New commemorative coin launched to mark 100 years since Irish women won the right to vote

I just blogged about how German women won right to vote 100 years ago.

Irish women won the right too same time. The central bank has launched a new EURO 15 coin to mark the event.

The Central Bank, in conjunction with the Oireachtas Vótáil 100 programme, launched a silver commemorative coin to mark the 100 year anniversary of Irish women winning the right to vote.

1918 was the first time Irish women were permitted by law to vote and stand in parliamentary elections. After the Representation of the People Act gave women the vote, the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 was passed in November 1918 allowing women to be elected to Parliament in Westminster.

In the November 1918 General Election, Countess Markievicz, was the first woman elected as a MP to the UK House of Commons, though she never took her seat at Westminster. Instead, she joined the revolutionary first Dáil in 1919, becoming the first female TD and became one of the first women in the world to hold a cabinet position as Minister for Labour from 1919 to 1922.

Struck in .925 sterling silver to proof quality, the coin was designed by Michael Guilfoyle, and is the first Irish commemorative coin to feature colour since the Special Olympics coin of 2003. The design celebrates the progression of equality for women in Ireland over the last century. The figure of a suffragette stands in the foreground holding a banner demanding the vote for Irish women. Behind her in silhouette is a procession of women marching forward to represent the progress in equality from 1918 to the present day. They stride along a road painted in the colours of the suffragette movement in Ireland.

Well, the way European countries look at history is something so different.

Here is a nice speech from the central bank deputy governor Sharon Donnery on the event:

In thinking about the launch of this coin today I was struck by the words of the first woman ever honoured on a coin in the United States. The dollar coin minted in the late 1970s commemorated Susan B. Anthony who was a driving force in the suffrage movement in the United States. In 1887, she said “there never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers.”4

It seems hard to believe now but at that time, there was a fundamental debate about women’s capabilities, competence and state of mind. This is despite the fact that for example, just a few years later in 1903, Marie Curie would be (jointly) awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics – and would win a second Nobel, this time in chemistry, in 1911.

Inconceivable or quaint as that debate may seem now, this is not ancient history. My late grandmother, who was born one hundred and one years ago tomorrow, was born into this society and grew up in a time in which women were thoroughly second-class citizens.


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