In March 1920, a new ‘branch’ of the RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary), were unleashed on the streets of Ireland. They were mostly unemployed soldiers who returned from the battlefields of WWI, provided with casual looking uniforms of dark green tunics, over khaki trousers, a large black belt and RIC cap. Their distinctive attire earned them the name of Black and Tans, their colours not unlike a pack of foxhounds, but that is where the resemblance ended. They were poorly coordinated by the powers that be resulting in brutality above and beyond the call of duty. Below is a report from Tralee, Co. Kerry where the towns people suffered repeated brutality at the hands of the Black and Tans. It was only the tip of the iceberg of what was all too common occurrences during the War of Independence. Emily would herself come face to face with the ruthless pack.
Below is a picture taken outside a bank in Phibsborough, Dublin of the aftermath of the shooting of a civilian was shot dead and a soldier wounded. It was one of many of such incidences, which went on for over a year.
In February 1920, while the War of Independence was ratcheting up the authorities introduced a curfew, to quell the violent tactics of guerilla warfare. Introduced in Dublin first, the law caused all sorts of chaos for ordinary citizens going about their daily business. The Defense of the Realm Regulation clearly stated:
“Every person abroad between the hours mentioned in the foregoing Order when challenged by any policeman, or by any officer, non-commissioned officer or soldier on duty must immediately halt and obey the orders given to him, and if he fails to do so it will be at his own peril. “
The above first verse of a “ditty” penned by an anonymous songwriter, tells as much as any newspaper notice or article.
When you come to the start of a Curfew night,
and try to get home by ten –
Altho’ it is only broad day light,
You are dodging the Tans again,
When the lorries dash out on the streets,
The best is to be out of sight,
O, you want to to be smart upon your feet,
At the start of the Curfew night.
The potential barbarities caused by the legislation was nothing in comparison to actual ones, when a month later the Black and Tans were released on the country.
Established by Conradh na Gaeilge in 1902, the festival runs from 1 – 7 March every year and has gone from strength to strength in recent years. It is now one of the biggest international celebrations of our native language and culture.
By 1904, two years after Seachtain na Gaeilge was introduced the festival was well established, and well attended thanks to the efforts of the Gaelic League. By 1905 the festival became a demonstration of Irish Ireland.
The Irish Language procession yesterday through the principal thoroughfares of the city afforded, one again, a very striking proof of the hold which the moment initiated by the Gaelic League has taken upon the Metropolis of Ireland and the districts adjoining. In most respects the features of the procession closely resembled those of previous years. the several branches of the League in the city and suburbs ewer well represented, and walked may hundreds strong, in the ranks of the processionists.
Irish Independent 13 March 1905
In 1905 the Great Language Procession, was an advance of the previous three years. It had by and large a political as much as a cultural element. It was as much a cultural protest; “The powerful protest against the hostility of the G.P.O. expressed dramatically in tableau, repeated in hundreds of printed legends, and echoed in countless personal denunciations.” as reported in the Irish Independent. It was a showcase for indigenous Irish industries too. Baker’s showed off their bread and cakes, even boot-makers showed off their wares too. The youth named as “Young Ireland” was well represented by pupils from the Christian Brother’s as well as other organisations.
The good and the great of the Gaelic League were present founder, Douglas Hyde, Dr. Walsh Archbishop of Dublin and Patrick Pearse, lead the procession. Other lesser known attendees, including Emily were listed too:
A few days later Saint Patrick’s Day was celebrated with equal pageantry, a fortnight later Emily Burke made her way to London to become the second Mrs. Weddall and eleven years later in 1916 outside the mentioned G.P.O, some of the people listed declared Ireland a Republic.
In February 1920 when the War of Independence was but a year old a curfew was enforced on the people of Dublin:
At the time Emily was resident in Ranelagh and employed as a nurse. Fortunately, for Emily, exceptions were considered for Clergymen, doctors and nurses engaged on duty. As might be expected she had to apply in writing to the permit officer at Dublin Castle. She may well have applied, but not necessarily for medical purposes. It was not uncommon for members of Cumann na mBan, like Emily to move about the city delivering secret messages between Irish Republican Army members. Hiding behind her nurse’s uniform, she was almost above suspicion, however she could be challenged by any policeman, non-commissioned officer or an on duty soldier. If she failed to comply with orders in any way it would have been as advised on notices at her own peril. None of the rules would have bothered Emily!