“In the summer of 1920, while the War of Independence was raging, Lady Rachel came once more to Screebe Lodge. She was alone. On the morning of June 26, she went for a swim, and never returned. Her body was later retrieved from the sea.”
On June 26th 1920 after traveling from England to Screebe House, the family’s summer residence in Connemara just the day before, Lady Dudley went for a swim to freshen up. After a long and tiring journey, she decided to take a dip as a way of revivification. She did not return.
Lady Dudley was swimming off the jetty at the back of her residence and had taken a lifebelt with her when she entered the water. On the jetty observing her was her maid, Ms Norman, who remarked that Lady Dudley had swum 30 yards from the jetty and appeared to be enjoying herself when she suddenly got into trouble. She threw her hands in the air and sank below the water’s surface. She disappeared from sight and only her lifebelt came to the surface. Her body was later recovered.
In August 1920 an exhibition opened at St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin showing the work of Ireland’s finest artists of the day. Paul and Grace Henry had spent almost a decade painting on Achill, its unique landscape and people proving a backdrop and subjects for their visual accounts of the epoch. Leticia Hamilton along with her sister Eva spent time painting on the island too, capturing it in all its splendor. One hundred years later these artists along with many others are celebrated in Mary J Murphy’s book, Achill Painters, an Island History.
On August 1st 2020, under the auspices of Scoil Acla, Achill Painters was launched in Lourdie’s (The Pub) car park, by Achill poet John F. Deane complemented by Anne Burke and local Historian John ‘Twin’ McNamara. The book is a written and visual love letter to Achill, by the artists who found their inspiration on the island, in the words of Mary J. Murphy. It is available from Kennys and Charlie Byrnes of Galway both in store and online. It is also available from Achill Tourism and in other outlets on Achill and Co. Mayo.