31 July 2016
‘The Doctor, the Countess and the Organist:
1916 tales from Saint John’s, Sandymount’
I am back in the Church of Saint John the Evangelist in Sandymount this morning [31 July 2016], presiding and preaching at the Sung Eucharist at 11 a.m.
This month’s edition of the Church Review tells how Saint John’s is planning an exhibition for Heritage Week next month [25-28 August 2016] as part of the programme for the 1916-2016 centenary commemorations.
The exhibition – ‘The Doctor, the Countess and the Organist: 1916 Tales from Saint John’s, Sandymount’ – reflects the connections between Saint John’s and its people with the events of 1916, both at home and abroad.
The exhibition focusses principally on the dissonant narratives of a Sandymount resident, Dr Charles Calthrop de Burgh Daly, and Cecil Grange McDowell, the organist of Saint John’s. At the time, the Incumbent of Saint John’s was the Revd Fletcher Sheridan Le Fanu.
Dr Charles Calthrop de Burgh Daly of 71 Park Avenue, Sydney Parade, was a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps and was fired on by Countess Markievicz in Dublin in April 1916. He was standing in the window of the University Club when Countess Markievicz stepped from behind a statue in Saint Stephen’s Green and fired at him.
Cecil Grange McDowell, from Carlow, was the organist and choirmaster at Saint John’s and a vestry member. He was also an engineer with Dublin Corporation and an artist who specialised in architectural work. He went on to change his name to Cathal Mac Dubhghaill. He forsook his background to join the rebellion in 1916 and he wrote the first arrangement of the National Anthem.
While he was fighting with Eamon de Valera at Boland’s Mills in Easter Week 1916, he was baptised a Roman Catholic by a Father O’Reilly from Westland Row.
After the rising, he was prisoner in Richmond Barracks and Frongoch, and in 1921 he married the poet Maeve Cavanagh MacDowell of the Irish Citizen Army. She was a sister of the cartoonist, Ernest Cavanagh, who was killed in 1916 and who is remembered especially for his cartoons in the The Irish Worker of William Martin Murphy during the lockout in 1913, depicting him as ‘William Murder Murphy’ and the ‘Vulture of Dartry Hall.’
Cecil McDowell or Cathal Mac Dubhghaill died 10 years after the Rising in Nice in 1926.
The exhibition will recall other elements in the life of Saint John’s during 1916, including the loss of Dr Daly’s younger son, Charlie, during the Battle of the Somme, and the launch of a book by Emily French de Burgh Daly, the wife of Dr Daly and a sister of the songwriter Percy French. The book, An Irishwoman in China describes the time when the family lived in Manchuria, where Dr Daly was the medical officer at the British consulate.
Alyson Gavin, a genealogist and churchwarden of Saint John’s has researched the memorial plaque in erected Saint John’s in 1920 and naming local men who fought in World War I.
Second Lieutenant Arthur Charles de Burgh Daly of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers was only 19 when he was killed in action at the Battle of Ginchy on 9 September 1916. His parents had lived in Newchwang in Manchuria, in China, where he was born. When his parents returned to live in Ireland, he went to school in Worthing and Tonbridge Wells, and was planning to have go up to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.
But on leaving school he obtained a commission on 26 August 1915 and was sent to the front on 19 July 1916. He went straight into the fighting on the Somme and took part in the Battle of Guillemont on 6 September.
In his last letter home, written on 8 September, he said: “We attack Ginchy tomorrow. In case of accidents, I played the game two days ago, and will, please God, tomorrow.” On the following morning, he was killed at the head of his men charging the German trenches. He got no further than four or five yards before he was shot through the brain by two bullets from a machine gun, and was killed instantly. He is buried at Delville Wood cemetery in Longueval, France.
Due to an administrative error, his family received a telegram on 18 September 1916 giving his date of death as 4 September. However, his letter dated 8 September, the actual day before his death, had already arrived at his family home in Sandymount. His family believed some mistake had been made and they hoped that he was still alive. His father, Dr Charles de Burgh Daly, wrote to the War Office pleading for clarification. The War Office eventually established that the wrong date had been given erroneously.
