101 Years Ago

Easter week 1916 began as any other for the people of Achill, Emily and Darrell Figgis alike. Nothing out of the ordinary apart from the unseasonably good weather as Figgis described in in his book A chronicle of jails, more or less his prison diary of his time incarcerated during 1916-17.

Tues, April 25th 1916 was filled with sunshine in token of the summer that was on the way while a keen wind from the north came in reminder of the winter that was passing.

No one would have been any the wiser that there was an uprising taking over the capital if on the island. Only a few would have noticed that there was something amiss, those waiting on the post, which Darrell Figgis was one.

It was not till some hours after noon that, looking along the road for the post that was so unaccountably late, I saw a friend making her way toward the house on her bicycle. As she came nearer and dismounted I could see the traces of tears on her cheeks, and wondered.

“The post is very late,” I said.

“There is no post,” she replied, “but there’s terrible news. There has been fighting in Dublin. they say Dawson Street is full of dead and wounded men. the Volunteers hold the General Post Office, the Bank of Ireland, and a number of buildings all over Dublin…”

It is impossible to say if the friend of Darrell Figgis was Emily, there is a high likelihood that it was, either way Emily got the news and headed to Dublin to play her role in the Rising, except she never got there. Two days later and half way there she was intercepted in Rochfordbridge, Co. Westmeath and brought to court there.

Tullamore Prison Gates

The record still exists and contains the following details:

Name of Justice: M. S. Moore R. M.
Defendant: Emily Weddall
Cause of Complaint: Defense of the Realm
That Defendant on the 28th of April 1916, at Mulling in the county of Westmeath was acting in such a manner as to vie reasonable ground for suspecting that she was about to act in a manner prejudicial to the Defense of the Realm and that she is thereby guilty of an offense against the Regulations made under the Defense of the Realm Act 1914 and was arrested by the Constable Thomas Forkin R. I. Constabulary in accordance of said regulations.

Particulars of order of dismissal: Defendant remanded in Custody for seven days from this as for further examination.

The Complainant was listed as ‘The King’.

Emily was sent to Tullamore Gaol for the duration of the Rising. She was released without further ado. On May 3rd her niece, Enid made her way across the country from Achill to Tullamore to meet her aunt at the prison gates. Enid was only 17 and at the time on Easter holidays from school.

By the time Emily returned to Achill, the Rising was over, Dublin was in ruins, some of her friends including Darrell Figgis were imprisoned and some were no more, executed for their part.

An Cliadeamh Soluis 24/04/1916

Figgis, Darrell, and William Murphy. A Chronicle of Jails. Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2010.