Easter 1919 in Bray by James Scannell

Quinsboro Road, Bray circa 1900
Photo: Lawrence Collection NLI ref L_CAB_00437 https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland
Princess Patricia Hospital, formerly the International Hotel, Bray (opposite train station).
Photo: Wicklow County Council Library Service
Bray Esplanade c.1900
Photo: Wicklow County Library
Bray Main Street 1900
Photo: Wicklow County Library

Easter Sunday 1919 fell on Sunday 20 April but remarkably there was very little advertising by Bray traders in the two weekly local newspapers to highlight this event. The third wave  of the influenza pandemic  known as ‘Spanish Flu’  was still affecting people with doctors overworked, many people  still contracting it,  suffering  with it, or left debilitated after it,  with  virtually no medicinal compounds available  to relieve suffers of symptoms. One product advertised for the prevention and cure of influenza was ‘CONDY’S Remedial FLUID’ which users were urged to gargle with by placing ‘one teaspoon of CONDY in a tumbler of water and sniff the same solution up the nostrils out of the palms of the hand.’ While the Rathdown Union Workhouse Hospital [the present day St. Columcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown] was the nearest hospital to Bray, moves were afoot to establish a Cottage Hospital in the town, funded by the community, but despite the great community support the project enjoyed, over time it never came to pass due mainly to the presence of the hospital in Loughlinstown. With Britain nearly bankrupt of the result of World War 1, cut-backs and reductions in spending became government policy with all expenditure by public bodies coming under extreme scrutiny by the Local Government Board.

Bray Petty Sessions

Starting on Saturday 12 April Sir Albert Meldon, presided at a sitting of the Bray Petty Sessions [District Court] which he was joined on the bench by Col. G. Rowan-Hamilton, Mr. M. Langton, Mr. Wellington Darley, Mr. W. Sullivan, R.M. [Resident Magistrate],  Mr. V.C. Le Fanu, Mr. J. W. Reigh, Mr. F. Jameson,  and J, Cuddy. The police were represented by District Inspector H.B. Molony.  Sir Albert Meldon opened the proceedings by stating that the magistrates has learned with great regret of the death of Constable McGoldrick who had died from influenza which was widespread in the town and had affected nearly every household.  The District Inspector thanked the magistrates for their expression of sympathy stating that the deceased had only been married for a short time and had been cut off in the prime of his life.

Cases heard included:

Shankill boy charges dismissed

·           In the case of the much adjourned proceedings against Shankill boy Andrew Rourke, Sergeant Hurst [Ballybrack] said that he had left the district but was not in Scotland where his father had promised to send him. His father said that he would not be brought back and Sir Albert Meldon, in dismissing the case without prejudice, said that if the boy returned to the district, Sergeant Hurst could reinstate the charges against him again. Shankill police station had been closed at the end of March 1918 with policing of the Shankill district divided between Bray, Enniskerry, and Ballybrack stations.

Cottage repossessed

·           Mr. David Frame, Bray Head House, was granted a decree for possession of a cottage occupied by Mr. Thomas McDonald at Newcourt.  Mr. O’Dwyer, solicitor for Mr. McDonald, wrote stating that there was a claim under the Workmen’s Compensation Act by Mr. McDonald against Mr. Frame for hearing at the next Quarter Sessions as his client’s half-wages had not been paid and he had advised his client to submit to the demand for possession. Mr. J.J. Murphy, solicitor  for Mr. Frame, said that Mr. Mr. McDonald  had met with an accident  while employed by Mr. Frame and that the compensation  proceedings were pending but that Mr. Frame had  to comply with the instructions of the insurance company.

Watering down the butter & milk

·           Sergeant Wall, Food Inspector, summoned Mr. James Cleary, Main Street, Bray, for ‘having sold butter containing excess water.’  Mr. McDonnell, solicitor for Mr. Cleary, applied for an adjournment on the grounds that Mr. Cleary was ill.  He added that he had notified Sergeant Wall and the Drumkeen Dairy Company, Co. Limerick that he would be seeking an adjournment and that although he sent the letter to them the previous Wednesday, it had not been received in  time it and their representative was present in court. Mr. Bradley, solicitor for the Dairy Company, said that they had been brought into the case as the manufacturer of the butter under warranty. The adjournment was granted.