His elder brother, Major Ulick de Burgh Daly of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, was wounded at Richebourg L’Avoue on 9 May 1915. Shortly after his return to the Front in June 1916, he was invalided home with appendicitis. He was subsequently “mentioned in dispatches” for distinguished services.
Their sister Lucy was in the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nursing service, where she served in hospitals around Dublin and at a British army base in Boulogne before being demobilised in 1919.
Another name on the memorial in Saint John’s is Captain Edward Stafford-King-Harman, who was the heir to the vast Rockingham estate in north Co Roscommon and to his family title of baronet. The family had moved to Taney, Dundrum, but attended Saint John’s Church, Sandymount. He married Olive Pakenham-Mahon of Strokestown Park, Co Longford and after joining the Irish Guards in 1911, and was later posted to Flanders in September 1914.
He was reported missing after intense fighting at Klein Zillebeke on 6 November 1914. Reports indicate that Harman’s company were holding the frontline when they were surrounded and cut off from the main body of British troops. For some time, there was confusion about whether he had been killed or captured as a prisoner of war.
During the eight months that followed, Edward’s family wrote continuously to the War Office, seeking confirmation and an indication of his status and the possible location of his body in France. In June 1915, the family were finally notified that he was listed as “killed in action in Ypres” in Flanders on 6 November 1914.
Posthumously, he was promoted to the rank of captain in the midst of confusion surrounding his death. Edward Stafford-King-Harman was honoured in the Irish Life magazine on 30 July 1915 in a supplement entitled “our heroes from Mons to the Somme August 1914 to July 1916.”
At the time of his death, his wife, Olive was pregnant at the time and she gave birth to their daughter Lettice Mary Strafford-King-Harman on 10 April 1915. Olive and Lettice returned to live at Strokestown, and the Rockingham estate was inherited by Edward’s brother, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Cecil William Francis Stafford-King-Harman. Sir Cecil sold off what remained of the Rockingham Estate in the early 1960s and died in 1987. Most of the estate was bought by the Land Commission, and a large part of this land later became part of Lough Key Forest Park.
Private John Drew Mitchell of 21 Ailesbury Road, who is also named on the memorial, was a son of Frank William Drew Mitchell, the Secretary of the Congested Districts Board, and Emily Wild. He died on the same day as Charles de Burgh Daly, at the battle of Ginchy. As Trooper JD Mitchell, he transferred from the Royal Horse Guards to the 1st Battalion, the Gloucestershire Regiment, on 13 May 1916 and he entered the conflict on 23 May. He received a fatal wound and died in action at the age of 28. He was buried at Heily Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L’Abbé.
The other names on the memorial include: Second Lieutenant Thomas Coote Cummins of the York and Lancaster Regiment, who died of wounds in France; Lieutenant Eric Greaves, MC, of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers; Private Trevor Eyre Symes, of the Royal Highlanders; Second Lieutenant Ivan Philip Watson of the Royal Irish Rifles; Second Lieutenant John Godfrey Baird Dunne of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, who died in Persia; Corporal Ronald Stuart Baird Dunne, of the Army Service Corps, who was killed in action in Thessaloniki; Corporal Henry Augustus Kavanagh of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, who was killed in action in Palestine; and Private Arthur Thomas Avison, Machine Gun Corps.
A verse below the memorial says: “As gold in the furnace hath he tried them and received them as a burnt offering.”
The exhibition at Saint John’s closes on 28 August with a recital by the organist, Eoghan Ward, featuring music from both narratives, including pieces by Cecil MacDowell.
Eoghan Ward has been the resident organist at Saint John’s since 2012. He began his musical career as a chorister in the Palestrina Choir at Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral under Ite O’Donovan. He received his first organ lessons at Clongowes Wood College under Raymond O’Donnell and, after reading music at Trinity College Dublin, he studied organ under Dr Kerry Houston.
