Striving for a world transformed by justice and peace - a TL from 1827

Ruairi and Teresa didn't get on with William and Harriet because of personality differences. The first couple were laid back, easy going and tolerant. The second couple were the opposite. Both couples were practising Catholics, but Ruari's and Teresa's Catholicism was open hearted and tolerant, and put love first. Harriet's and William's was narrow minded, rigid and intolerant and gave priority to laws and rules. This was shown by their condemnation of Niamh for living with Brendan and becoming pregnant by him, before they were married. Maire and her siblings took after their parents in their type of Catholicism, as Niamh did after her uncle and aunt.
Last edited:
Aneurin and Maire enjoyed walking hand in hand in the countryside around Wexford. They walked on a footpath by the River Slaney, with wild and plentiful wildlife in the area. (1) They also walked to the long and sandy Curraclae Beach, about seven and a half miles north-east of Wicklow. (2) They had a day trip by train to Enniscorthy, and explored the town. (3)

In the afternoon of Saturday 15 April 1899, Nye, Maire, Niamh and Brendan went to a public hall in Wexford, where Nye read a selection of his poems. His poems were not so well known in Ireland as in Britain, but the hall was full and the audience was appreciative. Among his poems he read were some he had written about the River Slaney and the countryside around Wexford.

After the reading, questions were invited from the audience. The first one was from a woman sitting in the front row. She asked Nye,
"Do you regret cheating on your wife by committing adultery with Sian Owen and Arwen Smith? You should be ashamed of yourself for cheating on her."

"I do regret. Maire has forgiven me."

"Did you love Miss Owen and Mrs Smith? You had several children by them."

"I loved them and I love my children by them."

Some people in the audience expressed their approval of the woman's questions. The other questions were about his poems. Afterwards he signed copies of his poetry books.

Brendan Collins was a Commonwealth Party councillor on Wexford Borough Council, which had a Commonwealth majority.

His and Niamh's eldest daughter, Sinead, wanted to be a priest. She was twenty-one years old and a nurse at Wexford hospital. She was caring, compassionate and devout. She went to Mass and received Holy Communion every Sunday and Holyday of Obligation, and other days when she had time. Her parents and siblings supported her in her desire. But the priests she told, said that the Catholic Church would never ordain women to the priesthood. She told them that God was calling her to the priesthood. It was a great injustice that the Church excluded women from the priesthood, because of their sex.

(1) See

(2) See

(3) See
Last edited:
In the evening of Thursday 13 April 1899, Maire, Niamh and Sinead were discussing Sinead's desire to be a Catholic priest.

'Although you are an intelligent woman, my love, and read books about theology which you borrow from our local library, your kindness and compassion are more important than book learning' Niamh said to her daughter.

Sinead shared her vision of the Catholic Church. 'I see the Church as like a hospital for the healing of people's spiritual and physical ills. Aware of, and open to the joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, of human beings. The Church is primarily the Body of Christ, rather an institution. In theory all people are equal in the Church, but in practice men are superior to women, and clergy to lay people.'
'The mission of the Church is to bring to people the joy and beauty of the Gospel, and show them Christ's love. It must be humble, loving and fully open to the Holy Spirit. I am a member of the British Guild for the Ordination of Women.' Maire said,

'We are members of the Irish Guild.' Niamh and Sinead said.

'I say prayers to patients in hospital when they are dying. I don't anoint them, but I ask God to bless them'. Sinead told Maire and her mother.

'If you become a priest you can't get married.' Niamh reminded Sinead.

'I know, but I don't mind if I don't'.

'What she means is that she's not courting anyone.' Niamh said.

'Anyway, I think priests should be free to get married if they want to. They could in the first thousand years in the Church.

One of the theological books Sinead had read was Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine , by John Henry Newman, and published in 1845.
'I'm going to have a baby', Niamh's and Brendan's 18 year old daughter, Roisin, announced at dinner in the evening of Saturday 15 April 1899.

'Are you sure?' Her mother asked.

'I've missed two monthlies and I'm sick in the mornings.' (1)

'I'm so pleased for you, love, if you are. Niamh said.

'I am.' Niamh gave her daughter a hug. So did her father, her sister, Sinead, and Maire.

'Who have you been riding?' (2) Her 17 year old brother, Patrick, asked.

'Gerard Nugent of course. We're going to get married.'

'It'll have to be before you have your baby.' Liam said.

(1) Monthlies were periods.

(2) To ride is Irish slang to have sexual intercourse.
Last edited:
Roisin Collins worked in the Good to Wear workers' co-operative clothes shop in Wexford. She had a talent for design so she was given responsibility for shop displays. She also worked on the till serving customers. Her boyfriend, Gerard Nugent, was twenty-three years old and worked at Wexford port.

The Collins went to Mass at the Franciscan Friary in Wexford. (1)

(1) See
Last edited:
In the evening of Wednesday 12 April 1899, Brendan took a photograph of Niamh and their children, and Aneurin and Maire. He used a hand-held snapshot camera. Then Aneurin took a photo of them with Brendan in it. The photos were black and white. The following Brendan took themb to a local chemist to be developed. He collected the developed photos in the morning of 15 April, and gave one to Maire and Nye.

