Rosamond Jacob’s Prison Diary (Jan-Mar 1923)

NLI: MS 32,582/43 Manuscripts Reading Room

This page covers the period of January 6th to March 1923


6 Jan, Sat. There was a dance this night in the hall; Miss Taaffe knows a great deal about dancing and she put is through the Bridge of Athlone and the High Caul Cap, which latter is hard – like an 8 hand reel. The Walls of Limerick & the Siege of Ennis we knew ourselves; the latter is very good, & simple. I danced first with Jenny O’Toole, then with Miss Moran twice, & Mrs Gallagher for the last, which neither of us knew. I did hornpipe steps at K. O’Carroll’s suggestion. The band sat on the spiral stairs and did splendidly with combs and a tin box & 2 knives – a Miss O’Connor, Annette, M. Skinneder & one I don’t know. She had the drum. Mrs Cogley sang, a Spanish song & one about the king of Norroway’s daughter, & K. O’Carroll & Miss O’Connor sang. The latter has a lovely voice but is too slow. The dancing was grand. I had tea with Dorothy & Madam this evening; Mrs Cogley was there too. We were talking about Cosgrave‘s egregious answer to the last local body’s plea for peace, taking for granted, among other things that everyone who wants peace is a republican. Mrs C. spoke


very well about the evil of the rep. destructive methods, and Madame spoke up for peace too. Mrs C. is very capable really. When we were out this afternoon, a sentry started firing with a revolver at the windows of the men’s cells opposite. Somebody shouted out of the cells after one or two shots, and then he fired again. Finally his revolver got empty – he tried to fire & nothing happened. When Madame came out in the morning the men in the inner enclosure were all turning their heads to look at her. Her arrest was in the Indep., but not a word about K. Brady. From the way the paper put it, you’d think they found bombs at No. 6. “Investigations were made, and as a result” she & Miss Taaffe were arrested. There was a lot of firing the last couple of days. It was great to get real letters from J.W. and Owen yesterday, but Lord I shall be mad if I don’t get one of those photos. Miss O’B. likes Dorothy very much. D. is a very responsive person to talk to, & interested in what you tell of your mind.

Image from National Library of Ireland Rosamond Jacob Manuscript Collection (MS. 32582,43). Manuscript Reading Room.


[Superscript: They let Madame out late that night, & brought Mrs Buckley in afterwards. On Sunday night they brought in Mary Comerford. She was asking questions about J.W.]

Tuesday 9 Jan. The Humphreys crowd were locked in their cell all day, because they turned out the extra bed & broke it yesterday, & barricaded their door last night so that it couldn’t be put in again. P. & a soldier came last night to deal with the situation, and when they couldn’t open the door, P. fired a shot thro the gas hole. Then they lot put a mattress on the floor in the next cell – K. Cantillon & S. Nagle – and Miss Comerford went in their [sic] without violence and spent the night there. They made an abominable noise upstairs, like what they made earlier in the evening when P. came to say that he had much pleasure in informing us that letters & parcels & the surgery fire were stopped. There was a dance the same evening – Walls of Limerick, Kerry sets, and something else rather hard, besides waltzes etc. The Kerry girls, especially Big Aggie and P. Hassett, were very good at them. One of the funniest things I’ve

seen for a long time was E. Taaffe receiving the song “Oh little head of curls” from Mrs Cogley. Tonight 5 women from Dundalk were brought in, Agnew & Mulhearn, Garvey, Casey, Woods, & I forget the others names. Two were put in the surgery cell with Miss Hope, one with the Coy O’Tooles, one with Miss Morgan & Miss Meagher, & one with Miss Moore & Miss O’Shea. P.’s orders were that the small cells were to be asked if they wd receive them, & if they refused, they could go on the landings. The council met today & decided that for the present anyway there is to be no fight.

Wednesday 10 Jan. Strange noises went on upstairs last night, & a 7 soldiers were here besides P. This morning we heard that he had attacked the Kerry cell on the top landing – M. Comerford was in bed on the landing, & he told her to get up & dress, and when she had done so, he got the door opened. The inmates came out, (of themselves or by force, I don’t know which)


P. & the soldiers put in the extra bed and threw the 7 inmates & M. Comerford after it. Miss Higgins broke a basin by accident; & this morning we hear that Esther Davis threw the bits out of the gashole at Miss Phillips, & abused her.

They cheered & sang up there after when the soldiers were leaving. Today the whole top landing is locked up – its not known what K. Cantillon & S. Nagle did, or whether they did anything.

P. came over about 4.30 and talked to Mrs Cogley & P. Hassett & others as if they were had helped in last night’s row, and said the light was to be stopped at 9. Mrs C. said we should have time to undress, & he said we could begin before 9 if we chose. He also said he would like to take the light of day away from us, and “we’re going to win this war“, & talked about bringing in an armed guard & shooting us as well. The upper landing doors were unlocked about the same times & they threw the bed downstairs again.


Thursday 11 Jan. – Last night the top landing broke 2 of the door locks and had their doors open all night. P. was over, but he didn’t seem to do much. M. Comerford slept in the Kerry cell there. This morning a locksmith came to mend the locks, and in the middle of dinner – or just at the end of it – P. came with about 30 soldiers and they proceeded to take all the prison furniture out of the cells, kick it downstairs & cart carry it out of the place. Of course it was done in a loose & unbusinesslike way – some cells kept a table & some a stool or a bed. M. E. To Jenny O’Toole, H. O’Connor, & Mrs Doody kept their beds by being in them, sick, and [Superscript: the Kerry No 1 cell] some kept tables  kept a big table that had their dinner on it, & a washstand. Dorothy [Macardle] kept our stool by sitting on it. The soldiers also looted a lot of the wooden boxes that were the prisoners’ own property. Ours remained, but all D’s in Suffolk St were taken, and she wrote to the governor about it. It was wonderful to see the soldiers throwing stools & chairs


and wire mattresses & parts of iron bedsteads downstairs, as recklessly as if they had been our own property instead of the prison’s. There was scarcely a good looking man among them. There was a general meeting as soon as they were gone, and it was decided to have nothing to say to the top landing about the matter. Last night there was some dancing, and the Dundalk girls introduced the 4 hand reel. It was fine to be dancing t – I don’t know when I’ve done so since Miss Flynn’s dancing class. We had a 6 hand reel too, which was grand – E. Coyle, E. Taaffe & I, & I don’t kno forget who our vis á vis were. The top landing kept up a continual singing & shouting while the soldiers were at work, and that seemed to exhilarate the men.

