It is ten years since I took this photo of the the lonely grave of Emily M. Weddall. In the historical Republican Plot, it was perhaps the only unmarked final resting place of those who fought for Irish Independence.
It remained unmarked for many decades as Emily died without descendants, and her closest surviving relatives no nearer than Australia. Apart from the occasional visit from her friends, fewer and fewer as the year rolled by. But in 2012, sixty years after her death members of Scoil Acla, the same summer school she co-founded in 1910, decided to remedy the situation. In November of that year unveiled, a gravestone befitting the character of Emily Weddall.
The gravestone with an stained glass inset was meticulously chosen by the committee of Scoil Acla. It is a symbol of and a tribute to Emily who donated her stained glass panel of St. Brendan, by Wilhelmina Geddes (1887–1955) to Curran Catholic Church. Geddes was an Irish born stained glass artist, whose work graces churches, art galleries and museums all over the world. Emily purchased the piece at an art fair in London in 1925.
Established by Conradh na Gaeilge in 1902, the festival runs from 1 – 7 March every year and has gone from strength to strength in recent years. It is now one of the biggest international celebrations of our native language and culture.
By 1904, two years after Seachtain na Gaeilge was introduced the festival was well established, and well attended thanks to the efforts of the Gaelic League. By 1905 the festival became a demonstration of Irish Ireland.
The Irish Language procession yesterday through the principal thoroughfares of the city afforded, one again, a very striking proof of the hold which the moment initiated by the Gaelic League has taken upon the Metropolis of Ireland and the districts adjoining. In most respects the features of the procession closely resembled those of previous years. the several branches of the League in the city and suburbs ewer well represented, and walked may hundreds strong, in the ranks of the processionists.
Irish Independent 13 March 1905
In 1905 the Great Language Procession, was an advance of the previous three years. It had by and large a political as much as a cultural element. It was as much a cultural protest; “The powerful protest against the hostility of the G.P.O. expressed dramatically in tableau, repeated in hundreds of printed legends, and echoed in countless personal denunciations.” as reported in the Irish Independent. It was a showcase for indigenous Irish industries too. Baker’s showed off their bread and cakes, even boot-makers showed off their wares too. The youth named as “Young Ireland” was well represented by pupils from the Christian Brother’s as well as other organisations.
The good and the great of the Gaelic League were present founder, Douglas Hyde, Dr. Walsh Archbishop of Dublin and Patrick Pearse, lead the procession. Other lesser known attendees, including Emily were listed too:
A few days later Saint Patrick’s Day was celebrated with equal pageantry, a fortnight later Emily Burke made her way to London to become the second Mrs. Weddall and eleven years later in 1916 outside the mentioned G.P.O, some of the people listed declared Ireland a Republic.
Claud Chevasse first came under the radar as a person of interest to the authorities, after being arrested in Cork for refusing to speak English to the arresting policeman. He was summoned to court andwas fined £5 or spend a month in Jail. Claud Chevasse would not pay the fine on principle, citing that Ballingeary was in an Irish speaking area and the sergeant could have easily have found a translator.
Like Emily and Darrell Figgis he became a person of interest to the authorities, perhaps attracting their attention after the above incident. He was arrested during the Rising and taken to Richmond Barracks, but was released a few days later as there was no substantial against him. But as a ‘rebel’ he felt that he and his fellow prisoners should have had a fair trial, but it was denied due to the chaos after the insurrection.
To make things worse his bicycle, his main method of transport was ‘mislaid’ along with it his broach, possibly the one in the picture below that he wore with pride on his brat (sash). It was a gift from Scoil Acla.
Freeman’s Journal 04 April 1916Weekly Freeman’s Journal 13 June 1914
26 February 1916 – Wigan Observer and District Advertiser – Wigan, Lancashire, https://search.findmypast.ie/record?id=ire%2fpettys%2f005174188%2f00427&
On this day November 25th Emily Weddall’s life ended. She was 85 years old. He last days were spent in St. Mary’s in Ballsbridge, Dublin.
Her funeral two days later was attended to the last survivors of her generation. Dr. Kathleen Lynn being one.
The funeral took place from St. Mary’s Home, Clyde Road, Dublin to Glasnevin yesterday, of Mrs. Emily A. Weddall, who was a friend of the brothers’ Pearse.
An early co-worker with An Croabhlin, she started a Gaelic Summer School in 1912 at Keel, Achill, where she lived for many years. ather Rising she worked for the National Aid, organised Cumann na mBan and was imprisoned. during the Black and Tan period and subsequently, she gave devoted service succoring men “on the run”, to whom she unconquerable spirit and boundless generosity were an inspiration.
Mr. Peadar O’Flaherty, solicitor, Enniscorthy, spoke at the graveside.
The attendance included: the Minister for Lands and Mrs. O’Deirg; Miss Stella Frost, Miss Kirkpatrick, Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Elliott, Miceal O’Cleirigh, Dr. Kathleen Lynn, Mrs. Sean O’Briain, Mrs. dwan, Mrs. James Montgomery, Miss Maeve Phelan, Mrs. M. Power, Sean George and Sean Fitzpatrick, Secretary, National Graves Association.
The prayers at the graveside were recited in Irish by Rev. S. Craig.