Admission to all events is free. The opening hours are: Thursday-Saturday, 25-27 August 2016, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday 28 August, exhibition 12 noon to 3 p.m., recital 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Saint John’s Church is located on Park Avenue, Sandymount. The nearest DART station is at Sydney Parade. Buses 1 and 47 stop at the church, and buses 4, 7 and 8 stop nearby at Ailesbury Road.
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Fascinating stuff, Patrick. Of particular interest to me, and my family, is that the house in which I grew up on the Burrow Road in Sutton, north Dublin, a Victorian villa called "Walmer," (still extant, although most of the garden was sold off many years ago for apartments) and which was built in 1897, was ( acoording to Thom's Directory for that year) originally occupied by a "Miss King-Harman" who was almost certainly related to the two officers mentioned in your article. Growing up in Howth, there was a local rumour that Walmer, which was built on land which, like almost all land on the Howth peninsula, was part of the Howth Castle estate, had been constructed by the last Earl of Howth, who died in 1904, as a seaide home for his then mistress, i.e. Miss King-Harman. As they both came from the same aristocratic stratum of society (NOT, I hasten to add, that of the common-or-garden Thompson family who arrived at Walmer in 1959) I think this supposedly Apochryphal story has, in fact, some strong basis in truth. Accordingly, I would be grateful if you would put me in touch with the genealogist concerned so that we may compare notes, so to speak. You should know that my youngest brother, Aubrey, was married at St. John's in 2002 to Aislin Macdonald of Brighton Vale, Monkstown, and Argyllshire, and that they now live in Kinross, Scotland, where they are parishioners of the local Scottish Episcopal Church.
Very interesting read, Patrick. The only thing that I would query is when you say that the early sheet music of 'A Soldiers' Song' acknowledges Mac Dughghaill as the 'composer'. I know it's a matter of semantics, but, he was the 'arranger' rather than the 'composer', which is quite a different thing. Paddy Heaney was the 'composer' and the story of the tune's composition is in Seamus De Burca's bio of O Cearnaigh titled 'The Soldier's Song' (Chapter 4). Heaney was not able to notate music (he picked out the tune on a melodeon), so the first notation actually was done by Sean Rogan who trained and conducted the Emmet Choir in Dublin, of which Heaney was a member. The biography is a fascinating read as some of the chapters were written by O Cearnaigh and others by De Burca (his nephew I believe).
Patrick, reading your Blog of July 31st on ‘The Doctor, the Countess and the Organist: 1916 tales from Saint John’s, Sandymount’ I was taken with the references to the King-Harman family. I recently saw an advertisement (https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/10487/lot/144/) for the auction of three medals won by a member of the co-lateral branch of this family, Captain L.H. King-Harman, Royal Flying Corps (late Royal Horse Artillery). The sale reference to Lot 144 was:
Three to Captain L.H. King-Harman, Royal Flying Corps late Royal Horse Artillery, 1914-15 Star (Lieut. & Adjt. L.H. King-Harman. R.H.A.); British War and Victory Medal (Capt L.H. King-Harman). Mounted as worn. Sold for £470 (€543) inc. Premium.
Captain Lawrence Hope King-Harman, R.H.A., attached R.F.C,. was the elder son of Sir Charles and Lady King-Harman, and grandson of General Sir Robert Biddulph, G.C.B., G.C.M.G. He had been educated at Bradfield and R.M.A. Woolwich; Obtained his commission in the Field Artillery in July 1909, and joined his battery in India. In June, 1915, he was selected for the Royal Horse Artillery, and took part in the Mohmand Expedition on the North-West Frontier, for gallant conduct in which, he was mentioned in despatches. Early in 1916 he responded to a call for volunteers for training as observers in the Royal Flying Corps in India, and proceeded to Mesopotamia in June, attached to that branch of the service (the 30th Squadron Royal Flying Corps) On arrival at the front he was placed in temporary command of a field battery, and rejoined the R.F.C. shortly before his death. He was killed in an accident while flying on October 26th 1916, age 27 and was buried in Amara War Cemetry, Iraq.
