Category Archives: Friends

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.

The Final Days of WW1

Emily Nurses her Friend Millie Figgis

Emily was working in the Meath Hospital  just as the First World War was winding down, and the Spanish Flu was at its peak in November 1918. Normally she took personal interest in the political situation but she had important things on her mind. As well as being exhausted at working long shifts nursing the flu victims she also nursed her friend Millie Figgis, whose husband, Darrell was in prison in Durham Gaol as a political prisoner. He was later released on parole, but not before Emily intervened on behalf of his wife.

Emily the Nurse

Both Emily and her doctor, Alice Barry were very concerned about at the severe nature of Millie’s illness as she had an underlying heart condition. The flu could be deadly in her case. To make matters worse the mortality rate was highest in the 20-40 age group of which Mrs Figgis was in at the time.


Her doctor Dr. Alice Barry was not too concerned at first, as the authorities recorded: “The Doctor expressed the opinion that she is not in danger of death at present, but that she may develop serious symptoms later.” That was written on 11 November 1918, that day the war ended. A day later Emily made her way to a post office to send a telegram to the Chief Secretary’s office. Emily was not one to bother with middle men.

“I wish to draw your attention to the urgency of the matter placed before you in regard to Mrs. Darrell Figgis.. Weddall Nurse”

Her word was not taken seriously buy the authorities even as a person with medical knowledge. Neither was Mrs. Figgis doctor, as she and Emily were both under surveillance.

“Mrs Weddall is a Nurse in the Meath Hospital; she belongs to Achill and is a personal friend of Mrs Figgis.  It is said that this Nurse holds extreme views.”

Emily and Dr. Barry’s plea worked. Darrell Figgis was released on compassionate leave and Millie got better.

Sources

Public Record Office CO 904/201/141

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

Forgotten Poet

In this week in 1925 Darrell Figgis was found dead in his Bloombury lodgings, London. He was 43 years old. The last year of his life was a sad one. The tragedy of his wife’s suicide in November 1924, followed by his mistress’s death after an illegal abortion in October 1925, proved too much for him to bear. On the night of October 27th he returned to his lodgings, blocked the chimney, sealed the windows and turned on the gas fire, and slipped into a sleep he would not wake up from. 

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He would be remembered more for his unfortunate end but before his life spiraled out of control he was a writer, poet and politician. When he began to write is impossible to say, perhaps during his early years in Calcutta, India or later when he went to live in London. The first documented account could be from The Globe 09 June 1909, where the following article appeared:

Bloomsbury

Sources

31 October 1925 – Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer – Leeds, Yorkshire.

The Globe 09 June 1909,

Flu Ravages the Country

During October 1918 the Spanish Flu ravaged the country. Emily was working flat out in the Meath Hospital in Dublin. In her very little spare time she helped nurse her good friend Millie Figgis while her husband was in prison in Durham Gaol.

The epidemic was at it’s worst in Dublin and urban areas but made its way down the country too. The article from the Freeman’s Journal tells of how it was spreading rapidly and that adopting the American method of closing down theatres, cinemas and other places that large groups congregate to prevent further infection. It was also though that it was at its peak in the last week of October 1918 but there was more to come.


Sources

Freeman’s Journal 25 October 1918