#OnThisDay 1921 #MichaelCollins proposed marriage to Kitty Kiernan in the Grand Hotel #Greystones Kitty hoped to have a double wedding with her sister Maud, but Collins was killed on 22/8/1922 at #BealnaBlath, at Maud’s wedding Oct 1922 Kitty was dressed in black #IrishRevolution pic.twitter.com/7vHsF5ijzH
— IrishFamilyDetective (@Fiona_Forde_Irl) October 8, 2019
Orchestra Sinfonica di Sanremo
Direttore: Maria Luisa Macellaro
Violino solista: Razvan Stoica
Would Enniskerry born, Ina Boyle be surprised to hear her violin concerto being performed in Sanremo, on 7 March 2019, 86 years after it was composed, by a brilliant Romanian violinist with a first-rate symphony orchestra under the baton of a female conductor of boundless energy? No, and Yes. Ida Boyle had a highly developed sense of her mission as a composer and having lived for her music it was only proper that her music lived on for her. But the art nouveau Teatro del’ Opera del Casino di Sanremo, designed by the greatest of Italian playwrights of the 20th century, Luigi Pirandello, was the perfect setting for the European premiere of her violin concerto.
The concert celebrated not only Sanremo in fiore (the annual Festival of Flowers, dating from la Belle Époque) but also the eve of International Women’s Day and Ina Boyle’s 130th birthday. Mimosa and golden broom were in full bloom all over the open spaces of the town and surrounding countryside. Spring had arrived in one of the most favoured resorts on the Italian Riviera. Here in 1874 Tchaikovsky, as the guest of the Empress of Russia, finished his fourth symphony and the opera Eugene Onegin. The sun shone for him. As it also did for Edward Lear a few years later, when he escaped his reputation for comic verse to create marvellous landscape paintings of this region.
The orchestra opened the programme with Tchaikovsky’s ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ from the Nutcracker Suite. Aptly, not only for the floral theme, but also for the spirit of the dance in which joy is sometimes touched with a passing melancholy. More so with Ina Boyle’s work which was dedicated to the memory of her mother. There is both pain and joy in the finale of the concerto, although the duos between violin and timpani suggest ‘rest in peace, amen’.
The soloist, Razvan Stoica, and the orchestra were directed with verve and sympathy by the conductor, Maria Luisa Macellaro. Boyle’s music soared, danced and sighed, with surprising changes of mood. The performance would have erased Ina’s disappointment when the BBC rehearsed the work in the 1930s but didn’t broadcast it. The audience were enthralled and clamoured for the encores which followed. First a virtuoso rendering of a Paganini caprice, so fast that Razvan Stoica seemed to play pizzicato and arco simultaneously on his 1729 Stradivarius. The second encore was a movement from a little-known Paganini violin concerto, arranged for orchestra by Maria Luisa Macellaro.
The second half of the concert, Stanford’s rousing ‘Irish’ symphony, was so exciting that some of the audience couldn’t resist applauding between movements. Maria Luisa Macellaro unleashed the orchestra to patriotic fervour with Moore’s Melodies ‘Remember the glories of Brien the brave’ and ‘Let Erin remember’. It was a fitting contrast to Ina Boyle’s more restrained expression. The effect perhaps represented the masculine and feminine in Irish music, with both composers finding their voice.
The concert overran by a good half-hour and ended too soon. The audience included three Irish supporters of Ina Boyle and her music. Afterwards, walking the fashionable streets of Sanremo, they noticed the number of chic shops displaying designer high-heeled shoes. It was a far cry from Ina Boyle’s wellington boots but she would have been walking on air.
Congratulations to the talented students in Mr. Dodd’s 6th class who helped mark an historical event that occurred at Greystones Harbour on this date, the 25th October, in 1910. Those in attendance were high in their praise of the historical re-enactment.
You can read more about the occasion on THIS link from Greystones Guide which includes a video of the re enactment of a confrontation between suffragettes Hanna Sheehy Skeffington and Hilda Webb and the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Augustine Birrell. Thank you to Greystones Guide for recording this event for posterity.
You can read about the encounter between Augustine Birrell and the suffragettes HERE on the Wicklow Heritage website .