·           Mr. Denis Flynn, Glencormack, was summoned by Sergeant Wall for ‘selling new milk which had been adulterated with 10% added water.’ Mr. McDowell, who appeared for Mr. Flynn, said that his client was astonished when he received the summons and that he could not understand how the water got into the milk seeing that he milked the cows and delivered the milk himself.  The only explanation that Mr. Flynn could offer that he fed his cows on mangles which made for very poor feeding. Sergeant Wall said Mr. Flynn had ten cows and sold his milk mainly in Little Bray.  Sir Albert Meldon, in finding the case proved, said that this was a very serious offence as the milk was sold amongst the poor who were paying a high price for it and that it was terrible that they should receive adulterated milk.  Mr.  Flynn was fined £3 with 14s. costs.

Donkeys wander

·           Patrick Flanigan, one offence, and Margaret Gaynor, two offences, both from Captain’s Avenue, Little Bray, were summoned for allowing donkeys to wander on the road, and were fined 2s. for each offence.

Lorry left

·           Constable Moore summoned Mr. Robert Comey, Green Park Road, Bray, for ‘leaving an obstruction on the public road at Bray Bridge.’ In his evidence the constable said that he found two large parked lorries laden with timber and was told that one of the men deserted the lorry and had gone to Calary Races. District Inspector Molony told the court that the County Surveyor had complained about these obstructions which were caused by leaving timber lorries on the roadside. Mr. Comey was fined 10s. and costs.

Army lorry kills

In Dublin, at an inquest into the death of 54-year old Mr. John Sheehan, 3 Albert Place, Charlemont Street, Dublin, who died in the Meath Hospital as the result of injuries received from being knocked down by a military motor lorry, the principal witness was Mr. John Whitmore, engine driver, Bray. Mr. Whitmore said that on 22 February he and the deceased were being driven from Peamount to Dublin. At Drimnagh they alighted from the car and a military lorry following behind struck the deceased and broke both his kegs. The jury returned a verdict attributing negligence to the driver of the military motor car.

Influenza death

Moving to Sunday 13 April, the three week’s mission in the Church of the Most Redeemer, Bray, given by the Vincentian Fathers, came to a close. Earlier in the day the funeral of Constable McCormick, Esmonde Terrace, Bray, who had died from influenza the previous Friday, took place to St. Peter’s Cemetery, Little Bray. Aged 29, he was a native of Midletown, Co. Cork, and had served as policeman for eleven years. Prior to being transferred to Bray in September 1918, he had been stationed in Newtownmountkennedy, Co. Wicklow. Married for only eight months, his wife had also been seriously ill with influenza when he died.   Graveside payers were recited by Rev. Fr. Healy, C.C. The chief mourners were his wife, brother, father-in-law, and brother-in-law.

Bray U.D.C.

Continuing to Monday 14 April, Mr. J.M. Magee, Chairman, presided at a  meeting of the Bray Urban District Council.  The attendance included Mr. M. Langton, J.P., Mr. J. Metcalfe, Mr. G. Byrne, Mr. J. Bergin, Mr. M. Traynor, Mr. P.J. Dunne, Mr. J. Plunkett, Town Clerk Mr. J. McCaull, and Town Accountant Mr. P. Devitt. Items discussed at this meeting included –

War bonuses

·           Mr. J. Metcalfe, in accordance with his notice, moved that all increases granted to Council employees by way of war bonuses should be regarded as permanent increases in wages. After a short discussion the motion was carried unanimously.

Extending electricity

·           The Local Government Board advised the Council that Mr. Price, their Engineering Inspector, would hold a public inquiry in the Town on 24 April into the Council’s application for loan of £5000 to cover an extension to the electricity works. However with regards to the source of the loan, it was pointed out that no loans would be made from public funds for electricity undertakings. The Town Clerk read a letter suggesting that the undertaking should be extended to include Killiney, Leopardstown and the neighbouring districts as the gas supply was poor.  Mr. Drimmie in a letter stated that would be able to place the loan on favourable terms.

