A feminist before it became fashionable

MAY HAYES, who was a member of the Connolly Association in the 1940s, died recently in Claremorris at the age of 94. Born in Tagoat, Co.Wexford, she had strong republican and left-wing views. She emigrated to Britain during World War 2, along with thousands of other young Irishwomen. She was one of three volunteer secretaries who staffed the Irish Exiles Advisory Bureau which the Connolly Association set up to deal with the accommodation problems, work permits and conscription issues affecting Irish immigrants during the war. The late Desmond Greaves would come into the CA office of evenings to dictate the many letters to officaldom that had to be sent on their behalf. May Hayes and the others would then type them.

On returning to Ireland she worked for a time for the Irish Women Workers Union. She supported Sinn Féin in the 1960s and the late Seamus Costello's Irish Republican Socialist Party in the early 1970s. She was a member of the Irish Labour Party. May Hayes never married. She had a razor sharp mind, a sharp sense of humour, did not suffer fools gladly, had a heart of gold and made countless friends. She was a feminist before feminism became fashionable. She left her body for medical purposes. Father Piaras O Duill officiated at a memorial ceremony in the Capuchin Friary, Church Street, Dublin, organised by her friends Elizabeth and Margaret Doyle and Melissa Costello.

A rock of good sense

Packie Early, who died recently, worked in the building trade in Britain during World War 2 and was a member of the Connolly Association National Executive in those years. A Co. Leitrim man, he was a committed republican and socialist, being a great admirer of his fellow countyman James Gralton, and a friend of the left-republican leader Peadar O'Donnell.

On returning to Ireland he was active in the building union UCATT, was a member of the Dublin Trades Council for many years, and a member of the Communist Party. He was a rock of good sense on political and trade union matters. His views, delivered trenchantly in his richly resonant Leitrim accent, invariably had a powerful effect in resolving issues and showing a way forward through nonsense and confusion. He was one of the most respected figures in Dublin republican and labour circles. The Connolly Association Executive and the Irish Democrat sends its condolences to his wife Lou and his family.

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This document was last modified by David Granville on 2004-04-01 09:06:38.
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