Johnson, Maire (Marie Tregay) (1874–1974), socialist, suffragist, and teacher, was born 24 December 1874 in Lisbwery, Truro, Cornwall, the daughter of James Tregay , a former miner, who, on being blinded as a young man, became a basket-weaver. He held radical political views and supported Irish home rule. After Marie qualified as a teacher at the Whitelands College in Chelsea, London (1894), she moved to Ireland to take up a position at St Miltose's national school, near Kinsale, Co. Cork. It was there in 1896 she met the trade unionist and socialist Thomas Johnson (qv), whom she married in Liverpool in March 1898. She lived in Ireland for the rest of her life and used the Irish form of her forename.
The Johnsons moved to Belfast in 1901 where Maire became active in a variety of progressive organisations, among them the Belfast Co-operative Society, the Irishwomen's Suffrage Society, and the Ulster centre of the Irishwomen's Franchise League. She was a frequent contributor to the last organisation's meetings, ran the library at its Belfast offices, and served on its committee. She and her husband also attended classes and céilis organised by the Thomas Davis branch of the Gaelic League. A supporter of James Connolly (qv), who settled in Belfast in 1911, she assisted him in organising many of Belfast's doffers and spinners into the Irish Textile Workers’ Union. She participated in attempts to organise workers in other parts of Ulster, but these were largely unsuccessful. She served as the union's first secretary until illness forced her to retire in September 1912, when she was replaced by her friend Winifred Carney (qv). Her union activities continued the following year when she and her husband travelled to Dublin to help striking families during the lockout in 1913. After a three week fund-raising tour of the north of England she returned to address numerous public meetings in support of the strikers and work alongside Constance Markievicz (qv) and Delia Larkin (qv) in the soup kitchens at Liberty Hall.
During the war of independence she continued her involvement in politics. She actively supported her colleague Winifred Carney in her bid for election as the MP for East Belfast (1918), and, having moved to Dublin, attempted to become a member of Cumann na mBan but was turned down because of a ruling that members should be ‘of Irish origin’. Associated with the Dublin branch of the Irish White Cross from its inception (1920), during the treaty debates of January 1922 she was among those who accompanied Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington (qv) to see Arthur Griffith (qv) and Éamon de Valera (qv) to urge that women's views be considered. She later recalled that Griffith was most ungracious, while de Valera was ‘more suave, more inclined to placate, seized the chance to agree’. Following the outbreak of the civil war she took part in a deputation that met the senior anti-treatyite Oscar Traynor (qv) at the Hamman Hotel in July 1922 to try to negotiate peace terms. In 1925 Johnson was elected to the Rathmines urban district council, and thus became the first female labour representative on an Irish local government body. She was also a member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
Having survived both her husband (d. 1963) and only child, (Thomas) Fredrick Johnson (1899–1971), an actor at the Abbey Theatre, she remained in the family home in Clontarf until she was well into her nineties. In 1972 she compiled an account of her involvement with the suffrage movement; it is held in the NLI. She died 12 July 1974 at a nursing home in Howth, Co. Dublin, in her hundredth year.