Category Archives: Nursing


According to her biographer Iosold Ni Dheirg, Emily worked for a family as a private nursemaid and traveled with them to France and Germany. It is not clear how long she stayed in France as a nursemaid with that particular family. She certainly stayed long enough in the country to become a fluent French speaker

With French and a good command of German she had certainly had the option to travel as a nurse. Iosold Ni Dheirg, who knew Emily personally mentioned that she had a great sense of adventure, another reason behind her visit. The third possible reason could possibly have been that she was on a tour of Europe, not an uncommon for young ladies at her time. Having lost her parents and all but one of her siblings, her other relations may have taken her to the Continent as part of her education.

Either one of the ways described or another way completely young Emily found herself in the South of France in the Spring of 1896, having  brush with destiny too.

Ní Dheirg, Íosold. Emily M. Weddall: Bunaitheoir Scoil Acla. Baile Atha Cliath: Coisceim, 1995



Emily Weddall was fluent in French, a language that she would speak with anyone that would converse with her in it. She would have learned French as a schoolgirl at the Irish Clergy Daughter’s School. Her education there was geared towards finding employment as a governess, or a similar profession. At the time Emily attended the principal was Lady Mrs Danner. The subjects offered were; Holy scripture, English, French, German, Italian, Latin, geography, arithmetic, reading, needlework, pianoforte, vocal music and drawing.

Clergy Daughter’s School

Established in 1843 and incorporated by scheme of the Education Endowments Commissioners, 1894 the school was situated on Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin and shared premises with Alexandra College. Its object was to assist the clergymen and families of clergymen with limited means in the education of their children. The School catered for girls aged ten to eighteen whose fathers were Church of Ireland clergymen. The school closed in 1969. The site in Earlsfort Terrace was sold and the funds used to support boarding at Alexandra College and elsewhere.

Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin, where Emily attended school in the 1870’s and 80’s.

Emily did not pursue a career as a governess but instead as nurse. It was not necessary to have a second language to study nursing, but it did help to broaden her nursing options. Being a fluent French speaker helped her secure employment in France.

Clergy Daughter’s School Reports 1868 – 1886. Courtesy of Church of Ireland Library.


The “Sketcher”

It was not long before Paul Henry and his wife Grace settled into Island life, although it took a little time for them to learn the customs peculiar to the area. In the early days he had become known as the “Sketcher” and local people began to avoid him. Not knowing what he had done to upset people he asked advice of the local nurse.

“Even then I did not realise the reason for this, and it was left to my good friend Nurse Comerford to explain to me that my making drawings of the people was bitter resented. Then I saw where I stood. I had come up against one of the oldest superstitions world, he belief that something of the sitter entered into the drawing.”

Postcard photograph of Keel Village Postmarked 1910. From Valentine series.

Postcard photograph of Keel Village Postmarked 1910. From Valentine series.

This proved a problem for Henry as his livelihood was dependent of providing a London publication with sketches of anything that would be of interest to them. Luckily for him Emily Weddall made it her business to befriend him Emily  took him and his wife Grace under her wing and introduced them around.

Keel village in 1910 this is one the sights that inspired Paul Henry Reproduced with kind permission of Mayo Public Library, Castlebar.
An Irish Portrait, Paul Henry’s Autobiography, 1951. P 53

Dr Kathleen Lynn

Dr Lynn

Dr Lynn

Dr. Kathleen Lynn was born in Mayo. Like Emily Weddall her father was a Church of Ireland Minister. She was educated in Alexandria College, Dublin before completing her medical training at Cecilia Street (a Catholic University medical school).
Dr Lynn worked at Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital, where Emily did her nurses training, but at different times.  Emily the older by a few years, attended Sir Patrick Dun’s in the 1890’s, Kathleen began working there in 1899, after completing medical school. At the time it was hard for female doctors to secure work, Sir Patrick Dunn’s progressive for it’s time took her on, on her own merit.

It is not clear when and where both women first became acquainted, it was likely through the Gaelic League, Cumann na mBan or through medical circles.  Kathleen Lynn either attended or helped with Scoil Acla as she was named on a list of attendees and supporters in a Mayo News article in the summer of 1915. They were life long friends, and would be meet many times again over the following four decades.

Kathleen Lynn: A Revolutionary Doctor | An Dochtúir Reabhlóideach

Kathleen Lynn was one of our first female medical graduates.  During the course of a distinguished life, she was a medical leader, campaigning feminist and social activist, a rebel of the emerging Irish nation, a suffragette and a public representative.  She had a pioneering medical career whilst taking part in Ireland’s War of Independence…To read more about Kathleen Lynns remarkable life:

Sources 08/07/2011
Mayo News August 1915
Photo: 04 August 1917 – Daily Mirror – London, London, England


Easter Tuesday; Emily gets word of the Rising

Easter Tuesday [April 25th, 1916] was a bright and sunny day on Achill. Darrell Figgis recounts;

“The spring work was in full swing. Voices of men, voices of women, and the barking of dogs, flowed over the land pleasantly. Nothing seemed further removed from the day and its work than the noise of war.”

Like Darrell Figgis no one as far west as Achill could have imagined what was unfolding in the Capital. It was not til later on that afternoon did he learn of the events in Dublin. A friend of his, who he does not name and possibly Emily arrived at his door in floods of tears. Wondering what was amiss, he inquired at least about the lateness of the post.  Her reply;

A beautiful spring day on Achill just like the one Darrell Figgis describes in 1916

A beautiful spring day on Achill just like the one Darrell Figgis describes in 1916

“There is no post'” she replied, “but there’s terrible news. They say Dawson street is full of dead and wounded men. The Volunteers hold the General Post Office, the Bank of Ireland, and a number of buildings all over Dublin. They’ve been attacking the Castle, but I cannot find out what happened there. The soldiers are attacking them everywhere with machine guns, and they say the slaughter is terrible.”

If the lady caller was indeed Emily she took off there and then to Dublin to lend her services as a Cumann na mBan member and most importantly her nursing services. Darrell Figgis stayed put, but his quite island life was interrupted shortly afterwards, as a know subversive from the Howth Gun-running incident a few years before he was arrested and taken  to nearby Castlebar Prison, then to Dublin and later on to the UK.

Figgis’s friend was correct in with some of her information, at least about the Volunteers taking over the GPO. Closer to the source was Ella Young, who kept a vigil from the vantage point of Portobello Bridge.


Portobello Bridge today

Ella Young’s account of Easter Tuesday:

“Machine Guns are Spluttering

News is filtering in Constance de Markievicz, second in command with the Civilian Army, held Saint Stephen’s Green Park all Monday. Trenches were dug there and sharp shooters exchanged shots with the English soldiers. Pearse, Tom Clark, Connolly and The O’Rahilly, has taken possession of the General Post Office. McDonagh is in Jacob’s Factory De Valera hold Boland’s Mill. No one in Rathmines seems to know hats going on. But soldiers everywhere: behind barracks walls; behind walls of gardens; on the roofs of houses. Machine guns are spluttering. Rifle shots rifle and volleys puncture the intermission. There is fighting in the streets. How and how little no one can guess. But certainly dead bodies in the streets”

View of Portobello from Rathmines

View of Portobello from Rathmines


Figgis, Darrell. A Chronicle of Jails. Dublin: The Talbot Press, 1917.
Flowering Dusk; Things Remembered Accurately and Inaccurately, Young Ella, 1945, Logmans, Green and Co., New York, Toronto. 1945