Roisin and Gerard were married at the Franciscan Friary in Wexford on Saturday 8 July 1899. She was five months pregnant. Their families were there, and also Maire and Nye. They had come to Wexford for the weekend and wete staying with Niamh and Brendan.

Roisin gave birth to a baby boy on 28 October. She and Gerard named him Tadgh (ptonounced Tie-g. The name means poet or storyteller.
Last edited:
The poet and writer Alice Meynell was the National Secretary of the British Guild for the Ordination of Women. (1) There were also Secretaries for Scotland and Wales, and for the English regions. Its head office was in London. It published a monthly magazine and pamphlets. Its members wrote letters to Catholic newspapers and magazines. Maire Griffiths' sisters and adult children, and Aneurin were members. Her priest brother Padraig, was supportive, though not a member. The Secretary of the Irish Guild was Margaret Pearse. (2) Its head office was in Dublin. Men could become members of the Guilds, and hold offices in them.

(1) See

(2) See
On Tuesday morning, 19 September 1899, Siobhan Aherne, and her husband Martin Aherne, travelled by train from Swansea to Cardiff. They had come to Cardiff for Siobhan to make a phonograph record of Irish and Welsh folk songs with South Wales Records. There were seven Irish songs on one side of the record, and seven Welsh songs on the other side.

Siobhan was 39 years old and a younger sister of Maire Griffiths. She was a singer at the Star Theatre, Swansea. She also sang at clubs and pubs in Swansea. She had a very good alto voice. She was heard by a talent spotter from South Wales Records and invited to come to Cardiff to record some songs. South Wales Records was a workers co-operative. Most of their workers were men, but a few were women. They rented a building in a side street a little way from Cardiff city centre.

After the recording session, Siobhan and Martin walked to the large Bute Park in Cardiff. (1) There they ate the picnic lunches they bought with them, and enjoyed the beauty of the park. From there they walked to Cardiff railway station and got a train back to Swansea.

They had six children, four boys and two girls. The oldest was sixteen years old, and the youngest was ten. Their four eldest children were boys and their two youngest were girls. Martin worked at an iron works in Swansea. He took a day off work out of his holiday entitlement.

(1) See
Last edited:
Liam Aherne (born 21 July 1883), the eldest son of Martin and Roisin Aherne, worked in a shop in Swansea which sold phonographs and phonograph records. As well as records of classical, folk and contemporary popular music, the shop sold records of ragtime music and spirituals from the southern states of the USA.
Last edited:
In November 1898 the cabinet decided that there would be a Festival of Britain and Ireland in 1900 to celebrate the industrial, political, scientific and technological achievements of the nineteenth century, and its cultural changes.

In Britain it was the responsibility of the President of the Board of Trade (Robert Blatchford to 11 December 1899, then John Bruce Glasier). In Ireland the Secretary of State for Ireland, Roisin Allen, and the Irish government were jointly responsible.

The main festival sites were the Crystal Palace in south London, and in Phoenix Park in Dublin. They opened on Tuesday 1 May 1900. Among the exhibits were a camera, a railway engine, a motor car, a film projector, a telegraph, a telephone, a phonograph and phonograph records, and a set of postage stamps from the first ones in 1840 to 1900. There were displays of British and Irish industries such as coal mining, iron and steel manufacture, shipbuilding, and textile manufacture with samples of cotton, linen and woollen goods made in Britain and Ireland. There were also displays of fashions from 1800 to 1900, and of the latest furniture, pottery, and ornaments.
Last edited:
The Festival of Britain and Ireland had displays showing British and Irish political history from 1800. They showed the Luddites, the Peterloo Massacre in 1819, the Reform Act of 1832, and subsequent extensions of the franchise, the Chartists and the campaign for women's suffrage, the poor law and workhouses. In Dublin and other Irish cities men and women from Saor Eireann and women from Cumann na mBan stood outside the festivals holding posters saying 'Independence for Ireland, and 'Free Ireland'. Also in Ireland there were displays about the Great Famine of 1845 to 1850, with accounts written by people who lived through it. In Scotland there were displays about the highland clearances.
The festival was opposed by the Conservative and Liberal parties. They condemned it as being Commonwealth Party propaganda. Councils controlled by the Conservative or Liberal parties, or by local parties allied to them, refused to hold the festival. Among those councils were Belfast, Brighton, Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Portsmouth. and Southampton. This caused a huge political row with the Commonwealth government and party accusing the Tories and Liberals of depriving people of opportunities to visit the festival. They hoped to make political capital out of it. The local festivals were scaled down versions of those in London and Dublin.
Entrance to the Festival of Britain and Ireland in London and Dublin, and to the local festivals was free. However there were gift shops which sold souvenirs, and restaurants where food and drink was served. On their menus were dishes from all over the British Empire, and local food from different places in Britain and Ireland.

