Jennie Wyse Power and Baltinglass: A Two Day Programme for Decade of Centenaries

WICKLOW COUNTY ARTS OFFICE ANNOUNCES A COMMEMORATION PROGRAMME FOR JENNIE WYSE POWER IN BALTINGLASS AS PART OF DECADE OF CENTENARIES PROGRAMME

A two-day programme to celebrate political activist Jennie Wyse Power’s connection to County Wicklow and her contribution to the Irish State will be held in Baltinglass.  The programme features opportunities to hear more about Jennie in various ways, appealing to those with an existing knowledge and interest in local history and to those who have never heard of Jennie before or understood her connection to Baltinglass.

Born in Baltinglass

Jane ‘Jennie’ Wyse Power (nee O’Toole) was born in Baltinglass, County Wicklow, on 1st May 1858 and would go on blaze a trail as a pioneering politician and campaigner for women’s rights. A staunch nationalist, she became involved in the Ladies’ Land League (1881-82), Inghinidhe na hEireann (1900-1911), and was a founder and vice-president of Arthur Griffith’s Sinn Féin.

Cumann na mBan

In 1915 Jennie was elected as the first president of Cumann na mBan. She became a life-long campaigner for women’s rights and saw no conflict between her strident nationalism and lobbying Westminster for female suffrage. About 1899 she established the ‘Irish Farm Produce Company’ at 21 Henry Street in Dublin which was run on buy-Irish principles. Her premises became a meeting place for advanced nationalists and the 1916 Proclamation was signed there.

Jennie supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty (1921) and served as a Senator in the first Seanad Eireann from 1922 to 1936. She was at the centre of the eventful and at times turbulent unfolding of Irish history across five decades. This dedicated, intelligent and courageous woman from Baltinglass became a household name in her own lifetime.

Unveiling of portrait

The first event in the programme is in Baltinglass Library on November 17th at 7.30pm and will feature the unveiling of two new commissions by Wicklow County Council: a tapestry portrait of Jennie Wyse Power by Visual Artist Sarah Bracken Soper and commemorative poetry collection by Wicklow Poet Jane Clarke inspired by Jennie.

These are being presented as part of an evening of historical reflection, poetry and music celebrating this remarkable politician and activist. The evening also features Cora Venus Lunny (violin) and Cora Crampton (West Wicklow Historical Society).

Workshops

On Saturday, November 18th, there are five free creative hands-on workshops between 10am and 2.30pm.  Young people and adults can roll up their sleeves and do a hand rolled print of Jennie Wyse Power in Germaine’s by Damn Fine Print, Sarah Bracken Soper will be in Baltinglass Library hosting an embroidery workshop for adults and Jane Clarke will host a writing workshop for adult writers who wish to weave historical narratives through their work.  Tickets are free for all events in the programme but booking is recommended on Eventbrite.

Trailblazing women

The Jennie Wyse Power Programme is the final in a series initiatives promoting and celebrating the lives of trailblazing women connected with County Wicklow during the tumultuous years leading up to the Third Home Rule Bill in 1912 to the formation of an independent Irish State in 1922. Women like Jennie Wyse Power were ahead of their time, they pushed the boundaries of established gender norms, taking on roles previously only held by men and played a valuable role in advocating for women’s rights and pushing social change.

Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr Aoife Flynn Kennedy, stated: “Jennie Wyse Power was an admirable character with a vision well ahead of her times. We feel privileged that we can celebrate a trailblazing woman born in County Wicklow and her contribution to Irish history.” 

Wicklow County Council Chief Executive, Emer O’Gorman, also welcomed the latest programme, saying: “Wicklow County Council is delighted to be able to highlight and celebrate the legacy of Jennie Wyse Power in an accessible contemporary way with lots of opportunities for the public to participate in creative workshops and hear her story a decade after she lived.

Places for our workshops are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

The Programme is curated by Wicklow County Arts Office presented as part of Creative Places Baltinglass and supported through the Decade of Centenaries Programme (2012 – 2023) funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. With thanks to Wicklow County Council Library Service and Archives and Heritage Officers.

For more details and to avail of the full programme please visit https://www.creativeplacesbaltinglass.ie.

For more on Wicklow County Council’s Our Wicklow Women initiative: https://heritage.wicklowheritage.org/category/people/our_wicklow_women-2

Photos:

A portrait of Jenny Wyse Power, Embroidery 2023. Artist: Sarah Bracken Soper

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