The Kerry No 1 cell seems to suffer a good deal from mice. P. was overheard today saying to someone who protested that we had taken no part in the row over the bed upstairs, that “they haven’t dissociated themselves from it” – which shows what he wants.


About 6.10 this evening 12 soldiers came in & fetched down M. Comerford and Sheila Humphreys and took them away. Esther Davis went into the Humphreys cell to kick one of the soldiers, and he fired 4 shots at her legs but didn’t hit her. M.C. and S.H. were had coats on but no hats.

Sat. 13 Jan. – P. was here this evening with a new prisoner (Lily Kiernan from Portrane) & he called for Dorothy and complained of her letter to the Governor about the looted boxes. He said it wasn’t loot, if it were they wd have been taken for the private use of officers & men. D. said how did she know what they were taken for? She only knew they were taken; & they were her private property. He said there was no private property in the jail. She said what, about  not our clothes? He said NO. She said that was a queer standard of conduct. He said the boxes had been used to barricade the doors. She said that was not true. He


said how did he know they weren’t going to be so used? Miss K. told us a marvellous account of the BolandKitty KiernanCollins affair. K. K. is her 1st cousin, and her brother and H Boland were great friends. Miss K. was nursing in an asylum at Portrane, and told us a lot of queer things about it too.

Sunday 14th Jan. There was a concert in Suffolk St this night – songs by Mrs Cogley, H. O’Connor, Miss Casey, Mrs Buckley, E. Taaffe, dances by Annette & me, comic recitation by D. (Mary had a little lamb, awfully good) ending in roars of crying) and finally a Siege Bridge of Athlone.  Miss Casey sang in Irish. Nora O’Shea sang too, The Bells of Shandon. There were sweets in a bucket passed round by M. Deegan, but of course they were frightfully robbed the first time they came within reach of M. Skinnider, and that corner of the room had to be passed very carefully afterwards. Had it been anyone


but M. Deegan, M.S. would probably have got at them again. She did make one ferocious attempt, but was outnumbered. And she wouldn’t sing herself, under pretext of a cold. She is a devil. E. Taaffe sang the Maid of the Sweet Brown Knowe rather well. Mrs Cogley & E. Taaffe went around announcing the concert in the most gifted costumes, preceded by L. O’Brennan & C. Gallagher in knickers up-side-down hats, playing on combs, as a sort of mixed band & heralds. These 2 have just had their hair bobbed, did very well in the costumes. Long after we heard the men applauding items of their Sunday night concert with great enthusiasm, and singing the Soldiers Song deliciously.

16 Jan. – Two new prisoners came in at dinner time, from Ardee – named French & Kelly. They were put in the 2 cells next Suffolk St. May O’Toole is ill with a pain in her chest & temperature of 104, & can’t eat the prison food.


The doctor saw her today but has done nothing yet. Miss Kiernan was very ill yesterday, & was moved up to Mrs Doody’s cell because ours is so draughty. She seems better today, & was up. She had a pain in her chest & a bad headache – lying on the little mattress on the floor. The top landing broke a lock last night.

17th, Wednesday. – I wrote most of the play about P’s attempted abduction of Mrs Cogley.

19 Jan. – Two more prisoners came in late last night – kids named Coyle – but Paudeen took them away again today & it is supposed they are released. There was a meeting in Suffolk St last night to announce arrangements made for classes etc – L. O’Brennan & E. Coyle to teach Irish every night, N. Cogley to teach French Mondays Wednesdays & Fridays, a dramatic class under Effie Taaffe to meet most nights (only certain members of it, who happen to be in the play that’s being got up), Miss Agnew to teach home nursing class on Sunday mornings, & Dorothy, Mrs Buckley & I to get up lectures & debates on Saturdays. Once a week


isn’t much for both debates & lectures. D. wanted to extend this to classes in public speaking, but Mrs Cogley got very impatient 7 wouldn’t listen to the idea – seemed set against it. She was conducting the meeting.

Paudeen has now told the prisoners that he is taking all their money left with him to pay for the damage done by the top landing. Brighid Ni Mhaolain was tried in camera & in her own absence (she wd not attend) this afternoon by a republican court under Mrs Buckley. 2 The 2 Coyles were brought back late this evening, having spent the afternoon undergoing a sort of interrogation or court martial at Portol Richmond Barracks. It appears that certain men gave a lot of information, under threat of instant death, in consequence of which stuff was found in their house. They were confronted with this, but don’t seem to have given any information themselves under cross examination. Both are flappers, the youngest is 16

[Superscript: They were told the penalty for their deed was death.]


and looks about 14. We had the elder in our cell, the younger is in Mrs Humphreys’s.

21 Jan. Sunday. – The debate came off last night; the proposition was that in all matters relating to the community, without exception, the will of the majority shd [should] prevail. I opened in the affirmative, Mrs Buckley spoke in the negative, Lily O’B. supported the affirmative & M. Skinnider the negative, Cecilia, & Dorothy spoke, Mrs B. & I replied. The voting was 4 affirmative & practically all the rest negative. Of Mrs Cogley was in the chair & made some mistakes, like letting Mrs Buckley be the last speaker instead of me. Mrs B. didn’t attack the question of where the minority gets its right to coerce the majority at all; most of her speech was showing how the minority in great questions has usually been right, & its always the minority that starts great movements – of course.  M.S. was mostly saying how in public affairs & institutions its mostly the minority who run things – really their will which prevails – all which seemed to me rather off the point. They only get their way by impressing the majority. 