Thank you too, to Rosemary Raughter of the Greystones Archaeological and Historical Society who invited the students from St. Brigid’s to participate. Whenever we pass by the plaque that was put up today we will be reminded that we were there on this day.
Thank you also to Barbara Flynn Photography for the great photos of the occasion.
The centenary of the Armistice brings music that was composed during WW1 into focus. Several works composed by the Irish composer Ina Boyle (1889-1967) reflect the impact of the war on her family and neighbours in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow.
On 21 October 1914, soon after the outbreak of the war, Captain Henry Stanley Monck of the Coldstream Guards, son of Viscount Monck of Charleville House, was killed in action in St. Julien. There are two plaques in St. Patrick’s Church, Enniskerry – where Boyle’s father, Rev. William Foster Boyle, was curate – a Monck Memorial and a Great War Memorial to commemorate ten members of the parish who lost their lives in the war. A brass communion rail and chancel, designed by Lord Powerscourt, was inaugurated in their memory on Easter Sunday 1919.
On 4 September 1915 Captain Grenville Fortescue, 11th Battalion, husband of Ina Boyle’s cousin, Adelaide Jephson, and father of two children, was killed in action in France at the age of twenty-eight. On 24 May 1918 Lieutenant Patrick Bryan Sandford Wood, R.A.F., aged nineteen, eldest son of the composer Charles Wood, who was married to Ina’s cousin Charlotte, was killed in an aeroplane accident on active service in Italy, where he is buried in Taranto Town Cemetery.
In 1915 Ina Boyle composed two anthems ‘He will swallow up death with victory’ a Funeral Anthem, (Isaaih XXV 8,9) for solo soprano, choir and organ, and ‘Wilt not Thou, O God, go forth with our Hosts’, an Anthem for Intercession for choir and organ. The latter was dedicated to the 36th (Ulster) Division,and was to have been performed by the choir of Derry Cathedral but could not be sung as so many of the men in the choir had gone to war.
A hundred years later it was performed for the first time in 2016 in St. Columb’s cathedral Derry, for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
Among Boyle’s ‘Early Compositions’ in TCD Manuscripts Library there is a setting for voice and piano, dated December 1916, of Rudyard Kipling’s poignant poem ‘My boy Jack?
“Have you news of my boy Jack? “
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind—
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.
Then hold your head up all the more,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide
The most ambitious work composed by Ina Boyle during the war is ‘Soldiers at peace’ (1916), a setting for choir and orchestra of a sonnet by Captain Herbert Asquith, second son of the British Prime Minister. It was performed in 1920 at Woodbrook, Bray by Bray Choral Society, conducted by Thomas Weaving, then organist at Christ Church cathedral.
Although she paid £11.7.0 in 1918 for publication of the vocal score by Novello the work did not have another performance until 3 November 2018, when it was performed in London by the Highgate Choral Society and the New London Orchestra, conducted by Ronald Corp
Dr. Ita Beausang
The following is and extract from
and Blacklion School
Sister M. Dolorosa
President De Valera (and his family)
‘The year was 1917. Sister Mary Rose was called to the parlour
‘a lady wished to see her’.
As the Sister stood for a moment, framed in the parlour doorway,
the visitor noted the kindly lines in her face.
‘A warm heart beats with’, she though, ‘which all her Victorian dignity,
and the Jansenistic rigour of her generation, cannot hide’.
In her turn, the Sister looked at the dainty figure befor her:
a fair-hair lady with a gentle dignity, and the most winning of smiles.
The nun’s heart went out to her at once.
‘I’m Mrs. De Valera,’ the lady introduced herself.
‘De Valera!’ Sister Mary Rose was conscious of a little inward shiver.
‘The name was not at all common.
Could it be connected with that dreadful Rebel? She sincerely hoped not!’
Like all nuns of the period, she was naively ignorant of the world of politics.
Of course, she knew what rebellions were.
Had she not heard endless discussion in her own home and ’98. 1803 and 1848!
Then there was 1867, when she had been in the Convent for six years,
and the recent trouble in 1916 …
What bloodshed! What loss of life! And all in vain!
Would her dear misguided countrymen never learn sense?
Untrained, and with the most primitive of weapons,
‘with every recurring folly, they were prepared to defy a mighty Empire.
Of what use were pikes against the British cannons?
