Dr. David Humphreys,
bapt "Humphrys", 30th Mar 1861,
there was a suggestion that he was
but think this is confusion with his son Dick,
registered physician and surgeon,
Royal College of Surgeons,
St.Stephen's Green, Dublin,
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland),
King's and Queen's College of Physicians of Ireland),
this became Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
and he is listed as
LRCPI (Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland),
Licentiate in Midwifery,
listed as of Glenstal (just qualified) in
Doctor of Limerick workhouse:
David became Visiting Medical Officer of
This was a public hospital for the poor (didn't charge).
Middle class wouldn't use it.
He is listed as "David Humphrys", doctor, Workhouse, Limerick,
in [Thoms]from 1888 on.
He is listed as "Resident Medical Officer", Limerick Poor Law Union, in
also had private practice at his house,
18 The Crescent,
living there by 1894 (see Christmas card below).
He was an ophthalmic
surgeon (eye specialist).
Obituary says he was a specialist in the treatment of
He was doctor at Limerick workhouse when
was Master of the workhouse.
He knew James O'Mara
when both were single in Limerick, early 1890s.
"David Humphreys" wit the mar of James' young uncle
Dr. Frank O'Mara
Dr. Frank may be how he got to know the O'Maras.
They were both from Limerick, same age, studied medicine in Dublin
(perhaps together), returned to practice in Limerick.
the O'Maras were at school with
In 1895, James O'Mara married Agnes Cashel, niece of the Limerick workhouse Master
Dr.David's death, his son Dick would marry the dau of James O'Mara and Agnes Cashel in 1929.
He was a nationalist.
says that at one time he was
asked to join the (British) Army by a relative,
"who put the proposal to him as normal family procedure".
(Really? No other Humphrys joined the British military.)
He answered "When Ireland has an army, I'll join it".
As a young doctor in Limerick, at medical dinner, there was a toast to
He stopped it.
He became close friends with his wife Nell's brother,
whose nationalism is first seen c.1899.
(Wonder was David an influence.)
the spelling "Humphreys",
sporadically at first,
consistently by time of his death.
It is not known why.
He was the first from Glenstal to do so.
First clear appearance of the spelling is "Dr. Humphreys"
in a Christmas card from him, 1894-95,
from The Crescent, Limerick
David's health deteriorated.
Obituary says his bad health was blamed on
"a chill after a bicycle ride while staying at
Kilkee" around winter 1900-01,
but must be earlier because he was in Egypt that winter.
Maybe it was winter 1899-1900.
Death cert says he had
"abscess of lung (several years)".
about him returning to work at Limerick Union after illness.
His bad health eventually forced him to abandon his practice in The Crescent,
and resign (probably 1900) as Visiting Medical Officer at Limerick Union.
He and Nell and children went to live with her mother
and Anno at Quinsborough, apparently 1900.
(Though Nell and David left their children there and went travelling.)
shows Nell making arrangements in Oct 1900 to clear out their house in The Crescent.
See Childhood of Dick, Sighle and Emmet in Quinsborough.
Trip to Egypt, 1900-01:
David and Nell went travelling to hot climates
to escape the Irish climate
and try to improve his health.
Stayed in England also.
shows they went to
in Nov 1900, stayed there until at least Mar 1901.
shows the children (Dick and Sighle) were left in Ireland (in Quinsborough).
no census return
18 The Crescent in
[Census, 31 Mar 1901].
says the house is "uninhabited".
Dick and Sighle are at Quinsborough in Mar 1901 census.
Their parents are in Egypt.
David and Nell were in
in early 1902.
seems to show David at Quinsborough in May 1902.
He is meant to have subscribed to the building of the new parish church in Murroe
(collection began in 1902).
(todo) See list of subscribers.
David and Nell are living Quinsborough as at
[Deed, Sept 1902],
listed as "Humphrys".
Trip to Egypt, 1902-03:
Living Quinsborough as at
Emmet's birth 3 Oct 1902.
David and Nell immediately went travelling again.
shows them in
on 25 Oct 1902.
again in Dec 1902, without Dick and Sighle.
Unclear if brought the baby or not.
See postcards from Egypt to
Dick and Sighle at Quinsborough,
Not sure if they ever saw their father again.
(todo) See also
Nell and children carried on living
with mother and Anno.
Her mother died Dec 1903.
She and children and Anno lived there.
(the last grandparent) died 6 Feb 1909.
Quinsborough, moved to Dublin with children and Anno.
[Mac Eoin, 1980]
says they came to Dublin on 8 Mar 1909.
