WEEK 11: (10th – 16th December 1917)

They gave me some instructions about the stalls, Women Delegates’ vegetable stall & the shirts etc. Mrs Ginnell was in the W.D. stall first next door to the shirts – & then Miss Barton, whom I like better. There was a big dolls’ house on the counter, made & furnished by Grace Plunkett, & this was a great attraction; every day I was there my principal work was opening the front of it for people to look in.”

NLI Call Number: MS, 3582/32
NLI Catalogue Link can be found here
Date Range of Diary: Oct 1st 1917 – Dec 9th 1917

WEEK 11: 10th – 16th December 1917

Monday 10th – Fine bright. cold day.


Grace Plunkett (nee Gifford) and Sir William Orpen, c. 1904-10 (Source: Image Courtesy of NLI Irish Political Figures Photographic Collection NPA POLF253)

Tom walked to the 9.40 train with me and I wrote this book in pencil most of the way to Át Cliat. I went out to Belgrave Rd and found them all assembled in Madeline’s room as usual – it seems Emer is not very well either. They gave me some instructions about the stalls, Women Delegates’ vegetable stall & the shirts etc. & I went down to the Aonach after the usual tea meal that the doctor gives you at dinnertime. Mrs Ginnell was in the W.D. stall first next door to the shirts – & then Miss Barton, whom I like better. There was a big dolls’ house on the counter, made & furnished by Grace Plunkett, & this was a great attraction; every day I was there my principal work was opening the front of it for people to look in. Madam was about with her dog, & Mrs Somers had a little stall close to me.


MS, 3582/33

NLI Call Number: MS, 3582/33
NLI Catalogue Link can be found here
Date Range of Diary: December 10th 1917 – August 4th 1918

Mí na Nodlag December 1917


10 Dec. contd. Joseph M’Guinness had a drapery stall just opposite us – it seems he has a drapery shop in Dorset St. He is a rather small, plain, insignificant amiable looking man with a small chin, no more like a soldier than Poppet. I stayed till 1.30 when Miss Nugent & one of the girls came. It was very big Aonach, the full of the round room, & Miss Perloz was running the tea place on the dais. Lasairfhiona, who had a place where she gave away buyer’s guides, gave me tea. I went out to Brighton Square then & visited E and J. Webb. J.W. had rheumatism in her knees & was badly able to move about. She was making a calendar for Aunt H. They asked me to dinner on Wednesday. When I got to Moyne Rd & found Mrs ff. M. & Douglas


out at a nurse’s club concert at the Shelbourne or some such place, but Mrs ff. M. soon came in, & we had supper. I found that the young solider on the chimney piece, whom I had always taken for Douglas with a moustache, is really a cousin of his in the British army, also Douglas, with a son & a father both of the same name.

Tuesday 11th Dec. – Bessie got married this day. I had breakfast in bed, & Mrs ff. M. went out to attack the sweep who ought to have come that morning. Douglas came down in the middle of the morning in pyjamas & an overcoat, & talked about his musical company & their town in the south etc, & how tired he was practising for the concert. I went over to Belgrave Rd and visited them – Emer sitting on Madeline’s bed [Superscript: & Mrs Ginnell visiting & complaining of the Countess’s casual visitor, & their ways] and both knitting. I dined at home & went down to the Aonach a little late & spent the afternoon there – little business doing as usual. When I was relieved [Superscript: meeting of Women Delegates in the drawing room – priest’s objections & men & women working together etc.] I went out to Oakley Road & waited at Scoil Éanna.


Miss Brady & the other one were in the little parlour, & after talking to me a while they sent up Miss Pearse to me. Mrs P. was out at a N.A.A. meeting. Miss P. had a lot of terrible stockings to darn, & I helped her – darned one, that is, & it took me nearly an hour. She told me all about the plays – the Singer & Iosagán that were going to be at the I. H. F. on Thursday & Friday evenings – Eamonn Bulfin was got up from the country to play the Singer; Pearse wrote the part for either him or William Pearse. She went off to instruct the boys going to bed about baths; all the boys in Ioragan were to have baths, & they seemed pleased to hear it. She & Mrs P. were going to the Bulfins for Christmas. She complained that people sent their sons to school without sufficient stockings; she was advising one to steal some of his brother’s when he comes back up after Xmas.

