Kate Breen represented the Munster Branches of Cumann na mBan. She was described in her obituary in the Irish Press as ‘one of the foremost figures’ in the ‘new Ireland’ and that ‘gave her best to the nation and to the folk of her own county.’ The Evening Echo told their readers that even when her health broke down in the last 15 months of her life she ‘wore out her abounding energy and zeal’ and presided at her last meeting at the Board of Health on the 16 December 1937 and had her ‘usual ability and grasp of detail.’ Evening Echo, 28 December 1937.
Born Catherine Breen on 13 December 1869 in 15 High Street Killarney, County Kerry to Mary (née Scannell) and John Breen who at the time worked in the local Asylum. She was one of a family of 12, although the exact number of children has not been identified. Her father later became the Assistant Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
She took an active part in the campaign of independence. She was held in Cork Jail for two weeks when she was arrested along with Lottie Foley, Etta Woods, Peggy Cahill and B. Gleeson (Bureau of Military History statement of Maurice Horgan BMH952). She opposed the acceptance of the Treaty and was interned for a period in Kilmainham Gaol.
She stood for election in the General Election of 1923 but was unsuccessful. She joined Fianna Fáil in 1926. Appointed to the Executive, she represented Cumann na mBan. From 1926 she served as a member of Kerry County Council until her death in 1937. She stood for election to Dáil Éireann in 1927 but was unsuccessful. She held positions such as the Chairman of the Kerry Board of Health, the Prices Commission and as a member of the Kerry Agricultural Committee and the Press Commission. She inaugurated a scheme for the purchase of labour cottages in Kerry. She was Vice-Chairman of the General Council of County Councils and a member of the Senate of the National University of Ireland.