Sinead Keenan

My feminist icon: Sinead Keenan on why Francis Sheehy Skeffington inspires her the most

Posted by for Life

Stylist is running its first ever feminist advent calendar in 2018, with a remarkable woman revealing who her feminist icon is every day until 25 December. Here, Sinead Keenan reveals why Francis Sheehy Skeffington is her ultimate feminist icon.  

In order for feminism to succeed I fervently believe it is imperative that we have our feminist brothers on board. 

To that end, allow me to introduce you to Francis Sheehy Skeffington (23 December 1878 - 26 April 1916). A man way ahead of his time in terms of his view on women in society and one of the foremost proponents of the enfranchisement of women in Ireland.

He joined the Irish Women’s Suffrage and Local Government Association and supported the Women’s Social and Political Union which fought for women’s rights in Britain. 

In 1903 he organised a petition to lobby for women to be admitted to University College in Dublin on the same basis as men, resigning from his job as registrar when the university refused to do so; and in 1912 he co founded the Irish Women’s Franchise League. 

But possibly most impressive to me is that when he married his wife, Hanna Sheehy, he took her name and added it to his, so they were both Sheehy Skeffingtons. That to me was a fairly balls out, big cojones move for a man in early 20th century Ireland. A very public display that he was indeed a man of his word and that word was that men and women are indeed equal and should be treated as thus. Simples.

Fair play to Francis, or ‘Skeffy’ as he was known. 

Remarkable Women Awards 2019

philosophy are the official partner of Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards 2018 and, for every day in December, Stylist is asking a remarkable woman to tell us who her feminist icon is, and why. You can see more inspiring and remarkable women here.

Sinead Keegan can be seen in Care, which is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer.

Images: Linda Brownlee, Getty

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