Blue plaque unveiled to Margaret McCoubrey in south Belfast

Many members of Margaret McCoubreys family attended the unveiling of the blue plaque in south Belfast
Many members of Margaret McCoubreys family attended the unveiling of the blue plaque in south Belfast

A blue plaque has been unveiled in south Belfast to a woman who was committed to a range of local, national and international causes in support of women, children and the working class.

The plaque to Margaret McCoubrey - who moved to Belfast from Glasgow in 1905 and who died in 1956 - was unveiled by Baroness May Blood at 37 Candahar Street where she lived for more than 30 years.

Dr Myrtle Hill, vice-chair of the Ulster History Circle, said she had suggested Ms McCoubrey as a recipient of a blue plaque because of her “passionate engagement in suffragism, pacificism and the Labour and co-operative movements”.

Dr Hill said two generations of Ms McCoubrey’s family attended the ceremony.

“After the birth of her children Elizabeth and John, she began to get engaged in the whole suffrage movement,” said Dr Hill.

“She started work at the age of 12 in an outfitters shop but then went on to study shorthand, typing, book-keeping and so forth.

“What this indicates is that she was very proactive and interested in continuing education.”

Dr Hill added: “When she got involved in the suffrage movement here she was friendly with the Pankhursts and she supported militancy in the movement and she also was followed by detectives.

“Most people think that when the war broke out in 1915 the Pankhursts became very patriotic and called a truce with the government, but a few people carried on including Margaret McCoubrey and she continued the campaign from a Belfast centre.”

Dr Hill said: “Margaret McCoubrey didn’t go to church at all.

“There is a lovely quote in her daughter’s memoirs which said other mothers were home collecting children and making their tea, while she smoked, dyed her hair, didn’t go to church and the place was like a polling booth on election day.

“She was a councillor in Belfast for two years.”