Tag Archives: Emily M. Weddall

Cork Burns

By 1920 Cork had become the epicentre of the War of Independence. That year the city had lost two mayors to murder and hunger strike in a short succession of time. Cork was still reeling for their deaths, as well as other atrocities in the form of reprisals by the Crown forces since the war began in January 1919.

On the night of December 11 1920 The IRA carried out an ambush on a party of British Auxiliaries at Dillon’s Cross. At least one member of the forces was killed and many more wounded. Reprisal was immediate, two IRA members were killed and the British military and police forces went on a government sanctioned rampage which resulted in the burning of Cork.

Members of the Black and Tans who were noted for their brutality, joined by the RIC went torched the city’s commercial district. Many were drunk, swigging from whiskey bottles while more tore down awnings, which were put up each night by shop owners to protect their property due to the escalating violence that the city had become subject to. Pouring cans of petrol in the buildings they set the shops well stocked with Christmas merchandise alight causing millions worth of damage.

The fire brigade were called out but their job hampered, their hoses cut and were even shot at by crazed auxiliaries, who were given leave to do as they wished. The firemen were even denied water to quench the flames. Looters were free if they dared to help themselves to what they were able to grab from the burning buildings or salvage from the char.

"It will be represented no doubt, that this was part of the campaign of unauthorized reprisals by servants of the Crown. What seems to us more more probable is that this was the reply of the rebel element to the proclamation re Martial Law." 

Five acres of the commercial centre of Cork was razed to the ground, causing millions of pounds worth of damage and thousand’s lost their livelihood as a result. The City Hall and Carnegie Library were completely destroyed, and the epicentre of the fire was likened to O’Connell Street in Dublin after the Easter Rising.

In the initial inquiry the British government denied that the Crown forced were responsible for the fire, instead blaming the IRA, but later conceded that it was in fact the Auxiliaries.

It did not take long for ditties to be composed such as Greenwood’s Logic below, which appeared in the Freeman’s Journal on December 14th 1920:

Freeman’s Journal 14 December 1920

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Irish Times 13 December 1920

Dublin Evening Mail 13 December 1920

Western Mail 14 December 1920

Freeman’s Journal 14 December 1920

Bloody Sunday 1920

The above headline was one of the many gracing the newspaper columns on November 20th 1920. It drummed up a fever for the All-Ireland Final that was due to take place the following day. The headlines of the 22nd of November, however, did not report on the football match or announce the winning team instead they described a horrific massacre. One of the darkest day in the Irish War of Independence, which went down in history as Bloody Sunday, was the news of that day.

On Sunday morning, 21 November 1920, Michael Collins gave the command to his team of assassins, the Squad to kill 12 alleged British intelligence agents at their lodgings on Dublin’s South Side. The plan was to scupper the intelligence operations of Dublin Castle. Retaliation was inevitable.

Tension permeated the air of the capital as news of the morning’s massacre did the rounds. Everyone knew that there would be reprisal, in the eye for eye tooth for tooth war which was growing more vicious by the day. Could anyone have guessed that it would happen so soon? Within hours armored trucks pulled up outside Croke Park, while the game was going on. Nobody in the field, as it was not a staduim at the time were caught completely unawares, when the police began firing directly into the crowd. The gunfire that lasted only ninety seconds claimed the lives of fourteen. Among the dead were people from Dublin and the country alike, men women and children. In all, 30 people died that day.

Bloody Sunday 1920 was one of the darkest days in the Anglo Irish War but it was not the last, as the conflict would endure for another eight months.


Dublin Evening Telegraph 20 November 1920


History Ireland, Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Features, Issue 2 (Summer 2003), Revolutionary Period 1912-23, Volume 11


The Graphic 27 November 1920

Anita McMahon gets Sentenced in Galway

One hundred years ago, Emily’s friend Anita McMahon gets sentenced in Galway District Court, after being charged before a court-martial, the previous month. Anita stood silently before the jurisdiction, and was not represented by a lawyer, as she refused to recognise the court in which she was brought before, a British Court. Her address was given as Keel, Achill.

Keel, Achill where Anita McMahon was arrested in 1920

Anita was arrested on September 30th at her home, where a copy of the West Mayo Brigade Orders, the local Branch of IRA, dated 10th September. Among the documents were a pamphlet entitled “The Faith and Morals of Sinn Fein” and various other papers that were considered seditious. A week or so later the house, which was by then under surveillance by the local RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary), was searched again. More ‘seditious’ papers were found, this time a typewritten sheet, containing subversive phrases, enough to have Miss McMahon, hauled off to the local RIC station, possibly at Dugort or Achill Sound and then on to Galway.


Irish Times 15 November 1920

Irish Times 13 November 1952

English-Irish Dictionary

Today the first major English-Irish dictionary published since 1959. Produced by Fóras na Gaeilge, this up to date version contains 1,800 pages, over 30,000 entries, and 1.8 million words in contemporary English and Irish.

The first comprehensive Irish language dictionary ever printed was published in Paris, France in 1732. An English-Irish dictionary, it was a treasure trove of information, containing prologues in Latin, Irish, English and French, along with a guide to Irish grammar. A special typeface was designed for the dictionary called Cló Phárais (the Paris Typeface), closely resembled handwriting.

Emily’s ancestors the Graisberrys, who were counted among the chief printers of Dublin for generations printed an 1814 version, compiled by Thaddeus Connellan.

Almost one hundred years later, in Emily subscribed to a new updated Irish-English Dictionary. It was brought out when Irish was introduced as a university subject the previous year. Emily and members of the Gaelic League celebrated the occasion on Achill.

How the News Came to Achill

On the evening of Sunday, June 26th [1910] they insisted in carrying the great news to the top of Croughan Mountain. There on the highest summit we planted the official announcement of the victory while the swirl of O’Cathain’s pipes we built an air over it and before coming down we lit a beacon light that could be seen away in Galway or northward in Donegal…

An Cliamheadh Soluis; March 4th 1911. P 4







Irish Independent 29 April 1911

An Cliamheadh Soluis; March 4th 1911. P 4