Helena Concannon (nee Walsh) was born in 1878 in Walsh’s Hotel, Maghera, her parents were Louis Walsh and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Walsh (nee Donnelly). Helena was one of seven children and her parents owned the hotel at that time. She went to primary school in Maghera and then on to Loretto College, Dublin where she was described as “outstandingly intelligent”.
Helena was among the first generation of women to formally receive a third level education in Ireland and she achieved great success, receiving awards, scholarships, prizes and accolades throughout her academic and professional careers. She studied in Europe and returned to Ireland to continue her studies and obtained her MA.
She received a scholarship to study modern European languages and graduated from Royal University in 1900 with a BA, first class honours.
In 1900 she met her husband Thomas Concannon, originally from the Aran Islands, described as a professor he had just returned from America where he was tour with Douglas Hyde promoting the Irish Language. They married in 1906 in Maghera and lived in Galway. She was one of the first people to record the fate of Irish women in history and wrote many books and on the subject, many of which received awards. Although her views were very conservative she brought to attention many women’s issues during her political career in the Dail and the Seanad.
She passed away in 1952 and is buried in Bothar Mor Cemetery, Galway.