Wednesday 13th 12th Dec. – I went to Belgrave Rd again


in the morning, and from there to the visit Deborah Webb who was entertaining Gertrude Webb and Dick. They went away and I stayed a while. It seems D.W. wd like to be a millionaire, and she was pleased to get sympathy from me, as most people disapprove of the desire. J.W. considers one would be opposed with gratitude if one did good with the money, which seemed to me a narrow minded view to take. I went on to Brighton Square for dinner, and there learned that it was Oddie’s birthday, & was given a child’s life of William Penn to take him that evening from E.W. J.W. gave me some commissions for the Aonach too, not expecting to get there herself, though she was a little better. I went on there in due time, stopping at Harcourt St for some pamphlets on the policy, which a very civil man in a back office supplied to me; letting on that it was important to capture Waterford & therefore he wd let me have one of a very valuable old one of Griffith’s, not usually sold,


Grafton Street, Dublin City c.1903 (Source: Image Courtesy of National Library of Ireland Lawrence Collection LROY05530)

for 6/- I spent a good deal of the afternoon reading the William Penn book, which was interesting, and minded both stalls while Mrs Ginnell got her tea – its shocking the time people were kept waiting for tea. Then I searched the Aonach for a suitable small gift for Roger, without finding one, & met Mrs Pearse. I got some chocolates at the shop in Stephen’s Green & met Charlie Murphy as I came out. We walked a block together, and I had forgotten what a delicious voice he has. He was in town for some of his interminable law studies. I got out to Kenilworth Park about 8.15. & found all there down to Oddie; the 3 younger ones had got to bed. R.W. talked about laundry girl’s wages – £1 a week is his idea of what they should be now, and Chandlee showed me his photograph book. There was one very interesting one of J.H.W. his 3 children & most of his grandchildren, done last summer; Gilbert and Dick T. both looking wonder-


-fully old for 14. Dermot was as sociable as usual, & asked me did I remember the wetting we got on Bray Head – in August 1910. That’s a very charming trait in him. Oddie grinned and said nothing. People sang Christmas carols outside, & R.W was very firm that they should get noting till he knew they were something deserving, & not more than a penny in any case. They were Salvation Army, which satisfied him. Supper was served at 9.30, and I went home soon after. Some young Friends’ circle that Dermot belongs to had a discussion lately on Sinn Féin etc, and Dermot, very fairly ignorant himself, was all alone against the Unionist party. It was entirely got up by Unionists. Douglas was at home for once, and had a lot to say about Alderman Cole’s beautiful house & dilletante family, where he spent the previous night, and then we got onto the materialism of English clergy a century or so ago, & Douglas admitted that the so-called reformers, though so mistaken, were honest men (I suppose this is a great


admission for an orthodox Catholic) & that a lot of French prelates in the 17th & 18th centuries were thoroughly worldly minded. Then we got to the Jansenists, whom he disapproves of, & I learned that Pascal was a layman, and they were amused to learn that Janenists are popular with some Protestants – Quakers for instance – because they held more with salvation by faith than by works. The end of it was that after I had gone up to my bedroom Douglas came knocking at the door with pamphlets about Jesuits and St Francis Borgia, whom he had been talking me about, and the Blessed Curé d’Ars, which he had resurrected out of a box in the garret. He is the queerest person I know. St F.B, was fairly interesting, & the Blessed Curé was an excellent man, only he objected to dancing.

Thursday 13th Dec. – Fine bright day. I went to the National Library in the morning & read the Golden


Bough which was interesting but more an account of superstition etc than an inq explanation of their causes & origins, which latter I thought it would be. After dinner I went down to the Aonach & spent the afternoon there opening the door of the doll’s house etc. At 7.15 I went away to the Foresters’ Hall, eating a bun for to represent tea. The plays didn’t start till 8.20 at least; Iosagán first, very well acted by the boys & old Mathias but Iosagán himself was deplorable, 3 times too big, with a great deep cracking voice, & very much impressed with his own importance & sanctity. The others were admirable, talking & disputing with each other & old Mathias, quite freely & naturally, & M. did the old effect very well. He was Frank Connolly. He died sitting in his chair, which I thought was a mistake. The boys made Mathias sing for them & joined in the chorus; lovely Óró songs like An Sean Duine. But it was spoiled from the


moment of Iosagan’s entrance.  Then there were a few songs & recitations before the Singer came on. Máire Nic Scublaig [Máire Nic Shiubhlaigh?] was the mother, & talked always in her nasty self conscious sing chanting tragedy voice. Her sister Gipsy was Sighle, and she was worse. Bulfin was pretty bad as the Singer – Eunán M’Ginley as Colm was the only one that acted well, except the schoolmaster. He was very good & very like himself. But the others made the thing sound sentimental and indecent, and I don’t think Pearse’s genius was for writing about love anyhow.

Friday 14th Dec. – I was at Belgrave Rd again, and Madeline lent me her draft of a pamphlet for the Women Delegates to read at the Aonac. I dined with D.W. or rather in her house, and she showed me a long poem she had written about Patsy, and made me read it aloud to her. She is not quite so deaf as she was when I last saw her.