Price of coal

·           The Town Clerk advised the meeting that he had been in contact with the town’s coal merchants and the Coal Controller concerning fixing the price for coal. Mr. Collier had suggested that Bray should adopt Kingstown [Dún Laoghaire from 1920] prices plus the extra rates and dues which would amount to about 2s. 6d. per ton.  The Coal Controller stated that he saw no need to send down a representative  to  Bray as they should be able to resolve the matter themselves, adding that in Dublin  merchants were allowed  12s. 6d. per ton to cover distribution costs plus 1s.2d. per ton profit in addition to the cost of the coal. Mr. Collier from Messrs Miller & Co. and Mr. Maxwell from Messrs Heiton & Co. attended this part of the meeting. Mr. Collier said that Dublin Corporation and Kingstown Urban District fixed their prices. He suggested that Bray should agree to the Kingstown prices plus an additional 2s.7d.  to cover the extra  freight and other charges. The Bray merchants would agree to 2s.6d. above the Kingstown prices but with regard  to the statement by the Coal Controller  that the expenses for Bray should not exceed the 12.6d. allowed for Dublin, this was mistaken as they could not supply coal in Bray  for what was allowed in Dublin.   Mr. Maxwell indicated that while there was no carting [haulage] from ships to the coal yards in Dublin, in Bray coal had to carted to the yards and that they should be allowed the difference in handing costs in Kingstown and Bray. Mr. Maxwell said that in Kingstown they had agreed to 55s a ton for standard coal.  The difference in costs between Kingstown and Bray of 2s. 6d. per ton would make the price for standard coal 57s.6d. per ton in Bray. The Town Clerk said that Mr. Collier had shown his price list and that he charged 59s.6d. per ton  for best quality coal  and 57s.6d. per ton for standard coal. Mr. Maxwell said that it cost his company 52s. per ton to bring coal to Bray through Dublin  before adding the distribution costs.  Mr. Collier said that if the Council was prepared to establish a committee to look into the matter, he would provide it with any documents they required.  Mr. Maxwell pointed out that since prices were fixed in Kingstown, the cost of labour for discharging and carting had gone up. The Town Clerk pointed out that when an order was made fixing the price in a district, the coal merchants were not obliged to sell coal but could not sell it at a higher price. Mr. Collier said that this was so and that if the price was inadequate, merchants would close. Mr. Collier said that he would willingly hand over his concern to the Council to operate if he was guaranteed a profit 1s. per ton profit  on his coal.  A committee consisting of the Chairman [Mr. J.M. Magee, J.P.], Mr. Metcalfe, and the Town Clerk [Mr. John McCaull] was appointed to go into this matter with the coal merchants.

Council suppliers

·           Accepted as contractors for supplies to the Council were – Messrs J.E. Griffin & Sons,  Brooks Thomas & Company,  Raverty’s Medical Hall,  Tonge & Taggart, R. Foley, P. Keegan, the Electrical Apparatus Company,  the Imperial Lamp Company, Messers  Faulkner, Dublin, and George Foster, Bray. Mr. Metcalfe urged the Council to ensure that all these suppliers should only employ trade union labour.

Price of gas

·           A letter from the Board of Trade in connection with the Alliance & Dublin Consumers Gas Company’s application for permission to increase the price for gas stated they it would allow the company increase the dividend paid to shareholders but would limit the increase in prices. The Gas Company also submitted a letter relating to the proposed reduction in pressure to consumers which was referred to the General Purposes Committee to consider, Mr. Metcalfe said that the Council should ensure that the Gas Company kept the gas up to standard and suggested that they should have it tested as there was more air than gas in the supply.

New uniform Irish made

·           Messrs Lawlor & Deignan confirmed that the material used to supply a new uniform for the Car Inspector would be Irish manufacture, in reply to a query raised at the previous Council meeting.  However they did not provide a reply to the query asking if the material would be made by trade union labour and on the suggestion of Mr. Metcalfe the meeting decided to make inquires about this issue.

Day off

·           It was decided to grant the workmen Labour Day [01 May] as a day off.

