Tag Archives: Emily M. Weddall

Firsts: The Election, Women’s Vote and Canvassing for Sinn Fein

On November 14th 1918 the British prime minister announced a general election to be held exactly one month later on December 14th. It was the first time that women had a vote, which increased the electorate from greatly from 700,000 to two million. It was also the fist time that women went up for election.

Countess Markievicz and Winifred Carney were the only two candidates in Ireland. They were members of a very small group of females that were in with a chance of gaining seats for Sinn Fein. The other contenders were Kathleen Clarke, who was in jail in Britain at the time, and some of the men had not problem stepping into her place. Another possibility, Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington didn’t take up on the offer as she didn’t have much faith in victory. She would however, take her place in history  as of one of the greatest champions of women’s rights in Ireland to this day.

Women did a lot of the canvassing for the 1918 election, it was a first for them in that respect too. Emily no doubt would have done her share. She no longer enjoyed the free time she had grown used of, on two accounts. Firstly it was at the peak of the Spanish flu epidemic,  as a trained nurse she was working flat out at the time. The second was she had to work as she was left penniless due to the loss of her income from Russian industry, due to the Revolution there the previous year. She would have, as a member of Cumann na mBan dedicated what little time she had to the Sinn Fein election campaign.


See below the video from The Easter Rising Stories, by Marcus Howard, that tells of Countess Markievicz election campaign of  1918


sources:

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/1918-timeline-1.3449998

Easter Rising Stories YouTube Channel

http://www.historyvault.ie/the-1918-general-election

https://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/the-league-of-women-delegates-sinn-fein/

Obituary

On this day November 25th Emily Weddall’s life ended. She was 85 years old. He last days were spent in St. Mary’s in Ballsbridge, Dublin.

Her funeral two days later was attended to the last survivors of her generation. Dr. Kathleen Lynn being one.

The funeral took place from St. Mary’s Home, Clyde Road, Dublin to Glasnevin yesterday, of Mrs. Emily A. Weddall, who was a friend of the brothers’ Pearse.

An early co-worker with An Croabhlin, she started a Gaelic Summer School in 1912 at Keel, Achill, where she lived for many years. ather Rising she worked for the National Aid, organised Cumann na mBan and was imprisoned. during the Black and Tan period and subsequently, she gave devoted service succoring men “on the run”, to whom she unconquerable spirit and boundless generosity were an inspiration.

Mr. Peadar O’Flaherty, solicitor, Enniscorthy, spoke at the graveside.

The attendance included: the Minister for Lands and Mrs. O’Deirg; Miss Stella Frost, Miss Kirkpatrick, Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Elliott, Miceal O’Cleirigh, Dr. Kathleen Lynn, Mrs. Sean O’Briain, Mrs. dwan, Mrs. James Montgomery, Miss Maeve Phelan, Mrs. M. Power, Sean George and Sean Fitzpatrick, Secretary, National Graves Association.

The prayers at the graveside were recited in Irish by Rev. S. Craig.

Emily’s Grave in Glasnevin Cemetery

Sources

Irish Independent November 28 1952

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