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In January 1899 Constance was introduced to Count Casimir Dunin-Markievicz at a student ball by the Polish writer Stefan Kozywoszewski, who describes the initial meeting in his autobiography "A long life". He had arranged to dine with Casimir before the ball, and the two men ate a two-franc dinner of chateaubriand steaks and fried potatoes in a small restaurant. At the sight of the steaks Casimir startled his fellow diners by neighing in token of his recognition of the origin of the meat. Thus fortified, the friends went on to the ball where Casimir had promised Kozywoszewski they would meet many "swell foreign women students".

"At about 10 p.m. we found ourselves at the ball. It was a bizarre gathering, every class and nationality was represented, and the clothes echoed the diversity… Near me stopped two English women. The older was of the type that you could meet ten or twenty times and yet not be able to recognize her five minutes later. The other one (i.e. Constance) who appeared to be about twenty and was conspicuous for her proud bearing. She was a living Rosetti or Burne-Jones. Her profile was delicately drawn. Her eyes grey-blue. Her ball dress, an over-stylish one and not too fresh, barely covered the skinny shoulder blades and the smooth plains where men gladly look for convexities.

Since she was looking at me in a friendly manner I asked her in French "Madame don’t you dance?" "I have no one to dance with, I do not like to dance alone." I bowed, she stooped down a little towards my arm. We squeezed into the dense crowd of waltzers. A brief conversation enabled me to orientate myself to this new acquaintance. In spite of her easy, women-of-the-world manners, typical of the Parisian art student world, this was an intelligent Miss with a background of good society. No sooner had the music started again then the English women wanted to dance once more. Markievicz was passing at this moment. I stopped him: do dance with this lady. You will be well matched in height and bearing." "Markievicz immediately seized her and started to talk animatedly in his broken English. They looked well together-outstanding in the lively dancing crowd"

Self Portrait by Casimir

Self Portrait by Casimir

From the moment of meeting they found in each other kindred spirits. Markievicz was a tall and dramatically handsome man, a painter, an original, a light-hearted womanizer with a serious streak. He was six years younger than Constance, and already a widower. He had been married to Jadwida Splawa Neyman, with whom he had two sons, but they later became estranged. Jadwida and younger son died soon afterwards, leaving him with one surviving son, Stanislas.

There has always been doubt over the bona fides of Casimir’s title of "Count de Markievicz", and indeed the Gore Booth family made their own enquiries. Dermot James in his recent publication "The Gore Booth’s of Lissadell" records the following:

Josslyn’s subsequent, partly successful, attempts to find out something about his sister’s fiancé are well documented in the family papers, but it has taken almost a century for his enquiries to be made known. Details about the steps then taken only came to light following researches in the Tsarist archives in Saint Petersburg undertaken by Seamus Martin (when he served as Moscow correspondent for the Irish Times). In an article published in April 1994, Mr Martin described how the British Ambassador at Saint Petersburg contacted the Imperial Russian Foreign Minister, who in turn requested the Russian Ambassador in Paris to arrange for a member of the Okhran ( the secret police) to spy on Casimir Markievicz. The reason, said the Ambassador, was that:

"this person has won the trust of a relative of the Marques of Salisbury (The British Prime Minister) who resided in Paris as an art student and calling himself a noble man and the son of a Count, is trying to persuade her to marry him".

A thorough investigation by the State Councillor Rachkobsky revealed that: 

Mr Casimir Dnin Markievicz is said to have been born on March 15, 1871 (he was born in 1874) at Denfowka (Denhofowka), Russian Poland, son of Pierre and Mrs Marie Shrzaszczewsk. Without right he takes the title of Count Dunin-Markievicz in that Poland had never had a Count of that name.

Rachkobsky went further, doubting Casimir’s right to prefix "Dunin" to his name because it suggested royal origins and he confirmed some details about Casimir’s first marriage to Jadwiga Splawa-Neyman. Rachkobsky discovered that she and their son Stanislas had joined Casimir in Paris in 1898 (he had been living alone there for two years) and after becoming pregnant again she returned to her relatives in Ukraine.

