Tag Archives: Emily M. Weddall

The Final Days of WW1

Emily Nurses her Friend Millie Figgis

Emily was working in the Meath Hospital  just as the First World War was winding down, and the Spanish Flu was at its peak in November 1918. Normally she took personal interest in the political situation but she had important things on her mind. As well as being exhausted at working long shifts nursing the flu victims she also nursed her friend Millie Figgis, whose husband, Darrell was in prison in Durham Gaol as a political prisoner. He was later released on parole, but not before Emily intervened on behalf of his wife.

Emily the Nurse

Both Emily and her doctor, Alice Barry were very concerned about at the severe nature of Millie’s illness as she had an underlying heart condition. The flu could be deadly in her case. To make matters worse the mortality rate was highest in the 20-40 age group of which Mrs Figgis was in at the time.


Her doctor Dr. Alice Barry was not too concerned at first, as the authorities recorded: “The Doctor expressed the opinion that she is not in danger of death at present, but that she may develop serious symptoms later.” That was written on 11 November 1918, that day the war ended. A day later Emily made her way to a post office to send a telegram to the Chief Secretary’s office. Emily was not one to bother with middle men.

“I wish to draw your attention to the urgency of the matter placed before you in regard to Mrs. Darrell Figgis.. Weddall Nurse”

Her word was not taken seriously buy the authorities even as a person with medical knowledge. Neither was Mrs. Figgis doctor, as she and Emily were both under surveillance.

“Mrs Weddall is a Nurse in the Meath Hospital; she belongs to Achill and is a personal friend of Mrs Figgis.  It is said that this Nurse holds extreme views.”

Emily and Dr. Barry’s plea worked. Darrell Figgis was released on compassionate leave and Millie got better.

Sources

Public Record Office CO 904/201/141

Emily losses another friend

On October 30 Emily lost her good friend Frances Coffey to the Spanish Flu. She was only a young woman, less than thirty, but the virus did not discriminate, in fact Frances was in the age group with the highest casualties.

Both Emily and her niece Enid (Siobhan) wrote to her family regretting her death. Frances, or Sadhbh, in Gaelic had attended Scoil Acla first in 1911, and had been friends with Emily Weddall from then. Both ardent Gaelic League members attending events together such as the one below in 1912.

A visit was paid recently to teh Connaught Irish College, Tourmakeady, by a party including Rev. J. W. Meehan. C.C., Mrs Captain Weddall, Achill, Professor Paorach, Achill School of Irish; and Seaghan McEnri, organiser, Gaelic League. the visitors were welcomed into the lecture hall by over 300 students and their friends, those present including Senor Foley, Argentina, Mr. do. O’Byrne, President Brooklyn Gaelic League, the misses Chenevix Trench [Frances and Margot], Dublin; and P. O’Mallie. Ghairman Ougherard Gauardians. In the course of an address Father Meehan advocated that National teachers qualified to teach the school programme in both Irish and English sould be paid highter salaries than thos abel to teach only in English, and aht an advanced knowledge of a second language should be essential for admission to teacher’s training colleges.

The following year, the two friends met up at the Oireachtas, or AGM of the Gaelic League in Galway City, before traveling on the Achill to what would be the final Scoil Acla of that generation. Sadhbh, pictured with Emily, An Paorach, Claud Chevasse, along with others recorded the events of the summer school in her diary; Cesca’s Diary, 1913-1916: Where Art and Nationalism Meet.

Scoil Acla 1913 www.scoilacla.ie

When Cumann na mBan was formed in 1914, both Emily and Sadhbh  joined, and over the next few years became involved in the Easter Rising and the struggle for freedom that ensured. Emily lived to see it but Sadhbh did not. In October 1918 she came down with the dreaded flu, from which she did not recover.

At her burial the rosary was recited in Irish around her grave by members of her  branch of the Gaelic League and Emily’s branch known as the Five Provinces or Craobh na gCúig gCúigí.

Sources

Chenevix Trench, Frances Georgiana, and Hilary Pyle. Cesca’s Diary, 1913-1916: Where Art and Nationalism Meet. Dublin: Woodfield Press, 2005.

MS 46 328/2 Coffey and Chenevix Trench papers, 1868-2007. National Library of Ireland. Department of Manuscripts.

09 September 1912 – Irish Independent – Dublin, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

www.scoilacla.ie

Flu Ravages the Country

During October 1918 the Spanish Flu ravaged the country. Emily was working flat out in the Meath Hospital in Dublin. In her very little spare time she helped nurse her good friend Millie Figgis while her husband was in prison in Durham Gaol.

The epidemic was at it’s worst in Dublin and urban areas but made its way down the country too. The article from the Freeman’s Journal tells of how it was spreading rapidly and that adopting the American method of closing down theatres, cinemas and other places that large groups congregate to prevent further infection. It was also though that it was at its peak in the last week of October 1918 but there was more to come.


Sources

Freeman’s Journal 25 October 1918

Nursing during the Spanish Flu Outbreak

Emily Weddall was stationed in the Meath Hospital, Dublin in October 1918, during the height of the outbreak of the Spanish flu.  This was the second of the three waves that traveled around the world quicker than in peace time, as it was still officially wartime. One month later the war was over but the flu epidemic had many more lives to claim before it finally dissipated in the spring of 1919.

As a trained nurse, her services were in high demand. She seemed to have an greater than average resistance to illness, and was one of the few to escape the ravages of that particularly virulent virus.

…But in 1918, as World War I approached its end, nothing could have prepared them for what was to come – the deadly Spanish Flu. Massive troop activities and a population weakened by hunger and war helped spread the disease. There was no cure for Spanish Flu, and doctors struggled to treat it. Good nursing was the only thing that helped and it was typically women that bore the brunt of trying to halt this deadly killer…https://www.hippocraticpost.com/events/nursing-during-the-1918-flu-pandemic/

As stated above good nursing was key to making the victims as comfortable as possible. Emily, who was trained by Margaret Huxley, who was like her English counterpart Florence Nightingale, revolutionised Irish nursing. Emily had some contact with the Florence Nightingale Nurses, and may have done some training with them. She was well qualified to nurse the flu victims.

Sources
https://www.hippocraticpost.com/events/nursing-during-the-1918-flu-pandemic/
http://www.oscailtmagazine.com/unitarian%20magazine/Great%20Woman.html
http://rcnarchive.rcn.org.uk/data/VOLUME088-1940/page027-volume88-february1940.pdf retrieved 02/06/2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

150 Years Ago in Edenderry

150 years ago, when Emily was barley one year old an incident occurred at her family home at Windsor Terrace Edenderry, Co Offaly. She was too young  to remember the incident but it was only one of many that plagued her childhood. The article below give a glimpse into what young Emily and her family suffered as a family of converts in the days when the prejudice against them resulted many times in violence.

The court case involving Rev. Burke was one of at least ten to be heard over a decade in the petty sessions and at Edenderry. All which involved violence against him or his family. It was not unusual for the authorities to take against him too. In the above case the judges would not allow the policeman to question the witnesses, so nobody could be prosecuted for the crime.

The courthouse in Edenderry, stands exactly like it did when Emily’s family lived there

Sources
Cork Constitution 19 October 1868