Category Archives: Places

Autumn 1918

In the Autumn of 1918 Emily made the journey to Dublin, she did not know how long she would stay in the capital. She had to leave Achill for some time to secure employment as she was penniless. All her income in stocks and shares had  been lost since the outbreak of the Russian Revolution the year before. As things had got worse there, Emily must have realised that the days of financial security from that source was well and truly over.

Reports over the previous months relayed that the Russian Imperial family, the Romanovs were dead, assassinated by the Bolshevik Party. At the time the news was not taken as gospel as not too long afterwards resurfaced that they were still alive. At the time it was impossible to tell truth from ‘fake news’ as it was wartime  and propaganda stories were the order of the day. Either way Emily probably knew in her heart that she would have to return to work in order to survive never mind pay off her accumulating debts.

The Romanovs

Emily spent time in Russia in her youth. It was rumored that she had some connection with the Tsars family, although nobody can say exactly how. Her biographer Iosold ni Dheirg, reckoned that hers and their paths crossed at one stage. Emily may have talked about them to her but  unfortunately the story is lost in time.

The night of their assassination they were ordered out of bed, told to dress for a long journey, and then ushered downstairs to the basement where they were read the death sentence aloud. Then in a barrage of bullets the entire family’s lives were put to an end. Their bodies were removed by truck and buried in a wood, where they remained for decades.

When the accepted fate of the Romanaov’s became known it may have disturbed Emily terribly. She was always one to take sides with the revolutionaries being one herself, but this time it was different, perhaps her connection with the imperial family made it so. She was said to have a photo of three young girls on her sideboard, when any one inquired on who they were she would say; “my three Russian princesses”, could they have been the Romanaovs?

To read more:

Emily had no time to dwell on what was happening abroad even if it was in her interest, there was something looming that would take more lives than the war that was raging at the time. The Spanish flu that was doing the rounds earlier in the year was back again, this time with a vengeance.

Illustrated London News 27 July 1918
Ní Dheirg, Íosold. Emily M. Weddall: Bunaitheoir Scoil Acla. Baile Atha Cliath: Coisceim, 1995
The Sphere 04 August 1928
Wicklow People 04 February 1999

Emily’s Heroes; Charles Stewart Parnell

In 1875, when Emily Weddall was seven years old Charles Steward Parnell first came into power. She may not have been aware of politics at such a young age, but a few year later when the Land League was formed by Michael Davitt in 1879 she may have took notice, as it was a cause she followed in her adult life.

“In October 1879, Davitt established the National Land League and installed Parnell as its president. Parnell then traveled around Ireland, delivering fiery speeches at mass meetings organized by the League. Read more in History Ireland

In the 1880’s when he entered parliament, Emily was in her teens and perhaps it was then when she first became politically minded. His leadership style would have captured her imagination.  When Parnell died in 1891, Emily was living in Dublin and more than likely was one of thousands who attended the funeral of the “uncrowned king”.

Years later she was a supporter of Michael Davitt and became friends with his son Cahir, who visited her at her home in Rockfield House in Achill.

Above is a poem published in the Evening Herald to mark his first anniversary in 1892, it is simply initialed F. P. H.

Twenty years later when the same ‘poet’ wrote to the Irish Independent, citing the lack of funds to complete the Parnell Monument, Emily stepped in and made a contribution for the monument to be complete. It was in 1911, when thousands arrived to see it inaugurated, perhaps Emily was in the crowd.

Evening Herald (Dublin) 10 October 1892
Irish Independent 22 June 1911
Dublin Evening Telegraph 02 October 1911
John Twin McNamara

Emily’s Heroes: Fr. Manus Sweeney

Emily had many heroes in her lifetime, most of whom were Irish Patriots especially if they took part in a rebellion against British rule. One of those perhaps closest to her heart was Fr. Manus Sweeney. He was born in Dukinella, a stone’s throw of her house on Keel Sandybanks.

Fr. Sweeney was hanged in 1799 in Newport for his supposed part in the Rebellion of the previous year. There are many legends attached to his life and death, many seeped in the supernatural.

In 1942 Emily and her friends Anita McMahon, Eva O’Flaherty, used their influence to gain publicity for the funding of a monument dedicated to the patriot priest to be erected outside his birthplace on the Island. Sculptor, Peter Grant won the commission, which was completed, and inaugurated in August 1944.


Mayo News, Saturday, August 19 1944


Women in the Anti Conscription Campaign of 1918

Anti-conscription Pledge

“Denying the right of the British Government to enforce Compulsory service in this Country we pledge ourselves solemnly to one another to resist Conscription by the most effective means at our disposal.”

Above is the wording of the Anti-conscription Pledge devised in April 1918. During the summer after a major offensive by the Germans in April there was a  conscription crisis in Britain. Ireland had been exempt from enforced conscription since 1915. To read more about how it came about:

Within weeks of the World War One beginning in the summer of 1914, there were already some who, fearing that conscription was likely, emigrated from Ireland. From the summer of 1915 compulsory military service had become a live possibility. Read more

The papers contained many articles as the one below in The Irish Independent of 25 June 1918:

“Irishmen Soldiers

In future Irishmen crossing to Great Britain for munition or Government work will be called up for military service in the same manner as other British Subjects, Mr. Beck told a questioner in Parliament yesterday but Irishmen in munition factories will not be compulsorily recruited before they are given an opportunity of returning to Ireland.

It was stated that 40,000 had crossed since Oct. 1916, but that the undertaking given to them would be unaltered at present. “The new decision – which Mr. Beck told Mr. Lough he didn’t think would require legislation – will not affect those brought across by the Ministry of Labour. or those holding employment Exchange certificates.

Sir Edward Carson put a couple of questions about hose men being younger than men called up for service, and Mr. Beck had no doubt many for them were. The men referred to would be liable to military service only for administrative action protecting them on the ground that they came over in response to a Government request.”

The women of Ireland did not want to see their sons partaking in a war that was not of their making.

To find out more watch the informative YouTube video; Filmed by Marcus Howard. Liz Gillis gives a talk on women in the 1918 Anti Conscription Campaign. The talk was filmed at the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Anti Conscription Conference in The Mansion House. Liz Gillis is a historian, author and researcher having written “The Fall of Dublin”, “Women of the Irish Revolution”, “The Hales Brothers and the Irish Revolution” and “May 25th: The Burning of the Custom House 1921”.



Irish Independent 25 June 1918
Irish Citizen 06 July 1918