The 35 year constitutional crusade to place the Irish state on a progressive footing came to a thundering end in the courtyard of Dublin Castle the Summer of 2018 with the erasure of the right to life for the unborn child.

3 years on and while the country remains under lock and key of a disastrous covid technocracy instigated by the same politicians that had once championed ‘bodily autonomy’, the public is subjected to a one sided telling of the origins and personalities behind the 8th Amendment.

A battle of angels and demons, the pro-life amendment we are told was designed by and for a coterie of dull middle class Catholic men, eager to hold back the rising tide of history and lord their control over female uteruses. Against this villainous conspiracy, an assembly of liberatory voices emerged onto the field and fought tooth and nail against the odds to win freedom for 51% of the population.

Discrediting this one sided and frankly dry hagiography, the story and persona of Alice Glenn flies in the face of cheap media sanctioned stereotypes as the pro-life movement’s most firebrand and articulate of voices.

An inner city Dublin councilor and later Fine Gael TD, Alice Glenn in all her resolve stood athwart Irish history yelling stop, not just against the progressive reforms of her political master Gareth Fitzgerald but the top down process of media imposed liberalism on Irish society.

Pigeonholed even within her lifetime as a Catholic radical, Glenn had the (mis)fortune in the eyes of opinionmakers of holding rather standard views on social matters, leading the charge on the campaigns against abortion and divorce separately.

A decade on from her death and a centenary on from her birth, Alice Glenn elicits both the fear and scoffing from the architects of the liberal Ireland she waged political jihad against. 

For those on the dissident right, her saga and the overall trajectory of that generation of conservative activists represent a last ditch rearguard action against an already captured state and a lifetime that nevertheless was able to purchase some time in achieving the 8th and stalling the march on the family. 

For all the problems facing the nation, one small reprieve is having a social and family structure still relatively intact in comparison to the divorce and a single mother ridden Britain, a feat Alice Glenn helped safeguard.

Politically and socially anomalous to Marxian eyes, the future Fine Gael TD for Dublin Central was born the eldest of ten to a working class family on Ushers Quay in 1921. Forced to leave education early to work, she achieved her first political success in the unionisation of fellow garment workers during her twenties. 

Enjoying a warm and successful marriage with air force cadet William Glenn, she would later up sticks initially to Gormanstown and later to Cabra where she lived most her life and which became her political stomping ground, first as a councillor and later as a TD.

A Boudicca type figure in the realm of public debate, Alice Glenn quietly battled with depression for the initial few years of her marriage brought on by a series of stillbirths. Overcoming this she raised a bountiful family of 4.

Born to a Fine Gael voting household, she later recalled in an 1984 interview her initial political awakening as seeing the political unscrupulousness of CJ Haughey during the Arms Trial. Driven into the Fine Gael local machine, after multiple failed attempts she emerged onto Dublin City Council in 1974 and the Dáil in 1981.

Breaking glass ceilings at a time Mary Robinson and her ilk were sojourning with New Leftists at Harvard, Glenn made a political name for herself on bread and butter issues especially in the realm of housing and food prices.

Her social conservatism (the norm for the time) shone through in her objection to contraception and support of the marriage ban for women in the civil service. In a 1978 speech that would curl the blood of modern Irish feminists she even suggested 10,000 women in the civil service to resign to mitigate unemployment figures.

An Irish Catholic in the Reaganite age, she was a committed member to the Anti-Communist League even attempting to found an Irish branch with fellow TD Brendan McGahon.

A keen Ibsen aficionado her entire adult life, Alice Glenn was renowned both for her singing voice as well as opposition to aesthetically lacking modern art being displayed at public expense.

Initially believed to be on the progressive wing of the party for her support of enhanced social democratic policies, Glenn joined objectors to the infamously ill conceived development on the city’s Wood Quay site.

Contrary to the politically blue blooded Taoiseach she would square off against in later years Glenn emerged without the assistance of dynasty politics, cultivating her own base through constituency work and accruing trust among the community.

Holding Garret Fitzgerald’s feet to the fire on his electoral promise to enshrine a pro-life amendment into Bunreacht, Glenn was far from the feminine window dressing Fitzgerald wanted, acting as a thorn in his side his entire Tanistry.

