Helena (22 November 2017). "Dáil Debates". House of Oireachtas.
  18. Team, Fujitsu/Oireachtas Lotus Notes/Domino Development. "Parliamentary Debates". oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  19. Team, Fujitsu/Oireachtas Lotus Notes/Domino Development. "Parliamentary Debates". oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  20. Team, Fujitsu/Oireachtas Lotus Notes/Domino Development. "Parliamentary Debates". oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  21. Burke, J.M. (22 November 2017). "Dáil Debates". oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  22. Team, Fujitsu/Oireachtas Lotus Notes/Domino Development. "Parliamentary Debates". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  23. Newman, Kate (22 November 2017). "Helena Concannon". Dictionary of Ulster Biography.
  24. Macken, Mary (1953). Musings and Memories: Helena Concannon. Ireland: Irish Province of the Society of Jesus. pp. 90–97.
  25. McNamara, Maedhbh (2000). Theres a woman for you! Woman in parliament: Ireland 1918–2000. Ireland: The Irish Times Ltd.
  26. Concannon, Helena Walsh (1919). Women of 'ninety-eight. St. Louis, Mo. hdl:2027/wu.89097348387.
  27. The Irish naturalists' journal , Vol. IV, No. 2, pp. 40–41, March 1932
  28. Irish Monthly ed. Matthew Russell 1939, Volume 67 – Page 148 "The Queen of Ireland. By Mrs. Thomas Concannon, M.A., D.Litt. (Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son, Ltd. Pp. 369. Price 12/6.) This must be placed among the most valuable books that have appeared in Ireland in recent years, and only ..."

Sources

  • Dictionary of Nineteenth-century Irish Women Poets, pp. 233, Anne Ulry Colman, Kenny's Bookshop, Galway, 1996. ISBN 0-906312-44-2.
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