As the debate about gender quotas and the need for more women in representative politics in Ireland continues, it is worth listing the women who have represented Kerry in the Oireachtas as well as the women who have served on Kerry County Council over the years. It is a shockingly brief list that tells its own story.
It is remarkable to think that just four Kerry women have sat in the Dáil since 1919, the longest serving being Fianna Fáil’s Honor Mary Crowley from 1945 to 1966. Interestingly, three of Kerry’s female TDs from the past were elected following the retirement or death of their husband or father.
As stark as the absence of Kerry women from the Dáil and Seanad has been, the dearth of women from Kerry County Council in its 114-year history is shocking. Not a single woman was returned to the Council from the northern half of the county until the late 1960s. Just three women – Mary O’Donoghue (mother of John), Kit Ahern and Toireasa Ferris have chaired the authority since its foundation. Only six of the current 27-member Council are female.
Female TDs from Kerry
Honor Mary Crowley (FF, Kerry South) 1945 – 1966Breeda Moynihan Cronin (Lab, Kerry South) 1992 – 2007
Catherine (Kit) Ahern (FF, Kerry North) 1977 – 1981
Kathleen O’Connor (CnaP, Kerry North) 1956 – 1957
Female Senators from Kerry
Marie Moloney (Lab), a member of the current Seanad
Female members of Kerry County Council
Lady Albina Lucy Broderick (SF) 1920 (Killorglin)Kate Breen (Rep/FF) 1926 (Killarney)
Mary O’Shea (Ind) 1926 (Killorglin)
Honor Mary Crowley (FF) 1945 (Killarney)*
Mary O’Donoghue (FF) 1964 (Killorglin)*
Catherine (Kit) Ahern (FF) 1967 (Listowel)
Maeve Spring (Lab) 1982 (Tralee)*
Breeda Moynihan-Cronin (Lab) 1991 (Killarney)
Anne McEllistrim (FF) 2004 (Tralee)
Norma Foley (FF) 2004 (Tralee)
Toireasa Ferris (SF) 2003 (Tralee)*
Marie Moloney (Lab) 2009 (Killarney)
Gillian Wharton-Slattery (Lab) 2011 (Tralee)*
* Denotes co-opted