To be sure, they must have had some guns in 1916: a number of people were shot!’
The mere thought of taking life was enough to make Sister Mary Rose feel faint.
She recoiled in horror from these thoughts,
but was far too well-bred and courteous
to allow them to effect her manner to the visitor.
‘How do you do, Mrs. De Valera. Won’t you be seated, please.’
Her hostess indicated the sofa.
‘Now, what can I do for you?’
‘I have come to ask you to take my two eldest children into the school.
Vivion is almost seven years of age, while Mairín is not yet six.’
A Valued Friendship
The interview proved to be the beginning of a warm friendship
between the Sisters of the Holy Faith in Greystones,
and the family of Éamon De Valera, now President of Ireland.
Moreover, Sister Mary Rose was to live long enough to learn,
that the latest ‘recurring folly’ of her ‘dear misguided countrymen’
was not ‘all in vain’, after all!
The Children Come to School
When the De Valera family took up residence in one of the stucco houses on Kinlen Road, in 1917,
they hardly realized at the time that they were settling among a very unsympathetic and hostile community.
Before they left the district, however in 1922, many had thawed out and succumb to the charm of this family,
the members of which were ready to suffer so much, and make such sacrifices for their ideals.
Vivion and Mairín came to the Convent School and made their First Holy Communion with the Sisters,
before the family returned to Dublin.
Éamonn, Brian and Ruaidhrí, all attended the school, while Emer was a little visitor of four at the time.
On their return to the City, they continued their education in the Holy Faith Schools, Haddington Road,
until they changed their residence to another district.
The youngest, Terry, is the only member of the De Valera family, who did not attend a Holy Faith School.
Since that sad period of our country’s history, having come through many suffering and vicissitudes,
from which they were bravely shielded by their valiant mother, the children,
after distinguished academic careers, have become:
Major Vivion De Valera, MsC, PhD.
Miss Máirín De Valera, Msc, PhD.
(at present Professor of Botany in University College, Galway).
Éamonn De Valera, MAO, MD, FRCPI
(Professor of Gynaecology & Obstetrics in University College, Dublin).
Ruaidhrí De Valera, MA, PhD
(Professor of Celtic Archaeology in University College, Dublin).
Emer De Valera, BA,
(cut short a university career to become Mrs. Brian Ó Cuív).
Toirdhealbhach De Valera is a solicitor.
Alas! Brian’s name is absent from the list.
He met with a sad accident at the age of twenty (1936), when he was thrown from a horse.
This was not the least of the many great sacrifices which this family has been called upon to offer to God.
The Language Movement
…..In 1917, just at the time when the family of President De Valera came to live in Greystones,
the Language movement was in full swing.
The coveted ‘Fáinne’ was becoming quite fashionable.
Understandably, the nuns did not like to be left behind in this particular field,
but at the time, they could not leave their convents in order to attend classes outside.
The delight of the Sisters in Greystones, when they discovered that
they had an experienced teacher of the Irish language in their midst,
in the person of Mrs. De Valera, who was willing to conduct classes in the Convent,
can well be imagined.
Mrs. De Valera gave them every help in the study of the Language. …
Mrs. De Valera also taught Irish to the children in the school in Greystones,
thus the Sisters’ pupils benefited, too.
Ireland’s First Lady
Wishing to put on record an account of this friendship
between the Sisters of the Holy Faith and the family of President De Valera,
we applied to Mrs. De Valera for confirmation.
…Realizing that if she compied with our wishes in writing,
she might be harassed by others looking for written memorials –
a task to which she felt very unequal in her eight-sixth year
– she decided on a personal interview instead;
a privilege for which we would not have dared to hope!
On December 31st, 1964, Mrs. De Valera, as ‘Ireland’s First Lady’,
paid a visit to the Convent to which she had first come in 1917.
The pleasure of this visit for her, must have mingled with sadness.
All the old faces were gone; all the old friends were dead.
There was no Sister Mary Rose to receive her.
And alas! For the ‘Victorian dignity’ and (we hope!) the ‘Jansenistic rigour’
– they had vanished a generation ago.
Instead she was ‘hugged and kissed’
and ‘physically’ conducted to a modern armchair in lieu of the ‘indicated sofa’.
