Category Archives: History

Paul Henry Leaves Achill

Paul Henry in the early 1920’s

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:

“The currents of life had carried me to this remote spot, and there seemed no current strong enough to carry me away…I made another of my quick decisions, which I never regretted and taking my return ticket to London out of my pocket tore it into small pieces and scattered the fragments into the sea which foamed round the rocks of Gubalennaun.”

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;

“I had made the acquaintance of Mrs. Weddall, the widow of a sea captain. She introduced me to the people and initiated me into many of the ways peculiar to the island”

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.

Sources
Belfast Telegraph 11 April 1923

https://www.whytes.ie/art/twilight-houses-circa-1916-18/124351/?SearchString=&LotNumSearch=&GuidePrice=&OrderBy=&ArtistID=&ArrangeBy=&NumPerPage=&offset=131

Irish Independent 14 October 2000, p.43

Henry, Paul. An Irish Portrait; the Autobiography of Paul Henry. London, New York: B. T. Batsford, 1951.

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


Claud Chevasse, Easter Week and the Missing Bicycle

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.

Claud Chevasse

Sources:

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&

Freeman’s Journal 13 May 1916

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