Hoey, Patricia (1883–1930), journalist, suffragist and nationalist, was born Ethel Mary on 15 November 1883 at 7 Trafalgar Terrace, Dublin, to Edmond Hoey, gentleman, and his wife Margaret (née Mulchinock), niece of William Pembroke Mulchinock (qv), supposed composer of The rose of Tralee, and grandniece of John Mulchinock (qv), builder of two religious institutions in Tralee, Co. Kerry. On 3 March 1887 Edmond Hoey died, leaving his young widow just £78 and heavily pregnant with her second child, Edmund Joseph, who was born on 15 April.
There is no record of Hoey's childhood or education but it would appear that her mother re-married and possibly moved the family to England, although when is uncertain. In Irish government files dating from the 1920s Margaret is named as 'Mrs Clive Howard', while testimony given by Mary Rigney to the Bureau of Military Archives in 1947 states that Hoey supported her mother and a step-sister, 'also a Clive Howard', who was deaf and dumb. Certainly Hoey was in England by May 1909 when the Freeman's Journal gave details of a meeting of the United Irish League (UIL) of Great Britain. Hoey, described as honourable secretary of the London parliamentary branch, put forward a motion that the UIL should establish a newspaper for the information, guidance and better organisation in Great Britain of the Irish nationalist population. Referring to Hoey as an experienced journalist, UIL president Joseph Devlin (qv) agreed that a monthly bulletin should be published as per her suggestion. Hoey's secretaryship of the UIL, and reference to her experience as a journalist suggest that she had been in London long enough to establish a career and to forge links with Irish nationalists. In a letter published on 5 March the following year in the Weekly Freeman's Journal, Hoey clearly outlined her commitment to Irish independence. Addressing 'Uncle Remus' – an alias used by Rose Kavanagh (qv) and her successor Dora Siggerson Shorter (qv) of the Fireside Club (a newspaper column for children that boasted among its alumni Patrick Pearse (qv) and Éamon de Valera (qv)) – Hoey described herself an emigrant who was 'fighting hard and willingly [for Ireland] and looking eagerly forward to a day of homecoming'.
In 1909–10 Hoey was earning a living as a freelance journalist but she was also working as a freelance business administrator. In October 1909 the London Evening Standard named her as general manager of the International Business Exhibition to be held in London that month. Hoey herself stated that she was the first woman ever appointed to that position, and that she had charge of a staff of two hundred men. Once the Exhibition was over, however, she seems to have returned solely to journalism, and in a letter dated 27 June 1910 addressed to Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington (qv), the letter-head lists the publications she contributed to as: 'The Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mirror, The Stage, Amalgamated press … [and] Of the Editorial Staff of The Organiser. Formerly sub-editor of The Throne' (NLI, MS33,603(13)). In the same year she and Max Rittenberg co-authored a book entitled, What editors want: a reference book for every free-lance writer.
For a time Hoey's nationalist and suffragist politics appear to have co-existed comfortably. She attended the march of over 10,000 women to the Albert Hall on 18 June 1910 in her capacity as secretary to the parliamentary branch of the UIL and was one of 160 speakers who addressed the suffrage demonstration that took place in Hyde Park that July. On 15 March 1911 the Freeman's Journal announced that Hoey would be first president of the newly-formed Irish Women's Franchise League (IWFL), London, while on 20 April 1911 The Common Cause announced that she had been appointed press secretary and tasked with getting fuller and more accurate reports of the suffrage movement into the London papers. Hoey's commitment to the dual aspects of her politics remained firm, the Belfast Telegraph reported on 29 June 1911 that she believed home rule and women's suffrage were undividable. The Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) and the British government however, were less interested in the question of women's suffrage. On 27 July Hoey accompanied Sheehy-Skeffington and Kathleen Shannon, secretary of the IWFL, to a meeting with John Redmond (qv), to ask him to use his influence to further the women's suffrage bill that had recently passed its second reading. Redmond disappointed the delegation by stating the Irish party were pledged not to introduce any controversial legislation until the constitutional crisis, i.e. the electoral uncertainty in Britain, had passed. Later in the year, on 17 November, Hoey was among the Irish deputation that met with Prime Minister H. H. Asquith to ask for a statement concerning the suffrage of women under the home rule bill. His response was non-committal. In 1912 Hoey finally severed her link to the UIL and IPP, resigning her secretaryship and declaring the party's refusal to back women's suffrage as a betrayal of Irish nationalism: '… We are not only working for women's suffrage but for the holy Cause of Ireland. The Irish Party are asking Home Rule for a section of Ireland – we are asking it for the whole of Ireland' (NLI, MS22,663(4)).