Councillor gives up seat

·           Proposed to declare the seat of Mr. Thomas O’Reilly vacant.  A seat could be declared vacant if a councillor did not attend meetings for a period of 6-months without a valid certified reason i.e. illness. The Chairman and Mr. Traynor said that Mr. O’Reilly had stated that he did not intend to remain a member of the Council. The Town Clerk said that he would write to Mr.O’Reilly and place the matter on the agenda for the next meeting.

Imprisonment and Hard labour for attack plans

Advancing to Wednesday 16 April, in Galway, Mr. Michael J. Hoey, Tuam, Co. Galway, son of Mrs. Hoey, Duncairn Avenue, Bray, was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment with hard labour.  Mr. Hoey had been tried by General Court-martial in Galway on 25 March for ‘having his possession a number of documents describing the process for destroying telegraph wires and railways lines, and containing plans for attacks on police barracks and instructions for the destroying of bridges  and the unlawful taking of arms  and ammunition  with the intention of using the  information contained therein  for the purpose of committing the acts  referred to  in contravention  of the Defence of the Realm Regulations.’ Mr. Hoey had acted as  election agent  for Dr. Cusack, M.P., and was a brother of Mr. James Hoey, Bray, who had been sentenced to three months imprisonment  the previous winter for illegal  assembly by taking part in a public meeting outside Bray Town Hall on 15 August  1918.  Bound over to keep the peace at his court hearing, he refused to provide a surety to be of good behavior and was sentenced to three months imprisonment, and was released from Belfast’s Crumlin Road Goal in December 1918.

Missing clock

In Bray Railway station, the public clock which had been missing for some time, much to the irritation of passengers, was reinstated in its former place with new faces after being repaired by a clock maker.

Price of milk

Mr. C. M. McGowan chaired the weekly meeting of the Rathdown Board of Guardians, at which one of the items discussed was a letter received from the Local Government Board in which they indicated that they only prepared to approve a price of 1s.8d. per gallon of milk supplied by Mr. Doyle for the remainder of the contract. If after advertising the contract, no lower one was received, the board was empowered to cancel the contract and to enter into a new arrangement with Mr. Doyle for the supply of new milk at 1s.8d. per gallon.  The Clerk reminded the meeting that the guardians had asked to the Local Government Board to approve a price of 2s. per gallon  which they had refused  and that when the guardians asked the Local Government Board  to approve a price of 1s.9d. per gallon, this letter was the reply they received. The guardians ordered that the contract be advertised and that Mr. Doyle be informed of this.

Fire in Bray

Moving to Thursday 17 April, around 6 a.m. a fire broke out in a shed at the back of the residence of Mrs. Noctor, Upper Dargle Road, Bray, where furniture belonging to a Mr. Doyle was being stored.  The alarm was raised and the Bray Fire Brigade, assisted by Constables McCabe and Kenny, and a number of people, took part in the fire fighting operation but most of the furniture was destroyed by the fire before it was finally extinguished.

Good Friday 1919

Friday 18 April was Good Friday and a very busy day for all the clergy of the different denominations in the town due the various religious ceremonies associated with it.  A public meeting scheduled to take place evening to discuss the proposed Cottage Hospital for Bray in the Town Hall was cancelled.  Subsequently re-advertised for Easter Monday, it was then cancelled again, and was finally held in the Town Hall on Monday 28 April.

Strike threatened

Continuing to Saturday 19 April, no settlement had been reached in a dispute between  farmers in the Enniskerry area and the Irish Transport & General Workers Union which related to a demand for a £2 a week minimum.  It was hoped that the threat of strike might be averted.

Machines stolen

On the Esplanade, during an inspection visit by Mr. Kohler from Messrs Dobbyn and Son, Watchmakers, Dame Street, Dublin, to check on the six coin-slot weighting machines that had been installed there the previous year, he discovered that two were missing and two were badly damaged.  As Mr. Kohler had not inspected the machines for some time, he was unable to determine when the machines had been stolen or damaged.

