The Edwards family consisted of the father, Patrick; the mother, Annie; three boys, Jack, Willie and Frank and three girls, Josephine, May and Tess. The family came to Waterford from Belfast in 1917 when Edwards was ten years old. Shortly after arriving in Waterford where they lived at number eleven John Street, the family suffered a series of deaths that claimed three members within a year. The oldest son, Jack, had experienced sectarian violence as a young boy when he was beaten up by an Orange mob whilst walking home from school. Nothing else is known about the family before their arrival in Waterford but as soon as they did, Jack, aged eighteen, joined Sinn Fein, Connradh na Gaeilge and the Irish Volunteers. Annie Edwards was, like her sons, an activist; she was a committed member of Cumann na mBan and also a member of the movement to free the Waterford Republican prisoners who were imprisoned by the Free State forces during the Civil War.
The following is an example of her activism. This letter was sent to Mr. P. Brazil, Town Clerk, and Waterford. 5/11/1922
Kindly bring before the Mayor and Corporation at your next meeting the following resolution passed by a meeting representative of the Mothers, Wives and sisters of the Waterford Republican Prisoners: - That we call on the Corporation to pass a resolution calling on Irish Local Authorities to enquire into the conditions of Jails where these prisoners are being detained, and to pass a further resolution protesting against the deportation of any such prisoners. I view of the fact that the mayor [Alderman Vincent J. White T. D.] has voted for the Death and Deportation Order, we think it only right that the other members of the Council should state publicly whether they also are in favour of Irish republican Prisoners being deported from their native land. The undersigned will be in attendance at the Corporation meeting tomorrow evening at 7.30p.m.
Susan Foley, Anne Edwards, Mary Margaret Creed, Frances Neilan, Nelly Wyley and Kitty Brennan.
At the subsequent meeting of the City Council the mayor ruled the matter out of order because (a) the language in which the letter was framed was disrespectful to the Council and to himself as mayor and (b) the letter was not received in time to be dealt with in correspondence. Cllr Cahill protested against the ruling and proposed that the delegation be heard and this motion was seconded by Cllr Walsh, supported by Cllr Jones. The mayor said he had already ruled on the matter. Cllr Larkin supported the mayor and suggested the deputation should send a letter couched in proper language and that they then be heard in committee but this was unacceptable to the deputation present. Several persons, of both sexes, who had taken up positions in the auditorium of the Council Chamber, created pandemonium and the business of the Corporation was held up for about two hours. The meeting could not resume until the disturbers had been cleared from the Council Chamber by the military.
[Copyright © David Smith 2002] Frank Edwards, the man that fought the Bishop - The story of his life in Waterford
Author: Chrissy O'Connor Knight & Eddie Cantwell