In June 1913, for reasons unknown, Hoey departed England for Canada, sailing from Liverpool to Quebec on the Teutonic, where she worked for the Canadian government for a period of time, conducting research on maple-syrup farmers. She was back in Ireland by 3 February 1916 when the Freeman's Journal noted she had been appointed to inquire into cases of outdoor relief and coal distribution recorded in the relieving officer's books. Once back in Ireland Hoey continued to advocate for Irish independence and women's suffrage and on 22 February she delivered an address on the women's movement in Canada. However, as momentum built towards the events of Easter week, the nationalist movement overtook the cause of suffrage. Hoey had joined Ard Craobh Cumann na mBan and a witness statement given by Commandant Seamus Daly places her in the Imperial Hotel on O'Connell St under the command of Frank Thornton (qv) throughout Easter week. Daly says Hoey was in charge of the seven or eight Cumann na mBan women present, and she was the 'most efficient and hard-working woman during the whole thing' (BMH, WS0360). When the hotel was bombed, Hoey was charged with evacuating the women through the back and Frank Drennan led them through the buildings on Earl Street and into the presbytery on Marlborough Street.
In the aftermath of the rising, Hoey found a natural home for her suffragist and nationalist politics in Sinn Féin. At a meeting of the IWFL held in July 1917 she declared that the IPP's lack of sympathy for women's suffrage was instigated by the knowledge that women would never follow their lead and that suffrage would be the burial sheet of the party. A British government file dated 19 August 1918 names Hoey as a very active member of Sinn Féin and Cumann na mBan, stating that her associates considered her to be one of the most energetic propogandists in the city. At that date she was temporarily employed by the British government and was, according to her own account, offered a permanent civil service position in exchange for renouncing Sinn Féin and taking the oath of allegiance. She refused and was dismissed. In the aftermath of the 1918 election and during the subsequent war of independence Hoey worked as a propagandist for Sinn Féin and as confidential secretary to Arthur Griffith (qv). At the same time, she also maintained a secret office for Michael Collins (qv) in her house at 5 Mespil Road under the name O'Brien, as she claimed her mother did not share her views. Cabinet meetings were occasionally held there, and Collins used the office during the day to carry out meetings. He also appointed Hoey as secretary to the dáil courts on Henry Street for a period of time. In April 1921 auxiliary British forces occupied the house for a twenty-four-hour period in the hope of catching Collins unaware. Hoey, under pretext of her mother being unwell, fetched Dr Alice Barry (qv) who took papers from a secret cupboard camouflaged by shelves and smuggled them to Collins, along with a warning to stay away. The house itself was ransacked, Hoey's possessions were destroyed or taken, and she was incarcerated in Mountjoy prison for several weeks but ultimately released in June in the absence of any proof.
Following on from the truce in July 1921, Griffith requested that Hoey work on the negotiations regarding the Ulster question. When the country divided over the treaty, Hoey supported the pro-treaty side and on 20 June 1922 she was enlisted in the National Army as assistant military censor on Piaras Béaslaí's (qv) staff. Defending her claims to a pension later in the decade, Béaslaí stated that she performed exactly the same duties as male officers, in the face of great personal danger, and was trustworthy, accurate and hardworking. The middle years of the 1920s, however, were frustrating for Hoey, a woman who had always made her own living and contributed to suffragist and Irish nationalist politics. Both her aims had been achieved but at a great personal cost. In the aftermath of the civil war she attempted to enter politics, first as a founding member of the Women's Independent Association, which failed to put up a single candidate in 1923, and then as a senator in the 1925 seanad elections, where she came bottom of the poll. A series of letters, increasingly angry and defensive, show that the Free State government was unwilling to acknowledge her contribution. In a mean-spirited letter from George McGrath (qv), first comptroller and auditor general of the new state, he referred to her as drawing on her imagination with regard to her losses and as someone who would always find a reason for making a claim. Drawing upon the 'old' Sinn Féin network, Hoey petitioned Kevin O'Higgins (qv), William Cosgrave (qv) and Béaslaí for help in securing either a pension or government work. Although some, such as James Douglas (qv) viewed her case sympathetically, there was little help or money offered to her. She was awarded the sum of £24.3.4.
Despite her financial hardship, in July 1926 Hoey organised a dispensary for the treatment of sick animals of the poor at Portobello Harbour, Dublin. The evening was such a success that the dispensary became a permanent feature, treating animals on Wednesday and Saturday evenings every week. On 15 August 1926 Hoey wrote to Cosgrave informing him that she had obtained a position with the Hearst press, and in 1926 and 1927 she requested a Christmas message to publish for the Irish in Canada. There are no obvious references to Hoey in extant records until January 1929 when her mother, in a letter to the government requesting money, made passing reference to her daughter's illness. On 9 November 1930 Patricia Hoey died of pulmonary tuberculosis at Our Lady of Lourdes hospital, Kill of the Grange, Dublin, and was buried in Glasnevin cemetery. Her funeral was attended by Colonel Joseph O'Reilly representing President Cosgrave, Richard Mulcahy (qv) and Justice John Reddin (qv) among others, the state acknowledging the contribution she had made to its foundation.