Stayed in Russell Hotel, Dublin, for very short time in 1909.
Ballsbridge, for very short time in 1909.
54 Northumberland Rd, Ballsbridge.
Listed there in
St.Enda's accounts 1909.
Listed at 54 Northumberland Rd in
[Thoms]1910 to 1917.
Nell and Anno's brother
returned to Ireland,
and came to Dublin independently of his siblings, in May 1909.
Nell and family only settled a few weeks, May 1909, when the maid said
"Mr.Brown to see you".
Nell said "Who?"
It was The O'Rahilly,
who had arrived from Philadelphia a day or two before
recalled that she and the other
children were delighted - they knew no one in Dublin,
now had three American cousins to play with.
moved to 40 Herbert Park, Ballsbridge, 1910,
close to Nell and Anno on Northumberland Rd.
Nell's children grew up with O'Rahilly relations, not Humphrys.
Nell becomes a revolutionary:
became a prominent revolutionary in Dublin,
and his sisters Nell and Anno followed.
Nell's family reverted to the old spelling "O'Rahilly" from c.1909 onwards.
Nell and her children became very republican.
fell out with the Limerick Humphrys, who were more Free State/Fine Gael.
Sighle in radio interview
recalls how out of step they were with the politics of their neighbours in wealthy, unionist South Dublin.
Nell sent her son Dick to the radical
St. Enda's school,
Dick entered Sept 1909.
at 54 Northumberland Rd
[Census, 2 April 1911].
Nell and Anno and children live with 2 servants,
Dick away at St.Enda's,
whole family speaks Irish,
they filled out the census form in Irish,
fine house with 12 rooms.
The O'Rahilly was an organiser of the
Howth gun running
Northumberland Rd was used as an address for purchase of arms.
The 1916 Rising:
was a leader of the
Dick fought with his uncle in the Rising.
Nell sent medals of
Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
to Pearse to give to the men in the GPO.
The family was still living
54 Northumberland Rd
at the time.
From their house they witnessed
The Battle of Mount Street Bridge,
Wed 26th Apr 1916.
"Here in our own road two men held a house
and there were over 90 soldiers killed or wounded.
Anna and Sighle saw nearly all who fell".
In fact, there were 28 British killed and over 200 wounded.
Sighle describes it
in "Ireland: A Television History".
This was the rebels' most successful engagement of the Rising.
Nell's brother The O'Rahilly died in action.
Rebels surrendered Sat 29 Apr.
Nell's son Dick was captured, imprisoned.
Nell identified her brother's body on Tue 2 May 1916.
soldiers raided the Humphreys house on Northumberland Road,
house searched, Nell arrested.
Nell was imprisoned for a short time, but moved around a lot.
[Mac Eoin, 1980].
At first she was under day-arrest in grounds of RDS,
returning home each night.
Then she was transferred to Richmond Barracks,
She was moved from
on 9 May 1916.
Her offence is listed in [Mountjoy prison register] as "Rebellion".
She was prisoner number 1015.
Mountjoy prison register says she was released 16 May 1916.
Letter of 18 May
says she has been released.
[1916 Roll of Honour]
is wrong to say released
letter to her sister-in-law
after her release in May 1916,
telling the story.
"We have been shunned by almost all our society acquaintances"
but she doesn't care:
"it is great to be alive now ...
You will say I am heroic and absurd, but it is what I feel."
wrote on 26 May 1916 to
in prison in England
Both Nell and her sister
became active revolutionaries in 1916-23 period.
[Ernie O'Malley letters, 1991]
says of his group of volunteers:
"One night in 1917 .. our Captain stopped the drill and said
'There is a lady, a sister of The O'Rahilly, about to inspect the parade
and if I see a smile on any of your faces, God help you when she leaves'
.. Mrs. Ellen Humphreys came into the room and gave each of us a medal of
Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
It was hard to keep from laughing as our Company was a 'tough' one".
Nell and her
family moved to 14 Herbert Park
(near her brother's widow at 40 Herbert Park).
[Mac Eoin, 1980]
says they moved there 1918,
but maybe 1917 since they are listed there in
listed at 14 Herbert Park in
1918 to 1921.
War of Independence 1919-21:
Nell was elected a Republican member of
Pembroke Urban District Council
in the borough and urban local elections of 15 Jan 1920.
(todo) See letter of 20 Jan 1920 in
"on her success at the polls".
See undated letter
house, 9 Belgrave Rd, Rathmines.
There was a
raid of 14 Herbert Park by British on Easter Saturday, 3 Apr 1920.
Nell built house at 36 Ailesbury Rd
listed there in
from 1922 edn on.