The Okhrana representative followed Casimir to his studio address in Paris, sending back comprehensive details about people with whom he had been studying. Details of his recently completed paintings were also noted, including a portrait "of an Irish women who passes as his future wife, who he is due to marry around next September."

Rachkobsky reported that: "The couple have known each other for a long time already.." Rachkobsky’s references to Casimir were invariably pre-fixed by the title "Mr" and after referring to Constance as "Ms Gore Booth" he described Casimir’s lifestyle:

"He spends a lot of money (living among) young people of both sexes of eccentric appearance and disposition (and) since the death of his wife he indulges in all pleasures which take up every instant of his time. Apart from this stormy life there is nothing with which to reproach him."

In January 1899 Constance was introduced to Count Casimir Dunin-Markievicz at a student ball by the Polish writer Stefan Kozywoszewski, who describes the initial meeting in his autobiography "A long life". He had arranged to dine with Casimir before the ball, and the two men ate a two-franc dinner of chateaubriand steaks and fried potatoes in a small restaurant. At the sight of the steaks Casimir startled his fellow diners by neighing in token of his recognition of the origin of the meat. Thus fortified, the friends went on to the ball where Casimir had promised Kozywoszewski they would meet many "swell foreign women students".

"At about 10 p.m. we found ourselves at the ball. It was a bizarre gathering, every class and nationality was represented, and the clothes echoed the diversity… Near me stopped two English women. The older was of the type that you could meet ten or twenty times and yet not be able to recognize her five minutes later. The other one (i.e. Constance) who appeared to be about twenty and was conspicuous for her proud bearing. She was a living Rosetti or Burne-Jones. Her profile was delicately drawn. Her eyes grey-blue. Her ball dress, an over-stylish one and not too fresh, barely covered the skinny shoulder blades and the smooth plains where men gladly look for convexities.

Since she was looking at me in a friendly manner I asked her in French "Madame don’t you dance?" "I have no one to dance with, I do not like to dance alone." I bowed, she stooped down a little towards my arm. We squeezed into the dense crowd of waltzers. A brief conversation enabled me to orientate myself to this new acquaintance. In spite of her easy, women-of-the-world manners, typical of the Parisian art student world, this was an intelligent Miss with a background of good society. No sooner had the music started again then the English women wanted to dance once more. Markievicz was passing at this moment. I stopped him: do dance with this lady. You will be well matched in height and bearing." "Markievicz immediately seized her and started to talk animatedly in his broken English. They looked well together-outstanding in the lively dancing crowd"

From the moment of meeting they found in each other kindred spirits. Markievicz was a tall and dramatically handsome man, a painter, an original, a light-hearted womanizer with a serious streak. He was six years younger than Constance, and already a widower. He had been married to Jadwida Splawa Neyman, with whom he had two sons, but they later became estranged. Jadwida and younger son died soon afterwards, leaving him with one surviving son, Stanislas.

There has always been doubt over the bona fides of Casimir’s title of "Count de Markievicz", and indeed the Gore Booth family made their own enquiries. Dermot James in his recent publication "The Gore Booth’s of Lissadell" records the following:

Josslyn’s subsequent, partly successful, attempts to find out something about his sister’s fiancé are well documented in the family papers, but it has taken almost a century for his enquiries to be made known. Details about the steps then taken only came to light following researches in the Tsarist archives in Saint Petersburg undertaken by Seamus Martin (when he served as Moscow correspondent for the Irish Times). In an article published in April 1994, Mr Martin described how the British Ambassador at Saint Petersburg contacted the Imperial Russian Foreign Minister, who in turn requested the Russian Ambassador in Paris to arrange for a member of the Okhran ( the secret police) to spy on Casimir Markievicz. The reason, said the Ambassador, was that:

A thorough investigation by the State Councillor Rachkobsky revealed that:

"this person has won the trust of a relative of the Marques of Salisbury (The British Prime Minister) who resided in Paris as an art student and calling himself a noble man and the son of a Count, is trying to persuade her to marry him".