We trust that the warm affection which inspired this conduct compensated for our lost of dignity!
There sat this little lady with the gracious smile, telling us in her own simple and homely way
about the only people who held out the hand of friendship
to her in her years of trial in Greystones from 1917 to 1922:
the Sisters of the Holy Faith.
How even Sister Mary Rose’s heart,
melted in kindness toward the ‘dreadful Rebel’ so as much as to pray
and ask others to pray that Our Lady would make him invisible to his enemies.
An Bhean De Valera was accompanied by her daughter, Professor Máirín De Valera , who related
how impressed the De Valera children had been by the kindness of all the nuns,
but especially by that of Sister Mary Paulinus.
This Sister was in charge of the kitchen.
When any of the children were put out of the school-room ‘in disgrace’,
Sister Mary Paulinus called them into the kitchen,
where their ‘penance’ was changed into pleasure by the enjoyment of some titbit or sweetmeat.
Yes, the Sisters took the De Valera family and the Cause they embraced, to their hearts.
In those early days the Cause was fought under the banner of ‘Sinn Féin’.
The day came when the Sisters went to the polls to vote.
Sister Mary Rose, with all the affection she had for the family of Éamonn De Valera,
never took to the ‘Cause’.
When the Sisters returned after having registered their votes,
she on overhearing some of their whispered remarks, complained:
‘I’m afraid some of you have voted ‘Sinn Féin!’
The sole reason they had for voting at all!…
When the chaos which reigned between 1917 and 1922 was finally brought under control
and Éamonn De Valera took his place in public life
as President of Dáil Eireann, under the first Constitution,
himself and Mrs. De Valera slipped down to Greystones,
on a few occasions, to have a chat with their old friends in the Convent.
During one of those visits (long before it ever appeared in print)
he described for the Sisters his romantic escape from Lincoln Jail:
how he procured the wax and got an impression of the Chaplain’s key;
how duplicates were made;
the thrill when the expected signal was flashed in the darkness outside;
the awful anxiety when the key which Collins and Boland had brought,
broke in the lock; the relief when his own duplicate worked;
his boyish sense of adventure as he passed the sentry unobserved,
and all the subsequent vicissitudes.
The card which comes every Christmas from Áras an Uachtaráin to the Sisters in Greystones,
is a gentle reminder of all the affectionate traditions which have been
handed down to a younger generation of nuns.
But they need no reminder to keep alive the deep regard
which they will always have for President & Mrs. De Valera
and each member of their family.’
End of extract from Sister Mary Dolorosa’s piece on the History of St.Brigid’s
Kitty Kiernan often visited Greystones.
She had gone to school nearby
in the Loreto Boarding School, Bray, Co. Wicklow.
It was there in November 1908 that Kitty and her sisters
were told by the Mother Superior the sad news
that they had to return home immediately as their mother had died.
This was a shock to the sisters, particularly as it had been their father who had been ill.
Three months later their father also was dead.
The family were very unlucky.
The previous year, their nineteen year old twin sisters had died of TB (tuberculosis):
their sister Lily at home in Granard
and Rose in a hospital in Davos, Switzerland,
where she went in the hope of being cured.
Now the four teenage sisters and their brother Larry were orphans.
Kitty got engaged to Michael Collins in the Grand Hotel in Greystones
(now known as The La Touche Hotel) on Saturday, 8th October 1921.
Locals say they were planning to buy Brooklands on Trafalgar Rd.,
and live there after they married.
Michael Collins was killed in an ambush in Béal na Bláth before that could happen.
The ambush happened on the 22nd August 1922.
While they were dating Kitty and Michael had written hundreds of letters to each other.
The first was written by Collins in February or March 1919
and the last was from Kitty on 17th August 1922.
On Thursday May 4 1922 there was one addressed to
‘Miss Kiernan No 10’ in Greystones.
“Kitty dear, I knocked very gently on your door
but there was no answer and I didn’t have the heart to wake you up”
She stayed for some of the time in the Grand Hotel in Greystones while she was ill.
In one of her last letters to Collins, Kitty Kiernan had written:
‘l was terrified that you would take all kinds of risks
and how I wished to be near you
so that I could put my arms tightly around your neck
and that nothing could happen to you.
