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First Dail 100 years ago

One Hundred years ago today:

Dail Eireann assembled at the Mansion House on January 21st 1919, issued it Declaration of Independence, and formally andlegally established the Republic of Ireland, electing Cathal Brugha as its first President, De Valera and Griffith, although members of the Dail, were in jail, but Brugha and Collins had escaped the round-up.

Remembered by Seamus G. O’Cellaigh

The proceedings, which will open with the election of a person to fill a post equivalent to that of the Speaker of the House of Commons, will e conducted partly in the Irish language, and are expected to last about 2 hours, after which an adjournment will take place and a date to be fixed. A committee will arrange Irish titles for the different offices afterwards. the Feisiri Dail Eireann (or F.D.E.), as the Republican members are in future to be known, who are to be present numbers only 29 (the majority being interned or in prison).


Dublin Evening Telegraph, 22 January 1919

Members of the First Dail

Members of the First Dail

A limited amount of tickets were issued for the first sitting, and were made available for journalists and the general public. Emily may have applied for a ticket however it is unlikely that she was present.

Sources

Dublin Evening Telegraph, 22 January 1919

Wicklow People, Saturday December 22nd 1955

Photo of Mansion House courtesy of Ciaran Parkes

Tickets for the first Dail Eireann

The first sitting of Dail Eireann in January 1919, was a momentous historical occasion. As there was a public meeting order put in place since July 1918 to prevent organisations such as Cumann na mBan, the Gaelic League, the Irish Volunteers and Sinn Féin gathering as they were all ‘deemed dangerous’. But for the occasion the ban was lifted, due to public interest.


With the order lifted, a limited amount of tickets were issued to the press and public, but had to be applied for through Sinn Fein headquarters at 6 Harcourt Street.

6 Harcourt Street today

Sources

Irish Independent 21 January 1919

Dublin Evening Telegraph 18 January 1919

Flu on Achill

Just as 1918 turned into 1919 the third wave of Spanish Flu stuck the country. The far reaches of Achill was no exception. Glancing through the death records on Achill of early 1919 the majority of deaths were either influenza or related illnesses such as pneumonia. Nobody had medical attendant, as few could afford a doctor. It was a rough winter on the island as it was most places in rural Ireland. Food was in short supply after the end of the war.

Due to the shortage of medically trained, people had to care for their ailing loved ones at home. Emily if she was not in working in Dublin, no doubt would have selflessly attended to the sick, just as she did in the Typhus outbreak of 1913. The district nurse in Achill at that time was Linda Kearns, who like Emily was a Republican and who was involved in the 1916 Rising.


Linda Kearns, a district nurse in Achill in the epidemic, lost no patients to the flu, and attributed her success to her ‘use of poitín as medicine’.

The use of alcohol as medicine during the flu epidemic was not uncommon as there was no other cure.


D.W. Macnamara, who was a junior doctor in the Mater during the outbreak, reflected that whiskey or brandy in ‘heroic doses’ had been a particularly popular option among ‘the older men’.

Sources

Dublin Evening Telegraph 13 January 1919
https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/civil-search.jsp

Cultures of Care in Irish Medical History, 1750–1970. Edited By Catherine Cox; Director, Centre for the History of Medicine, University College, Dublin. Maria Luddy; Professor of Modern Irish History, University of Warwick

1919 Dawns

As 1918 changed to 1919, life for Emily remained the same. The Spanish flu was still rampant throughout the world, and as a nurse she worked flat out nursing its victims. Financially she was no better off . She still hung on to her house on Achill, but only just. However, politically things in Ireland were on the brink of great change, that was something she could smile about.

Dail Eireann assembled at the Mansion House on January 21st, 1919, issued its Declaration of Independence, and formally and legally established the Republic of Ireland, electing Cathal Brugha as its first President. De Valera and Griffith, although members of the Dail were in Jail, but Brugha and Collins had escaped the round-up.

The Derry Journal, Wednesday, 21st December, 1955
Mansion House 1919

Sources

The Derry Journal, Wednesday, 21st December, 1955

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

“Christmas in the Historic Years”

In the 1955 The Derry Journal published an article “Christmas in the Historic Years”, by Seumas G. O”Ceallaigh. It documented the festive season in the historic or revolutionary years 1915-1920. Below is what he recalled of 1918.

1918

On November 11th, 1918, the Great War ended, and o November 25th the British Parliament was dissolved. December 14th was Polling Day, and Sinn Fein was working under great difficulties.

Most of its responsible leaders were in jail, arrested under “The German Plot” scare in June of that year.

It seemed impossible that an organisation which was practically leaderless could win a General Election, but in Ireland “the impossible, always happens, and the inevitable never,” as a famous Trinity-man once remarked.

Father O’Flanagan, the famous Roscommon patriot priest, who had preached eloquently at Rome before the Pope and who in his day was one of the most noted preachers in Ireland, took over the leadership of the Election Campaign.

He visited the Irish towns and villages, and the result was, as we all know, a resounding victory for Sinn Fein, who came back from the polls with over 70 seats. Before the election they had held only three.

Christmas Day, 1918 saw bonfires burning on every hillside, tricolours flying from tree-tops, and the nation watching and waiting for the first freely elected Irish Parliament since the Confederation of Kilkenny, over 300 years before.

The Derry Journal, December 21st 1955

Sources

The Derry Journal, December 21st 1955

The Easter Rising Stories YouTube Channel by Marcus Howard