E. Coyle congratulated me on my speech afterwards, & Dorothy said it was a good debate. No sweets, & so no brawling. M. S. was supposed to be ill, & was helped into the room with a bad limp & a bandage round her head, both of which immediately disappeared. I am reading Jane Eyre again – what a tremendously strong impression of love she gives, & what an individual, keen interesting, refreshing kind of love it is. The scenes at Ferndean in the end are splendid – I don’t know any better in fiction. One does get fond of Rochester – but I can’t escape the conviction that he was hairy all over.

Miss Kiernan

Thursday 25 Jan. – Miss Kiernan has been talking me about her brother Seán. He is the one who was such friends with Harry Boland. He was in prison in England in the summer of 1920, and did 49 days hungerstrike there (for political treatment) after which he was released. He had always been very strong and healthy, and had a great appetite &


[*Transcribers Note: – Jacob has drawn a line through this page.]

[Superscript; had probably all lies – it seems she never had a brother Sean]

could eat anything. After this hunger strike he was delicate for a long time, could only eat eggflip and cornflour and such kind of things. Then in the winter of 20-21 he was arrested again & spent a year in Ballykinlar. When he had been there about 6 months his lungs began to get affected. The damp there was awful; they the rain came through on to the beds and they sometimes had to wring out the bedclothes in the morning. A friend visited him once & found him in bed with  a heavy cold & damp bedclothes. Then his father used to send him new blankets (their own wool) every month, but of course he used to give them away to those who needed them worse. When he came home in December he could hardly speak for coughing, and his father and sister both were sure he wouldn’t live. She says he looked awful. He was sent to a nursing home, & presently began to improve, but as soon as he got really better he left the nursing home and rejoined his


column, to the horror of his family. Soon after the bombardment of the Four Courts started; he & three others were arrested in a motor going to the Four Courts, and he was shot in the leg. His wound was not attended to at all for 4 days; his father & doctor etc made a row & demanded his release, but it was 6 weeks before they let him out. Then he was in hospital till he could travel, & then his father took him to France, but he died there a fortnight after they arrived – 3 months ago, she says.

She told us about Edwin Hughes & his late brother too. He had an elder brother Gerald, who was offered a good job at Oriel House some time ago (he had been in the IRA & was still republican, but was engaged to a girl who said she wd have nothing to do with him if he didn’t take this job). Against the wish of his mother & brother he took it, for the sake of the girl – not liking it at all himself. The night Edwin was arrested, Gerald passed


[Superscript at top: May be lies too]

by the lorry as it was standing still, & saw Edwin in it, in a navy light overcoat. He scarcely believed it was Edwin till he went home & asked found E. not there, and learned from his mother that he had gone out in that overcoat. Then came the news of E.’s murder, & the investigation & the inquest. Gerald gave up the job at Oriel House, and got seemed to lose all interest in life – thought of nothing but Edwin & his own late association with the C.I. D. – and in 3 weeks died of a broken heart – no illness apparent at all.

I started teaching a beginners’ Irish class on Wednesday, at Lily O’Brennan’s request. I had Miss Bermingham, Mary Fleming, P. Hassett, Aggie Sheehy, Cecilia, and Julia O’Brien, & gave them all Va lot of phrases beginning bpuil, tá, níl, bí, & nail. They seemed to like it – said afterwards it was a good lesson. Tessie sat looking on; she knows a good deal, & they wanted her to take some of the class another night. It was in Miss Hope’s


cell. Dorothy had a great evening of writing her ’48 play. On Thursday just after dinner the parcels came back – a huge cargo – & there was great rejoicing and feasting. Suffolk St. made tea and I had some, and I’m blessed if I could see the great difference between it & prison tea. Boxes of sweets tampered with, of course. Papers came too, but non younger than 21st Jan, & those were English. The Daily Mail report about us was not so inaccurate after all. We had the 2 O’Tooles & Jenny Coyle to tea. May O’T, is an awful die-hard – if the whole rep I.R.A. made peace she wd still go on fighting. Jenny had great stories of her adventures bill posting. She has wonderful courage. Then a ceilidhe started. Oh I forgot the rounders – Maire M’Kee sent in 2 bats, a ball, & base pegs, and they were very grand playing with these. I came out for drill, but Margaret asked me into the game & I went, on her team, & made a holy show of myself.  Then we had about ¼ hour of


drill & marching before 5.

The ceilidhe was grand – Walls of Limerick (Mrs Buckley) Siege of Ennis (Ethna Coyle – a grand dancer) Bridge of Athlone (Kitty Coyle – she didn’t know it at all, but picked it up in a minute) & songs between – Jimmy mo mile stor [sp.?] by Mrs Buckley, something by Hannah O’Connor, & Annaliffey by Margaret – in the softest sweetest purest voice, utterly unlike when she speaks. Just as we were applauding this, Paudeen walked in laden with letters, & we continued the applause, louder & louder. He called for me. “Which is your cell?” “Clear that cell”. Dorothy & Nora O’Shea were in it. He then told me I was released & locked me in, first with Dorothy & then with a wardress, to pack. The wardress was to search my luggage, They all came up in a crowd in the hall to shake hands & cheer – M.S. came up to tell me to be sure & write to Hannah – & P. & a soldier conducted out me out, through the waiting room where I got my 17/6 back from a plain clothes man while a very substantial ghost of M. Collins sat


scowling at me, & out the main gate. I found a group of women waiting to sat the rosary outside, & stopped to talk to them & tell them the news of the prisoners. M. Skinnider’s drill class started on Monday in the hall & went on on subsequent days outside. She graduated it in order of height, Mrs Buckley at one end & Nora O’Shea at the other. We had exercises & marching – change step march, skipping march etc. The first time we tried the change-step march around the concrete part, we were very near causing the death of M.S. She doubled up and tied herself in knots and sat down in a bush and rocked herself & seemed beginning to recover & then collapsed in the bush again till we thought she wd break a blood vessel or something. She didn’t make much noise, but I never saw anyone so nearly die of laughing. She seemed frightened by it, for when we did the same march other days she would say most earnestly “Now for heaven’s sake don’t make me laugh!” Mrs Buckley


used to groan and curse when we did the “knees bend”, and think she cd never get up again. I wished they had started the class sooner; I only got 4 days out of it.


