Irish women are the bedrock upon which successful Irish and Irish-American families are built. For thousands of years, Irish women have been equal partners with their men in managing their families, clans, churches and governments. In ancient Ireland, women fought in battle beside their husbands, brothers and sons. They were also druids, clerics and rulers. Ancient Brehon law guaranteed Irish women the right to independence, to self-determination, to own property, and to choose whom to marry or divorce.
Saint Brigid was born around the year 453 AD at Faughart, Ireland. A woman of renowned wisdom and common sense, Brigid’s genius for leadership and organization was widely recognized. She established schools and organized the episcopal government of Kildare. After years in charge at Kildare, she became one of Ireland’s most powerful religious leaders. Bishops, priests, chieftains and kings frequently sought her counsel. St. Brigid was also renowned for her hospitality. The poor and the infirm came to her in their multitudes. She made provision for them all, and cared for the sick, healing them with her extensive knowledge of contemporary medicine.
Ironically, it was not until the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, that “enlightened” Tudor England outlawed the "barbarous" Irish Brehon laws, and put Irish women back into their "proper place”, as the “property” of men, with no property rights of their own. For 400 years, Irish women suffered the indignity of this British-imposed servitude. At the turn of the 20th century, Irish women again took up arms with their husbands, brothers and sons, against the British rule of Ireland, and won freedom and independence for themselves and the Republic of Ireland:
Irish women were among the early settlers and pioneers in Florida. Today, in Florida, Irish-American women are noted educators, physicians, lawyers, business owners and executives, politicians and elected officials, and the managers of successful Florida Irish families. Always formidable, sometimes fierce, they are a force of nature:
Part of a 1974 interview with long-time Palm Beach resident
and matriarch of America’s most famous Irish-American family