Mr Casimir Dnin Markievicz is said to have been born on March 15, 1871 (he was born in 1874) at Denfowka (Denhofowka), Russian Poland, son of Pierre and Mrs Marie Shrzaszczewsk. Without right he takes the title of Count Dunin-Markievicz in that Poland had never had a Count of that name.

Rachkobsky went further, doubting Casimir’s right to prefix "Dunin" to his name because it suggested royal origins and he confirmed some details about Casimir’s first marriage to Jadwiga Splawa-Neyman. Rachkobsky discovered that she and their son Stanislas had joined Casimir in Paris in 1898 (he had been living alone there for two years) and after becoming pregnant again she returned to her relatives in Ukraine.

The Okhrana representative followed Casimir to his studio address in Paris, sending back comprehensive details about people with whom he had been studying. Details of his recently completed paintings were also noted, including a portrait "of an Irish women who passes as his future wife, who he is due to marry around next September."

A portrait of Constance by Casimir

A portrait of Constance by Casimir

Rachkobsky reported that: "The couple have known each other for a long time already.." Rachkobsky’s references to Casimir were invariably pre-fixed by the title "Mr" and after referring to Constance as "Ms Gore Booth" he described Casimir’s lifestyle:

"He spends a lot of money (living among) young people of both sexes of eccentric appearance and disposition (and) since the death of his wife he indulges in all pleasures which take up every instant of his time. Apart from this stormy life there is nothing with which to reproach him."

Sean O’Faolain in his book on Constance Markievicz (1934) states that Casimir bore the title of Count by virtue of his descent from a 13th century count, Peter Dunin, whose name each branch of his large family adopted to retain the title, e.g. Dunin-Borkowski, Dunin-Korwicki, Dunin-Markievicz. The title, recognized in Prussia in the 18th century, was thus much older than the Gore Booth baronetcy, created in the 17th century. Casimir was born on the estate of Denhof-Fobka in the Ukraine, the second son of Count Dunin Markievicz, and one of nine children.

James quotes from the respected Polish Biographical Dictionary, which describes Kazimierz Markievicz as a son of land owning family which "used the title Count." In a school named in honour of Constance Markievicz in Poland (following the fall of Communism in Europe), the title given was "Szkola Bodstawowa 335IN" (in the name of) "Konstancji Markievicz", but without ascribing to her the title "Countess". James further records that when notices announcing Casimir’s death were published in the Warsaw newspapers, no mention was made of him having been a Count.

In a final footnote to the mystery Donal Nevins, in his biography of James Connelly, quotes from a letter which Casimir’s son Stanislas (who never sought to utilise the title) wrote this note to John McCann (journalist, playwright and member of Fianna Fail): "Dear John, my father was not a Count. Yours, Staskow."

Whatever the concerns of the family, by September 1899 Constance and Casimir were engaged to be married. Casimir celebrated their love by painting a large oil of Constance (Constance in white) which was exhibited in the Grand Palais during the great exhibition of 1900.

They were married from 41 Devonshire Place at Saint Marylebone’s Parish Church on the 29th September 1900. The newspapers recorded…

"Monsieur Joseph Dunin De Markievicz a Polish noble of Zybolavka, Poland and Miss Constance Georgina Gore-Booth, eldest daughter of the late Sir Henry William Goore-Booth, J.P. for County Sligo, and granddaughter of the late Lieutenant-Colonel Charles John Hill of Tickhill Castle, York. The nuptial ceremony was conducted by the Reverend F.S. Le Fanu M.A. of Saint John’s Churc,h Dublin and the bridegroom was supported by M. Sichalco of Saint Petersburg as best man.