Page 22 is blank

Friday 26th Jan .– I called at Mrs Connery’s & the IWWU (only saw Miss Chenevix there) and heard about the raid on Mrs C’s. She’s been having influenza & looks bad. After dinner I went out to Mrs O’Brien’s & found her alone – she called for Owen & he came down in the midst of changing for football, looking very radiant. I never know whether he’d be off displeased if I took hold of him and kissed him; I expect he thinks me constitutionally undemonstrative. Had we been alone I would have hugged him, but I feared he wouldn’t like it before his aunt – probably I was quite wrong. Mrs O’B. was quite cordial, told how relieved she was with my letters from Mtjoy saying I was pretty comfortable, not like Madame M’B’s way of talking, & her sentiments were “Thank God Quakers tell the truth!” She thought O. [Owen] had better stay with her till we hear from Hanna anyhow. I went on to B. Rd then & found him there before me. It is in a horrid state with the rabbit & the furniture having been moved out to let the floor be painted, but Them Ones came back & tidied the back room beautifully, & washed crockery, Owen says. Poor Illan [?] has deserted the place since it was empty, and Conn is feeling

very lonely, but Josh is quite happy.
I went on to Mrs Kettle, to talk to her about the typewriter, & Betty received me with excitement. Mrs K. was very nice too, and gave no indication of having blamed me at all – sure H. would have consented to the office – & spoke of Owen having shown great regard for me – said very nice things about me – I wish I could have heard the exact terms. She had been in communication with Portobello about the typewriter & had hopes of it. She disapproves of A.’s doing in U.S.A – “What good is it all?” & fears her coming home because she’d get into jail & start hungerstriking, & its no use talking or arguing with her, representing her duty as a mother – she’s like a wall. She spoke of Madeline having gone away – “some devilment or other, I suppose” I do enjoy her voice & way of putting things.
Helen came in after tea to hear about Mjoy, & left early as usual.
Sat. 27th. – Went to B.Rd. in the morning, & found Owen & Spencer there, and had a game of ping pong

Eanair 1923
with each & heard S. say Hell! And saw them play one another. It was grand.
Helen & I went cycling a.d., & she told me about the row over Miss Rice at the office, but she took me much too far & I had to ride like the devil all the way from Stillorgan to get to Roebuck by 5, which was much later than I ought to have got there to have time to tell them about things. Madame was in bed; I stayed about ¾ of an hour with her & Mrs D., telling them about the late happenings – Mrs Comerford was there part of the time – & found they hadn’t exaggerated so very much – the main thing they had heard that wasn’t true was that people were pulled out of bed by the soldiers who took the furniture.
Sunday 28th. – I went down to the O’C. St meeting & made a little speech about conditions in Mjoy – afraid I didn’t pitch it half strong enough to please Mrs D. and Madame. Eva paid a visit a.d., and I went out then to take Dorothy’s note to Mrs Childers. She & Bobby & Máire Ni Bhroin were the company.

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I never met the latter before. Mrs C. wanted to hear about Mtjoy & expressed some sympathy with the DieHards, & said she could sleep comfortably with no mattress at all – had often done so as a girl. When she blamed Páidín etc for punishing us all for what a few had done, Bobby spoke up & said when he told her about that happening in school she never wd admit it was wrong, & she had no no good excuse to offer. Mrs Ceannt came in pretty soon, and I scarcely knew her. She had heard a good deal from Lily O’B. of one thing & another. I got an impression that Mrs C. was rather severe on Bobby in small matters. I asked her, for Hanna, whether C. had turned Catholic – (no) & whether Mellows got the sacraments, which he did, at the last moment. Hard to think of him minding about them. I went on to Temple Villas, where J.W. and I were to spend the evening. L. and H. gave us a good deal of music – the duet out of Figaro between him & the maid, and Figaro’s song to Cherubino etc. It was really delicious, especially the first. My gold chain broke, & I was trying to mend it with a pliers,

January 1923
Leonard showing great curiosity & scorn of my methods.
Monday 29th – Went to Mountjoy Portobello to ask about the typewriter, but the soldiers at the gate wdn’t dream of letting me in. One tried to make out that it was the republicans took the things. I went to B. Rd a.d. – Owen & Spencer were there shooting at toy soldiers in the garden, & wrestling on the grass, apparently with great enjoyment. J. H. Webb, & Oddie & Emily came in the evening. James wanted to hear about Mtjoy, but didn’t go into the question of the form, which I afterwards heard he was puzzled at my not signing – said he wd do anything to get me out if only I’d sign it. We played the Who Knows game.

Tuesday 30th. – I took a parcel to Mtjoy, and heavens what a contrast the civil friendly soldier there was to the Portobello style. In the afternoon I took H.’s letters to Miss O’Rahilly at 36 A.Rd. I thought to see an ordinary terrace house with bullet marks, but it was a new, separate, English-looking house (not with the long red roofs though) as bright & fresh as if it were built yesterday, with a big grass plot before it. She said she was packing up, fearing it might be burned as a reprisal.

She had heard from Sheila.
I went on to Belgrave Rd & found Owen & Spencer firing at toy soldiers in the garden. They were wrestling on the grass when I left, apparently enjoying themselves keenly.
Wed 31st – Had a cold.

February 1923

Thursday 1st. – Owen came to tea. We were to have gone to a St Brigid’s pageant but it poured rain & my cold was bad. He told me a good deal about current football, & we played a letter game. It makes me long to have him again. I had got one of his photos from Roe M’Mahon, & it was awfully good.

