Emily’s Father William John Burke made a choice that changed the course of his destiny and that of his family’s forever. The decision that he made in 1843 not only impacted on his life at the time but for that of his descendants for a generations.
Born about 1805 in the Kinvara area of Co Galway, to wealthy landowner, John Burke and his wife, William John was one of at least three children. Accounted for is his older brother Patrick and one sister. There were possibly more children in his family, but it is impossible to say exactly how many because the amount of records available for early Nineteenth century Ireland are scant.
Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara. Hometown to William John Burke
The hall that Emily built for Achill, the venue for the Fair (Reproduced by kind permission of Mayo County Libraries.)
Achill Feis of 1911 (1)
It did not take long for festival fever to take a grip on Achill, in 1911 there was a big Feis (fair) held in Dooagh village on Achill. It was one of the first events held in the newly built hall initiated and financed by Emily Weddall. This fair was a big event with people coming from the island and from further afield. There were many competitions at the fair and substantial prizes awarded to the winners! Emily wrote this letter to the Mayo News:
To the Editor “Mayo News”
Sir- May I through your paper drew the attention of the Irish crochet workers of the county to the selection by the County Committee of the Achill Feis, as the place where the Branchardiere prizes are to be competed for… I must therefore remind intending competitors that the date fixed for the Achill Feis is May 25th, and the prizes offer for the competition are:-
Competition No. 27 – Best piece of Irish crochet lace, Irish design: first prize 10s, second 5s.
Competition No. 28 – Best Irish crochet collarette and cuffs, Irish design, first prize 10s second 5s.
There were also prizes for dancing, music and singing. The skills categories in the competition included best sewed, knitted and crochet garments. The more unusual competitions were for the best plain cake, made from Irish ingredients and the best dozen of hen’s eggs!
Mayo News; June 3, 1911. P. 8
Emily Weddall’s father’s family were West of Ireland farmers, her mother’s family could not be more different in background. Her mother was one of the Graisberrys, a prominent Dublin family who were the official printers of Trinity College for many generations.
The Graisberry’s were the official printers of Trinity College, for many generations