I wouldn’t be a bit afraid when I’d be beside you,
and if you were killed I’d be dying with you
and that would be great and far better
than if I were left alone behind.
I’d be very much alone if you were gone.
Nothing could change that, and all last week
and this I’ve realized it and that’s what makes it so hard’.
The Irish Free State was an independent state established
on 6th December 1922
under the Anglo Irish Treaty of December 1921.
That treaty ended the Irish War of Independence between
the forces of the Irish Republic and the British forces.
The Easter Rising in 1916 had not been popular with the public.
But the execution of the leaders, changed people’s minds.
This is the story of two women, with links to Greystones,
who had links to people fighting for Irish freedom
in the lead up to the foundation of the Irish state.
You can read their stories below.
Or you can download a powerpoint of their stories here:
The powerpoint tells the story of Kitty Kiernan.
Kitty was engaged to Michael Collins.
They got engaged in The La Touche Hotel on Saturday, 8th October 1921.
Locals say they were planning to buy ‘Brooklands’ on Trafalgar Road,
and live there after they married.
Kitty hoped to have a double wedding with her sister Maud,
who was due to marry her fiancé Gearóid O Sullivan.
Michael Collins was assassinated at Beal na Bláth, County Cork
on 22nd August 1922.
At his funeral there were hundreds of wreaths
but only one floral tribute was allowed on the flag-covered coffin;
a single white peace lily.
It was from Kitty Kiernan.
Two months later, in October 1922,
Kitty attended Gearóid and Maud’s wedding,
dressed in black,
as she continued to mourn the loss of Michael Collins.
Sinéad De Valera
The powerpoint also tells the story of Sinéad De Valera.
Sinéad and her children lived in Greystones,
at Craig Liath, Kinlen Road, in the Burnaby
for five years from September 1917 until October 1922.
Craig Liath was originally called Howbury.
If you are looking for it in the Burnaby it is called Edenmore now.
Éamon fought in the 1916 Rising.
In a note from De Valera to his wife Sinéad, written from Boland’s Bakery he wrote:
‘If I die pray for me. Kiss our children for me. Tell them their father died doing his duty.…
We showed that there were Irish men who, in face of great odds would dare what they said’.
Her husband Éamon was sentenced to death after the 1916 Rising.
This sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life.
After the Rising, Éamon De Valera was taken prisoner.
On 8 May 1916 he was sentenced to death for his part in the Rising.
Later that sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
Their fifth child Ruairí De Valera was born on 3rd November 1916
while his father was still in prison.
Having spent time in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin, Dartmoor Jail, Devon,
Maidstone Jail, Kent, Lewes Jail, Sussex and Pentonville Prison
on 16 June 1917 he was released from prison under a general amnesty.
In October 1917 he was elected President of Sinn Féin
In his book, ‘De Valera, A Will to Power’, Ronan Fanning explains
‘As president of Sinn Féin, De Valera was voted an annual salary of £500 a year
that enabled him to improve the material circumstances of his family he was to see so rarely before 1925 –
they now had five children – by renting a house in Greystones, on the railway line fifteen miles south of Dublin’.
Éamon went to America to raise funds
for the fight for Irish freedom.
Michael Collins visited the family every week,
bringing money and food parcels.
The De Valera’s eldest children Máirín De Valera
said that the
‘younger children could not remember my father
– my mother overheard Brian and Ruairí discussing him,
‘Who is Dev?’
‘I think he’s Mummy’s father’’
So Sinéad kept their large family together
during the times her husband was in jail,
on the run,
or busy with politics.
Her son Terry De Valera in his memoirs
describes his mother’s life as
‘anxious, stressful and exceptionally long’.
Many history books tell the story of
Michael Collins and Éamon De Valera.
We think Kitty Kiernan and Sinéad De Valera
deserve their place in history too.
The Gifford Sisters also found themselves involved
in the struggle for Irish freedom through their husbands.
You can read about their stories HERE.
The Irish Free State was an independent state established on 6th December 1922
under the Anglo Irish Treaty of December 1921.
That treaty ended the Irish War of Independence
between the forces of the Irish Republic and the British forces.
The Easter Rising in 1916 had not been popular with the public.
But the execution of the leaders, changed people’s minds
This is the story of two sisters, with links to Greystones,
who were close to those fighting for Irish freedom
in the lead up to the foundation of the Irish state.