In a previous generation of the King-Harman family, the Hon. Laurence Harman King-Harman (6th February 1816 - 10 October 1875 — second son of Lord and Lady Lorton) came to notice in the controversy involving The Reverend Charles Marlay Fleury D.D., Chaplain of the Molyneux Asylum for Blind Females, 34 Peter Street, Dublin, and The trustees of the Asylum. This is an extract of my working chapter dealing with the history of that asylum, in my History of Blindness in Irish Society. 1 of three.
2 of three:
“With the decline in that quarter of the city around Peter Street and the removal of ‘persons of quality’ to the new suburbs, the income from the asylum chapel dropped dramatically. Apart from its money worries, the Molyneux was about to face into an altogether different crisis which would mar its reputation for some number years. The Reverend Charles Marlay Fleury D.D., who was to be associated with the asylum for over 20 years, lived in Upper Leeson Street which had become a fashionable suburb of the city (He would later be a central player in the removal of the Molyneux Asylum rom Peter Street to Leeson Park.) He was a renowned preacher, having been active in the church in Waterford, and ran a successful school for young Protestant gentlemen. He was accounted ‘a man of great popular talents whose preaching kept the church always crowded by a respectable congregation’.45 It was during his term of office that a major controversy threatened the stability of the asylum. In July 1941, on the closure of the old Molyneux chapel, Peter Street, a marble plaque was removed from there and placed in St. Mary’s Church, Mary Street — where it can be seen today, above the door leading to the toilets in what is now Keatings Restaurant — where the founder of Simpson’s Hospital for Blind and Gouty Men, George Simpson worshipped. Reading the plaque, one is drawn to the undoubted pathos and honorific of its sentiments and in the cold insular crypt of time, one accords due credit to its subject. But the Rev. Fleury appears to have had tendencies which the plaque does not record — according to two pamphlets published in 1857. They claimed that the decline of the asylum and the abrogation of the duties of the trustees were mostly due to him; and his arrogation of duties within the establishment or his acquiescence with a regime of ‘mismanagement of the asylums affairs’ were the reasons why the publishers had taken pen in hand in the first place.
The two publications were Truth, or a Review of the 14th report of the Molyneux Asylum, and The Veil partly withdrawn; or further revelations in connection with the Molyneux Asylum — both by L. H. King-Harman (Lawrence Harman) and Henry Allnutt. Both were subscribers to the asylum; Allnutt, an Englishmen, was a land drainage engineer and land agent with offices at 61 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin and at 49a Lincolns Inn Field, London; L. H. King-Harman, was from Newcastle, Ballymahon, Co. Longford, who also had a Dublin address at 8 Ely Place. Both pamphlets are self-regarding, slightly repetitious and might be considered a single publication.
NOW 3 of Several:
The controversy arose following the publication of the 14th report of the asylum in April 1856 — following a 25 year period in which it published no report whatsoever. This was contrary to its rules and constitution and the report really drew friendly fire. The aggrieved subscribers expected more information ‘But this report for 1855, far from giving the information and statistics desired and expected, presented a programme of the governing body shewing how completely the ancient constitution of the charity had been revolutionised’.46 The report listed those connected with the management of the asylum: Patron, Sir Capel Molyneux Bart. Trustees, the Right Rev. The Lord Bishops of Cashel, Waterford and Co. Rev. W. Cleaver, Rev. Charles S. Stanford, D.D., Alexander Ferrier, Esq., Charles Moore, Esq., Mr. W. Watson, Esq., William Armstrong, Esq., Q.C., L. Bickerstaff, Esq.; Chaplain, Rev. Charles M. Fleury, MA, Assistant chaplain, Rev. R. J. Vignoles MA.; Treasurer, The Royal Bank, Foster Place; Physician, F. Churchill, Esq., M.D., Stephen’s Green; Surgeon, and Oculist, R. Wilde, Esq. F.R.S.I.; Apothecary, William D. Moore, Esq., BA, 8 South Anne Street; Matron Miss Hines; Assistant Secretary and Collector, Mr. T. Evans — note that four ‘clerical’ trustees had been added to the five original trustees, contrary to the original rule and without evidence adduced to show a formal, legal sanction. The pamphlets described the report as ‘a pitiable argument for the abstract principle of maintaining blind females’… and the authors were ‘startled by the fact that while income had greatly increased the number of objects of charity had remained ‘quam proxime’, the same, and a debt of £203. 5s. 3d appeared due to the treasurer’.47