The poem was rather interesting. I spent the afternoon at the Aonac, reading the pamphlet & disagreeing with Mrs Ginnell about it. It began with a defence of Suffragettes, which she objected to, disapproving of them herself & thinking it wd act people against the W.D, which I suppose it might, considering what most Catholic women are. But still I’m glad Madeline insists it is to stay in. She came to the Aonac this afternoon with her mother. Lasairfiona also objected to the beginning of the pamphlet, because why shd we bother about English suffragettes. I was surprised to find myself saying it wasn’t only English ones, & woman shd help each other all over the world. Miss Scarlett turned up then, & gave me tea, & we heard the whole story of John MacDonagh stealing Thomas’s little girl from Mrs Wilson, another Gifford sister, from Mrs W. herself, whom Mrs S. knows. I went out to Windsor Road as soon as I got off, & visited


Uncle Herbert & the Goodbodys. Louis Henry I had not seen since 1894, he was much what I expected. Tillie was very nice. Uncle H. looks thin but fairly cheerful; his voice is very like Harry’s. Tillie made L.H. go home with me & he talked about the planets & pointed them out to me. I found Douglas alone, &, beginning with an account of Liszt in his book of composers (I know we got to it quite naturally; he didn’t force it on me) he gave me a lecture on music with lots of illustrations; explaining fugues [sp.?] & playing them for me – Here’s the 2nd voice – this is the 3rd voice, etc, saying medieval monks are supposed to have invented harmony by noticing when one or two sang a little below the notes that it sounded well, & then elaborating part singing, which is the foundation of fugues. He played some Rhapsodies hungarian [sp.?] by Liszt, above me head; very complicated & powerful,


& scolded his mother, who had come in then, for speaking while he was at it. He does play wonderfully well; but I notice that he is scarcely taller than I am; I suppose that has something to do with his uppishness. I managed to make some criticism of the idea that self torture is meritorious in those Catholic pamphlets about saints, & was smiled on in a superior manner.

Saturday 15 Dec. – I went to Belgrave Rd in the morning & had a lot of conversation with Madeline & Emer about the pamphlet & women in Ireland compared with French German & English. I hold that the natural Irish feeling of both sexes has some contempt for women in it, & Emer agreed with me, but M. was loath to admit it. She says men in France & Belgium are much better than here and in England, it’s the usual thing for them to help in the housework & bring meals etc to the lodger if they have one. I was saying how little


the men in the S.F. club in Waterford must see of their wives , spending their whole evenings there, & she said why didn’t the wives go there too, & I said they had dishes to wash & children to put to bed etc, & she said the men should help with that, & that they always do in France & Belgium. She wasn’t so sure about Germany, though she evidently has a much better opinion of the Germans than Charlie Murphy. I went to dinner at B. square and gave J.W. the things I had been able to get at the Aonach. She was talking about the evening I spent at Kenilworth Park, & the inability of R. Webb to talk of anything but his own particular interests, & I said I thought that was commonly the way with men, but she denied that it was a sex peculiarity in her experience. I don’t think they are taking proper care of Chandlee; by J.W’s account he doesn’t seem at all fit to be going to [unclear word]. J.W. herself seems better.


I went down to the Aonach then & bought some Brussels sprouts and took leave of Mrs Somers, and came home in a great hurry to tea with Mrs ff. M. Douglas appeared just as tea was over, going into town, so he carried my luggage to the tram & came with me as far as Wexford St, talking about the M’Donagh children, all on J. M’Ds side of course (J. M’D thought he was against them because Madeline was, but “My dear chap, I don’t see my sister from one month to another, & if I anyhow I’d be sure to take the other side from (Superscript: whatever side she took I’d be use to take the other if it was only from cursedness” [sp.?] – which is perfectly true). He was praising Conaire’s article about the dead hour of the night before dawn, when everything turns over & groans – said it was like R.Tagore. It certainly is beautiful. I got to the train pretty early; & there was the disgustingest soldier there in it I ever met, a “talking egotistic injured, lowdown northerner thoroughly Englified,  & whose every word was bloody. There were 2 other young men in the carriage one of whom started


to smoke, & an elderly man checked him, but didn’t say a word to the soldier when he began. He got out at Newbridge but it seemed hours till we got there. I read the Lion of Flanders, which Mrs ff. M. lent me – a very interesting book. The train was ½ an hour late & I didn’t get home till 11.10. Uncle Charlie had been sent to stay with us because Jessie’s maid was ill, but he had gone to bed. Mamma had a cold.

Sunday 16th Dec. – A frightful day of rain wind and snow, the rain turned to sleety snow for an hour or so and then either stopped or turned back again, I forget which. It was pretty to watch because there was such a wind blowing it about, but the gale did a lot of damage.

Séan Ó Floinn was spending the weekend with T. & D. and they all came to tea. Uncle Charlie and Séan got on very well. We had some songs from D., and Séan enjoyed them greatly.

Feature Image Source:  View of a Dublin Street (Dorset Street), Drumcondra, Co Dublin. Courtesy of NLI, Eason Photographic Collection, EAS1682)