In June 1922 an incident took place that had a huge impact on the lives of Darrell and Millie Figgis. A knock came to the door of their flat on Kildare Street late one night. Millie answered it. Three men pushed past her and took hold of Darrell Figgis, telling him that they had instructions to mutilate him by cutting off his beard.
Darrell Figgis stood up to them, inquiring under whose orders they were acting. “one of the men who appeared to be the spokesman stated that they were acting under army orders, but refused to say from where they had been received.” They did not want to carry out the orders and told Figgis they “did not like the job that had been committed to them.”
Figgis tried to fight back and Millie did her best to stop them too, but they were too strong a force and carried out their orders, leaving Figgis without his beard and Millie quite shaken.
When Darrell Figgis relayed the story to the press, he said that he had nothing against the assailants, who had no choice but to carry out their orders or suffer the consequences if they did not. He explicitly stated that
“The offense lay not with these boys, but with the men who had charged them, and finally with the leaders of those who opposed the Treaty unless they specifically repudiated this act and took measures to see that proper discipline was observed, and that other acts of a like sord did not occur in the future. Mrs Figgis is suffering severely from shock.”
The attack caused Millie much trauma and a contributing that lead to her sad fate two years later. Darrell Figgis took up with another woman, Rita North. It is not clear whether it was before of after the night in November 1924 and put a gun to her head and ended her life. Ironically the gun was given to the Figgis’ by Michael Collins to protect themselves, sadly it was put the the opposite use.
Darrell Figgis was heartbroken. The out pour of sympathy helped rekindle his political career and his writing. His book ‘The Paintings of William Blake’, published 1925 was devoted to her memory and credited her for her contribution. It contained the following dedication in the form of a poem.
With whom, twelve years ago,
It was planned
With whom, this year,
In constant fellowship
It has been completed,
This book of ours is offered
For her approval and her praise.