They were the Gifford Sisters; Muriel and Grace.
You can read about their stories below or download their stories here:
What were the Gifford family links to Greystones?
1.They used to come to Greystones on holidays as children every summer.
There they learned to swim.
While their father took to teaching the boys,
their mother appointed a woman called Ellen,
who ensured the girls, would all become strong swimmers.
2.Muriel and Thomas had married on January 31, 1912.
There is a letter from Éamon De Valera addressed to Thomas Macdonagh
at Annaville, Church Rd., Greystones, dated 17th September 1915.
3. Among Thomas Macdonagh’s family papers there are photographs from 1915
of Thomas Macdonagh’s wife Muriel swimming in the sea at Greystones
and ‘dipping’ her baby daughter Barbara in the water.
Muriel was married to Thomas MacDonagh.
He was one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising.
Muriel and Thomas’ son, Donagh MacDonagh, was born on the 12th November, 1912.
Their daughter, Bairbre, was born nearly three years later on the 24th March, 1915.
Muriel didn’t know that her husband was involved in planning the 1916 Rising.
Muriel last saw her husband on Easter Sunday 1916
‘I may or may not see you tomorrow – if possible, I will come in the morning.’
He did not say anything about the Revolution. She never saw him afterwards.
For his part in the Rising, Thomas MacDonagh was executed
in the Stonebreakers’ Yard in Kilmainham Jail.
A British officer was reported to have said afterwards:
‘They all died well, but MacDonagh died like a prince’.
Very tragically, year later Muriel drowned accidentally on the beach at Skerries
For the rest of her daughter’s Bairbre’s life, she kept a little eau-de-cologne cardboard box.
Inside were the seashells she had collected with her mother in Skerries in 1917.
Joseph Mary Plunkett and Grace Gifford were to have a joint wedding
with his sister Geraldine Plunkett and her fiancé Tom Dillon,
on Easter Sunday, April 24 1916.
Joseph Plunkett felt it would not be fair to go ahead with their wedding
as there were rumours of a possible rising.
So he postponed the wedding.
While Geraldine and Tom went ahead with their wedding,
he took part in the Rising.
Sentenced to death for his part in the Rising,
Joseph Mary Plunkett and Grace Gifford were given permission to marry
the night before his execution.
Grace said later
“We, who never had enough time to say what we wanted to each other,
found that in that last ten minutes we couldn’t talk at all.”
This sad story was one of a number that changed public opinion and meant
there was increasing support for what had been an unpopular rising to begin with.
Many history books tell the story of
Thomas MacDonagh and Joseph Mary Plunkett.
We believe Muriel and Grace Gifford deserve their place in history too.
Kitty Kiernan and Sinéad De Valera found themselves involved
in the fight for Irish freedom through people in their lives.
Click on THIS link to read their stories.
We learned about the links between
Muriel and Grace Gifford and Greystones
from the book:
by Anne Clare published by Mercier Press 2011
You can read about what we learned below
or download a powerpoint
about their connections with the town
where we go to school here:
What were the Gifford Sisters’ links with Greystones?
1. As children the Gifford family used to come to Greystones
on holidays every summer.
There were twelve children in the family.
The Gifford children learned to swim in Greystones.
While their father Frederick taught the boys,
their mother Isabella employed a woman called Ellen,
who made sure the girls, would be strong swimmers.
On page 22 we read:
‘Frederick (their father) took an interest in gardening,
bringing some plants over from England.
One particular return from their two-month annual summer stay
in Greystones, County Wicklow,
was recalled by Nellie (their sister)
because on their arrival home
not only had the grass grown almost knee-high
but the plants her father had put down before leaving
were ‘climbing and sprawling’,
and, most curious of all, low-growing, very red apples were in fruit.
On biting the apples, the children discovered
they were a new ‘fruit’ which they had never encountered before
and which they were told were called tomatoes’
2. Two sisters of Muriel and Grace; Nellie and Ada
were bought hats by their mother that they did not like.
On page 26 of ‘Unlikely Rebels’ it says:
‘The reluctant boater-wearers waited for their chance,
which came with the annual holiday in Greystones,
They walked down to the breakwater,
where the sea was deep,
and whirled the hated hats into the water,
as far as they could,
gleefully watching the little boats riding the waves
till they were so sopping with water that they sank.
