19 Jul 2018, 14.00

The Houses of the Oireachtas, in collaboration with the National Museum of Ireland and with special thanks to the Sheehy-Skeffington family, today opened Votes for Women: Suffrage and Citizenship. The public exhibition will run until Oct. 19.

The year 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Representation of the People Act, which granted partial suffrage to Irish women. For the first time, women over the age of 30 could vote in parliamentary elections if they owned property, were the wives of property owners or were university graduates.

2018 also marks 110 years since the founding of the Irish Women’s Franchise League, the first suffrage organisation in Ireland to use militant tactics in the struggle for voting rights. Following the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, and as a result of determined lobbying on the part of women’s groups, universal adult suffrage was granted.

The Houses of the Oireachtas is marking the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act through its Vótáil100 programme of events, including this exhibition.

Artefacts on display include:

  • the original embroidered banner used by the Irish Women’s Franchise League;
  • a lectern used by suffrage speakers and bearing the words “Votes for Women”; and
  • a collection of medals awarded to Hanna Sheehy Skeffington.

Senator Ivana Bacik, Chairperson of the Vótáil 100 Committee which is organising Oireachtas events to celebrate the 2018 centenary of women’s suffrage in Ireland, says she’s delighted by the high levels of public interest in the Vótáil 100 programme.

“I am particularly delighted that the Oireachtas is hosting this important exhibition of artefacts, images and ephemera celebrating the suffrage movement, the passage of the Representation of the People Act 1918 and the impact of that these changes have made on society,” Senator Bacik said at today’s launch.

“This exhibition celebrates the lives of those women most closely involved in the campaign leading up to legislative reform and the winning of suffrage for women. We hope this exhibition will encourage more women to become politically involved, and will remind us all about the importance of the right to vote.”

Lynn Scarff, Director of the National Museum of Ireland, said:

“Together we achieve our best work. It is wonderful that this exhibition has arisen from a collaboration between the National Museum of Ireland and the Houses of the Oireachtas. It is symbolic of the collective power of women’s voices during the Suffrage Movement in Ireland. We hope Votes for Women: Suffrage and Citizenship provides an opportunity for more conversation, for visitors to reflect and give voice to the changes experienced by their own grandmothers, mothers, sisters and daughters over the span of 100 years and the changes yet to come.”

How to visit the exhibition

Free public tours are available on weekdays when the Dáil and Seanad are not sitting. These tours begin at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Visitors can secure a tour place in one of two ways:

  • Booking in advance by contacting the Oireachtas at event.desk@oireachtas.ie or 01 618 3271 / 3781.
  • Arriving in person at the Leinster House visitors’ entrance on Kildare Street approximately 15 minutes before a tour’s scheduled start time.

Media enquiries

Shawn Pogatchnik
Houses of the Oireachtas
Communications Unit
Leinster House
Dublin 2
+353 1 618 4203
+353 86 701 3295
Twitter: @OireachtasNews