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1916 Outsiders and Allies: Challenging Presumptions of Heterosexuality

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

With a packed house and engaged attendees, our 1916 Centenary event celebrating the lives and works of Eva Gore Booth and Roger Casement was a tremendous success. Both were singular individuals who transgressed the parameters of their time.

Eva Gore Booth lived in a committed lesbian relationship with her partner Esther Roper for thirty years until her death in 1926. She was a feminist, prominent campaigner for women's suffrage and gender equality who uncompromisingly followed her ethical conscience.

We were delighted to have, as our guest speaker, Sonja Tiernan, whose meticulous research has been instrumental in casting light on the extraordinary life and achievements of Gore Booth, eclipsed by her more famous sister Countess Markievicz, and, as a woman, overlooked and relegated to oblivion within the deeply patriarchal political and social landscape of her time.

In her presentation, Sonja explored the remarkable details of Gore Booth's life, political activism and writings, providing us with a fascinating insight into lesbian subcultures at the turn of the century. She outlined how 1916 was a catalyst year for Eva who founded the journal Urania that year and illustrated how this can be used as an alternative archive of the history of LGBT people during this era, and which, in the context of our 2016 world would prove uncannily prescient.

Roger Casement's extraordinary life has been the subject of several biographies and has, in this centenary year, been the subject of many events. Our secretary, Joseph Healy has a keen interest in all aspects of Casement's life and as a result of his indefatigable research has acquired a certain expertise. In his presentation, Joseph shared a selection of extracts from The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa, Angus Mitchell's 16 Lives and some explicit entries from The Black Diaries which were highly informative.

The musical ambience of the era was wonderfully evoked by classical Irish harpist Maev Mc Daid and her accompanying traditional Irish musicians.

The evening was facilitated by our Co Chair Anne O Donoghue.

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