They decided to accuse the blameless wind as the culprit
which had ‘unfortunately’ snatched their hats from them, elastic and all.’
3. Their mother was called Isabella
and the family lived in Rathmines, in Dublin.
On page 43 of the book we read:
‘Sometimes Isabella’s concern was ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.
And such, in part at least, was the annual holiday in Greystones.
This was considered so socially necessary in Rathmines
that those who could not afford to go would
pull down their blinds as camouflage
and live in the back of the house during the Summer months.’
‘Greystones was largely owned by the Huguenot La Touche family
…Then a small fishing village, Greystones was slowly developing
after the opening of the railway line from Dublin in 1850.
There emerged a sort of unwritten law in Dublin
which observed geographical distributions of holiday areas
for Protestants, Catholics and Jews.
The Protestants gravitated towards Greystones,
partly because of the influence of the La Touche family
and partly also because Wicklow (the ‘Garden’ of Ireland)
was almost exclusively in the hands of Protestant landowners.
Greystones was, as it were, one of their marine suburbs’.
On page 44 ‘There is a description in sister Nellie’s memoirs
of their setting off for the yearly Greystones summer holiday
…seventeen people…Isabella’s ‘husband, her sons and the maids
stagger down the steps with huge baskets laden with crockery,
household utensils, clothes, bedding and food.
‘The maids hated the holidays and it is easy to see
that even the going and the coming back were heavy chores;
Nevertheless, their shrewd young charges noted that when
the coastguards started to call at the kitchen
in the rented house at Greystones, the extra drudgery was forgotten
as a bit of flirtation lightened the scene.’
On page 46 it says:
‘Not the least of the Greystones delight for the children
were the establishments that hired out
horse-drawn vehicles by the hour, a half day or a full day
…The favourite conveyance for the Gifford children however,
was a pony and trap which they were allowed to drive themselves.
The ‘pony’ could be either a donkey or a jennet,
and their favourite haunt was the Glen of the Downs’.
(A jennet is a female donkey.)
‘For the Gifford children, these holidays were times of freedom
and wandering over the countryside,
finding fraocháns and wild strawberries
in the fields about the house where they were staying,
picking blackberries to make jam
which was consumed while it was still warm,
getting up at dawn in the chill air to pick mushrooms
and then running back home to put them on the hob upside down,
with a knob of butter before eating them’.
(Fraocháns are bilberries).
‘There were days in the cove with Ellen,
days taking turns at driving the trap,
and days when they stood and listened
to the strange new music coming from America via England’.
According to the book ‘Unlikely Rebels’ by Anne Clare, Mercier Press 2011
these are links between the Gifford Sisters and Greystones.
Anne Clare based her book on the Gifford sisters on family papers
and a diary kept by Grace that was given to her.
Graphics: from Compfight.
Please note: These are not photos of Greystones or the Gifford sisters.
Information in this post from
‘Unlikely Rebels – The Gifford Girls and the Fight for Irish Freedom’
by Anne Clare, Mercier Press 2011
This is the house across the road from our school
on Trafalgar Road in Greystones.
Chloe and Kelyn’s Granny and Grandad live there.
It is called Brooklands.
In the summer of 1922 Michael Collins and his fiancée
Kitty Kiernan planned to buy this house,
once they were married.
Tragically Michael Collins
was killed in an ambush
in West Cork on 22nd August 1922 .
Michael Collins is a famous Irishman.
He was a leader in the Irish struggle
Usually Irish suffragettes didn’t hold demonstrations
like women in the rest of the United Kingdom.
They felt that they wouldn’t have had
had various methods of protest.
They included the militants
chaining themselves to railings,
setting fire to mailboxes and buildings,
going on hunger strike while imprisoned
However on 25th October 1910,
they did protest when they met the Chief Secretary for Ireland,
Augustine Birrell at Greystones Harbour.
Birrell was not in favour of getting the vote for women.
You can read more about what happened in this article
by Rosemary Raughter of Greystones Archaeological & Historical Society
on the ‘Our Wicklow Heritage’ website.
