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Caitlín Brugha

Waterford's Revolutionary Women 1916-1922

5. Caitlín Brugha
Sinn Fein, T.D. Waterford City and County 1923-1927
Kathleen Kingston was born in Parsons Town, Birr County Offaly to William Kingston and Catherine Roache on the 11th December 1879. The Kinston family owned and ran a successful local business in the town and it was here Kathleen acquired the skills required to be a successful business women in her adult life. It was in Birr while attending Irish classes she met Irish revolutionary Cathal Brugha in January 1912. The couple married and had six children, five daughters and one son Ruari. During the Civil War in July 1922 Cathal Brugha was killed while fighting the Free State troops in Dublin City. Caitlin Brugha was left a widow; the eldest of their 6 children was just 10 years old at the time of his death.

Letters from Caitlín Brugha, neé Kingston, to Edmund Downey following the death of her husband, August 8th 1922 "Cathal's death is the deepest sorrow God could have given me yet is my consolation to know that he died for Ireland. May God send us that freedom for which he died & may his example keep our people from selling our beloved country into slavery". (National Library of Ireland)

In 1923 Catlin Brugha was elected T.D for Waterford County constituency in Dáil Éireann a seat previously held by her husband as an abstentions anti-treaty T.D. Polling a massive 8,263 first preference votes, the quota was 6,512 votes. Caitlin Brugha was Waterford's first female T.D and served Waterford City and County constituency from 1923 to 1926. In June 1927 she won but as she was opposed to the treaty she did not take the seat.

Caitlín Brugha, neé Kingston, to Edmund Downey, 1922-1927 on the release of prisoners:

"The prospects are now looking very good for the prisoners; it is only a matter of time until Dev [Eamon De Valera] is back again. The general opinion is that the Free State is only also a matter of time & that [W.T.] Cosgrave & the rest are making hay while they can. They are all buying fine houses & I heard that one of them owns practically half Greystones. This of course may only be gossip but it's very often near the truth ... Sinn Féin at present working on a policy which will be practical & workable for the country, with the addition of Sean T. [Ó Ceallaigh] & the others we expect to make some headway now that the awful hunger strike is over & the prisoners coming out".

Caitlin opened and ran a successful men's clothing store, Kingston's Ltd. in Dublin for many years. The couple's only son Ruari became a Fianna Fail Politician was elected to Dáil Éireann in 1973. Caitlin Brugha died 1st December 1959.

*Lugh Film Productions, Deirdre Stuart, Caitlin Kingston (Brugha) , B'Í Mo Mhamó Í, Loic Jourdain and Anne Marie Nic Ruaidhri, 2011.
*National Library of Ireland, Letters from Caitlín Brugha, neé Kingston, to Edmund Downey, 1922-1927, MS 49,552

Author: Chrissy O'Connor Knight & Eddie Cantwell

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