Monthly Archives: January 2018

Enid Attends Alexandra College

Enid Betts was enrolled by her Aunt Emily at Alexandra College, Dublin. Emily and her older sister Miriam, Enid’s mother attended it’s sister school the Irish Clergy Daughters’ School decades before. Alexandra College was a fee paying school, when Enid attended but when her mother and aunt were in school, they attended a greatly reduced rate as their parents hadn’t means then, nevertheless both girls received a great education.

By the time Enid was a pupil at Alexandra College it was a prestigious girls school ahead of it’s time in many respects.

Courtesy of Alexandra College

Founded in 1866, Alexandra College set out to fulfil the need for advanced education for young women at a time when the prevailing system did not provide them with any opportunities for real academic involvement, or prepare them for any engagement in public, social or academic affairs. Read more

Some of Emily’s friends and fellow Gaelic League members and Nationalists such as the Gifford sisters and Dorothy McArdle and lifelong friends Eva O’Flaherty and Dr. Kathleen Lynn.

Enid would graduate from Alexandra College and pursue a career in nursing inspired her aunt Emily no doubt.

Earlsfort Terrace, where Alexandra College once stood


Enid’s New Life

Emily enrolled Enid in her new school Alexandra College in Dublin. At the time the school was on Earlsfort Terrace on the same street Emily attended it’s sister college, the Irish Clergy Daughter’s school. Where Emily attended school as a boarder Enid was a day pupil and stayed with her aunt Emily’s friend  Colm O’Loughlin, one of the people pivotal in the setting up of Scoil Acla.

Colm Ó Lochlainn 1892 – 1972

William Gerard O’Loughlin was born in Dublin on the 11th of October 1892. His father John O’Loughlin was a travelling sales representative for a printing company. His mother was a Delia (Bridget) Carr from Limerick City whose family were wealthy and in the printing business. Read more

Before Enid had a chance to settle she would be renamed Siobhan the more’ Irish’ version of of her name, be initiated into the Gaelic League and meet all her aunt Emily’s friends.

Photo thanks to John ‘Twin’ McNamara

Colm Ó Lochlainn

Enid Arrives

On this day 105 years ago Enid Cecily Patricia Betts arrived on the docks at Liverpool from her native Australia. She was barely fourteen years old, thousands of miles from home and appeared to have traveled alone on the steamer, Themistocles. Who knows what was going through her mind when she disembarked in the cold damp climate of North Europe, quite the opposite of the hot and arid atmosphere of South Australia. Her aunt Emily, who Enid may have only met for the first time could have met her in Liverpool, to accompany her on to Dublin and then to the alien territory of West of Ireland.

Enid born in 1898, was the eight and last surviving child of Henry Samuel Marsden Betts and the second of his third wife Miriam, Emily’s older sister. Enid was only eleven months old when her father died in February of 1899. He was almost 60 years old when she was born, old by today’s standards but not uncommon back then. Her brother John Ulick was three years older and her half siblings were about a half generation older still.

It is impossible to guess at why she came to live in Ireland, when her mother and brother were both in Australia, perhaps it was for the purpose of Education. Emily had her enrolled  in Alexandria College, where she attend as a boarder. Founded in 1866, the college was one of the first girl’s second level schools in Ireland, where Church of Ireland families sent their daughters. Some of Emily’s life long friends such as Dr. Kathleen Lynn attended a generation before. Both Enid’s mother Miriam and Emily attended the Clergy Daughter’s School which was connected to the college.

Emily no doubt would have made her niece feel welcome and introduced her proudly to everyone she knew. Enid may well have taken after her aunt in her fearlessness, but nothing in Australia could have prepared her for the events that would unfold over the next few years. Life was certainly about to get exciting for young Enid.

“Family Notices.” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) 1 Jun 1898: 1. Web. 29 Oct 2013 <>.

