Maeve, named after the legendary Queen of Connacht, was born to Constance in Lissadell, Co Sligo on 13 November 1901. Her father, Constance’s husband, was Count Casimir Dunin-Markievicz, a nobleman whose family owned an estate at Zywotowka in the Ukraine. He already had a son, Stanislaw, from a previous marriage.
Very soon after the birth, Constance became re-immersed in the political and philanthropic activities that were to absorb her for the rest of her life. Maeve’s grandmother, Lady Georgina Gore-Booth, took charge of the infant and although Constance visited frequently, in time the relationship between the grandmother and granddaughter developed into one more like mother and daughter. At the age of 14 Maeve was sent to an exclusive school in England. It was here news came of the Easter Rebellion of 1916, and, as was to be expected in such a setting, she achieved a doubtful notoriety as ‘The Rebel’s Daughter’. As she grew older, she developed a great admiration for her mother’s emancipation and hoped one day to follow in her footsteps.
In 1956 she tried her hand at painting. With the same energy that had characterised Constance in her projects, Maeve made such progress in her new hobby that within two years she had achieved her first exhibition in Hampstead, England. Two years later she held her first Irish Exhibition in Dublin, which was opened by the Taoiseach Seán Lemass.
In deteriorating health she visited Sligo for the last time in 1962. *On her departure she made a detour by way of the ‘Hungry Rock’ in Coolaney. From that narrow defile in the Ox Mountains, looking back across Sligo Bay towards Lissadell she spoke as if in farewell:
‘There is colour on Benbulben
Indigo on Knocknarea Gold
and grey and primroses
In Lissadell today.
There is fire on Ben Wisken
Ice blue on Sligo Bay.
God give us peace and hope
In Lissadell today.’
The announcement in the press in June 1962:
‘The death has occurred at her home in Parliament Hill, London of Miss Maeve de Markievicz’ was the last echo of the first shot fired in the Easter Rebellion of 1916. Maeve was the end of the line, the only descendant of a remarkable woman who flashed like a meteor across the heavens with the dawn of the Irish Republic.
* Excerpt taken from Constance Markievicz: The People’s Countess by Joe McGowan