Emily Weddall

1867 – 1952

Emily Annabella Maynard Burke was born in Edenderry Co. Offaly. She was the third daughter of Minister William John Burke, Church of Ireland, and Emily McArthur from Ardglas Co Down. She attended school in Dublin and qualified as a nurse and worked in Sir Patrick Dun’s hospital. She moved to Russia where a wealthy family employed her to help under privileged children. This family would holiday in France and bring Emily with them. It was there she became fluent in French.

She married a ships captain Edward Weddall 20 years her senior. When he retired they moved to Achill and bought an old school house. She cared for her husband until his death. She employed sculptor William Pearse (brother of Padraig Pearse) to make a celtic cross for her husbands grave. The Church of Ireland community objected to the erection of the cross in the cemetery, however after threatening to exhume the remains her wish was granted.

Her love of the Irish language was sparked in Achill. She became the president of the Gráinne Mhaol Branch of Conradh Na Gaeilge in Achill and she founded Scoil Acla. She bought land and built a Hall in Dooagh for Scoil Acla for the teaching of Irish, Ceilí’s, dance and drama classes and studies of Irish culture. In 1914 Mrs Weddall and Darrell Figgis were present at the funeral of Diarmuid O’Donovan Rossa when Padraig Pearse gave his famous oration. They laid the first wreath on the grave ‘Ó Acaill’ a clear indication of the Schools importance at that time.

She moved to Leitir Mór in Connemara to help treat the people who had contracted TB. Due to financial hardship in the 1920’s she had to sell her house in Achill and move to Dublin and return to here nursing career. All this time she was a strong campaigner for the rights of the native Irish people. She died on the 24th of November 1952 and is buried in the republican plot in Glasnevin Cemetary.


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