Achill; the Early Years

Rockfield House, Keel, where Emily set up home with her husband

Rockfield House, Keel, where Emily set up home with her husband

Emily Weddall moved to Achill Island¬† in 1906 with her husband retired sea captain, Edward Weddall, whose compromised health, due to a tropical disease benefited from the fresh sea air.¬† Emily acquired Rockfield house, which once was a mission school in the 1840’s/50’s through connections established by her late father William John Burke who spent some time on Achill in the 1840’s.

Emily who was concerned mostly with the care of her husband, made time to indulge her passion and love of the Irish language and culture. A woman of means she had the resources and the drive to get involved in the beginning of the cultural revival on Achill. She naturally gravitated towards people who shared her interest and they to her. She joined forces with the local Parish Priest, Fr J Connolly and Seaghan Mac Enrigh, who had previously campaigned for the reintroduction of Irish in the schools and classes for children and adults alike.

Emily was already a member of the Gaelic League, which she joined when she returned to Ireland in 1906. and teamed up with Fr Connolly to form a local branch Grainne Mhoal (named after the pirate queen Grace O’Malley) in 1907/08. Over the next few years the people that would be pivotal to the revival would converge to make Achill, making it a hub for the Irish language and cultural revival.

The magazine produced by the Gaelic League, which Emily was a frequent correspondent

The magazine produced by the Gaelic League, to which Emily was a frequent correspondent