International Women's Day

08 Mar 2023
Ivana Safran By Ivana Safran


International Women's Day 


Welcome again,

All Friends of Mountmellick Embroidery and Heritage Museum, as you join with us to celebrate International Women's day, scheduled each year on the 8th of March. This global occasion which celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women all across the world, is symbolized by three colours, purple green and white, which represents, Honour and Justice, optimism, and purity. The theme for 2023 is “Break the Bias” which promotes gender equality worldwide.  

On the local front, just to remind our readers that thanks to our very dedicated committee, our much-improved Museum visitor experience is now fully open for viewing. Why not pay us a visit to see our latest acquisitions, view our presentation on relevant Museum and local history and listen to the hologram story as told by Mary Millar who left Mountmellick Work House during the famine times bound for Australia at the tender age of 19.  

On International Womens day it's important to remember those women who have gone before us and have left us a legacy and a challenge to follow in their footsteps. Towards that end I am now handing you over to Marie Walsh who has drafted a piece to mark this day, and to  honour those ladies ( past and present) who have contributed significantly to both local and national initiatives, and in doing so enhanced the lives of so many people.  

Over to you Marie and thank you. 

Ann Dowling





Today is International Women's Day (IWD), which is marked annually on March 8th., to celebrate the achievements and equality of women.

In the past we have posted two articles dedicated to the dynamic local women associated with Mountmellick Embroidery, from its creator Johanna Carter in 1825, to other women of the 19th. century, like Margaret Beale, Anne Jellicoe and Deborah Millner, who taught and fostered the craft, followed by Sr. Teresa Margaret who revived it in the 20th century, in 1972, and the good work continues today by local tutors, Annie Kelly, Anne O'Brien, Dolores Dempsey and Margaret Gorman, who promote and teach it as a 'living craft'. and practised by women worldwide.
However, this article is dedicated to Anne Jellicoe, on the very special occasion of the Bi-centenary of her birth.
Born Anne Mullin, on 24rd. March 1823 in Mountmellick to parents William and Margaret Mullin. Therefore in two week's time it will be the 200th. anniversary of her birth.
Anne's father was a Quaker school headmaster and she had one brother John William. It is reported that Johanna Carter who was a teacher at a small school for girls, ( and who created Mountmellick Embroidery), was a role-model for Anne, proving to her that education and skills could empower women.
She married John Jellicoe, a flour miller on 28th Oct. 1846 aged 23yrs. and they moved to Clara, Co. Offaly  in 1848, where she established a school teaching embroidery and lacework.
In 1858 they moved to Dublin where she was appalled at the poverty there, and she dedicated her life to social reform and education for girls and women. She worked tirelessly, setting up the Irish Society for promoting training and employment for educated women. She was one of the founder members of the Queen's Institute in Dublin 1861 - 1881, the first technical college for women in the British isles and in 1866, with the aid of Dr. Trench, protestant archbishop of Dublin, she founded Alexandra College to offer a liberal, university type education. In 1872 Anne persuaded the council to establish a feeder school to provide properly grounded students for the college. A further related development was the establishment of a highly successful series of Sunday lectures in Trinity College, and open to all women!. Alexandra College was able to spearhead higher education for Irish women.
In 1884, the new Royal University became the first in Ireland that could grant degrees to women on a par to those granted to men, they could NOT study in university, but were permitted to take the exams. The first group of women to sit these exams were known as the Nine Graces and of these, six had been educated in Alexandra College. where five were already on the staff and three had studied privately. Between 1882 and 1895, 269 women received degrees at Royal University. In 1904 women were permitted to study at Trinity College and the first degrees to women there were awarded in 1908.  (Acknowledgement; ref. 'Samplers, Sewing and Simplicity', a book by Clodagh Grubb, available in the museum shop).
The Jellicoes had no children, however Anne dedicated her life to social justice and education for empowering  girls and women.
She died suddenly while visiting her brother John, in Birmingham on 18th October 1880 aged 57.  She is buried in The Friend's Burial Ground, Rosenallis, just a few kilometres from Mountmellick, Co. Laois. She was indeed a dynamic, pioneering woman of the C19.......and what a legacy!
Marie Walsh
Museum Secretary