Friday 2nd. – Had a visit in the morning from the Manchester Guardian representative – a comfortable young man named green – who wanted to know about Mountjoy. He had been with M. M’Bride, & showed me a couple of letters


Feabra 1923

of hers printed in the M.S. – of course he hopes thought her a wild exaggerator, but the only thing I really contradicted was the soldiers dragging people out of bed. She said a lot about firing into cells as if it were an everyday custom, but I didn’t go far into that, and I could endorse her mention of the officer that fired into the convict cells on the 6th Jan. But Lord! the things she says Annette said to her about trying to be brave when they fire into the cells!

Tony came in after tea to bring music for me to take give to Mrs Lucy to practice for him – a whole lot. He was very interested in Mtjoy, and found it all very funny of course, and talked about Cecilia Gallagher. Says she never had definite politics of her own. He says thin men shd never be let touch politics; they always become fanatics. But then everyone worth while become is called that. J. W. went to bed just before 10, and then we got on politics. He spoke of I.R.A. men he had met in Cork at Xmas and their callousness about destroying railways – is very sick with them, but nearly as sick


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with most Free Staters he meets – says he has great difficulty in keeping his temper with either sort when they talk. It was wonderful how nearly he and I agreed. He thinks it absurd that women are not searched in the street hold ups, says S.F. F.S. women ought to be willing to be searched in the interests of the cause – doesn’t seem to comprehend any objection to giving any soldiers the right to search any women, – funny. He says the F.S. soldiers are much more efficient searchers than the British used be – go up your arm & down your leg and under your arm & all the handy places. He wasn’t in his usual perverse vein at all – quite in his nicest mood, and it was wonderful how we agreed on politics. At 11 he talked of going, but only lit another cigarette, and stated till a quarter past.

Sat. 3rd. – Lovely day. I went to Aughrim St to visit Mrs Coyle – a nicer district than I expected. She was small and lively, very like Kitty, and full of talk. She was keen to hear about the interrogation and the betrayal, of course, not having been able to get


February 1923

any information, and she told me all her adventures going up there with schoolbooks “for the children” and demanding a letter explaining where they were to send to the nun at Jenny’s school to explain her non-attendance. I don’t, mind Jenny so much, but its rather strong to insist on the childhood of Kitty at 19. She goes inside the gate the minute its opened and stays there. “Ah sure I don’t mind them!” She learned the habit apparently when calling to look after her son at Wellington barracks. I find he was one of those that were badly bullied by C.I D. men there.

“Hello, Paídín! How are the children?”

We visited the Davises in the evening.

Sunday 4th. – Sir Thomas Callan Macardle called to talk about Dorothy & hear news of her. He is a very genial elderly solid person, being out her description of him as one that will talk to anybody. He gave me £2 to use for her, & is very concerned over her & fond of her – but thinks jail will be good for her in some ways, that she has led too purely academic a life


Feabra 1923

always among the same sort of people. He thought me like her in figure & colouring – accused me of having a slight stoop, and said I looked as if I were very religious – as if I might be head of a convent. And also that he was struck by my likeness to Col. Moore!  I was more flattered at this than the former remark. After dinner I had to bustle out to Roebuck to ask for things of Dorothy’s; it was a lovely sunny soft day, and there were flowers coming out there in the garden & the grass. Mrs Despard & Mrs Clements went round the garden with me; the latter is joining the I.I.L. She looks & seems nice, in spite of the son she turned out – Dorothy’s account of him was awful.

I went to the Standard then with J.W. & we had tea there with Jimmy & his wife & Marjorie & Gilbert &Dick. The 2 former are living there for a while. What an enchanting face and smile Gilbert has – if only we would talk more & not seem so subdued and languid. He gives a very “born tired” effect. Marjorie is pleasant enough, but not interesting. Jimmy is the best of company; I know


February 1923

few people I’d rather be talking to. They were asking about Mtjoy, & when I told of the band there, J.W. suggested to Dick to try what he cd do with the comb, and he went & got one & experimented on it with apparent enjoyment. It sounded quite homelike, tho of course a man gets a rather different sort of noise out of it.

We went on to Kenilworth Square & spent the evening there. All at home but Dermot, who only turned up just as we were leaving. They had the gramophone going; it hasn’t as nice a tone as Ben’s. Chandlee was very good company. I never saw Emily look such a plain fat kid in too short a frock. You couldn’t take her for anything like 16 15 as she looked that night.

Monday 5th. – We had Lucy, her sister Mrs Harrison, & the Davises – Mrs & Elizabeth – in the evening. [Superscript; Margot also turned up]. We were looking thro the portrait box, & they were very interested in it – but Lucy & Mrs H. didn’t appreciate Forrest Reid. They were arguing with me about signing the form – couldn’t make out my objection.

Wed. 7th. – Went to the Art School. Frank knew where I


Feabhra 1923

had been from Mrs English, but Boucher seems to have told no one. Mr Reeves said nothing about it. I went on filing the copper strips.

Went to Belgrave Rd. Joshua has it horrid; he will have to live in the garden when H. comes home. I went out to the Currans’ in the evening, and had a long talk with G. Russell, who came to sit by me because  he wanted to hear what sort of women they were in Mtjoy. He was very tickled over the debate, but he was criticising the Irish lack of interest or thought as to the social order that they want – considers the creation of a distinct social order the only justification for wanting political freedom. We talked of his Interpreters – I complained that they all spoke the same way, & he said that didn’t matter in that kind of book, & I was looking at it from a novelist’s view point. He was cracking up Horace Plunkett above such mere picturesque meteoric figures as Parnell for instance – saying how much more note future history will take of H.P. & his like – how much more truly important they are. The only real thing Parnell did was to


February 1923

put some spirit into the people & make them stop being ashamed to be Irish. I said no public work cd be more important than doing that, & he had to admit it. He has blind spots. He was praising up ancient B.C. Indian religious writings as the front rank of great literature – Homer & Virgil & Shakespeare only the 2nd rank – & repeated some of this Indian stuff, & it was fine, though some of it was unintelligible to me. There was a conversation going on close by among Susan Mitchell & Mrs Curran & a couple of men, of which I heard one sentence from a young man (named Esmonde) that gave me a regard for him. –

“This government is doomed as long as its can only be strong to against Irishmen & weak to England.” I lost the last tram & walked to 77 Rathmines with S. Mitchell, who asked about Mtjoy & enjoyed stories of Páidin’s remarks, & lent me shoes & an umbrella to go home.

