Category Archives: Family

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.

Emily losses another friend

On October 30 Emily lost her good friend Frances Coffey to the Spanish Flu. She was only a young woman, less than thirty, but the virus did not discriminate, in fact Frances was in the age group with the highest casualties.

Both Emily and her niece Enid (Siobhan) wrote to her family regretting her death. Frances, or Sadhbh, in Gaelic had attended Scoil Acla first in 1911, and had been friends with Emily Weddall from then. Both ardent Gaelic League members attending events together such as the one below in 1912.

A visit was paid recently to teh Connaught Irish College, Tourmakeady, by a party including Rev. J. W. Meehan. C.C., Mrs Captain Weddall, Achill, Professor Paorach, Achill School of Irish; and Seaghan McEnri, organiser, Gaelic League. the visitors were welcomed into the lecture hall by over 300 students and their friends, those present including Senor Foley, Argentina, Mr. do. O’Byrne, President Brooklyn Gaelic League, the misses Chenevix Trench [Frances and Margot], Dublin; and P. O’Mallie. Ghairman Ougherard Gauardians. In the course of an address Father Meehan advocated that National teachers qualified to teach the school programme in both Irish and English sould be paid highter salaries than thos abel to teach only in English, and aht an advanced knowledge of a second language should be essential for admission to teacher’s training colleges.

The following year, the two friends met up at the Oireachtas, or AGM of the Gaelic League in Galway City, before traveling on the Achill to what would be the final Scoil Acla of that generation. Sadhbh, pictured with Emily, An Paorach, Claud Chevasse, along with others recorded the events of the summer school in her diary; Cesca’s Diary, 1913-1916: Where Art and Nationalism Meet.

Scoil Acla 1913 www.scoilacla.ie

When Cumann na mBan was formed in 1914, both Emily and Sadhbh  joined, and over the next few years became involved in the Easter Rising and the struggle for freedom that ensured. Emily lived to see it but Sadhbh did not. In October 1918 she came down with the dreaded flu, from which she did not recover.

At her burial the rosary was recited in Irish around her grave by members of her  branch of the Gaelic League and Emily’s branch known as the Five Provinces or Craobh na gCúig gCúigí.

Sources

Chenevix Trench, Frances Georgiana, and Hilary Pyle. Cesca’s Diary, 1913-1916: Where Art and Nationalism Meet. Dublin: Woodfield Press, 2005.

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

09 September 1912 – Irish Independent – Dublin, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

www.scoilacla.ie

150 Years Ago in Edenderry

150 years ago, when Emily was barley one year old an incident occurred at her family home at Windsor Terrace Edenderry, Co Offaly. She was too young  to remember the incident but it was only one of many that plagued her childhood. The article below give a glimpse into what young Emily and her family suffered as a family of converts in the days when the prejudice against them resulted many times in violence.

The court case involving Rev. Burke was one of at least ten to be heard over a decade in the petty sessions and at Edenderry. All which involved violence against him or his family. It was not unusual for the authorities to take against him too. In the above case the judges would not allow the policeman to question the witnesses, so nobody could be prosecuted for the crime.

The courthouse in Edenderry, stands exactly like it did when Emily’s family lived there

Sources
Cork Constitution 19 October 1868

Emily and the Countess; Part 2

A week or so after the event, Emily went to England to marry Captain Weddall in London. One year later she was living on Achill. She quickly joined the local Gaelic League and became part of the fabric of the Island. Two years later her husband died, leaving her alone in the world but independently wealthy.

As she had no children or had to work for her living, Emily used her time and resources to augment the Gaelic League on Achill.  Her enthusiasm and generosity made her popular with the locals and new arrivals to the island, who were more than happy to help with her ventures. By 1910 the idea for an Irish language and culture summer school was realised and by the following year it was a reality.

Countess Markieviez had also returned to Island as a married woman and set up home in Dublin. She also became involved Gaelic revival. She was in good company as her childhood friend, W. B. Yates was already established in Dublin and had just set up the Abbey Theatre  with Lady Gregory, where she acted. Both she and her husband were artists exhibiting frequently. One such exhibition in 1913 was attended by Emily, their paths crossing again. In the same year the Countess lent support financially and physically to the families of the workers during the lockout.

“Madame Markievicz in a big overall, with sleeves rolled up, presiding over a cauldron of stew, surrounded by a crowd of gaunt women and children carrying bowls and cans”.

Over the winter of 1912/13 Emily was involved in another socially unjust situation- the Land Wars. Emily along with her friend, Anita McMahon sat through the court case that finally ended in victory for the tenants. Read more: https://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/4497767/4344557/4497807?ChapterID=4497767

the-aristocrat-who-became-an-irish-revo
Connaught Telegraph 1830-current, 19.05.1956, page 4https://www.abbeytheatre.ie/about/history/
https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/striking-bravery-1.1522156
The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0086, Page 318 Tonatanvally, Co. Mayo
The Mayo News, April 12 1913
Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 15 April 1916

Widowhood

When Emily was widowed in 1908 she had barely escaped the Victorian period, in which prolonged periods of mourning were commonplace. This elaborate process began when Queen Victoria lost her husband, Albert in 1861, at the relatively young age of 42. At that time the accepted length of mourning was one year, however the inconsolable queen plunged into mourning which never truly ended. She would reign for another 40 years.

At 11pm, 14 December 1861, Prince Albert died. He was buried nine days later, the Queen too grief-stricken to attend the funeral.”

Along with being unable to attend her husband’s funeral, the room he died in was left in the same way, unaltered until she died herself. During her reign manuals on death and mourning were produced and could be consulted to what etiquette to observe depending on how close a relationship one had with the deceased. In Emily’s case it would have been two years as a spouse.

Even though Emily was not English nor widowed in the Victorian period, her husband was English and very much of that that time.

Emily did obey the some of the rules, but having strong Nationalistic sensibilities she also observed the Irish funeral rites too. She ‘waked’ her husband in their house, the corpse house as, the homes of those who died were called. Write, Sean O’Longain, who lived on Achill when Captain Weddall died, remembered;

“… I did so and offered my sincere sympathy to Mrs. Weddall, after which she invited me into the room to see captain laid out.”

Even though Captain Weddall died during the Edwardian period in Ireland there were still etiquette to be followed, which his wife honored. She put the obituary in both the Irish and British newspapers alike. The funeral was held some days later allowing time for anyone to travel the  distance to the West of Ireland. It is impossible to say if she wrote personally to those who attended the funeral or how long she wore black. There is a clue that it may have been a long time. Her Celtic costume was made of black velvet, not in keeping with the colours of the Celtic Revival costumes of the time.


Sources
Irish Times 08 June 1908
http://www.victorian-era.org/edwardian-era-funeral-customs.html
http://www.historyinanhour.com/2011/12/14/death-of-prince-albert/
http://www.avictorian.com/mourning.html
Connaught Telegraph 1830-current