Category Archives: Nursing

Martial Law in Dublin

In February 1920 when the War of Independence was but a year old a curfew was enforced on the people of Dublin:

At the time Emily was resident in Ranelagh and employed as a nurse. Fortunately, for Emily, exceptions were considered for Clergymen, doctors and nurses engaged on duty. As might be expected she had to apply in writing to the permit officer at Dublin Castle. She may well have applied, but not necessarily for medical purposes. It was not uncommon for members of Cumann na mBan, like Emily to move about the city delivering secret messages between Irish Republican Army members. Hiding behind her nurse’s uniform, she was almost above suspicion, however she could be challenged by any policeman, non-commissioned officer or an on duty soldier. If she failed to comply with orders in any way it would have been as advised on notices at her own peril. None of the rules would have bothered Emily!

Sources

Weekly Freeman’s Journal 28 February 1920

Turbulent Twenties

It was almost a year since the first shots of the War of Independence were fired. The conflict which was ratcheting up all over the country at the dawn of 1920. The country was heading fast into one of the most turbulent times in Irish history. The attacks and ambushes that typifies guerilla warfare were commonplace. There was no knowing when a brutal attack would occur.

Burnt out buildings during the War of Independence

Emily who was no stranger to violence. As a daughter of convert priest, brutal attacks on her and her family were all too frequent. She was more equipped than most to deal with the turmoil that was unfolding in her country. She traveled between Dublin and her home in Achill. Her financial situation which fell on hard times in the wake of the Russian Revolution of 1917, when her shares in Russian industry were wiped, forced her to return to her old profession of nursing to keep her house in Keel. She was living at an address in Ranelagh, Dublin in the early 1920’s and was working as a nurse in the old Meath Hospital at the time. There was evidence by the way of the local Gaelic League that she spent time in Achill.

Sources

Dublin Evening Telegraph 03 January 1920

Weekly Freeman’s Journal 27 November 1920

Dublin, November 1919

November 11th 1919 marked a full year since the Great War ended. It was almost a year since the beginning of another, the War of Independence. To an onlooker, it might have been hard to believe there was any conflict at all in most part of the country, apart from Munster and Dublin. There were plenty reports in the newspapers, telling of guerilla warfare such as ambushes and arson attacks on the authorities.

In the wake of the Uprising of 1916, when martial law war was declared, then relaxed when thing quietened down. But on July 5th 1918  – Sinn Féin, the Irish Volunteers, Cumann na mBan and the Gaelic League have all been proclaimed as illegal organisations by the Lord Lieutenant and banned. From time to time the papers contained notices such as the below reiterating the ban.

At the time Emily was living in Dublin at the time at an address in Ranelagh, away from her home in Achill. She had found employment in her old profession as a nurse, the previous year on the outbreak of Spanish Flu. She was in serious debt, having to work all the hours she could to save her home. She had little time to take part in political activities, but it did not stop her selling flags for the listed organisations, as an act of defiance as much as a support to them.

Sinn Fein Headquarters at 6 Harcourt Street
Sources
Irish Times 27 November 1919

Freeman’s Journal 30 November 1920

https://www.rte.ie/centuryireland/index.php/articles/banned-sinn-fein-irish-volunteers-cumann-na-mban-and-the-gaelic-league

Kathleen Florence Lynn

On this day in 1955 Dr. Kathleen Lynn was laid to rest in her family plot in Deansgrange Cemetery, Dublin. Dr. Lynn and Emily’s friendship spanned at least four decades, up till Emily’s death in 1952. Kathleen outlived her by three years. The two women had much in common, their lives taking similar courses. Both had careers in the medical field, Kathleen a doctor, Emily a nurse.

The coast of Killala, birthplace of Dr. Kathleen Lynn

Dr. Lynn graduated from the college. She was one of a small number of girls that won scholarships to the University of Dublin, where she began her medical career.

Dr Kathleen Lynn Lane, Ballina, Co. Mayo
Sources
Dublin Daily Express 29 June 1893

Emily, Dr. Kathleen Lynn and the founding of St. Ultan’s Hospital

St Ultan’s

It is one hundred years since the founding of St. Ultan’s Hospital, by Dr. Kathleen Lynn and Madeline Ffrench Mullen. It was supported by many of Dr. Lynn’s and Emily’s mutual friends, Darrell and Millie Figgis, Maude Gonne and the Williams sisters along with many more people of influence. The Hospital was set up in response to medical and social conditions in Dublin, particularly for women and children at the time. Many were living in dire poverty and the infant mortality particularly high. The Hospital was staffed by female doctors including Dr. Alice Barry and Dr Dorothy Stopford-Price.

Emily helped out when she could and no doubt contributed to and/or helped with the fundraising. A nurse by profession she helped in the hospital from time to time too.

When the hospital opened in May 1919, it had only two cots, so fundraising was necessary. One such event took place a few months later.

From Countess Markeivitz speech at the opening in 1920

Sources

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/healthcare-in-the-war-of-independence-st-ultan-s-children-s-hospital-1.3750, Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 00:00 Sinéad McCoole

https://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/st-ultans-a-womens-hospital-for-infants/

https://www.rcpi.ie/heritage-centre/1916-2/who-is-dr-kathleen-lynn/

Irish Citizen 07 June 1919

Irish Citizen 04 October 1919