Council Partners History News

Lord Mayor of Dublin Invites Nominations for Book Celebrating Exceptional Women in City’s History

Lord Mayor, Alison Gilliland, invites nominations for new book celebrating exceptional contributions over the last 200 years by 80 women in Dublin city.

Since the Freedom of the City was first conferred in 1876, just four of the eighty-three very well-deserving recipients have been women.

One of the Lord Mayor’s stated priorities when taking up office was to promote women and girls and give them greater visibility. It was only recently that Lady Jane Wilde (1821-1896) and Anna Parnell (1852-1991) were brought out of the shadows and honoured with a Dublin City Council Commemoration plaque while Monday’s Brigit 2022: Dublin City Celebrating Women was a key City event to celebrate the achievements of women. 

However, there are many more women who have contributed to the life of the City over the last two centuries and who may have been forgotten or not fully recognised. For example, Dr. Ella Webb (1877-1946) was a pioneering paediatrician who worked to eradicate TB; Nora Herlihy (1910-1988) was one of the co-founders of the Irish Credit Union Movement, and Mary Mulvihill (1957-2012) was a tireless champion of women, scientist, broadcaster and founder of Women in Technology and Science.

In an attempt to give greater recognition to such female achievers, the Lord Mayor has commissioned a book to acknowledge and celebrate the contribution of past Dublin women to all sectors and fields across our city. With the support of Dublin City Libraries, she is working with author Clodagh Finn to publish a book entitled ‘Her Keys to the City’. This publication will feature the achievements and stories of 80 women who contributed to the city at large in the past. 

Recognising the broad spectrum of society and achievement, she is asking Dubliners for their help in compiling the list of women for the publication and has opened a public consultation on the Dublin City Council website. 

Commenting on the book the Lord Mayor said, “the book’s title ‘Her Keys to the City’ makes reference to the City’s highest honour, the Freedom of the City of Dublin. Since the Freedom was first conferred in 1876, only four of the 83 very well-deserving recipients have been women – Margaret Sandhurst (1889), Maureen Potter (O’Leary) (1984), Michiko (1985) and M. Teresa MC (1993). This book is a small attempt to make up for this imbalance.”

Asking Dubliners for their help to compile the list she said, “if you know of a particular Dublin-born or Dublin-based woman who in her day contributed significantly to her field of work, but who may not have received adequate recognition beyond her immediate colleagues and family, please give us her details using the public consultation facility. While we can’t give a guarantee that she will be included in the final list, she will be given full consideration”. 

In keeping with the Council’s approach to commemorations generally, we can only consider women who are no longer alive. 

The consultation is open at  and will run to 20 February, 2022.

Source: Dublin City Council

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