Happy St. Patrick’s Day

As a young woman of 21, the British born Maud Gonne inherited great wealth from her two parents estates.

She used that money to rent the first of many apartments in the center of Paris, where she lived for thirty years before returning to Dublin with her children.

During those decades as a Parisienne, Maud, a die-hard Irish patriot, celebrated St. Patrick’s day in style by attending or throwing, lavish banquets. On St. Patrick’s day, let’s pause for a moment to remember her and all the amazing work she did on behalf of Irish political prisoners, the kernel of which sprouted into Amnesty International.

To learn more about this fascinating young woman’s story, explore my website further or order the book: “The Fascination of What’s Difficult,” A Life of Maud Gonne

Dec. 28 Monday’s musings about Maud

Last week, I received a mailing from NO KID HUNGRY with this message:

“For children living in poverty, Monday’s matter. When food is scarce at home they come to school too hungry to learn. For these children, meals at school are critical. Together, we can ensure that no child struggles with hunger on Monday or any other day. ”

How to feed children during a pandemic when schools are closed is an issue about which Maud would have taken action. For instance, during the Dublin Lockout strike of 1913, some 20,0000 workers received no pay while demanding the right to unionize. Those men’s children went hungry. Maud organized Dublin food canteens with the help of local clergy and sold the last of her jewels to fund the food canteens.

Monday’s musings about Maud: conditions in prisons

Amnesty International Dec. 17, 2020 blog post by John Campbell:

Bad prison conditions probably contribute far more deaths than deliberate security service abuse. Prisons are underfunded, understaffed, and often grotesquely overcrowded.

Amnesty International was cofounded by Maud Gonne MacBride’s son Sean MacBride. He furthered her eloquent protest against conditions for political prisoners in British jails, extending those human rights concerns to all political prisoners all over the world.

Amnesty International had its roots in the Irish struggle against the British. In retaliation against Irish nationalists, the British passed Draconian laws. Suspects could be arrested on suspicion and held in jail indefinitely.  Their communications with the outside world limited to a few pages a week. Visitors were only allowed 20 minutes every few months.  These were the conditions that Maud publicized after a visit to Portland Prison in 1893-4.

Well ahead of her time in many ways, pre-order the Fascination of What’s Difficult, the debut work by Kim Bendheim, to discover what makes Maud Gonne was one of history’s most enigmatic, alluring, and complex women.

Monday’s musing about Maud: dogs with shoes

Today I saw a neighbor walking his dog after the snowstorm. The dog was wearing a coat and four separate booties. Another way Maud was ahead of her time: she dressed her beloved Great Dane, Dagda according to the weather. When Maud brought Dagda with her to Donegal she provided shoes from her cobbler so that the dog’s feet wouldn’t be torn up and worn down by rocky dirt country roads. In many ways, big and small, Maud was ahead of her time.

Monday’s musing about Maud: Saudi Arabian Women’s Rights Activist case transferred to terrorist court. Two years held without trial and counting.

Loujain al-Hathloul, in an image taken from social media.
Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Maud Gonne was an activist for the rights of political prisoners in hostile jails.
She would no doubt have admired Loujain al-Hathloul stance in Saudi Arabia, promoting the right of women to drive and travel without men.

Loujain Al-Hathloul has been detained for the last two years without trial and without visits from her family, let alone an attorney. In 2018, she lobbied hard for women’s right to drive and drove herself to make the point. The law in the kingdom was changed partly due to her efforts and that of other women activists. As of 2018 Saudi Arabian women are legally allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. However, accusations against Loujain AL-Hahtloul include these “crimes:” trying to change the kingdom’s political system, campaigning for women’s rights and talking to foreign journalists, diplomats and human rights organizations. According to Amnesty International, an organization cofounded by Maud’s son Sean MacBride, this brave young woman has been tortured and sexually abused while in jail.

Read the full article by The New York Times