The opening of the Eiffel Tower and Emily’s travels in France

Today the Eiffel Tower turns 130. When unveiled first it was quite a marvel. “A Nineteenth Century wonder” it was called, but before Parisians saw it as a wonder to behold they were quite skeptical during construction. As one paper reported it was cited as a “Metallurgical Monstrosity.”

Emily visited France in the 1890’s she may have been to Paris taking in the spectacle of the newly constructed Eiffel Tower herself, or even may have a lift to highest point accessible to the public at at the time. It was in her character to do so as she was once described by a friend as “intrepid”. It is possible that she may have been to France at an earlier date as she spoke fluent French.

Sources

13 April 1889 – Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian – Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland Cambridge Daily News 03 April 1889

Friends of Emily: John Millington Synge

One hundred and ten year ago John Millington Synge died. He was only a week or so shy of his thirty eight birthday. Having only enjoyed a short period of fame, little more than half a decade, illness and eventual death cutting it short.

BIOGRAPHICALLY the most remarkable feature of Synge’s career was its brevity. In the six years which elapsed between 1903, when In the Shadow of the Glen was produced, to 1909, when he died, he rose from absolute obscurity to world fame, and provided us with six plays on which his reputation must rest” Read more:


Originally published in Minute History of the Drama. Alice B. Fort & Herbert S. Kates. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1935. p. 118

Emily and Synge were friends from Gaelic League and literary circles but may have known one another from their earlier years. Both came from clerical families and were similar ages, she slightly older. There is a possibility that they met in their youth. Emily’s father and Synge’s uncle were both evangelical missionaries in the 1850’s. Synge’s uncle went to the Aran Islands, with the view to converting, the islanders, Emily’s father, Mayo and Connemara. Both men were run out of town. There was a good chance they were close enough friends as Emily was one of a relatively small group that attended his funeral, traveling cross country all the way from Achill to Dublin.

Sources

http://www.theatrehistory.com/irish/synge001.html

http://www.achill247.com/writers/jmsynge.html

Dublin Daily Express 27 March 1909

St. Patrick’s Day on Achill in the time of Emily

“One Home Two Away”

It was possible that Emily spent St. Partick’s Day on Achill in 1919. The worst of the flu epidemic was over ending her long hours of nursing its victims. She was now free to travel back home to Achill after a long absence. Dublin was now her temporary home, as her employment as a nurse was there. However, correspondence with Fainne an Lae, the new name for the Gaelic League weekly, located her in Achill in March 1919.

St. Partick’s Day was then as it is now a big festival on Achill, celebrating it in the same way it was celebrated in 1882, to mark the fourteen hundred and fifty years that the saint arrived in Ireland.That year the Church called for a special effort to be made by the people of Ireland to celebrate the anniversary. Achill was well prepared. The year before the First Band or Tom Vesey’s Band was formed. Initiated by him and some local musicians.

“The First Band had always been known as Tom Vesey’s Band. Tom Vesey lived in the middle of the Village [Dooagh] and as a youngster he served his time in Scotland as a cooper… Tom Vesey was by all accounts a gifted cooper, and like all artists he tried something new, he made a wooden frame for a bass drum, a tanned goat skin was used to complete the drum. That drum was carried in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade for 26 Years.

As Time Marches on; A Brief History of Dooagh Pipe Band 1882-1982,

Some years later when St. Partrick’s Day became an official holiday (1903), and the Gaelic League took over, the local branch put on a concert, where the islanders were entertained with music, drama and song. When Emily arrived on Achill the agenda for St. Patrick‚Äôs Day was well established. She was happy to get involved and when the night was over her husband, Captain Weddall treated the performers to tea and cake.

The Accrington Drum

Years later, still when the Gaelic League and Scoil Acla was well established on Achill and when the Dooagh Band had acquired a new drum. The large drum was a gift from grateful music fans from Accrington, Lancashire. It went down in folklore as the Accrington Drum.

In 1914 a Mr. Rainsford was brought in by Mrs. Weddall, director of Scoil Acla to teach new members of the Band new tunes on the flute, he also trained the drummers. He trained them to cross the sticks on the big drum. He called the style – “One home two away”.

As Time Marches on; A Brief History of Dooagh Pipe Band 1882-1982


Sources

As Time Marches on; A Brief History of Dooagh Pipe Band 1882-1982; J.J. McNamara, J. McNamara, N.T.

Mayo News April 04 1908. Page 3

Special thanks to John ‘Twin’ McNamara


St. Patrick’s Day 1919

St. Patrick’s Day 1919 was the first one since the end of WWI. Rationing had all but ended, a fact that had not escaped retailers, as seen in the advert below. The usual novelties, such as badges, rosettes, cards and pictures of the saint, were also advertised and offered at competitive prices.

In honour of the national saint of Ireland Seachtaine na Gaelilge was and still is marked by Connrad na gaelige. Nowadays it runs for a fortnight then it was a week long.

Sources

Weekly Freeman’s Journal 15 March 1919

Dublin Evening Telegraph 15 March 1919

Achill Railway Extension

Nine-nine years ago today an article appeared in the Irish Times, about the annual general meeting of the Great Western and Midlands Railways. The members were doubting the viability of the railways, particularly in the west, where tourism outweighed industry. The Railway hotels in Mallaranny and Recess were doing quite well.

Anita has her Say

Anita McMahon, who was the Hon. Secretary of the Lower Achill Co-operative Society, made a good case for the extension of a light railway to Lower Achill. She put the case as follows;

Irish Times February 27th 1920

The powers that be took her idea on board, but it never materialised. The fishing and tourist industry continued the railway lasted just about two more decades. If the light rail had been built who knows what would have come out of it.

Undeterred, Anita would put forward equally ambitious ideas on behalf of the people of Achill, with successful outcomes. Because of her endeavours she was known in Achill as Auntie Anita.

Anita, courtesy of Scoil Acla

Sources

Irish Times February 27th 1920

http://scoilacla.ie/