There were only four bridesmaids- Ms Eva Celina Goore-Booth, Ms Mable Olive Goore-Booth, Miss Mansfield and Miss Grenfel. The bride was accompanied by her brother Josslyn A.R. Gore Booth, who gave her away. Ms Gore Booth looked exceedingly well in a stately gown of white duchesse satin and bodice arranged with orange blossoms. Her ornaments were a massive pearl necklace and a splendid diamond crescent and pendant, the gifts of lady Gore-Booth and a bouquet of rare exotics tied with satin streamers.

Among those present at the church were Lord and Lady Muncester, the Dowager, Countess of Kingston, Lord and Lady Kilmarnock, Mr C. Lumley-Hill, the Hon. Evelyn Ashley, Lady Alice Ashley, Mrs Usher, the Misses Sturgis, Miss Gilmore, etc.."

Sean O’Faolain suggests that the honeymoon was spent in Poland. Ann Marreco says that after an official send off Victoria they returned secretly to London to have an unofficial reception for cronies, and that the honeymoon was spent bicycling in Normandy, eating large quantities of oysters and lobsters and staying where the mood took them. After the honeymoon Constance and Casimir settled into a studio and four rooms at 17 Rue Compagne Premiere off the Boulevard Montparnasse,which they rented from their friend the painter Scankowski.

Casimir and Constance on their weddind day

Casimir and Constance on their weddind day

in Londonin September 1900

Casimir was to receive several important portrait commissions, including Baron Von Stransenborg and Lady Westmacott. Meanwhile Constance had painted her sister Mabel, (who had married Percival Foster in December of that year) and a charming fifteen year old blonde who later became Lady Townsend. Christmas was spent in Nice, after which they returned to Paris. Constance was now pregnant and they planned for the little one to be born at Lissadell, to which they travelled in July 1901.

The baby, their only child, was born at Lissadell the following year,

13th November, 1901. The birth was difficult and Constance nearly died. The baby was christened Maeve in memory of the warrior Queen whose legendary grave is on Knocknarea, dramatically located across the bay from the great house.

Maeve Alys

Maeve Alys

Christmas was spent in Lissadell and in early 1902 Constance and Casimir returned to Paris, leaving Maeve Alys in Lissadell. It is in the spring of 1902 that Ann Marreco records Constance and Casimir as setting out on the long journey to Ukraine, where they remained until October of 1902. They then returned to Paris and thereafter spent Christmas at Lissadell, where Maeve remained under the watchful eye of her grandmother, who lavished much love and affection upon the infant. They returned to Zywotowka in May 1903, where they remained until the following October, when they returned with Stanislas, having made the decision to settle in Dublin. The home was Saint Mary’s, Frankfort Avenue in Rathgar, where Constance kept a well-tended garden.

At around this time Constance’s future friend AE, in a letter to Sarah Purser, wrote to say that "the Gore Booth girl who married the Polish Count with the un spellable name is going to settle near Dublin, about summer time…as they are both clever it will help create an art atmosphere. We might get the materials for a revolt…."

Ann Marreco records as follows…

"In the first years the household ran on conventional lines. Guests were waited on, silver and flowers abounded.

Constance had plenty of time to spare from domestic chores. Maeve still mainly lived with her grandmother; the maid helped to look after Stanislas. Constance was now thirty five. She passed two great watersheds in a women’s life; marriage and maternity; but neither of the roles of wife not mother came first for her in the secret priorities of the psyche... As a wife she early defined her limits; it is recorded that she told a close friend that she had no need of Casimir as a lover after Maeve was born. He consoled himself where he could.

As a mother she was loving but slapdash. The tedium of the nursery and the school room were alien to her nature and indeed her conditioning. She came of a breeding, class, and generation which did not think it necessary for the mother to partake in the day-to-day routine of her child’s life. So it came about that she had arrived at this juncture in her life’s journey, with all her splendid energy and verve intact. Casimir was not the man to replace a sensual relationship with a strong spiritual or intellectual one... But no lasting quarrels or overt disharmony clouded their days, then or later; they never indulged in the icy feuds and hidden tensions of a conventionally difficult marriage. They were saved by their projects and by interests existing outside their personal relationship and by the attributes both possessed of a "good sport".