Thursday 8th. – Lovely day. Went to Kilmainham with a parcel for Dorothy (most of the prisoners have been moved there) & found they will only let foo wd let no food in.  There is a marvellous picture of chained snakes fighting over the door. The back


Feabra 1923

& side of the prison seem to get plenty of sun.

J. W. was out in the evening. Owen came to tea, & brought me a letter from his mother which made me feel awful, she was in such a panic about him & disapproved so of the office. But his attitude was delightful, he thought it all so unlike her, and understood so well how it wd make me feel, and gave so much the impression of sticking up for me. He is much beyond his age in human affairs. We went to the pantomime at the Olympia, Jack the Giant Killer, & it was better than I expected. Very pretty acrobatic dancing & a good deal of tolerable humour. The shadow scenes, where the devil tossed everyone into hell with a pitchfork, were great.

Friday 9th. – Pouring wet and a gale blowing. I went to dinner at Pembroke Rd – a horrid journey there. The guests were P.S. O’Hegarty & Tom Casement. The former left soon after dinner, after helping the company to say cheap English sneers at everything Irish (a habit rather common among Free Staters, I find) & D. Coffey had to go out too, after playing a couple of things on the pianola. At dinner the


talk was on lions & crocodiles in Africa (T. C. has lived a lot there & D. Coffey was curious about them) & boxing. T. C. had met some woman who was ill at the idea of a black savage (Siki) being allowed to fight a white man in Dublin next month. He thought she was cracked, having no colour prejudice himself after living in Africa. He likes and admires the natives he came across – partly in central east Africa near the great lakes. He is not like his brother Roger except in being tall and thin and brown, is distinctly ugly, with a grey moustache & greying hair, but very good company in a slightly irresponsible line. He remarked on the smallness of my feet, & on my accent – had never heard it before & liked it. He told a lovely story about Roger’s boyhood. They kept rabbits, “Roddy” had one called Bumpkins who was a great fighter, & Tom used to match him against other rabbits & win bets on him unknown to Roger, who objected to getting up fights, & was very fond of B. (Tom is convinced B. enjoyed fighting). Once, in January, Tom crept off secretly with B. to a friend’s house across the river, to arrange a fight, but 2 terriers appeared and began chasing B., & B. in his


Feabra 1923

terrier jumped into the river, & was like to be drowned only R. appeared. R. hit Tom hard in the face, jumped into the river, got hold of Bumpkins, swam across with him, & went home in a rage. Tom seemed to repent his behaviours, but Roddy wouldn’t speak to him for two days. What a charming boy he must have been. They used to call their rabbits after Greek mythology; there was one named Bacchus because he drank so much. Tony was talking of Bunmahon some time in the evening, as if he remembered it very well. T. C. came home with me, the trams being gone.

Sat. 10th.  – Lovely soft sunny day. I went to Killiney & visited Louie Bennett – her garden seemed full of old flowers, violets & snowdrops & crocuses mostly, but bits of others, and flowering currant budding. It was very warm & spring like there, & the little view of the mountains heavenly. Hel She was telling me how she had to fight her mother to maintain her right of asking meeting who she chose (Hanna for one) outside her home, and she now asks people to the house without telling Mrs B.


February 1923

their antecedents – such as myself (now) & E. Ellis. Other people’s parents!!! Helen Chenevix came to dinner – lunch I mean – and E. Ellis and Miss O’Connor came after dinner. Louie’s idea was to get us together to discuss what could be done to induce the Republicans to stop fighting. E.E. seems to be going around Dublin as a sort of secret diplomatic mission in her own person, being immensely important and having interviews with all sorts of people and talking guardedly of all sorts of secret peace moves that she knows of. The long people she goes to or writes to wd not be half so accessible to an Irish pacifist who had some right to speak to them – will we ever learn how to bow down to the English? L. B. and Miss Chenevix think the world of her, I believe. It puts me all on edge to be expected to discuss things with her.

This was all in Louie’s study. We came down for tea & went up again, & Miss E. went before the we all left together about 6. Miss E. finds Mrs Childers a hard nut to crack. I She is excessively English sometimes –


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E.E., I mean.

Sunday 11th. – Went to a S.F. meeting in the Mansion House, and heard Mary MacSwiney speak – she gave an awfully good account of the history of the S.F. organisation from 1917 on, showing how absolutely Republican it was, but she was awfully warlike later on, blaming the neutral I.R.A. men for being neutral, though she spoke with personal respect of Liam Deasy, which was decent anyhow.

Monday 12th. – Heard from Dr Lynn that Mrs Cogley was released, having signed the form by the advice of the others. I went to see her at 113 & found her entertaining Mrs Ceannt. Mrs C. was in bed, & didn’t look too well, but was very bright & lively, telling all about Mtjoy, & giving a fearful account of the instinctive objection of Suffolk St to Dorothy – how they were praying to get her out of it, for no reason I can get at but that she was too impulsive for them. Mrs C. said she hated herself for not being nice to D., and that made her dislike D. more, though she


February 1923

respects her, & in a way likes her, greatly. M. Skinnider’s tip to Mrs C. & Lily rebridge [sp.?] was very like her. It was nice to see a Mountjoy face again and hear of things since I left.

Leonard & Hilda, E. Ellis, & E Rhodes & Jamie came in the evening. It is very characteristic of E.E. to war that marble shamrock necklace. Jamie was very nice.

Tuesday 13th. – Went to tea to Eva & we went to the Stella cinema plus N. O’Meara, & rather enjoyed it.

