A LECTURE about the Countess of Desart and the role of women in Kilkenny society will take place at the city library at John’s Quay on March 9 from 7-7.45pm.
Ellen Odette Cuffe, Countess of Desart, née Bischoffsheim (September 1, 1857 to June 29, 1933) married William Cuffe, the 4th Earl of Desart from Cuffgrange in 1881. She was the daughter of Henri Louis Bischoffsheim, a wealthy Jewish banker of German origin.
She was appointed to the Irish Free State Seanad Éireann as an independent member in December 1922 by the president of the Executive Council. She was one of four women elected or appointed to the first Seanad in 1922. She was the first Jewish person to serve as a Senator in Ireland. She was appointed for 12 years in 1922 and served until her death in 1933.
Lady Desart funded the building of Kilkenny Library, Aut Even Hospital, Desart Hall, Kilkenny Theatre, Suspension Bridge, Talbots Inch and Kilkenny Woollen Mills.