Dorothy Macardle – republican, historian and novelist – died 23 December 1958

DOROTHY MACARDLE, republican, historian and novelist, was born in Dublin in 1889.

Educated at Alexandra College and later at University College Dublin, she qualified as a teacher and taught English at Alexandra College. She was a daughter of Sir Thomas Macardle, head of the well-known Dundalk brewing family.

Influenced by Maud Gonne MacBride, she became involved in Inghinidhe na hÉireann about 1910 and was later active in both the Gaelic League and Sinn Féin. She supported the Easter Rising of 1916 and during the following years played an active role in the struggle for freedom.

Following discussions with Charlotte Despard and Maud Gonne, Dorothy Macardle became involved in the White Cross, a relief organisation established in January 1921 to provide assistance for thousands of Irish people who had been left destitute throughout the country as a result of the destruction of homes and businesses by the British forces.

She opposed the Treaty in December 1921 and took the republican side during the Civil War.

An active member of the Women Prisoners’ Defence League (WPDL) she was arrested in November 1922 during a raid on the home of Maud Gonne. Imprisoned in Kilmainham Jail, Dorothy Macardle, along with several other women political prisoners, embarked on a successful hunger strike in April 1923 in support of their demands to receive and send out letters.

She took part in the mass hunger strike by thousands of republican male prisoners and internees held in jails and camps throughout the Free State and 340 women imprisoned in Kilmainham Jail and the North Dublin Union. After the ending of the hunger strike on 23 November, Dorothy Macardle was among the women prisoners released the following month. Nine months previously, in March 1923, while still in jail, she had been officially sacked as a teacher at Alexandra College for “not attending to her duties”.

Although Dorothy Macardle joined Fianna Fáil following its formation in May 1926, she continued to be actively involved with the Republican Movement. She took an active part in the campaign organised by the WPDL to protest at the hardships being endured in Portlaoise Prison by republican prisoners at the height of the Cosgrave coercion era in 1930/31.

In the mid-1930s she was involved in the Irish Women Workers’ Union and organised opposition to the anti-women sections of the Conditions of Employment Bill 1935 which allowed the Minister for Industry and Commerce to prohibit the employment of female workers in industry and forbade employers to employ more women than men.

The Irish Republic, Dorothy Macardle

A prolific writer and eminent historian, her historical writing included The Irish Republic, first published by Gollancz in 1937 (out of print for over 20 years), undoubtedly the definitive history of the period 1914-23; Tragedies of Kerry, first published by The Kerryman in 1946, a graphic and moving description of the appalling atrocities committed by the Free State forces against republicans in Kerry during the Civil War; and Children of Europe (1949), on the subject of refugee children.

Her other writings included a number of novels, plays and collection of short stories, the best known of which are Uneasy Freehold and The Uninvited (which were made into films), the plays Asphara Dark Waters and Ann Kavanagh, and a volume of short stories, Earthbound.

Dorothy Macardle died in Drogheda on 23 December 1958.