Annie M. P. Smithson
Annie Mary Patricia Smithson (26 September 1873 – 21 February 1948) was an Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

  novelist, poet
Irish poetry
The history of Irish poetry includes the poetries of two languages, one in Irish and the other in English. The complex interplay between these two traditions, and between both of them and other poetries in English, has produced a body of work that is both rich in variety and difficult to...

 and Nationalist.

Smithson was born into a Protestant
Church of Ireland
The Church of Ireland is an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. The church operates in all parts of Ireland and is the second largest religious body on the island after the Roman Catholic Church...

 family in Sandymount
Sandymount is a coastal seaside suburb in Dublin 4 on the Southside of Dublin in Ireland. It is in the Dublin South East Dáil constituency and the East Pembroke Ward. It was once part of Pembroke Township, which took its name from the fact that this area was part of the estate of the Earl of...

, Dublin. She was christened Margaret Anne Jane, but took the names Anne Mary Patricia on her conversion to Catholicism. Her mother and father were first cousins and her father died when she was young. About 1881 her mother married her second husband, Peter Longshaw, who owned a chemical factory in Warrington
Warrington is a town, borough and unitary authority area of Cheshire, England. It stands on the banks of the River Mersey, which is tidal to the west of the weir at Howley. It lies 16 miles east of Liverpool, 19 miles west of Manchester and 8 miles south of St Helens...

 in Lancashire
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...

. Smithson disliked her stepfather and referred to him always as Mr Longshaw. There were five children of the second marriage.

Smithson abandoned her ambition to become a journalist in order to train as a nurse and a midwife. She trained in London and Edinburgh, before returning to Dublin in 1900. In 1901 she took up a post as district nurse in Millton, Co. Down. There she fell in love with her colleague Dr James Manton, a married man. Deciding that a relationship was impossible, she left Millton in 1906. They kept up a correspondence until her conversion, when she burnt his letters.

She converted to Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

 in March 1907 and became a fervent Republican and Nationalist. She became a member of Cumann na mBan
Cumann na mBan
Cumann na mBan is an Irish republican women's paramilitary organisation formed in Dublin on 2 April 1914 as an auxiliary of the Irish Volunteers...

 and campaigned for Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

 in the 1918 general election.

She took the Republican side in the Irish Civil War
Irish Civil War
The Irish Civil War was a conflict that accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State as an entity independent from the United Kingdom within the British Empire....

 and nursed participants in the siege at Moran's Hotel. In 1922 she was imprisoned by Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

 forces and was rescued from Mullingar
Mullingar is the county town of County Westmeath in Ireland. The Counties of Meath and Westmeath Act of 1542, proclaimed Westmeath a county, separating it from Meath. Mullingar became the administrative centre for County Westmeath...

 prison by Linda Kearns McWhinney
Linda Kearns MacWhinney
Linda MacWhinney , a native of Sligo, was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician and nurse.Two days after the insurgents seized the Dublin GPO during the Easter Rising in April 1916, nurse Linda Kearns took over an empty building on North Great George's Street...

 and Muriel MacSwiney, posing as a Red Cross delegation. Her political views led to her resignation from the Queen's Nurses Committee and a move into private nursing. In 1924 she wrote a series of articles on child welfare work for the Evening Mail newspaper, based on her work in tenements in the Dublin Liberties, one of the poorest areas of the city, where she continued to work until 1929.

She was Secretary and Organiser of the Irish Nurses Organisation
Irish Nurses Organisation
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation was founded in 1919. It is the largest Irish professional union for nurses and midwives with 35,000 members....

 from 1929 to 1942. She wrote for the Irish Nurses' Magazine and edited the Irish Nurses Union Gazette.

In 1917 she published her first novel, Her Irish Heritage, which became a best-seller. It was dedicated to those who died in the Easter Rising of 1916. In all, she published twenty novels and two short story collections. Other successful novels included By Strange Paths and The Walk of a Queen. Many of her works are highly romantic and draw on her own life experiences, with nationalism and Catholicism featuring as recurrent themes. In 1944 she published her autobiography, Myself - and Others.

From 1932 onwards she shared a house in Rathmines
Rathmines is a suburb on the southside of Dublin, about 3 kilometres south of the city centre. It effectively begins at the south side of the Grand Canal and stretches along the Rathmines Road as far as Rathgar to the south, Ranelagh to the east and Harold's Cross to the west.Rathmines has...

, Dublin with her stepsister and her stepsister's family. She died of heart failure at 12 Richmond Hill, Dublin and was buried in Whitechurch, County Dublin.

Her novels feature in Brian Friel
Brian Friel
Brian Friel is an Irish dramatist, author and director of the Field Day Theatre Company. He is considered to be the greatest living English-language dramatist, hailed by the English-speaking world as an "Irish Chekhov" and "the universally accented voice of Ireland"...

's Dancing at Lughnasa
Dancing at Lughnasa
Dancing at Lughnasa is a 1990 play by dramatist Brian Friel set in Ireland's County Donegal in August 1936 in the fictional town of Ballybeg. It is a memory play told from the point of view of the adult Michael Evans, the narrator...

. Between 1989 and 1990 the Mercier Press reprinted several of her works.

Select bibliography

  • Her Irish Heritage (1917)
  • By Strange Paths (1919)
  • Carmen Cavanagh (1921)
  • The Walk of a Queen (1922)
  • Nora Connor: A Romance of Yesteryear (1924)
  • The Laughter of Sorrow (1925)
  • These Things: The Romance of a Dancer (1927)
  • Sheila of the O'Beirnes (1929)
  • Traveller’s Joy (1930)
  • For God and Ireland (1931)
  • The Light of Other Days (1933)
  • Margaret of Fair Hill (1939)
  • The Weldons of Tibradden (1940)
  • By Shadowed Ways (1942)
  • Paid in Full (1946)
  • The Marriage of Nurse Harding (1951)
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