Category Archives: Family

Bookstore at 21 College Green

When Emily’s maternal grandfather, Richard M’Arthur entered partnership with Robert Hodges, the establishment was five decades in existence. It was then Gilbert and Hodges.

The Long Room in the Library at Trinity College

In its first incarnation the business, the bookshop opened for business in 1768, on Skinner’s Row. The original proprietor was John Milliken. It appears that the shop remained in his family for at least one more generation. Over the years the shop changed locations, and merged with other bookshops owners forming partnerships.

One time partner was William Gilbert who founded a bookshop on South Great George’s Street in 1776. In 1802 he teamed up with Robert Hodges, and opened a store on Dame Street. In 1817, Gilbert retired, he was well over 80 years.

It was then that Hodges teamed up with Emily’s grandfather Richard M’Arthur. The shop relocated the short distance to 21 College Green, adjacent to Trinity College. The duo did a good trade with the college, selling academic books to students of medicine, science and law. But students were not the only customers. Many private collectors did business with the shop, too. One such person was Lord Bellew, of Mountbellew, County Galway. Richard M’Arthur sources books for the Lord from London and Paris. Their relationship ending when the lord died in 1827.

Letter from Richard McArthur to Lord Mountbellew about a book buying trip to London and Paris. Courtesy of National Library of Ireland.

It was the same year, 1827 that Richard M’Arthur left the partnership, returning to Co. Down with his family, he returned briefly to Rathmines in Dublin, in the hopes that his failing health might improve, but that was not meant to be. He died in 1829.

The gap he left was was filled by Smith. The Hodges and Smith partnership, presumably later generations, lasted until 1877, when it became Hodges, Foster and Figgis, in 1884, Foster left and the shop, which was by then on Grafton Street became as it is known today – Hodges and Figgis.

Based on Irish Times article of 19 December 1961 for An Irishman’s Diary (Quidnunc)

Sources

Irish Times 19 December 1961

A Dictionary of Members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800; Mary Pollard, Guild of St. Luke the Evangelist (Dublin, Ireland), Bibliographical Society (Great Britain)

Hodges and McArthur (booksellers), and Christopher Dillon Bellew. Receipts Etc From Hodges and McArthur, Booksellers of Dublin to Christopher Dillon Bellew.

Illustrated London News 19 November 1900


The final days of Richard M’Arthur

In April 1829 Emily’s grandfather traveled with his wife and young family traveled from Co. down to Dublin in hopes that relocating to Rathmines would cure his illness. But that was not to be. It is lost in time what his ailment was. Perhaps his hopes lay in the fact that the best doctors In Ireland were in Dublin.

He was a bookseller by trade and one half or the Hodges and M’Arthur partnership, whose shop on College Green opened its doors to the Physicians of the day to hold meetings before the Royal College of Physicians in 1865. He and his partner allowed them to hold meetings in a tiny “reading room” over their shop. Perhaps they wanted to return the favor and treat him with the most up to date medicine for his ailment.

Hodges And M’Arthur 1818 Merchants And Traders Dublin The Treble Almanac 1818

Richard M’Arthur did not get better. He lost his battle with disease in April 1829.

Death Notice of Richard M’Arthur
The Will of Richard M’Arthur

Sources

Hodges And McArthur 1818 Merchants And Traders Dublin The Treble Almanac 1818

19 December 1866 – Dublin Medical Press – Dublin, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Sligo Journal 03 April 1829

Prerogative and diocesan copies of some wills and indexes to others, 1596 – 1858










Friends of Emily: John Millington Synge

One hundred and ten year ago John Millington Synge died. He was only a week or so shy of his thirty eight birthday. Having only enjoyed a short period of fame, little more than half a decade, illness and eventual death cutting it short.

BIOGRAPHICALLY the most remarkable feature of Synge’s career was its brevity. In the six years which elapsed between 1903, when In the Shadow of the Glen was produced, to 1909, when he died, he rose from absolute obscurity to world fame, and provided us with six plays on which his reputation must rest” Read more:


Originally published in Minute History of the Drama. Alice B. Fort & Herbert S. Kates. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1935. p. 118

Emily and Synge were friends from Gaelic League and literary circles but may have known one another from their earlier years. Both came from clerical families and were similar ages, she slightly older. There is a possibility that they met in their youth. Emily’s father and Synge’s uncle were both evangelical missionaries in the 1850’s. Synge’s uncle went to the Aran Islands, with the view to converting, the islanders, Emily’s father, Mayo and Connemara. Both men were run out of town. There was a good chance they were close enough friends as Emily was one of a relatively small group that attended his funeral, traveling cross country all the way from Achill to Dublin.

