In June 1919, writer, Darrell Figgis as editor began a new newspaper called ‘The Republic’, for an independent Ireland that was yet to emerge.
The publication had a short lifespan. It appeared to end a year into independence the paper’s print run came to an end. On October 7th 1922 copies of the publication were “seized and destroyed”. The reason given, that in a recent issue Civic Guard, Sergeant Fox, who was at the time subject to an inquest was slandered by the paper. Darrell Figgis, on the side of the ordinary man put it to the head of Government if it was their intention to compensate the newspaper vendors and paperboys. No reply was reported.
In 1919, one hundred years ago, the artist, Paul Henry left Achill for pastures new, after making the Island his home for near a decade. He had intended to stay for a short time only but could not drag himself away, being captivated by the island’s otherworldly beauty. In his own words:
He and his wife, Grace, also a painter, settled into the island life helped by Emily, who Henry, described as, “a woman who bubbled over with enthusiasm”. She was was the person who introduced him to the locals as he recalled many years later;
As a token of his appreciation, he gave her some of his artwork, one was a painting called “Twilight Houses”. Emily being Emily gave more than she took and lent the painting to Darrell Figgis. Inscribed on the reverse: “Lent to D. Figgis by E. M. Weddall 15 . (?) 4 . 1918”. Knowing Emily she may never have reclaimed the picture. Many years later the painting resurfaced from the hidden world of private collections, when it went up for auction by Whites of Dublin in 2006.
In the following years Paul Henry, got reabsorbed into city life , and was involved in the founding of the Society of Dublin Painters. He did return to Achill towards the end of his life, perhaps retracing his owns steps, before he penned his autobiography, An Irish Portrait. By then many of his friends there, including Emily were no more.
Claud Chevasse first came under the radar as a person of interest to the authorities, after being arrested in Cork for refusing to speak English to the arresting policeman. He was summoned to court andwas fined £5 or spend a month in Jail. Claud Chevasse would not pay the fine on principle, citing that Ballingeary was in an Irish speaking area and the sergeant could have easily have found a translator.
Like Emily and Darrell Figgis he became a person of interest to the authorities, perhaps attracting their attention after the above incident. He was arrested during the Rising and taken to Richmond Barracks, but was released a few days later as there was no substantial against him. But as a ‘rebel’ he felt that he and his fellow prisoners should have had a fair trial, but it was denied due to the chaos after the insurrection.
To make things worse his bicycle, his main method of transport was ‘mislaid’ along with it his broach, possibly the one in the picture below that he wore with pride on his brat (sash). It was a gift from Scoil Acla.
Freeman’s Journal 04 April 1916Weekly Freeman’s Journal 13 June 1914
26 February 1916 – Wigan Observer and District Advertiser – Wigan, Lancashire, https://search.findmypast.ie/record?id=ire%2fpettys%2f005174188%2f00427&
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.