Monthly Archives: October 2016

Bridie Mulloy

Bridie Mulloy and Emily Weddall met when she arrived on Achill to collect the Island folklore, from the older generation before they were no more. Bridie stayed at Corrymore House, former residence of Captain Boycott, and that time was owned by Major Dermot Freyer.

Major Freyer was a friend of Emily’s,and possibly made the introduction between her and Bridie. The Major a former war veteran, bought Corrymore and turned the big house into a hotel. Well connected in artistic circles, he invited his friends to stay at his hotel and perform for the locals such as the Sadler’s Well Ballet Company and troups of Morris Dancer, he even hosted his own tea dances as Bridie mentions in the letter below.

The letter, less than 20 lines tells a lot about the life on Achill in that era. It also gives insight into the people, who lived there in a few words, the letter is a piece of folklore itself.

Croughan Mountain where Emily and friends may have had the idea for Scoil Acla

Corrymore House as it stands today

Corrymore House
Co Mayo

Oct 29 1948

Dear Sean

I expect by now you have given up all hope of ever hearing form me again. However, here I am still to the good. I hope you will like this note book, I feel in many ways that it contains more gossip than folklore, but perhaps, even that may be of some use. I have just started working on my Dungarvan notes, and hope to have at least, one notebook ready fro you within the next few weeks. Actually I would like if you could send me by return two notebooks instead of the usual one, as I do not think that I will be able to fit all the Dungarvan notes into one book, also what about that extra special ink for writing my folklore which some of you promised me? I am not sure as to how Pat McNulty’s “radiant blue” will stand the test of time! It is really wonderful to think that Achill is free of visitors again. We had a very busy season, but the weather was so miserable, that I cannot imagine that many people enjoyed their holidays. Our tea dances were very popular this year – I think that, it was due to the fact that there was nowhere else for people to on a Sunday. Can you imagine 150 people crammed into a lounge, some of the drinking tea and others dancing while the Major roared instructions at them, and two or three of us charged in and out among them with trays? That was our biggest crowd, but similar comedy happened ever Sunday from the beginning of July till the middle of September. So I can tell you that we thanked God when the whole business was over. Give my kind regards to Marie ni Neill and Seamus O’Dallaigh and Brid McMahon, and tell Marie that Mary Lavelle (Tony) keeps the word I should have some notes that would interest her in my next collection. The Major made a very neat job of sticking in those extra pages in the back of this notebook.

National Folklore Collection / Cnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann NFC 1015: 54-9.

Fr Manus Sweeney

The monument below is dedicated to Fr. Manus Sweeney, who was exectued for taking part in the 1798 Rebellion.

Fr Manus Sweeney Monument, Achill

Fr Manus Sweeney Monument, Achill

The monument was erected in 1944, by a committee, that included Emily, Eva O’Flaherty and Anita McMahon. Other members of the committee were Fr. Godfrey, C.C., Brother Michael Darcy, Mrs. Barrett, Mr. Pat Mulloy, Pat Corrigan, Thady Gallagher, Michael Fadden,  Joseph Sweeney, John Barrett and Miss Malone.

In the Mayo News Article of 28th 1944, Anita relayed the following to the paper

Mrs. Weddall of Keel Sandy Banks, who, throughout, gave the same devoted service that she has given to so many other national projects during the last thirty years; Miss Eva O’Flaherty, of St. Colman’s Dooagh, who instructed by the committee with the task of find a suitable artist for the Memorial fulfilled this duty with the success shown in the present work of art, designed and with sculptured, insets by Peter Grant, A.N.C.A., who was assisted in the building up of the Monolith by Mr. John Kilbane, Achill Sound, and Mr. Pat Corrigan of Dukinella.

The unveiling proved a runaway success, with music, song and speeches, the event would stay in living memory up to this day. One of the people appointed to speak was Pat Mulloy, of Keel. He was supposed to give a talk of the local traditions associated with Fr. Sweeney, but time did not permit on that particular day. This invaluable folklore was not lost in time however, his wife Bridie was a well known folklore collector, whose work is an integral part of the National Folklore Collection at University College Dublin.


Mayo News 1893-2004*, 26.08.1944,page 3
Tuam Herald 1837-2000*; Date:Nov 28, 1942; Section:None; Page Number: 4


Last Gathering of Great Republicans

Emily name appeared in the newspapers on many occasions throughout her lifetime, and after her death too. She still to this date appears from time to time especially in connection with Scoil Acla and the Easter Rising. The last series of articles she appeared in during her lifetime were in 1944. The event could have been called the “Last Gathering of the Great Republicans” because unbeknownst to Emily and friends that is what it turned out to be.

At the ripe old age of 76, Emily and her lifelong friends Eva O’Flaherty and Anita McMahon, along with others, fund-raised for, commissioned and erected a monument dedicated to the Patriot Priest of 1798, Fr. Manus Sweeney near his birth place in Dookinella. This event was the last time that the Republicans of her generation got together, for in a decade or so most of them would be no more.

The local papers, Mayo News, Connaught Telegraph and Tuam Herald, all reported on the event. Emily’s good friend Anita McMahon, a retired journalist wrote the below article for the Mayo News. This would be her last report as old age had begun to take it’s toll on her. Indeed this would be the last big event for her and Emily as within the next few years both friends would be gone. Eva the younger of the three would live on for a decade after her friends, but she would be the last survivor of that generation reaching almost 90 years.

“…The Westport L.D.F, who sent the town’s Brass Band down to Achill in honour of the occasion; all the Emergency Services who with courteous efficiency kept order during procession and ceremony, to the Keel and Bunnacurry Fife and Drum Band under the direction of Mr Anthony Lavelle of Keel, which in addition to melody supplied a not of colour with their beautiful banners and sashes…”

Eva. Thanks to Mary J Murphy

Eva. Thanks to Mary J Murphy



Emily Courtesy of National Library of Ireland

Emily Courtesy of National Library of Ireland

Mayo News 1893-2004*, 26.08.1944, page 3
Mary J Murphy;


Emily puts Pen to Paper

Emily had a natural talent for letter writing, not surprising as her father did too, he wrote on religion, she on culture, politics and perhaps her biggest passion social justice. Her earliest known letter was to the Irish Times in 1896, donating a collection she had made during a stay in France for the families of the Kingstown Lifeboat tragedy. A decade later, when she first arrived on Achill with her husband Edward Weddall, she began a regular correspondence with An Claidheamh Soluis, an Irish Language Revival newspaper published by the Gaelic League. Read more:

She also wrote to the local paper the Mayo News about cultural activities and social issues unfolding on Achill at the time. When a social issue particularly incensed her, she took to writing to the national papers. The Irish Independent published some some such letters.


Introducing Miss Burke

For her times, gender and position in society Emily made the papers quite a lot over her lifetime. Her first newspaper appearance was in 1896, when she collected for the Kingstown Lifeboat Disaster, and wrote to the Irish Times, thanking the contributors, which will be the subject of a late post. The first society event she was recorded attending was a Aestiva  (old word for Summer Festival) Fete, and Grand Bazaar in August 1898. The event was organised in aid of the funds for nearby Glasthule Schools in the People’s Park Kingstown, modern day Dun Laoghaire.untitledEmily helped on with the “Cead Mille Failthe Stall”, not surprising on two accounts, the first that she would naturally be part of a welcoming committee especially if conducted through the Irish language. This event was the first in what would be many that Emily attended and indeed organised over her lifetime.

Dublin Daily Nation 18 August 1898