Wednesday 14th. – Found, at the art school, Cruise O’Brien’s article on “Maself” and Owen in the Independent. It was awfully good, & makes me quite fond of him. J.W. was delighted with it, got a copy & showed it to all her friends who have any interest in kids.

Lovely fine day. Sir Thomas called in the afternoon, & Owen a few minutes later to get some money off me. Sir T. said on being introduced “Oh, it was your mother that sent the telegram that got Dorothy into Mountjoy.” & O. was rather staggered for the moment. Sir T. asked him various point blank questions re his school,


Feabra 1923

himself, & his political opinions. He having said he was a Republican, Sir T. said pitied the country with all the young people growing up like that. I thought it all rather rough on O., but he said afterwards that he liked Sir T. “He says what he thinks, straight out.”

Spent the evening at Lucys. Dick Mansfield was there.

Thursday 15th Feb. – Cold showery day. I went to look on at a Rugby match “under 15” between Sandyford & St Columba’s at Donnybrook. The St Columba boys mostly looked at least 15, & were a size bigger than the Sandford ones. It was all very mysterious to me; I didn’t know a try when I saw one, & certainly wd never have known that Owen was responsible for the Sandford try if Bobby Childers has not appeared beside me & said “Did you see Owne score?” Shortly after half time F. Stephens came and told gave me some instruction. & was quite excited about the high tackling, entreating the boys to tackle low. Owing to the high tackling, some of the Columba boys were frightfully décolleté before the end of the match. Owen was a ¾ back, and seemed to be working hard, tackling mostly. He gave the same impression of


February 1923

life & earnestness and energy in the game that he did when I’ve seen him play cricket. Makes it a pleasure to watch him.

Friday 16th. – Went to Kil Filing at the copper girdle bits. IIL meeting a.d.; elected 7 committee members  – Kingston, Chenevix, Mills, Johnson, Day, Clements. Helen came to tea & told how Joule attacked Barton & someone with great rage because they were chasing a very small mouse in the passage. He said it was only a baby, & seemed penetrated by the meanness of tormenting such a little thing. He was going to the head office in London soon; Helen does lose her friends terribly.

Sat. 17th. – Helen & I had a walk out Rath Fearnain direction. She was telling me how old Jellett taxed her indirectly with that time she cut him off on the telephone, having heard of it from Hugh, [Superscript above:  “I was that man!”] & she admitted the fact without apology, & add volunteered the addition that after about 2 minutes, she had gone back to the telephone & listened to see if he was still talking, she was – & he was – & she had hung up the receiver again very softly.


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This naturally staggered him.

Sunday 18th. – Went for a walk with Margot, out beyond Templeogue, & saw grand waterfalls at a weir on the Dodder. She was talking of Johnty Hannigan, & how it was nice intelligent girls that went silly after him – I was telling her about Margaret Sanger‘s admirable book on birth control – The New Motherhood – which I was reading – & we were discussing what made femininity & masculinity. She was surprised to her [sic] I was so fond of dancing. She told me about the relations in England she & her family used to stay with, including the Irish aunt, & the awful emasculated stage Irish stuff that used to be put down their throats there. The aunt had “a loyal version” of the Wearing of the Green, & either she or a grandmother told them Kickham was a bad man, when they wanted to read his works. She says her mother is seeing things in politics – the error of her previous ways, etc, now, at the age of 70.

F. Stephens & his wife are together again.

Monday 19th. – Went to Kilmainham with things. Mrs Ceannt’s


house was wrecked last night in reprisal for M’Cabe’s opposite her being blown up, & most of her furniture destroyed, banisters & windows smashed etc. I was there in the afternoon; the place was all broken glass underfoot. They attacked her husband’s portrait. Some of them were in uniform. She was spending the night at Cullenswood House with Mrs Green.

Mrs Connery & Jack Yeats & Mrs Y. came in the evening. Boxing, football, prisons & flogging were the principal topics; J. Y. is quite knowledgeable on the 2 former, has no colour prejudice about Siki nor doesn’t feel him a low disgrace as Mrs Connery does. But he has strongly, in common with her, the instinctive feeling of flogging being a terrible degradation to the person flogged. She admitted that it might not affect as a man who was flogged for a good cause, but that it would necessarily degrade & injure the self respect of one who flogged for an ordinary crime. J. Y. scarcely got this far.


Feabra 1923

Tuesday 20th. – Went to hear SWK lecture on psychoanalysis at the Unitarians. Lucy didn’t go; SWK called for me & Savell Hicks took me for Lucy, & was very annoyed at making such a mistake, SWK said. The paper was very good at the beginning; lucid & interesting & very straight & bold in the wording, so that I don’t know how the audience bore it, but then he attacked Freud something awful, in a rather conventional way, taking for granted that F. advocates total unrestraint & that he states everyone man naturally longs, just under the surface of consciousness, to kill his father. Hicks went on worse, in the lofty-amused-scornful style, in the discussion, saying that anything true or valuable in ps.a. [?] was known thousands of years ago, etc, & talking about the evil & gloomy picture of human nature F. draws – meaning that any extension of sex in humanity is necessarily bad & gloomy. I had to explode, & by doing so learned that SWK has not read Totem & Taboo, but goes by what other psychoanalysts say about F.

Friday 23rd.The Kingstons & Tony to tea, for the purpose of music. Tony was scorning Freud at tea (á propos Tuesday


February 1923

evg) speaks saying he might be well enough as a humourist. I asked “Which of his books have you read?” & he replied. “None…What a horrid question to ask!” which of course caused great laughter, but I was very pleased to have stamped on his eternal saying what he doesn’t know or mean for once. He wanted to make out from me what immediate object the Republicans are fighting for now. I couldn’t tell him with any authority, which seemed to disappoint him. He wanted the information for some of his numerous I.R.A friends in Cork, who write asking him to find out this. Strange. We had lots of songs; bán Cnuic and Sois Heureux & the eternal. Sute Players & King Henry & Down among the dead men, & Phyllida, and dozens of others. Mrs Lucy did the accompaniments all right, but of course she wasn’t a bit enthusiastic about Tony’s voice when she was leaving. I think SWK enjoyed himself. Tony stayed on till 10.45 or so, talking mainly about politics after the rest & J.W. were gone. He is very keen on getting his friends’ question answered. He arranged to come on Sunday night to see Tom, who was coming up for a few days.