In later years Glenn would be a key figure in the constitutional battles over divorce, famously coining the phrase ‘Turkeys voting for Christmas’ when it came to women opting to legalise the practice.

Expressing strident objections to creeping European integration and various reforms undercutting the role of the family, she along with Oliver J Flanagan and Tom O’Donnell over time became marginalised figures within the party. 

Aside from Fitzgerald himself, Glenn believed that a major source of this liberal mindset came from a hijacking of the party by the youth wing of the party, gradually eschewing the Fine Gael grassroots.

Eventually deselected and splitting acrimoniously with Fine Gael over supposedly sectarian remarks, she stood as an independent candidate in 1987, though not with enough support to return to the Oireachtas, She lost her council seat in 1991 and retired from politics though occasionally popped up on social matters such as divorce before passing away in December 2011.

With perhaps more fortitude and intellect in her baby finger than the feminists of today, Glenn challenged with every breath what she saw as the ideologues of second wave feminism running contrary the laws of God and nature.

Ample video footage exists of her debating style courtesy of YouTube and reveal a woman who with little effort can skewer TCD’s finest Mary Robinson in one sitting.

Never one to succumb to civil war politics, she later expressed keen admiration for De Valera, crossing the political divide to pay homage to the Long Fellow’s attempted construction of a Catholic State. Unusual for a Troubles era Fine Gael TD she championed the Birmingham 6 against their wrongful convictions.

While radiating an aura of patrician womanhood she lived the life of a working class mother her early life, contrary to her many adversaries on the liberal end of the spectrum.

Juvenile commentary paints 1980s Fine Gael as being a bulwark of Catholic conservatism, despite this Glenn found herself a maligned figure within the party for her rather modest views on Faith and Family.

While RTÉ and the Irish elite are just shy of renaming O’Connell Street in Mary Robinson’s honour, don’t expect for a moment Glenn to be praised for her role as the first Irish woman in a variety of public offices. Glenn didn’t need any gender quota to live her political career and would likely be insulted at the very prospect.

In retrospect, we can see her political mission while sincere ultimately doomed considering the civilisational forces at play and the rot setting into both Irish Catholicism and the state meant to represent that creed and people. 

Regardless, like all that generation of conservative activists I feel a lump in my throat and twitch of my knuckles at attempts to shoehorn shallow partisan accounts into the history books.

A heartless battleaxe of middle class Catholic reaction,it is easy for the great and good of our intelligentia to falsely portray the conservative activist from Cabra. 

While we are bored ad nauseum with the Whig revisionism of Irish history, the life and times of Alice Glenn show a woman who stood up to a quietly building decadence among our political elites and understood the need to act before that political epicureanism overwhelmed our society.

So much for Catholic Ireland! What our elites profess publicly today in their disdain for the natural order they were confessing privately to Alice Glenn back in the 80s. The mask has come off our elites after the 8th and we see now that private face Alice Glenn once saw behind closed doors and rebelled against.

`Isn’t it wonderful that Oliver {Flanagan} and Garrett (Fitzgerald) are together again” it was uttered at the funeral of the late Taoiseach in 2011.

‘I wouldn’t be so sure they’re in the same place‘ the former TD for Dublin Central retorted back with her typical wit. 

On the centenary of her birth let’s not let Liberal Ireland forget the name Alice Glenn just yet.

Alice Glenn (17 December 1921 – 16 December 2011)

Ní Bheidh A Leithéid Arís Ann!

Posted by Ciaran Brennan

3 Comments

  1. Muriel Kinsella 17/12/2021 at 6:35 pm

    Wonderful article. To my shame I had forgotten Alice Glen.
    Is it any wonder that second wave Marxism has shifted from class war to culture war. From the Democratic party in America to the Labour party in the UK, the parties established to champion the working class, so called socialists exhibit the most appalling snobbery, a snobbery that even the Victorians would reject.

    Reply

  2. Did she expect women to sit at home all day & die of boredom ❓

    Reply

  3. Did she expect women to sit at home all day & die of boredom ❓

    Reply

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