George Moore

“To E. Weddall; Thanks for a fish”. Was the message written by George Moore on the front page of his book, Hail and Farewell, when he signed it for Emily Weddall in 1913. The meaning of that dedication is lost in time, and can only be guessed at. Perhaps she gave him a fish or served it up at a dinner he attended at Rockfield House on his visit to Achill that year.

He and Emily had become friends or at least acquaintances sometime in the early 1900’s or even earlier if it was though the Gaelic League.

Emily and George Moore had quiet a few people in common, besides the Gaelic League they met in artistic circles too.  His sister Nina Moore  was married into Emily’s good friend Eva O’Flaherty’s family. He was a friend of George Russell and mixed in similar circles to Darrell Figgis.

George Moore was born in 1852 to landed gentry in Moore Hall on the shores of Lough Carra in County Mayo. He was educated in a catholic school, Oscott College. He had little interest in study and at the age of 16 he was expelled for “Idleness and general worthlessness”. A further vain attempt was made to educate his further by the old parish priest. George went to live in the family home in London, where he developed a love for horse racing and art.

After his father’s death he inherited a substantial amount of land in Mayo and Roscommon, which was poor and did not yield a great income. He did not enjoy being a landlord and went to live in Paris to become an artist instead. He did not have a great talent for painting but found success as a writer. He returned to Ireland in 1901 and became involved in the Celtic Revival in Dublin.

Ní Dheirg, Íosold. Emily M. Weddall: Bunaitheoir Scoil Acla. Baile Atha Cliath: Coisceim, 1995.
Achill’s Eva O’Flaherty – Forgotten Island Heroine, Mary J. Murphy, 2012
By Kevin Coyne. retrieved 16/01/2012
The Warder (27.4.1844)

100 Years Ago 1918

Year 1918


1st. Richard Mulcahy, second-year medical student at UCD, is appointed Chief of Staff of the IRA in spring 1918.

11th. In a military base in Kansas, there are outbreaks of an unusually severe form of influenza, which are later understood to be amongst first recorded cases of the Spanish Flu.


21st. A bill was passed by the British Government to enforce conscription on all Irish men of military age, an Anti-conscription pledge signed by Nationalists.


11th. End of WW1


14th. 1918 Elections. Sinn Féin win landslide in general election.

The above are some of the events that shaped 1918. Emily had her own personal ups and downs that year too. The Great War was over and a sort of peace was restored, but in Ireland that would not last.

1917, the previous year saw the beginning of the Russian Revolution. Emily had investments in Russian industry, which were wiped and she lost her income. The realisation of her predicament did not hit her till the following year, 1918, when she returned home from her travels to be met with a pile of bills and bank statements that revealed her dire financial state. Emily had no choice but to return to work. Luckily she had her nursing career to fall back on. Her skills would become a necessity. In March of 1918 the first cases of Spanish Flu were reported.

“In a military base in Kansas, there are outbreaks of an unusually severe form of influenza, which are later understood to be amongst first recorded cases of the Spanish Flu. Over the coming year, this strain of flu kills an estimated 50,000,000 people.”

Later on it would come to Ireland. “Republican women in Cumann na mBan and the Citizen Army opened emergency hospitals during the epidemic.” Emily would find employment in the Meath Hospital, where she would remain for the duration of the epidemic and beyond. Most of her friends and colleagues would catch the flu, most would survive but her friend Cessca Trench would succumb to it. Emily herself escaped it completely.

In the wider world women would get the vote and for the first time. In Ireland after a long campaign they succeeded in getting the right for women to vote too. But they had to be 30 years of age and own property. Emily, who fell into that perhaps tiny category would have embraced the opportunity to cast her vote. 

Sinn Fein won the the General Election of that year, but they did not take their seats in Parliament, abstention being their policy. Emily’s fellow Cumann na mBan member Countess Markievicz was the first woman elected, but did not take her seat in Westminster, probably to Emily’s satisfaction.

Nottingham Evening Post 20 May 1918