In 1919, one hundred years ago, the artist, Paul Henry left Achill for pastures new, after making the Island his home for near a decade. He had intended to stay for a short time only but could not drag himself away, being captivated by the island’s otherworldly beauty. In his own words:
He and his wife, Grace, also a painter, settled into the island life helped by Emily, who Henry, described as, “a woman who bubbled over with enthusiasm”. She was was the person who introduced him to the locals as he recalled many years later;
As a token of his appreciation, he gave her some of his artwork, one was a painting called “Twilight Houses”. Emily being Emily gave more than she took and lent the painting to Darrell Figgis. Inscribed on the reverse: “Lent to D. Figgis by E. M. Weddall 15 . (?) 4 . 1918”. Knowing Emily she may never have reclaimed the picture. Many years later the painting resurfaced from the hidden world of private collections, when it went up for auction by Whites of Dublin in 2006.
In the following years Paul Henry, got reabsorbed into city life , and was involved in the founding of the Society of Dublin Painters. He did return to Achill towards the end of his life, perhaps retracing his owns steps, before he penned his autobiography, An Irish Portrait. By then many of his friends there, including Emily were no more.
Belfast Telegraph 11 April 1923
Irish Independent 14 October 2000, p.43
Henry, Paul. An Irish Portrait; the Autobiography of Paul Henry. London, New York: B. T. Batsford, 1951.