Frances Cobbe links to Tallaght kicks off historical lecture series

By Aideen O'Flaherty

THE Tallaght links of an Anglo-Irish woman Frances Cobbe who was at the forefront of the suffragette movement in the UK in late 1800s and who campaigned for women to be allowed to get a university education will be explored in a talk by local historian Eamonn Maloney this month.

Eamonn, who is a former Independent TD, became aware of Frances’ links to Tallaght when he was carrying out research for his book, ‘Tallaght: A Place with History’, and went on to discover that Frances’ great-great-grandfather, Charles Cobbe, was the Archbishop of Dublin and owned land in Tallaght.

Priory aerial shot

At one point, Charles owned two-thirds of the mountainous land in Tallaght, according to Eamonn.

“Apart from saving souls, he occupied himself with buying land,” Eamonn told The Echo. “He bought the land for hunting purposes, because it was rich with deer and wildlife.”

Charles then built his family’s ancestral home, Newbridge House, in Donabate in the 1700s, where generations later Frances and her family resided, and her father was a landlord for poor tenants who lived in cabins, made of mud and stone, on his land in Tallaght.

“They had very poor tenants on their land,” Eamonn explained. “There were 17 families living in that area, and they weren’t allowed to hunt on the land.

“Frances was a frequent visitor to Tallaght, because the Cobbes had a cottage and a hunting lodge there.”

Frances Cobbe

Frances Cobbe 

Frances was the only daughter of Charles Cobbe’s grandson, and she was an intellectual who was home-schooled in the family’s estate until the age of 15, when she was sent to boarding school in England before returning to Ireland.

Frances worked as a teacher in Donabate, and was at one point exiled from Newbridge House by her father, purportedly because of a religious issue, however, Eamonn believes that the reason she was exiled was because she was a lesbian.

Advocating for the rights of women and children

After her father died, Frances then moved to England and worked as a journalist and went on to become one of the first campaigners against experimenting on animals, and she wrote editorials for London newspapers about suffrage and property rights for women.

Eamonn’s talk will delve more deeply into Frances’ work advocating for the rights of women and children, and will explore her nuanced character and her surprising links to other well-known figures in Anglo-Irish history.

Eamonn’s talk, ‘Miss Frances Cobbe died in 1904, she was the daughter of Tallaght's largest landlord. She campaigned for the rights of women and children’ will kick off the Tallaght Historical Society’s Lecture Series 2018-2019, on Tuesday, September 11, at 7pm in the County Library, Tallaght.

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