Unveiling of Alice Stopford Green Plaque 2019

Alice was born on 31 May 1874 in Archdeaconry House in Kells, the seventh of nine children of Archdeacon Edward Adderly Stopford and his wife Anne. Her paternal grandfather had been bishop of Meath. Archdeacon Stopford had an interest in ecclesiastical law and conferred with Prime Minister Gladstone on the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1869 which he opposed.  Alice’s mother was a fervid evangelical who led her children in family prayers every morning. Alice escaped as often as she could her mother’s evangelism. Alice and her sisters were educated at home by various governesses. Her studies were interrupted by eye trouble which led to near blindness at the age of sixteen. Forced to spend a year in a darkened room she underwent an operation which restored her sight. The family moved to Dublin while she was recuperating. She began attending physics lectures at the College of Science which was an unusual sight for the all male student body. In 1875 her father died and she moved with her mother and sister to England.

At the home of her cousin she met her future husband, Richard Green. Green had been a curate in the East End before concentrating on journalism and historical research. Alice married Green in 1877. Following her marriage she acted as his research assistant. Richard Green was often in poor health and passed away in 1883, leaving enough funds to allow his widow to live comfortably.

Her first work of her own, Henry II, was published in 1888. This was followed by Town Life in the Fifteenth Century in 1894.   In the 1890s she became interested in Irish history and the nationalist movement.

The book’s nationalistic tone upset Unionists and the book was banned in the R.D.S. library. She supported the 1912 Home Rule Bill and became friendly with many in the nationalist cause.

She formed the London Committee to raise funds for the Irish Volunteers. The funds were used to buy German guns that were brought to Ireland on the Asgard, in the Howth gun running in August 1914. Supporting Redmond’s call for the Volunteers to go to France to fight, Green was shocked by the 1916 rising and disapproved of it. Green organised a defence fund when Casement was arrested and then campaigned for a reprieve when he was sentenced to death. Casement’s execution and the changing political circumstances caused her to move to Dublin at the age of seventy. She took up residence at 90 St. Stephen’s Green.  Green remained non-violent in her approach and realising that Home Rule would no longer satisfy Ireland sought dominion status instead.

Roger Casement, Lord Ashbourne and Alice Stopford Green

The strongest obstacle to Irish self-rule was Ulster Unionism, she insisted and tried to persuade Unionists that Home Rule was an opportunity rather than a threat.  Despite her non-violent attitude she harboured many Sinn Féin men on the run including Michael Collins, whose tall bike was frequently to be seen in her hall. Her home was raided on a number of occasions by Crown Forces. Supporting the Treaty in 1921 Green was the first woman nominated to the first Irish Senate in 1922. Nominated as senator by W.T. Cosgrave, her home was given a military guard to protect against Anti-Treaty attacks. She helped to establish an Irish book shop to promoted Irish literature. In 1924 Green presented a silver and bronze casket to the Senate for its constitution. She was supportive of Yeats, in the Senate, in his attempt to retain the right to divorce. Her last major historical work was A History of the Irish state to 1014 published in 1925. Green survived a heart attack in 1925 but died in 1929. Dorothy Stopford was one of the doctors at St. Ultan’s and kept a diary during the 1916 Rising. Dorothy was grand-daughter of Archdeacon Stopford of Kells, great grand-daughter of Bishop Stopford of Meath and niece of Alice Stopford Green.

Alice Stopford Green and Senator Eileen Costello arriving at Leinster House