Monthly Archives: January 2022


On this day 115 years ago Playboy of the Western World premiered at the Abbey Theatre. Instead of being applauded at by an appreciative audience, it was met by a booing hissing and stamping of feet, in what became known as the “Playboy Riots”. The play caused much consternation among Nationalists who were affronted by Synge’s depiction of Irish peasantry. The moralistic members of society were scandalised by the mention of the word ”shifts” (lady’s undergarments).

Playboy of the Western World, main character Christy Mahon was based upon the life of notorious Achill man, James Lynchehaun. Although when asked if Lynchehaun was his muse, Synge did not confirm nor did he deny leaving critics of the time guessing. “Well, all I can say is, that it if he based it on the true facts of Lynchehaun’s escape he could have made a play that would at least be good melodrama” one proclaimed.

Synge, who was too ill to attended the opening night was eventually forced to write to the press to defend his work:

Synge’s letter to the press

Abbey Theatre manager, W.B. Yeats, who was also absent on the opening night due to a commitment in Scotland, invited a live audience to an open discussion on “The Freedom of the Theatre and Mr. Synge’s Play”.

It is difficult to say how Emily, who was a good friend of J M Synge felt about the controversy surrounding his latest work. She was a dyed in the wool Nationalist, suggesting that she might have disapproved of his portrayal of the Irish peasantry. Emily, always loyal where her friends were concerned may very well have been happy for his unconventional success.


Dundee Courier 31 August 1903 p 3

Search terms Download PagePrint Page Back to Search Results Image (purchased)

Irish News and Belfast Morning News 31 January 1907

Dublin Evening Telegraph 31 January 1907

Keys of the Castle

On this day one hundred years ago the British Government handed over the keys of Dublin Castle, to Michael Collins.

Collins issued the following press release: ‘The Members of the Provisional Government received the surrender of Dublin Castle at 1.45 pm today. It is now in the hands of the Irish nation’.

If Emily was in the crowd that day, it was only to have the pleasure of seeing a foreign power leave, and certainly not in support of the Irish Free State instead the Republic proclaimed on the steps of the GPO in 1916.


Freeman’s Journal 17 January 1922

Weekly Freeman’s Journal 21 January 1922

Voting on the Treaty

One Hundred years ago today the Anglo Irish Treaty was ratified by Dail Eireann. It was signed in London on December 6th 1921, by a negotiation team of Michael Collins, Arthur Griffiths, Arthur Robert Barton, Eamonn Duggan and George Gavan Duffy. When they made the return journey to Dublin they did so with heavy hearts knowing well that it would spit political and public opinion.

Eamon de Valera, who had refused to travel to London as part of the delegate rejected it completely, as did many other Dail members. Democratically the terms of the Treaty was opened to debate inside the Dail chambers. Tempers flared, members quit and the discussion continued throughout Christmas 1921 and into the first week of the New Year. On January 7th, the matter finally went to vote, resulting in the Treaty being ratified by a very slim margin of 64 to 57.


Oak Room in the Mansion House Dublin Jan 1922

Emily along with the majority of Cumann na mBan rejected the terms of the Treaty completely. A convention to for early February to; “reaffirm their alliance to the Republic of Ireland”. At the convention every member cast their vote. A staggering eighty six per cent of members were against the Treaty.


Cumann na mBan. Copy Agenda of the Cumann Na MBan Special Convention.

Freeman’s Journal 06 January 1922

Illustrated London News 21 January 1922