Feabra 1923

Sat 24th. Tom wired to say the railway was broken & he couldn’t come. I visited Mrs Cogley, & saw Mitchel, who seemed is fond of cats. “Nobody could help liking Fifi.” He is 12, plain, but with a very pleasant face, & fair. Mrs C. told me about Sneacta & how he won’t stay in the flat since the fighting there last summer, when he got hurt. He only comes for meals.

Sunday 25th. – J.W. & I went to Miss Purser’s in the afternoon – various people came in, including her nephew Jack Geoghegan, who is nice. Tony came in about 7 O’ Clock, expecting to find Tom, & stayed the evening, and was very good company. He looked through the whole portrait box with great interest, and picked out the faces he liked – a very good selection too, including F. Reid and Lubbock and C.M. Yonge & Mary Stuart.

He has a friend named Thompson who is very intelligent about mountainy places – always wants to know the real name for everything, & its meaning, & its local pronunciation. We were talking of Wicklow mountains, & poring over a map.

Monday 26th. Still no Tom. Mrs Cogley & Bertie &


February 1923

Hilda Grubb & Oddie came in the evening, & Mrs C. was great value. She told things about Mountjoy that interested them, and had a delicious story of Paidin coming at 10.30 p.m. to tell her she was released, & she refusing to go till the morning, & if he did, he wdn’t be in next day to let her out until 1 o’clock. She took the risk, & he was in bright & early, at 10. I wore my necklace, & it was much admired.

Tuesday 27th. – Tom came at last, at dinnertime, too late for the railway meeting. He got a room at a Harcourt St hotel. I took the Cogley kids to the pictures at La Scala- Mord Ernly chiefly, which rather bored Fergus until the boxing match came in the end, and that delighted them both. It was The Pearson company that Donald Macardle [Dorothy’s brother] is in, but he wasn’t acting. Betty Balfour was very good. Fergus is a pretty little thing, and very well behaved. Mitchel was pining for Felix the Cat, but the Metropole, where it was was, was on strike. I left them at 6 and went on


Feabra 1923

to tea at the Connnerys. Mrs Tinsley was there, talking like blazes about Paris & her daughter, of course Owen arrived shortly, with filthy hands, having fallen off his bicycle, and underwent great exclamation on his surprising growth from Mrs T. Mr Connery affected the belief that the bicycle episode was only invented to account for the dirt of his hands, & teased him all through tea in the style that O. seems to enjoy. I don’t wonder, for between the voice & the matter, its very pleasing. “Do you give Owen tea – or is it some sort of tepid cocoa he has?” He went to an Irish class later on, & O. & I looked at Dublin Opinion & fashion papers & talked about school matters while Mrs C. & Mrs T. chattered away. O. happened to speak of himself as a selfish little brute (re writing to his mother) & informed me that living with Connor shows him what a selfish little brute he used to be, & is, by seeing the selfishness of Connor. It was very interesting. He was talking about essays in school.


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Wed. 28 Feb. – Grand fine day. Tom & I went to Keating’s little show in Clare St, it was interesting; I liked the Night walker & the crucifixion drawing on the table, & the notes in Irish on them endeared him very much to me. T. had to go to Plunkett House, and then we went to the watercolours, but they weren’t very interesting – a few lovely ones by Lancelot Bayly and one or two others.

In the afternoon we went to La Scala and danced & had tea there. You pay 2/6 for both, from 4 to 6. It’s a good idea. All foreign dances of course. & not very many there, so that there was room. I had to come home in a hurry to see Dorothy’s friend Lilian Dalton, a very nice girl from Alexandra College, 75 Leinster Road, who wanted to hear everything about D.

T. & I went after tea to Pembroke Rd & visited there. Dermot Coffey didn’t rest, after finding that Tom cd play the piano, till he made him play for Tony to sing. I did like his quiet


Marta 1923

pertinacity. Tony was rather coy, but we did get a few songs, including 1 attempt from Love’s sickness. More talk about my anthology of poems for kids; & more preposterous suggestions for it. D. C. has a marvellous memory for comic & satiric verse. Tom admired Margot greatly, and she did look very handsome.

Title Image Credit: Central Hall, Kilmainham Jail, Guards/clothes. Image courtesy of National Library of Ireland Flickr, Mason Photographic Collection. Mason, Thomas Holmes, and Thomas H. Mason & Sons photographers. c. 1890-1910. NLI Ref: M26/16

WEEK 101: (13th – 19th October 1919)

“I went down with Hanna to Harcourt St to see what was going to be done about the Árd Feís that was proclaimed that morning. There was the usual male crowd there, increasingly rapidly as delegates arrived. It came out that Griffith, Mick Collins, & Milroy & a few other prominent men had held a midnight meeting in a hotel, with blocks of delegates from other hotels, which they called an Árd Feís, & decided to keep on all present officers & have no compromise with the Party in future Ulster elections. There wasn’t a single woman at it, & several male members of the executive also were not notified.”

Continue reading “WEEK 101: (13th – 19th October 1919)”

WEEK 74: (7th – 13th April 1919)

“I went to Dr Lynn’s & visited her & Madeline at breakfast, & they told me the true inwardness of the De V. reception fiasco. It seems it was all arranged by a few of the I.R.B. inner ring in the executive, & Ald. Kelly even knew nothing of it till he saw the arrangements with his own name underneath published as officially ordered. So now the movement is saddled with the obloquy of the failure. They seemed to think it wd be brought up at the Ard Fheis but they were very mistaken. I had just got a seat in the round room when MacDonagh came beside & talked to me, & he got on the same subject & said the headquarters are going to blazes with caballing & intrique.”

Continue reading “WEEK 74: (7th – 13th April 1919)”