Sources

http://www.theatrehistory.com/irish/synge001.html

http://www.achill247.com/writers/jmsynge.html

Dublin Daily Express 27 March 1909

Night of the Big Wind

Storm damage

On January 6th 1839 a storm hit Ireland that is still talked about nearly two centuries later. It did not occur in Emily Weddall’s lifetime, but it did during her parent’s. That year her father was in his early career as a priest, and her mother was a girl of about twelve. No doubt they would both talked about during any night of high wind thereafter.

Today it is 180 years since that storm and 110 years since the Old Age Pension was paid to those over seventy in Ireland. Even though it doesn’t look it the two events are bizarrely linked. In the early 1900’s most people had no formal forms of identification the authorities had to rely on other ways of determining age. A lot of the census records from the 1840’s and 50’s had been destroyed so they had to rely on other sources. One of such was the would be recipients ability to recall the Night of the big Wind in 1839 but:

The truth of course was different: since their ages could not be proven one way or another, tens of thousands of Irishmen and Irishwomen aged well under 70 could not be denied the pension. Throughout the country, old people – and many not so old – testified to “eating a potato out of hand” on the night of the “Big Wind” in 1839, so much so that remembering “Oíche na Gaoithe Móire” soon had to be discarded as a test of old age.

From: “The greatest blessing of all: the old age pension in Ireland”, by Cormac Ó Gráda is professor of economics at UCD published in Past Present in 2002

Below is an example of how the ‘pension qualifying story’ traveled well:

Irish News and Belfast Morning News 16 March 1910

Nonetheless it was still held in memory in 1937 when school children collected folklore from their parents, grandparents and neighbors. Here is an excerpt recorded by Kathleen Glynn, a schoolgirl from in County Galway, told to her by her father:

Long ago the old Irish people witnessed a lot of great storms, thunder and lightening. The biggest storm ever witnessed in Ireland was the Night of the Big Wind in 1839. This was a terrible storm.
It swept the sea water in from the seas, and brought it miles inland. Cattle, sheep, and all kinds of animals were lost. It knocked houses, hay-ricks, and every kind of corn. There was hay and corn brought miles from people.
It knocked houses and plenty of trees all over Ireland. It also left some poor people homeless. Some people were so horrified that they began to say the Rosary and continued praying until the storm was over.

School’s Collection (National Folklore Archive)

If the storm did untold damage in Rural Ireland, it was just as fierce in the Cities and Dublin did not escape its destruction but on a lesser scale

Dublin was described as resembling in many places *a sacked city”. The majority of Dubliners quitted their beds and remained all night in ‘indescribable terror’. The river Liffey rose many feet and overflowed the quay walls. On 6 January the Bethesda chapel in Dorset Street had given thanks at its Sunday noon service for being delivered from a lire which was thought to have been extinguished on Saturday. During Sunday night the wind must have revived the flames, for the chapel, orphan house and female penitentiary, together with five adjoining houses, were burned to the ground. Destruction of property in the capital was estimated, from police statistics, at £6405, or £3 per house on average (Pettigrew and Oulton. 1840). Nevertheless, the Dublin Evening Post (10 January 1839) concluded that the city has suffered less than might have been expected … certainly less — relatively — than other parts of the country.

Emily’s mother lived in Dublin at an address on Clare Street in 1839. She was about 12 years old and no doubt had a memory of the night. She was probably one of the “bed quitters” that took refuge in churches and other more robust buildings. Emily and her siblings may have heard the tale from her mother when they took refuge of a different kind in churches too.

Sources:

https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/curious-tale-of-pension-boon-1.1276289 

The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0105, Page 095 National Folklore Collection

https: //www.met.ie/climate/major-weather-events

Irish News and Belfast Morning News 16 March 1910

11/11/1918

The Armistice was signed at 5.12AM on 11 November but, for tidiness, it was agreed the ceasefire would take place at 11.00AM on the 11th day of the 11th month.

Just as the guns were silenced at 10 a.m. local time, Emily was at the bedside of flu stricken Millie Figgis. She may well have been finishing her shift at the Meath Hospital, which was operating at full capacity with flu victims. She may have heard the news on the street as every news stand and paperboy would have had the word since early that morning.

Emily had a lot on her mind, with her sick friends, Millie and Darrell Figgis , and An Paroach, who caught the virus in the remote Achill Beg. All recovered but they could easily have not like Sadhbh Trench. She was also about to loose her her home Rockfield House on Achill. She also had the added worry of her niece’s welfare, who followed her into nursing and was working flat out nursing children. She revealed all her worries to her friend Mairead, Sadhbh’s sister in a letter of condolence.

The end of the war may have been far from her thoughts, apart from the fact that her only two nephews were both fought in it and now they were safe.

You can listen to the final moments of the war on YouTube: https://youtu.be/bQ2w8xM6HYo

Sources

https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/articles/the-signing-of-armistice/

MS 46 328/2 Coffey and Chenevix Trench papers, 1868-2007. National Library of Ireland. Department of Manuscripts.