Unmarked in 2010


Scoil Acla members at the unveiling of Emily’s headstone 24 November 2012. Photo by Carmel Feeney


Stained glass window, by Wilhelmina Geddes that Emily bequeathed to Our Lady of the Universe Church, Curran, Achill

On this day (November 24th) 1952 Emily died. Her funeral was attended by the Nationalists of the time, and her contemporaries that were still alive, at 85 she had outlived most of them. One, was her life long friend Dr. Kathleen Lynn. Apart from a niece and nephew in Australia she was the last of her bloodline too. She was laid to rest beside the Republican Plot in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Her grave lay unmarked for six decades. But it was not forgotten, by the people of Achill. The committee and members of the present Scoil Acla, the summer school that she co-founded in 1910 commissioned a gravestone. It was unveiled on 24th November 2012, on her 60th anniversary.

The Scoil Acla members and others  that had established a connection with her formed a small group at the gates of Glasnevin Cemetery, and followed a lone piper to her graveside where they laid items of significance to her life, a framed photo, a wreath (inscribed O Acla, identical to the one she and the Figgis’ laid on the grave of O’Donovan Rossa), and the book; Emily M. Weddall: bunaitheoir Scoil Acla by her friend and biographer Íosold Ní Dheirg. The ceremony that followed thanked  and praised her generosity and her legacy to the people of Achill.

The inscription on her gravestone;

Emily M Weddall

Bunaitheoir Scoil Acla

Member of Cumann na mBan

1867 – 1952

Failte Roimh Gach Gael

The occasion was recorded in poetry by Ciaran Parkes;

Poem For Emily

A holiday crowd
down from Achill
and other places,
people who knew her
when she was alive,
others, who came to know her
after she had died.

They follow the bright
Scoil Acla banner
past the famous
Glasnevin tombs
to where her new
gravestone is unveiled,
lonely no longer.

A lone piper plays,
people leave presents
around her grave,
flowers from Achill,
a copy of her biography,
tell the stories
to make her come alive again.

It’s like a party,
so many friends together
in the same small space
and her gravestone –
a stained glass panel
to let the light shine through,
bright and warm and multi-coloured.

I think of Emily
sitting on a hillside
somewhere in Achill
with two friends, her small dog,
in an old photograph,
pausing from her adventures,
smiling, looking down.

Ciarán Parkes