Skeffington, Andrée Sheehy- (1910–98), feminist, was born in Amiens, France, eldest among one daughter and three sons of Eugene Denis and Germaine Denis (née Fontaine), both schoolteachers of socialist and pacifist inclination. The relationship between her family and that of her future husband, Owen Sheehy-Skeffington (qv), dated from 1904 through a series of school exchanges between Andrée's mother and two of Owen's maternal aunts, Mary and Kathleen Sheehy (Kathleen Cruise O'Brien (qv)). In 1928 Owen, then a TCD student, spent the first of several summer holidays as a guest in Amiens of the Denis family. In the same year Andrée commenced university studies at the Sorbonne, Paris. The relationship between herself and Owen deepened during the two years that he taught in a Paris teacher training college (1931–3). After obtaining her degree, she studied on scholarship in the USA (1933–4). The couple married in Amiens (March 1935), then settled in Dublin, where Owen had commenced a career as lecturer in French at TCD, and Andrée did translation work and gave private classes in French. Sharing interests in literature, French and European culture, and social justice, they were involved together in various leftist, pacifist and cultural activities. During the two years that Owen was stricken with tuberculosis, part of which he spent in a Swiss sanatorium, she substituted for him as TCD lecturer (1937–9).
During the 1939–45 emergency Andrée emerged as a figure of national importance. Involved with Owen on the Council of Action, an initiative intended to coordinate efforts by the Labour Party and the trade unions to deal with the conditions of the emergency, she was prominent on the council's housing section, offering advice and support to tenement tenants, and resisting profiteering in rents. In 1941 she was one of five young married women, including Hilda Tweedy, who drafted and circulated the so-called ‘housewives’ petition’, presented to the government and opposition parties amid extensive press coverage on the eve of budget day. Against the background of wartime scarcity and soaring prices of imported goods, especially foodstuffs and fuel, and the consequent hardships endured, particularly by poor families, the women sought to supplement the relief work of charitable bodies by exploring strategies to influence government policy. Outlining detailed proposals for increasing domestic production and assuring equitable distribution at fair prices, their petition stimulated the introduction of government rationing. Sheehy Skeffington was the only member of the women's group with prior political experience.
Seeking to channel the initiative into a permanent organisational structure, in May 1942 Sheehy Skeffington and Tweedy, joined by Louie Bennett (qv) and Susan Manning of the Irish Women Workers’ Union, launched the Irish Housewives Committee, reconstituted in 1946 as the Irish Housewives Association (IHA); Sheehy Skeffington and Tweedy were elected the body's joint honorary secretaries. Non-party and non-sectarian, through the war years and beyond, the body established itself as a major advocate in consumer affairs, and in issues regarding the welfare of women and children. It monitored price controls, lobbied national and local government bodies, issued reports, and promoted the involvement of women in the political process. Sheehy Skeffington was especially important in conducting exhaustive research into the various issues addressed by the body, and in training others in the techniques of data accumulation and reporting. She was closely involved with the association's annual organ, The Irish Housewife, and represented the body at the 1949 conference of the International Alliance of Women, Amsterdam. Sharply attacked for its advocacy of free school meals (opposed by some catholic clergy as a threat to the sanctity of the home), during the cold war the IHA was consistently accused of communist associations and sympathies, especially after issuing a message to the 1949 Paris world peace conference. Differences emerged between Sheehy Skeffington and other executive members, including Tweedy, over the most appropriate tactics with which to confront such opposition. After suffering a serious illness necessitating a major operation, she resigned as IHA secretary in September 1955.
The Sheehy Skeffingtons had two sons and one daughter. From 1939 their regular Friday ‘at homes’ were a magnet for local and visiting academics, leftists, intellectuals, artists, and bohemians. The last years of their marriage were afflicted by Owen's lengthy battle against heart disease, till his death in 1970. In 1991 Andrée published an acclaimed biography of her husband, for which in the following year she was awarded an honorary degree by TCD. She died 6 June 1998 at 69 Terenure Road West, Dublin, her home since the mid 1950s.