Maire and Aneurin Griffiths and their children, and their siblings and in-laws, visited the festival in Swansea. Aneurin wrote a poem about it. Angharad Price, Nia and Tom Price's fourteen year old daughter worked in the festival gift shop. Maire's cousin, Niamh and her husband, Brendan, and their children, visited the festival in Wexford.

In the festivals in Swansea and other Welsh towns, there were displays on events in 19th century Welsh history. Such as the riots in Merthyr Tydfil in May 1831 in which more than twenty people died; the Rebecca Riots in south Wales between 1839 and 1843, against road tolls; and the Chartist uprising in Newport in November 1839. (1)

The national and local festivals stayed open throughout 1900, from 1 May.

(1) For Rebecca Riots see
Last edited:
Maire's and Nye's eldest daughter Eithne, born 11 June 1873, was a midwife. She enjoyed her work, which she regarded as a vocation rather than a job. By 1900 she was a senior midwife. On Saturday 25 August 1900 she married Elwyn Roberts in St. David's Priory Catholic Church in Swansea. He was a son of Hannah Davis (nee Roberts), Maire Griffiths dearly loved friend. He was 28 years old, born 1 December 1872, and was a nature studies teacher at an elementary school in Swansea. He taught the top two classes , which were eleven to thirteen years old children.

The church was packed for the wedding. Maire and Nye were there, and their children, and Maire's and Nye's siblings and spouses and children. David Roberts, Elwyn's father was drowned when his ship was lost in a storm in November 1866. He was a seaman in the merchant navy. Hannah's other children were at the wedding.
Last edited:
After their wedding, Eithne and Elwyn travelled by train from Swansea to the seaside town of Tenby in Pembrokeshire, for their honeymoon. (1) They stayed in a guest house with bed and breakfast and evening meal, for six nights until the morning of Friday 31 August 1900. They lost their virginity on their wedding night, and made love every night. They had previously visited Tenby separately, so the town was familiar to them. They enjoyed sitting and walking on the three miles of sandy beach, and exploring the South Pembrokeshire National Park. They also took a boat trip from Tenby harbour. Eithne dressed casually in blouse and trousers.

When they returned to Swansea, they moved into a two bedroom terrace they would be renting privately. They went back to work on Monday 3 September. Elwyn believed passionately in giving his pupils a knowledge and love of the natural world. He took them out on trips to the countryside and seaside around Swansea. They helped to care for their school garden. He encouraged them to write about, and draw and paint pictures of the natural world. Guidelines from the Board of Education recommended that nature should be taught in schools.

Eithne and Elwyn were members of the Society for the Protection of Birds. They were strongly opposed to killing birds for hunting or for research, and for taking birds feathers. However they believed that taking birds eggs was not wrong, provided that the numbers taken from nests were sustainable.

(1) See
Last edited:
Thomas Griffiths (born 10 April 1878), the second eldest son of Aneurin and Maire Griffiths, was the assistant at a photographic studio in Swansea. He was made keen on photography and had his own camera. He took photographs of his family and relations, and of places in Swansea and round about. He married Teresa Howell on 13 May 1899. She gave birth to a baby boy on 4 April 1900. She and Thomas named him Owain.

Elisha Griffiths (born 12 October 1879), was a clerk with the Co-operative Permanent Building Society in Swansea. She was single and living at home with her parents, Maire and Nye.
Last edited:
Mairead Thomas (born 11 August 1866), Maire's youngest sister, gave birth to a baby boy on 5 January 1891. She and her husband, Arthur, named him Aled. He was their fourth child and fourth son. Their long awaited first daughter was born on 18 May 1892. They named her Angharad.

Arthur was a fisherman and the family lived in a house in the village of Ferryside on the banks of the River Tywi. (1) Since 1852 it has been on the South Wales Railway and connected to Swansea, so Mairead could visit her parents and siblings there. Arthur was also a volunteer with Ferryside Lifeboat. Mairead was a cockle woman and harvested cockles with other women in the village.

(1) See
Last edited:
Mairead gave birth to a baby girl on 9 July 1893. She and Arthur named her Cerys. She was their second daughter and sixth child. They now had all the children they wanted, and agreed that Mairead would vaginal sponges as contraception. She bought them from the same pharmacist in Swansea who sold them to her sister Maire.

Their eldest son, Emrys, left school in July 1899 as he was thirteen years old. He got a job as a ticket office clerk at Swansea High Street railway station. He was also responsible for giving out information about train times. It was a fairly busy station with trains going east to Cardiff and stations to London, and west to Llanelli, Ferryside, and stations to Fishguard. He worked forty hours a week, with some weekend and evening shifts.
The Abolition of Plural Voting Act 1900 abolished the additional votes to which owners of business premises, and university graduates were entitled. Because of the abolition of the graduate franchise, the nine university seats were abolished. The Conservative opposed the abolition of both votes. The Liberal Party backed the abolition of the business vote, but opposed the abolition of the university vote and therefore the university constituencies.

Because of the ending of the business vote, the constituency of the City of London. Its electorate was now too small for its own constituency. It was combined with Holborn to form the City of London and Holborn constituency. Both City of London and Holborn were safe constituencies. With these changes the number of constituencies in the House of Commons was reduced from 649 to 639.