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Tag: Person: Kathleen O

Fitness pioneer who brought women into the public sphere
Fitness

Fitness pioneer who brought women into the public sphere

When Kathleen O’Rourke set up the first branch of the Women’s League of Health and Beauty in Dublin in 1934, it generated enormous interest among women — and anxiety among Catholic leaders concerned that women wearing shorts would contravene ideas of modesty in the new Irish State.Bishop John Charles McQuaid — later Archbishop — was a cousin of Kathleen’s and he met her several times to insist that women wore skirts over their shorts. He also wanted the league to tone down its 'risqué' logo and remove the word ‘beauty’ from the title.The League of Health and Beauty logo was considered too risky by clerical leaders.The league, the first mass keep-fit system developed by women for women, had been established four years previously in London by Dubliner Mary Bagot-Stack. Within a decade, it...