Following Allnutt’s review of the report some reasonable questions were put to the trustees in May, 1856. So reasonable were his requests that ‘a number of gentlemen connected with the institution appended their names to the concluding paragraph of his address: ‘We the undersigned think reform necessary and although not prepared to give our assent from want of information, to everything contained in this address, we still hope it will meet a due and wise consideration from the trustees and friends of the institution’, Laurence King-Harman, Newcastle, Ballymahon, John Robinson, Herbert Street, S. Lennox L. Bigger, York Street, Edward Anderson, Grafton Street, John Horgan, York Street, George L. Cathcart, Baggot, Street, Francis Eland, Lennox Street, and William Parker, Richmond Street. The basic complaints to the trustees were that ‘the expenditure was excessive for the good done by the institution; that their balance sheet ought not to have been published without the sanction of auditors; that their deed and rules had been forgotten; that the purity of the elections had been infringed; and that the body of 15 visiting ladies with their noble guardian, whose duty it was to manage the institution and sit at the board with the five trustees had been gradually got rid of and were supplied in their place with a few reading ladies without power to advise or control bad management; that the dietary was very inferior whilst its cost was lavish’.48
4 of Several:
The trustees and friends appear to have taken little notice of the pamphlet, initially, except for the circulation ‘of a gross calumny that the writer was mad’ with a view to lessen its importance and deteriorate its value. But soon the ‘committee’ of gentlemen responded and the trustees, after some prevarication, eventually agreed to allow an investigation which was commenced at the asylum on July 11th 1857, under the chairmanship of Mr. Charles Moore, senior member of the trustees. Mr. Allnutt requested that he be allowed to bring his witnesses before the trustees and that the women of the asylum themselves be called and allowed to give evidence. In answering the questions raised in the pamphlet, the chairman denied ‘that they were guided by any general or by-laws, and the other trustees did not seem aware of the existence of any’. Lennox L. Bigger produced John Crosthwaite’s Sermon of 1815 to show the intentions of the founder and urged that the absence of reports removed a proper check on the collector. The trustees promised that a yearly report should be published in accordance with the rule. They next discussed the list of candidates, the greater number of whom appeared stationary on the list for years — the latest and youngest on the list were almost always the successful candidates. The demand was that the list should be revised and the names of the recommenders ‘should be added to each name, as in the voting list, which would give opportunity to the voters for making enquiries’. The trustees undertook to carry out the revision. On the list of life members the name of a long deceased baronet was shown in the 1855 report and this had been mistaken for the then baronet bearing the same name, but who had never subscribed to the asylum. Allnutt and his ‘committee’ also complained that ‘very little instruction had been given to the pupils, by teaching them on raised letters’. They produced reports from similar institutions in Glasgow and London containing lists of publications at very moderate prices, where as the 1855 report alleged that ‘the publications are few and expensive’. They next dealt with the balance sheet which in the first place was unaudited, and showed a closing debt of £203 5s. 3d although it opened with a credit of £50 9s. 2d. The cost of maintenance was higher in the Molyneux than any other similar institution, while the ‘dietary was of a very poor and comfortless description and the outlay for clothing seemed exorbitant; also the income which formerly accrued to the asylum from the properties it owned in Bride Street was now lost, as these were occupied by inferior officers of the asylum who appeared to pay nothing’.49
Last of Several:
This was finally settled by the arbitration of the Honorable Mountifort Longfield (then of St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin). The findings and terms of settlement were later printed at the Educational Depository, Kildare Place, in 1914.
Cecil MacDowell was my mother's uncle. It is good to see some interest in him, as I think he was a bright and enthusiastic young man.
Cecil's youngest nephew (my uncle) just died in British Columbia, Canada at the age of 80.
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