Over the next years Constance and Casimir made their mark on Dublin society. It was a fascinating society at this time with what has been described as a…

"choice gallery of genius, talent, beauty and eccentricity; Oliver St John Gogarty in primrose waistcoat and high Edwardian jacket, arm in arm with James Joyce, the latter wearing a yachting cap and stopping to laugh out loud when a joke pleased him particularly; or Yeats with Maud Gonne, he black haired, pale, heavily cloaked with a majestic presence and "rich melancholy eyes" and she six foot tall, a Minerva, with bronze hair and eyes, the most beautiful women in the world according to Wickam Steed.

George Moore might be seen, a figure with silver hair, pink porcelain face, sloping shoulders and peg-topped trousers "carrying a Malacca-King with an ivory top shaped like an egg" or AE, large and brown bearded, an Apostle in spectacles with his chestnut haired poetess assistant Susan Mitchell. In the evenings if you were in Leinster Street you might hear George Moore whistling a motif from the ring to attract Edward Martyn’s attention-"the sword motive brought the candlelight glimmering down the stairs."… It was the Dublin custom to have a fixed evening to receive friends. On Sundays you could go to AE’s (just round the corner from Constance and Casimir and next door to Maud Gonne’s house) where the street door stood open and everyone was welcome without discrimination of creed or class or sex. (Later Yeats used to reserve some evenings for men only)…

Later on in the years before the First World War the weekly at home evenings were spelled by the hospitality of Yeats and Pauric Colum and Gogarty and their wives; there was also the hospitality on Tuesdays of Stephen McKenna, the translator of Plotonius, provided his guest talk in Irish or Greek. Above all from 1911 onwards there were Sarah Purser’s monthly Tuesdays at Mespil House, a Georgian mansion with beautiful plaster ceilings, a small park and a lake. Here all Dublin crowded up Miss Purser’s fine stair case and on into the large drawing room, with its Seurats and Vlamintks."

John Eglington in his memoir of AE records that when… "Count Casimir Markievicz settled in Dubli he made the acquaintance of AE and persuaded him to paint more in oils and to join with the Countess and himself in an exhibition of oil paintings."

AE first exhibited with Constance and Casimir, together with W.J. Leach ARHA and Frances Baker (a Sligo neighbour) in October 1903. This was to be followed by subsequent exhibitions held at the RDS. AE had, five years previously, accepted Horace Plunkett's offer of helping him run the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, of which Constance’s brother Sir Josslyn, now the sixth Baronet, was an enthusiastic participant.

The first joint exhibition of works by Casimir, Constance and AE was held at the Leinster lecture hall at Molesworth Street, from the 11 - 23 October 1903. AE exhibited some forty-four pictures, many of which were of Donegal scenes. Constance exhibited twenty-seven pictures of subjects such as moonlight, gorse, study of an apple tree, a lonely cottage, a misty garden. Casimir exhibited twenty-four pictures, nearly all of which were Polish land and townscape. The catalogue cost 3 pence.

John Eglington records AE as having been described by a visitor to Dublin in later years as by far the greatest Irishman of the present generation saying… "Poet, Painter, Politician, Mystic, Editor, Man of Business, Organiser, his life full to over-flowing. So great is his genius for friendship then men of directly opposite political beliefs find in him their ideal man." Mary Colum in her autobiography records that… "he was magnanimous, he was unenvious, he was courageous, he had no prejudices, he was a free being." Oliver St. John Gogarty described him as… "The Angelic Anarchist, his great Johnsonian body clothed in a brown tweed…his kind eyes shining more than the lenses of his glasses shone."

Visitors flocked to AE’s office as they did to his home, from Lady Betty Balfour, wife of the Chief Secretary (1895-1900) to Arthur Griffith the founder of Sinn Fein and also poets, play-wrights, booted farmers and horse-men, and the noted Sir Horace Plunkett, founder of the Agricultural Organisation society (he of whom Lady Betty Balfour once said "he came young, gay and rich to Ireland, he lost it all") with Father Tom Finlay S.J., Sir Horace’s loved collaborator of whom he said "his rust-coloured face withered like an apple."

