Scoil Acla Lectures 26th and 27th July 2016
Photos by Minette Glynn
On July 26th and 27th four of the founding members of Scoil Acla, were reunited by a series of lectures for the present summer school. Our absent friends Emily Weddall, Eva O’Flaherty, Darrell Figgis and Anita McMahon brought together again posthumously through the talks given by Maria Gillen, Mary J Murphy, Edward King, and Sheila McHugh respectively making for a truly auspicious occasion.
In conjunction with the above talks Dr. Hillary Pyle, gave an illustrated lecture on the life and works of Cesca Chenevix Trench (Sadhbh Trinseach), the Irish nationalist artist, who attended the original Scoil Acla. Both nights were captured on camera beautifully by Minette Glynn.
The events of brought together the stories of five fantastic individuals who’s lives are interlinked now through the speakers as they were a century ago, when the cultural revolution met the political.
On Easter Monday 2016 Achill people and current members of Scoil Acla commemorated the Easter Rising. A special wreath, a replica of the one Emily and Darrell Figgis put on the grave of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa in August 1915, was laid at the gatepost of Hala Acla, built by Emily Weddall c. 1910.
The photos below taken by Minette Glynn documented the event.
Claud Chavasse was somewhat of a ledgend in his own lifetime in Galway, where he lived most of his life. Before he settled there in 1917, he lived on Achill. His sister Marguerite Chavasse, ran a lace making industry on the Island and he stayed with her, while there. Emily Weddall, a friend of Marguerite, must have been enthralled with her brother Claud, not only for his interest and commitment to Gaelic Culture, but with his refusal to speak any language other than Irish. He and Emily became friends and soon joined forces with others to found the Irish language and cultural summer school, Scoil Acla.
Chavasse taught Irish classes as part of the summer school curriculum, and any other time this service was required, where he was ever willing teacher.
Claud Chavasse arrived on Achill sometime in the early 1910’s, possibly to visit his sister Marguerite, who had settled on the Island shortly before, where she had set up a lace making industry. English by birth, with French ancestry, Claud Chavasse did not have any family links as such with Ireland, however when he arrived on her shores he must have felt it was it his true home, as he ended up staying for the rest of his life.
Born on April 2 1885 to Albert Sydney Chavasse, and Isabella Florence nee Mann. The Chavasse family lived at Oxford, where their father was a professor of classical languages at the University. Claud would follow the family’s academic tradition, first by attending Wellington College in Berkshire, where he won a scholarship to continue his studies at Christ Church College, Oxford in 1903. It was at Christ Church College that he first began his love affair with Irish culture.
After befriending Sir John Rhys, a Celtic scholar Chavasse took up Celtic Studies. He also became friends with a group of Irish students, Diarmuid Trench, Éamon Cuirtéis, and Robert Barton. This group of young men established an Irish Society, hosting discussions on Irish language and culture. It was with the same group that he first visited Ireland in 1905, a trip that inspired him to set up the Oxford Gaelic League, where in 1909 he became head of the branch.