Legend has it that when Brigid was born, angels sang in the sky over the place she was born. St. Brigid – father was a pagan chief. He didn’t believe in God. Brigid’s mother was a servant who knew about God and believed in God.
Brigid was born near Faughart, a village a few miles north of Dundalk. Brigid was minded by a foster mother because her mother worked in Connaught, far away from where Brigid lived. She helped her foster mother around the house. Any free time she had was spent in the nearby forest with the wild animals living there. She was very fond of animals. Legend tell us she once tamed a wild boar (pig) and another time she tamed a wild fox.
She was very kind to the poor people that called to the door and was always giving away her father’s things. When she was about twelve, Brigid was waiting outside the King of Leinster’s fort for her Dad when she met a poor man. He was covered in rags and mud. What do you think St. Brigid did? Yes she just had to help him. There was nothing else in the chariot, so she took her Dad’s sword and gave it to the man.
Legend has it that her Dad was furious. Luckily the King of Leinster was there. He believed in God like Brigid did and understood why Brigid had done what she had done, so the King gave her Dad an even better sword and told her Dad to forgive her.
St. Brigid was told she couldn’t visit her Mum in Connaught but she went right ahead and did just that. Her Mum had a job looking after the druid’s cows at the druid’s farm.
St Brigid worked with her Mum helping her, making cheese and butter. Poor people called to the door and she gave away food to them. A very surprising thing happened. No matter how much food Brigid gave away there always seemed to be more food there. The Druid realised that there was something special about Brigid, so he tried to give her all his cows.
She said she didn’t want that. Instead she wanted her Mum to come home with her! So this story has a happy ending. Brigid’s family was back together.
Today the 1st February is St. Brigid’s Day. Our school is named after St.Brigid
You can learn more about St. Brigid HERE on the ‘Ask About Ireland’ website..
Lots of places in Greystones are called after Colonel Burnaby.
Who was he?
Colonel Frederick Burnaby was a Victorian celebrity:
a soldier, adventurer, and writer.
He and his new wife Elizabeth Whitshed travelled
to North Africa on honeymoon,
but due to delicate health,
Elizabeth returned to Greystones.
She then moved to Switzerland for health reasons.
Colonel Burnaby was killed in action
(near Khartoum in Sudan) in 1885.
These are from the archives:
See more also from the archives:
Click HERE to see a timeline for Colonel Frederick Burnaby
and Elizabeth Hawkins Whitshed.
Elizabeth Hawkins Whitshed lived at Killincarrig House in Greystones. She was born in 1861. Her father was Sir St. Vincent Hawkins Whitshed. He died when she was eleven. When she was eighteen she went to London in 1879 to be presented at the court of the English Queen, Victoria. She met Colonel Frederick Burnaby and they got married soon after.
She was very impressed by Colonel Burnaby. He was a celebrity of the time. He was six foot four, a soldier, an adventurer, traveller, balloonist and writer. At the time of his marriage Burnaby was working for the eldest son of Queen Victoria. He was in charge of the horses belonging to the Prince of Wales. They traveled to North Africa after their marriage. But Elizabeth became ill. In 1880, she returned to Greystones to have her only child Harry St. Vincent Augustus Burnaby.
In 1882, the doctor advised Elizabeth to go to live in Switzerland. It was thought that the climate in Switzerland would be good for her health. This seemed to work because the following winter Elizabeth climbed Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Switzerland. Elizabeth went on to become a famous lady mountaineer, a writer, a photographer and an expert on the Alps. You can read more about that time in her life if you click on this LINK . There is also a lot of information about Elizabeth HERE on the Our Wicklow Heritage in an article by Rosemary Raughter, of the Greystones Archaeological and Historical Society.
Elizabeth Whitshed called the Burnaby Estate in Greystones after her husband. There is a road in the Burnaby called Whitshed Road. Elizabeth lived to be 73.
Photo taken by Leon
We are very lucky to have
beautiful stained glass windows
in Holy Rosary Church in Greystones.
Two of them are by the famous artist Evie Hone.
Here is the one called: ‘The Good Shepherd’
Evie Hone the stained glass artist
is associated with Greystones,
because two of her stained glass windows
are in Holy Rosary Church.
You can read more about Evie Hone
and her work in Greystones HERE
on the Holy Rosary website.