A second joint exhibition followed in August 1904, again in the Leinster lecture hall. Entry fee was sixpence, in addition to the price of the catalogue for "Pictures of two Countries", by Constance Gore Booth, Casimir Dunin-Markievicz and AE. Casimir put in eighty-five pictures, Constance seventy-six, including several painted in Poland. The portrait of AE by Casimir (now in the Municipal art gallery) was priced at £150. The portrait of his Honour Judge Seymour Bird was similarly priced, whereas an exhibit entitled "Amour" was priced at the princely sum of £330.

Over the ensuing years the Markieviczs’ participated in full in Dublin society. They knew the Gaelic League and Abbey Theatre circle through their friendship with Yeats and AE. They came together in 1905 to found the Dublin United Arts Club, Membership of which included the leading lights of Dublin artistic and intellectual life, such as J.N. Synge.

A Sketch of Casimir by Constance

A sketch of Casimir by Constance

 


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The Lissadell Estate is the family home of Edward S. Walsh and his wife Constance Cassidy with their seven young children ranging in age from 13 years to 3 years. Our objective As the owners of this remarkable part of Ireland's history and culture, our objective is to ensure that you will have a pleasant and memorable visit. A century has passed since Lissadell was home to a large family of young children. More than a century has passed since the rooms were last refurbished. This is a new beginning for Lissadell. The restoration of the house and grounds will take some time and we ask you to be patient. We look forward to seeing you again and again as work progresses. Many of you, your parents or grandparents will have special memories of Lissadell - why not write and tell us about these, to add to our living history? Future plans We plan to restore this national treasure as a family home, and to involve the children in continuing the legacy, and reverse the decline of past years. In particular, we plan to restore and recreate the flower and pleasure gardens, the Alpine nurseries, the orchards, the vegetable gardens; and to reintroduce livestock (Kerry cows, pigs). We hope to make the house and gardens a wonderful experience for visitors. Our open days encourage people to walk back in time to when Lissadell was the pride of Irish horticulture; to enjoy guided tours of the wonderful woodland walks recently uncovered; the unique Alpine Garden with its revêtment walls, terraces, ornamental ponds and fossilised rocks and pathways, and the regeneration of long buried plants and flowers within this magical setting; and the precisely squared upper walled in garden with its orchards. The Lissadell Estate is a private family home. Access to any part of the Estate is strictly by permission only. Edward Walsh and Constance Cassidy Restoration The restoration of Lissadell has commenced. The project will take some three to five years during the course of which it is our intention to restore the Mansion and each of the various buildings on the estate, including the forge and gasometer, to their original state. A particular focus will be the restoration of the gardens and woodlands to their former glory. A conservation plan has been prepared by David Clarke, Architect of Moloney O'Beirne, assisted by Paul Arnold, Historical Consultant. Considerable progress has been achieved with the assistance and expert advice of Laurence Manogue, consultant to Sligo County Council who have been extremely supportive and helpful. David Skinner, expert on wallpapers of the great houses of Ireland, is replacing the original wallpapers with hand blocked period copies. The major task of restoring the gasoliers was undertaken by internationally renowned Windsor House Antiques of London led by Kevin Smith. The great hall is kept warm by a meticulously restored 1890's Danish Crown salon stove provided by Tom Keane of Ovne Stoves of Cork. The intricate paintwork has been executed by Nathaniel Clements. Dermot Gale and Rose Cronin have skilfully restored and framed the works of Yeats, Constance, Eva and Casimir and the photographic records of the arctic exploits of Leigh Smith and Henry Gore Booth. Mary Healy has accomplished all photographic restoration. The Website has been developed by 80p Web Development - New Media Specialists, 80project Design Systems, www.80p.net, specialists in graphic design, website development and design, content management systems, corporate logo identification and corporate presentations, desktop publishing and print brochures, marketing, advertising.