Tag Archives: Emily M. Weddall

Women in the Anti Conscription Campaign of 1918

Anti-conscription Pledge

“Denying the right of the British Government to enforce Compulsory service in this Country we pledge ourselves solemnly to one another to resist Conscription by the most effective means at our disposal.”

Above is the wording of the Anti-conscription Pledge devised in April 1918. During the summer after a major offensive by the Germans in April there was a  conscription crisis in Britain. Ireland had been exempt from enforced conscription since 1915. To read more about how it came about:

Within weeks of the World War One beginning in the summer of 1914, there were already some who, fearing that conscription was likely, emigrated from Ireland. From the summer of 1915 compulsory military service had become a live possibility. Read more

The papers contained many articles as the one below in The Irish Independent of 25 June 1918:

“Irishmen Soldiers

In future Irishmen crossing to Great Britain for munition or Government work will be called up for military service in the same manner as other British Subjects, Mr. Beck told a questioner in Parliament yesterday but Irishmen in munition factories will not be compulsorily recruited before they are given an opportunity of returning to Ireland.

It was stated that 40,000 had crossed since Oct. 1916, but that the undertaking given to them would be unaltered at present. “The new decision – which Mr. Beck told Mr. Lough he didn’t think would require legislation – will not affect those brought across by the Ministry of Labour. or those holding employment Exchange certificates.

Sir Edward Carson put a couple of questions about hose men being younger than men called up for service, and Mr. Beck had no doubt many for them were. The men referred to would be liable to military service only for administrative action protecting them on the ground that they came over in response to a Government request.”

The women of Ireland did not want to see their sons partaking in a war that was not of their making.

To find out more watch the informative YouTube video; Filmed by Marcus Howard. Liz Gillis gives a talk on women in the 1918 Anti Conscription Campaign. The talk was filmed at the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Anti Conscription Conference in The Mansion House. Liz Gillis is a historian, author and researcher having written “The Fall of Dublin”, “Women of the Irish Revolution”, “The Hales Brothers and the Irish Revolution” and “May 25th: The Burning of the Custom House 1921”.




Irish Independent 25 June 1918
Irish Citizen 06 July 1918

Collecting for the Monument

In 1942 Eva O’Flaherty, Anita McMahon and Emily along with the local parish priest and school teacher began their campaign to erect a monument dedicated to the Achill born Patriot Priest of the 1798 rebellion, Fr. Manus Sweeney. Fr. Sweeney was executed for his alleged part in the insurrection in 1799.

The well planned campaign began two years before the priest’s 180th birth anniversary in 1942. The project could easily have become impeded with obstacles, as it in the middle of World War Two. Ireland was a neutral country, and was experiencing “the Emergency”, where the flow of goods, services and transportation was slowed down. But the monument was going to be unveiled to mark an date, and that was how it was going to be. The well organised committee got in touch with the media, announcing their intention to the country. Below is one such article.

Catholic Standard 20 November 1942
The Mayo News, Saturday August 19, 1944.

After Scoil Acla

After the 1912 Scoil Acla session ended in early September Emily Weddall and An Paorach [Francis Hugh Power] made a visit to Connaught Irish College in Tourmakeady, in Co. Mayo. Scoil Acla had just enjoyed a good run and the pair may have been making a return visit to the Irish College.

Another item on their agenda was the payment of school teachers. Fr. Meehan, who visited the college too, made the point that teachers who could teach in both English and Irish should be paid at a higher rate than those who only taught through English. An Paorach was a bi-lingual teacher, who taught on Achill Beg. Part of his wages were paid the department of education, the rest by Emily Weddall, who was independently wealthy and happy to fund anything that encouraged the revival of the Irish language.



Irish Independent 09 September 1912

Conradh na Gaelige 125 Years

!25 years ago today Conradh na Gaelige or the Gaelic League was founded by Douglas Hyde, Fr. Eugene O’Growney  and others. It was set up to prevent the dying out of the Irish language completely as it was in danger of happening at the time.

The organization grew at rapid rate and had branches springing up all over the country. Emily Weddall was an early member and was once part of the Cead mile failte committee at a fair in Kingstown, modern day Dun Laoghaire.

Over the years Emily was a regular correspondent, with An Claidheamh Soluis (The Sword of Light), Conradh na Gaeilge’s weekly newspaper, was published between 1899 and 1932.

Dublin Daily Express 21 August 1893

“Simplicity Itself”

In 1911 Emily Weddall commissioned a hall to be built in Dooagh for the use of the local people, particularly for Gaelic League events. At the time she did not know that it would be the centre of what would become one of the shortest but most renowned summer school of its age.

“Latest on the list of these colleges is Scoil Acla founded this year on Achill Island. It owes its origin to Mrs. Weddall, who in the spring built a village hall in Dooagh. The hall was to be used for Gaelic League classes, for ceidhlidhe, for plays, for concerts. But it was the beginning of May, and the summer months with their enforced emigration were to follow. Was the new building to remain closed until October or November brought back to life when the young men and women returned from the harvest fields of Scotland? It seamed a pity. Suddenly an idea come. Wy not have a course of language classes for students who might like to spend a few weeks in Achill? The idea developed and the scheme was formed of organising a summer school for the month of August. It was to have no pretensions, but simplicity itself. It was to give no certificates and the lessons were to suit students who came to learn chiefly for their own pleasure. On Sunday, August 7th, Scoil Acla was formally opened. Some Some seventeen students had found their hither from different places. There was three fro England, two from Dublin, fiver from Leinster, one fro the Aran Island, and there rest from Co. Mayo. Though different in their stages of knowledge, the students united in equal enthusiasm. soon the classes were vigorously at work.”

That was how the first Scoil Acla came to pass.


Evening Telegraph. Saturday, June 8 1912