House on Ailesbury Rd was
safe house in War of Independence 1920-21.
Ailesbury Rd was
raided by British
Easter Sunday 1921 (27 Mar 1921), Dick and Emmet arrested.
"Mrs. Mary E. Humphreys" is listed among Urban Councillors for Pembroke Urban District in
Chairman of Pembroke council is Bartholomew O'Connor
(who must be
In prison, 1922-23:
Nell was jailed Nov 1922 to July 1923 - until after the Civil War ended.
She was at various times
in jail with
She was at first
in 1922 with Sighle.
was briefly jailed with them.
All three went on hunger strike, Nov 1922, for a few days.
Nancy was freed on 11 Nov 1922.
See letters of Nov 1922.
and other Republican prisoners
caused trouble for the authorities,
barricading their cell.
Sighle was taken away to solitary confinement.
Nell was moved to
Kilmainham Gaol in Feb 1923
[McCoole, 1997 and 2003]
says Nell was in Kilmainham
as at Apr 1923,
and says she was one of the older
Cumann na mBan
leaders organising the women prisoners.
says she was known as
"O/C Prayers" and "O/C God"
because of always getting them to pray.
Nell was moved in Apr-June 1923 (probably in end Apr) to
North Dublin Union (NDU).
ended May 1923.
Nell was moved from North Dublin Union back to Kilmainham
on 14 June 1923
She was released 18 July 1923.
Sighle and Anno stayed in prison until Nov 1923
[McCoole, 1997, 2003].
Nell and Anno had a summer house at
(in the Gaeltacht).
Like her brother The O'Rahilly, she made Irish the spoken language of her home.
Her will is dated 23 Jan 1939.
Typed copy in
lifelong Irish republican revolutionary.
"Sighle" is the Irish spelling of "Sheila", pronounced the same.
She was often called "Sheila"
but she herself used "Sighle".
Think she also used the alternate Irish form "Síle".
born 26 Feb 1899 at the family home,
18 The Crescent,
gives location, but date is wrong (see below).
See birth cert
is a letter from Dick in 1916 about her birthday.
says Nell thinks it is 27 Feb, but Anno thinks it is 26 Feb.
The baptism entry says born 26 Feb
and that is contemporary,
so seems most reliable.
bapt "Margaret", 28 Feb 1899,
St.Michael's RC church, Limerick,
sp Timothy Humphreys
and "Ellen Rahilly" (must be grandmother).
See transcript in
The baptism proves that the birth date of 12 Mar 1899 on her
birth cert is
NOT born on "29 Feb 1900".
She sometimes claimed to be a leap year baby.
1900 was not a leap year
At time of birth
her mother was at
where Dr.David was working.
They said "Sighle was nearly born in the workhouse".
Registered as "Margaret" at birth, and
still listed as such at marriage
Apparently named "Margaret Mary" after her grandmother Ryan,
or else after the 17th century saint,
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.
registered using the new spelling "Humphreys".
Letter of 14 Mar 1901 in
says that her first words were: "No indeed".
born 3 Oct 1902, Quinsborough
(where his father was now living)
NOT born 1903.
See birth cert
He was named after Robert Emmet,
whose centenary was due the next year in 1903.
His father was very sick at the time, said "call him Emmet".
Shows how nationalist family was even in Dr.David's time.
Dr. David ran up green flag on
flagpole at Quinsborough when Emmet born.
He couldn't be baptised Emmet (not accepted by church as valid name).
apparently after the 17th century Jesuit,
Claude de la Colombiere,
imprisoned in England
(and was later made a saint).
never knew his father.
He kept his father's death anniversary
faithfully all his life.
Surname at birth registered as "Humphreys".
A cup won by Dr. David Humphreys
with his horse "Jacob"
Dublin Agricultural Show
RDS, Dublin, Apr 1897.
The show was held 20-23 Apr 1897.
23 Apr 1897]
shows Dr. David and "Jacob" in
a jumping competition on 22 Apr
does not however indicate that he won (or was placed).
Yet this cup exists.
"M. Humphreys" of Dublin
is found coming 2nd in
another competition on same day, with the horse "Navan".
This might be his brother Mick.
"One of my most bitter thoughts was - Would David be ashamed of me,
making such a muddle of my life that I was in one prison
and Dick in another?"
writing in May 1916 after 1916 Rising.
"To be honest I never had such an enjoyable time; not since I was at school, there were so many of us here together."
writing in Jan 1923
about Christmas 1922 in Mountjoy prison with all the other Republican women prisoners.
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