Easter Sunday 1919

Good weather was the main feature of that Easter which brought out many visitors to Bray and the surrounding area with plenty of motor traffic in evidence as well as numerous cyclists with Roundwood and Glendalough  being two very popular destinations which quickly became overcrowded with visitors.

War memorial Enniskerry

On Easter Sunday, 20 April, St. Patrick’s Church, Powercourt (Enniskerry), which had been closed for alterations for several weeks, re-opened for worship.  The closure had been to facilitate the construction of a war memorial in the form of new brass Communion railings and the construction of a chancel.  There was a large attendance at the Service which was conducted by the Rector, Rev. H.C. S. Mecredy, assisted by Rev. W.F. Boyle.  Lord Powerscourt read the Lessons while the Roll of Honour recording the names of those killed in the war were read by the Rector. The Last Post was sounded by Sergeant Howell, O.T.C.  After the Rector had preached the sermon, the war memorial was dedicated by him.

In Enniskerry Village a large trade union meeting took place at which four bands were present, two of which came from Bray.  Speakers included Mr. J. Metcalfe, President of the Bray Trades Council, Mr. Harmon from Ballybrack, and Mr. O’Neill from Dublin.

Easter Monday 1919

On Easter Monday a lady visitor to Powercourt Waterfall sustained a serious injury while playing on a see-saw with some children after it overbalanced and she fell against a tree stump.  Medical assistance was summoned and she was found to have sustained an injury to her spine.  The ambulance of Messrs Miller & Co., Bray, was summoned which  brought her to her home.

Countess visits

Later that week on Friday 25 April, Countess Markievicz, M.P. and Mr. Seán Etchingham, M.P. for East Wicklow, were the guest speakers at an open air meeting of the O’Rahilly Sinn Féin Club outside the Town Hall. Mr. James Hoey presided at the meeting. Countess Markievicz gave a lengthy address covering a variety of issues which were greeted with applause as spoke on each one by the large crowd present. She urged people to support the co-operative movement as she felt that the policy of England at that time was to open in Ireland branch shops of the Big English companies in order to squeeze out the small Irish shopkeeper and to secure a larger economic grip on the country. At the end of her address she was presented with a bouquet of flowers by two girls, the Misses O’Reilly, on behalf the O’Rahilly Sinn Féin Club. Mr. Etchingham addressed the gathering in Irish and thanked them for electing him, concluding by urging people to learn the native language [Irish] and get into the national movement for the present was the time of national salvation. The following night Mr. Etchingham addressed a public meeting in Market Square, Wicklow Town,  in which he asked those present to join the Sinn Fein clubs and the Irish Volunteers, to learn discipline and self control and to give Countess Markievicz a hearty welcome the following day when she should visit and address them.

And that’s how Easter 1919 was in observed in Bray……….

Sources

Books

Ambrose, Joe, Dan Breen and the IRA, Cork, 2006.

Connolly, S.J., Editor, The Oxford Companion to Irish History, Oxford, 1999.

Feeney, Brian, Sinn Féin:  A Hundred Turbulent Years, Dublin, 2002.

Gilbert, Martin, The First World War – A Complete History, New York, 1996.

Horne, John, Editor, Our War – Ireland and the Great War, Dublin, 2008.

Hickey, D.J., and Doherty, J.E., A New Dictionary of Irish History from 1800, Dublin, 2003.

Lalor, Brian, Editor, The Encyclopaedia of Ireland, Dublin, 2003.

Mercer, Derrik, Editor-in-Chief, Chronicle of the 20th Century, London, 1989.

O’Toole, Fintan, The Irish Times Book of the Century, Dublin, 1999.

Rafter, Kevin, Sinn Féin 1905 – 2005: In the Shadow of Gunmen, Dublin, 2005.

Magazines

Britain At War magazine Special Issue – The First World War 1914-1918, An Illustrated History, Stamford, U.K., 2013.

History Ireland Special Issue – Ireland after the Rising, 1916 -18 Changed Utterly, Sandyford, 2017.

Ireland’s Own Special 1919 Issue, Wexford, 2019.

Newspapers

Bray & South Dublin Herald, April 1919.

The Wicklow Newsletter, April 1919.

The Wicklow People, April 1919.

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