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Dr Keith Munro to take personal look at life of leading suffragette

05 March 2019

A fascinating talk shining a spotlight on one of the leading figures in the Irish Women’s Suffrage movement will take place in the Tower Museum on Thursday evening.

Leading academic and former Forensic Medical Officer, Dr Keith Munro, will look back at the life of activist Margaret Cousins who attended Victoria Girls School in Derry - now Foyle College - and later joined prominent feminists such as Emmeline Pankhurst in fighting for female emancipation.

A great nephew of Margaret Cousins, Dr Munro offers a personal and insightful narrative of her life and her leading role in establishing the Irish Women’s Franchise League.

The event is one of a series being delivered as part of the Creative Centenaries 1918 #MakingHistory events programme by Derry City and Strabane District Council in conjunction with the Nerve Centre.

Speaking ahead of the talk, curator with the Tower Museum, Roisin Doherty said: “We are delighted to welcome Dr Munro to the museum for what will be a unique and personal look back at Margaret Cousins’ life and her connections to the city.

“Her work at the forefront of the Women’s Suffrage movement both at home and in her later life in India, was integral to the revolution in women’s rights at this time. Without women such as Margaret driving change here at a local level, and her influence in bringing leading figures such as Emmeline Pankhurst to Derry, where she addressed crowds in St Columb’s Hall, we would certainly have been left behind in the fight for emancipation.”

Margaret Cousins was born in Boyle in Roscommon in 1878 and spent four years studying in Derry before leaving to study music in Dublin. She met and married Dr Munro’s great-uncle Jim in 1903 and began an amazing life of service, first in forming the Irish Women’s Franchise League in 1908 together with Hanna and Frank Sheehy-Skeffington, resulting in imprisonment in Holloway and Tullamore Jails. 

Once Margaret and her husband emigrated to India in 1915 she began working for the emancipation of women again and as a result formed the All India Women’s Conference in 1927 and later the All Asian Women’s Conference in 1932. She subsequently spent another year in prison for breaking the freedom-of-speech laws.

Dr Keith Munro will be speaking on 7th March at 7pm in the Tower Museum – to book places at this free event please go to [email protected]