Lady Rachel Dudley was celebrated as one of the beauties of her generation. A favorite of the Prince of Wales she turned heads everywhere she went. The loveliness of her face was far surpassed by her generosity and willingness to help those less fortunate.
Born Rachel Gurney, to a family of Quaker bankers, she showed talent as a singer as a young girl. Her golden voice captured the attention of the Duchess of Bedford, who took her and her sister on as protegees, paying for lessons by renowned Italian composer and singing teacher Paolo Tosti. The young Rachael was about to embark on a singing career but fate intervened.
Miss Gurney was about to adopt music as a profession when at that junctuire her friend Lady Edith Ward, came riding by with her brother Lord Dudley, who fell in love first with the voice and then with the singer. “I wanted to marry the most beautiful woman in England – I could not marry you so I will marry Rachel Gurney.” Lord Dudley was heard to have said to his mother.
The Nottingham Evening Post 28 June 1920
The wedding took place in Christchurch, Chelsea, London on 18th September 1891 (which happened to be Emily’s 24th birthday). The wedding aroused much curiosity in population, who all but stampeded to catch a glimpse of the beautiful bride!
Christchurch Times 19 September 1891
Belfast News-Letter 26 April 1920
12 July 1924 – Weekly Irish Times – Dublin, Dublin, Republic of Ireland
In late June 1920 a section of the Connaught Rangers stationed in Punjab State, Norther India staged a protest. Outraged by the activites of the Crown Forces in Ireland they simply refused to preform their military duties. A few days later their counterparts in Solon joined the demonstration, by flying the Irish tricolour, wearing Sinn Fein and engaging in other acts of disobedience, whilst singing rebel songs.
The protests took a violent turn, when the soldiers armed with whatever weapons they had to hand, tried to take possession of their rifles held in the magazine. The on duty guards opened fire, a shootout ensued resulting in the death of two, putting an end to the mutiny. The protesters at both camps were captured and placed under armed guard. Sinn Fein were blamed for engineering the plot, and sixty one were charged for their part in the mutiny. Fourteen men in total were sentenced to death by firing squad.
In the summer of 1920 there was an escalation of conflict between the Crown forces and the IRA. Ordinary civilians were often targeted as reprisals for
This triggered a grave escalation of the conflict as the new forces carried out reprisals on the civilian population for IRA attacks – in the summer of 1920 burning extensive parts of the towns of Balbriggan and Tuam for example. The IRA in response formed full-time Flying Columns (also called Active Service Units), which in some parts of the country became much more ruthless and efficient at guerrilla warfare.
Alongside the limited armed campaign there was significant passive resistance including hunger strikes by prisoners (many of whom were released in March 1920) and a boycott by railway workers on carrying British troops.
Another way of passive resistance was refusing to provide troops with food and other necessities, as was the case on Achill in summer 1920.
MARINES ON ACHILL
A detachment of 25 marines landed at Purteen Harbour, Keel, Achill, and occupied the local coastguard station. they were refused supplies at the shop of Miss M’Hugh and Lr. Achill Co-op. Society. a man bringing turf to the coastguards was turned back. Posters warning the people against dealings with the marines were torn down by the officer.
As the Anglo Irish war progressed throughout 1920, ambushes became more common, even outside the main urban areas. As a guerilla war which relied on ambushes. These localized attacks on usually on police (RIC) stations, where volunteers from the area stole arms of the law keepers, who were usually set free earlier on in the war but as it progressed they didn’t get off so lightly.
Non-compliance with the authorities was another tactic employed, by civilians. One such incident on the Dublin Achill railway line in June 1920 at Castlebar as described in the article below.
It is ten years since I took this photo of the the lonely grave of Emily M. Weddall. In the historical Republican Plot, it was perhaps the only unmarked final resting place of those who fought for Irish Independence.
It remained unmarked for many decades as Emily died without descendants, and her closest surviving relatives no nearer than Australia. Apart from the occasional visit from her friends, fewer and fewer as the year rolled by. But in 2012, sixty years after her death members of Scoil Acla, the same summer school she co-founded in 1910, decided to remedy the situation. In November of that year unveiled, a gravestone befitting the character of Emily Weddall.
The gravestone with an stained glass inset was meticulously chosen by the committee of Scoil Acla. It is a symbol of and a tribute to Emily who donated her stained glass panel of St. Brendan, by Wilhelmina Geddes (1887–1955) to Curran Catholic Church. Geddes was an Irish born stained glass artist, whose work graces churches, art galleries and museums all over the world. Emily purchased the piece at an art fair in London in 1925.