Constance Markievicz in the uniform of the Irish Citizen Army
Photographic postcard of the Countess Markievicz, the only woman to be elected in the 1918 UK General Election.
Of the women stood for election in 1918, only Constance Markievicz was elected to Parliament, for the constituency of Dublin St. Patrick's, in what was then British Ireland. She was the Sinn Féin candidate, and she's a reminder that the 1918 election was historic for many reasons. It was the first election since the Easter Rising of 1916, which had provoked huge anger in Ireland against the British government, and galvanised the Irish Independence movement. Constance, the Irish-born wife of a Polish count, had herself fought in the Rising and been sentenced to death, but pardoned because of her sex.
At the time of her election, she was in London's Holloway Prison, serving a sentence for interfering with the British government's attempt to conscript Irish men to fight in the First World War. Neither she nor any of the other Sinn Féin Members of Parliament who were elected went to London to serve in the House of Commons. Instead, they created their own Parliament, or Dáil, in Dublin, and declared most of Ireland- which had voted overwhelmingly for Sinn Féin in the 1918 election- to be an independent nation.
When the First Dáil met, and the new representatives counted, Constance was described as "fé ghlas ag Gallaibh": imprisoned by the foreign enemy, meaning the British. It would not be until 1919 that Nancy Astor would be elected as the first woman to serve in the House of Commons.