Sisterhood and Remembering Eva Gore-Booth (1870-1926) at the Embassy of Ireland in Beijing

Eva Gore-Booth exhibition at the Embassy of Ireland Beijing


Eva Gore- Booth was poet and playwright, suffragist, workers’ rights campaigner, social revolutionary, pacifist and lesser-known sister of Countess Constance Markievicz, born in Lissadell County Sligo 150 years ago.

Ambassador Dr Ann Derwin with guests on March 8th 2022

After Ambassador Dr Ann Derwin addressed the network event I was asked to speak about artworks on exhibition at the embassy and their relation to the story of Eva Gore-Booth. The artworks were originally part of a larger exhibition which took place at the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI).

The exhibition was curated by the Hamilton Gallery , Sligo, Ireland .

A complete reference for the exhibition can be found on this link


Many thanks to Jiali Luo for translating the speech and poetry.

After the Storm by Angie Shanahan

Eva Gore Booth identified herself as Irish and Breffny was the medieval kingdom that stretched from her home Lissadell beach . 

Some lines from the poem “The little waves of Breffny”


The great waves of the Atlantic sweep storming on their way

Shining green and silver with the hidden herring shoal

But the little waves of Breffny have drenched my heart in spray

And the little waves of Breffny go stumbling through my soul.


She lived life in service to working women, she defended textile mill workers, barmaids, attendants in hotels, florists , women working as tub pullers outside the mines, gymnasts and circus performers , all whose jobs were threatened  either  because of alleged moral grounds or other reasons. 

She famously said “The laws of gravity apply to men and women alike”. Which brings us to the circus.

Little Evie’s Circus Dreams by Gillard Medbh

You can see Mebh Gillard’s  playful work  called “Little Evies Circus  Dreams” reminds me of  Eva Gore-Booth’s  work for circus performers. There are leopards , zebra and an acrobat. Eva Gore-Booth was an animal lover and also a strict vegetarian .


Pit Brow Lasses by Catherine Mac Conville

The work titled Pit Brow Lasses refers to when Eva Gore-Booth went to work as a tub puller at the mines to show that a woman could do this work.

Emma Stroude Bring Us On by Emma Stroude

Emma Stroude’s work shows factory workers in Manchester


Other works signal elements of the textile industry.

The Loom by Martha Quinn

Martha Quinn’s striking but simple  marble and gold  work titled  ‘Loom ‘ 

From Eva Gore-Booth’s poem The Weaver I can imagine the rhythms of work at the loom and also notions of time passing.

“I followed the slow plough for hours and hours

Minding through sun and shower the loom of life.”


Those gold lines upon the marble  also suggests imprisonment which her sister Constance experienced numerous times because of her nationalist activities.

Sex is an accident by Sue Morris

Staying with the textile industry Sue Morris embroidery called  ”Sex is an Accident “ hints at the mills and textile industry and calls for gender equality.


Other artworks focus on Eva Gore-Booth’s poetry

“All night I stumble through fields of light ” Sorcha O Farrell

The beautiful monochrome work by Sorca O Farrell matched with the exquisite line from the poem “the Dreamer “

“… all night I stumble through fields of light “.



Two Ladies   by Betty Brown shows the two sisters on horseback.

Two Ladies  by Betty Brown

Seeing the two sisters  with horses and also Roper in the background reminds me of a special incident in Manchester where all three women were defending the Barmaid issue 1908 before a local election. They were campaigning against Churchill who was against many working rights for women.

Eva Gore-Booth organized a striking coach with four white horses driven around Manchester two days before local election.  Markievicz  came  from Ireland to Manchester and was at the whip driving. After arriving  at a fixed point Gore Booth and Roper stood on top of  the coach roof to give a rousing speech on Clause 20 of the Licensing bill which threatened the work of  Barmaids. One anecdote was recorded at a meeting later, a man in the crowd shouted  “Can you cook a dinner Countess?” To which she answered “Certainly , can you ride a coach and four?”


Churchill was surprised to be defeated in that local election

Eva Gore-Booth also studied Greek and Latin and in the last three years of her life she translated the entire gospel of John. She reinterpreted the language used to pin point inaccuracies which guide toward patriarchal dominance and female exclusion in society.

Both Gore-Booth and Ester Roper worked hard in presenting Sappho’s work in a socially romantic context.

Life that is Love is God by Eileen Mac Donagh


In another work, a white marble work , the Greek words from the poet Sappho “Life that is Love is God”  The artist Eileen Mac Donagh says that the flesh coloured streak refers to EGB as as a woman passionate in all things.

Speaking at the International Women’s Day event





Recommended reading “Eva Gore Booth- An image of such politics” by Sonja Tiernan.


Blazing a Trail: Lives and Legacies of Irish Diaspora Women