Connery, Margaret (‘Meg’) (1879–1956), suffragist, was born in Westport, Co. Mayo. She married Con Connery in her 20s, but little is known of her early life. Small and courageous, she had a vivacious wit that came in handy during her many suffragist demonstrations for the Irish Women's Franchise League. During one altercation at a meeting in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, the suffragist meeting was shouted down by men who began singing ‘Put me on an island where the girls are few’. Connery cheekily asked the men if they would really like to be on such an island: they promptly quietened, and allowed the meeting to continue undisturbed.
Prepared to suffer the consequences of her actions, she was imprisoned for a week in November 1911 after one demonstration. In February 1912 she went to Belfast with Hanna Sheehy Skeffington (qv) to heckle Winston Churchill. She was also a regular contributor to the Irish Citizen (1912–20), a small journal dedicated to Irish feminism. In November 1912 she broke a number of windows at the Custom House to gain publicity and was arrested and taken to the Bridewell. Despite a difficult night, Connery was still able to lecture the judge the next day at her trial.
When the home rule bill came before parliament in 1913, Connery, along with Margaret Cousins (qv) and a Mrs Hoskins, volunteered to break the windows of Dublin Castle in protest at the continued exclusion of women from the vote. They did so (28 January) and were soon arrested. Although the damage was minimal they were sentenced to one month's imprisonment. They demanded to be treated as political prisoners, but this was refused and they were taken to Tullamore, King's Co. (Offaly). While in prison Connery was elected vice-chair of the IWFL. After a week, she and her fellow suffragists went on hunger strike to secure political-prisoner status. After the sixth day Hoskins suffered heart failure and her release was immediately ordered, with the demands of the remaining prisoners conceded.
In the first three months of 1914 Connery organised a speaking tour in Longford, Leitrim, and Roscommon, the only remaining counties that had not heard a suffragist speaker. She was famously photographed selling the Irish Citizen after rushing between Bonar Law, the conservative leader, and Sir Edward Carson (qv) outside Iveagh House. Sheehy Skeffington attempted to join her, but was arrested. The outbreak of the first world war provided many contentious issues for the various suffrage movements. Connery was particularly critical of the contagious diseases act, which she believed was directed at making sex safe for men, especially soldiers and sailors.
In June 1914 Connery suffered a miscarriage and her health failed after this. In May 1915 the government closed the North Sea, preventing Irish women from attending the international women's peace conference at the Hague. The IWFL organised a protest meeting, chaired by Connery. When Thomas MacDonagh (qv) of the Irish Volunteers offered his complete support at the meeting, Connery responded by saying that she could never support the use of violence by the Volunteers, and that love must triumph over hate. In the Representation of the People Act, 1918, women over the age of 30 were given the vote, and this saw a sharp decline in the numbers of the suffragettes. Connery, however, was critical of this limited victory, and demanded full equality with men. Nevertheless, she was sceptical that Irish women would prove any more discerning than the men when it came to voting.
Opposed to the treaty in 1921, she was equally critical of the civil war. Joining the Irish Linen Worker's Union, she campaigned for improvements in working conditions, and in 1922 she was part of a White Cross mission to assess damage done to Tipperary and north Cork by the recent troubles. She remained a lifelong friend of Sheehy Skeffington. She died in December 1956.