Tag Archives: Emily M. Weddall

“Christmas in the Historic Years”

In the 1955 The Derry Journal published an article “Christmas in the Historic Years”, by Seumas G. O”Ceallaigh. It documented the festive season in the historic or revolutionary years 1915-1920. Below is what he recalled of 1918.

1918

On November 11th, 1918, the Great War ended, and o November 25th the British Parliament was dissolved. December 14th was Polling Day, and Sinn Fein was working under great difficulties.

Most of its responsible leaders were in jail, arrested under “The German Plot” scare in June of that year.

It seemed impossible that an organisation which was practically leaderless could win a General Election, but in Ireland “the impossible, always happens, and the inevitable never,” as a famous Trinity-man once remarked.

Father O’Flanagan, the famous Roscommon patriot priest, who had preached eloquently at Rome before the Pope and who in his day was one of the most noted preachers in Ireland, took over the leadership of the Election Campaign.

He visited the Irish towns and villages, and the result was, as we all know, a resounding victory for Sinn Fein, who came back from the polls with over 70 seats. Before the election they had held only three.

Christmas Day, 1918 saw bonfires burning on every hillside, tricolours flying from tree-tops, and the nation watching and waiting for the first freely elected Irish Parliament since the Confederation of Kilkenny, over 300 years before.

The Derry Journal, December 21st 1955

Sources

The Derry Journal, December 21st 1955

The Easter Rising Stories YouTube Channel by Marcus Howard

Christmas One Hundred Years Ago

Emily spent Christmas in Dublin working in the Meath Hospital, as the flu epidemic showed no sign of abating. Her house on Achill was occupied by her friend Eva O’Flaherty, who kept the home fires burning while Emily attended to to sick. That year there were more patients than usual as the said flu epidemic and the soldiers war needed hospitalization.

Emily’s niece Enid (Siobhan), from Australia, who lived with her was in Dublin too. Like her aunt, she also became a nurse. In the winter of 1918 she was still in training. Nothing could have put her on a better learning curve than nursing children through the Spanish Flu. In a letter to Margo Trench, Emily conveyed the difficulties they were encountering as nurses during that trying time.

Medical advise to the public from December 1918


Below is an excerpt from the Irish Times of December 27th 1918, describing Christmas at Emily’s workplace, the Meath Hospital. The hospital was decorated for the season and gifts were left by philanthropists. The men on the wards were given a special treat of a pipe and tobacco, as in back then it was not considered a health hazard.

MEATH HOSPITAL AND COUNTY DUBLIN INFIRMARY

The entrance hall was very tastefully decorated with holly, ivy and flags and the wards were neat and orderly. Large tables were arranged on the different landings and laden with a great profusion of Christmas delicacies, the gifts of numbers of ladies and gentlemen who take an interest in the hospital. Several soldiers are at present patients and their comforts, as well as those of the other sufferers, were well looked after. All rules, as far as possible were relaxed for the occasion.

Mr. Francis Penros, the Secretary; Miss Broadbourne, R.R.C. Matron; Mr. Tivy and Mr. Hill, House Surgeons, assisted by Sister Nellie, Sister Murphy, Sister Veron, Assistant Matron, were indefatigable, in their exertions to see that all the patients who could partake of it had a good supply turkey and plum pudding and other comforts. Mr. Thomas (Messrs, Kapp and Peterson) presented the male patients with a good supply of tobacco and pipe as he does every year.

Sources

Irish Times 27 December 1918 

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

Evening Despatch 28 October 1918

Evening Herald (Dublin) 31 August 1895

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