Organisation : Waterford County Museum
Article Title : Memoirs Of George Lennon
Page Title : March 1921 Drumhills (Part 1)
Page Number : 12
Publication Date : 12 October 2010
Expiry Date : Never Expires
Category : Irish War of Independence 1919 - 1921

On our arrival at Ballymulalla Mrs. Welch and Napoleon were waiting to receive us. Mrs. Welch was a lady in every sense of the word. She acted as quartermaster to the local company but she really commanded it. Napoleon (his real name, I think, was Foley) was first lieutenant of the company. He did credit to his great namesake as he seemed to be indefatigable. Now he had to quarter thirty-one men on the local farmers as well as providing scouts and having messages properly dispatched.

Mrs. Welch and Stackpoole took an instant dislike to each other. Behind her back he called her the Duchess quite unaware of the fact that she called him the Count.

The following morning.

Mrs. Welch whose silvery hair is in a pompadour is sitting behind her massive silver teapot (a relic of better days) and I am sitting happily beside the dear lady. The "orderly officer for the day" has been marched off by Stackpoole for what he calls "inspecting the men's billets."

Mrs. Welch is telling me about when she lived in Priory House, Aglish. The great pre-World War manoeuvres are being held in the Drum Hills. General French and his staff are (paid) guests at Priory House. The good lady explains to me that as she was quite at her ease when she presided at the table of General French and his staff she is not going to be overawed by any Count.

Here we were interrupted in our pleasant conversation by a loud yell outside on the road.

"Are ye there;' Jarge?"

It was Father Gleason whose voice, it was said, could be heard in the next parish. We both went out to see what he wanted.

"A great day thanks be to God."

"Yes indeed Father."

"Jarge would you send around a couple of the lads to plough a bit of land for me?"

"Yes Father."

"I hear ye have the Count with ye." he roared.

We made frantic signs to him to lower his voice but he just whipped up his pony and went spanking gaily down the boreen.

The inspection did not go off very well and our captain arrived back more sad than angry. He was beginning to become aware of his lack of knowledge of the simple ways of our country people. His first stop had been at Dees. The lads were lounging around the kitchen codding Maggie Dee who was using Elizabethan words the meaning of which she was quite innocent. When he suddenly appeared in Tobins yard, Mrs. Tobin dropped the feed pan and ran into the house crying, "Mother of God, it's the Count and the family started madly cleaning up for his reception.

Luckily at this point, our usually most happy go lucky Q.M. arrived with the typewriter, several reams of paper and an adequate supply of carbon paper. Stackpoole dictated and we all had a go at two finger typing in carbon triplicate. Now we could get down to work. Instructions to battalion adjutants, instructions to quartermasters (how to care for their few miserable shotguns). It went on for some days and it made only one person happy.

{Note: A battalion area covered the area of a barony, the baronies were old tribal lands taken over by the early Anglo Norman conquerors. A brigade area usually comprised four battalion areas and generally fell within the confines of an ancient Irish petty kingdom. The method of living off the rural community (we were welcome quests) was the old Gaelic system of "coign and livery". (The reversion to old native ways was remarkable)}.

After office hours.

The staff captain genially suggested a walk up the road. He was in affable mood; said how nice it would be if all farm houses were like Mrs. Welch's "with some decent pictures on the wall". We talked about soldiers of fortune and agreed that they were undesirable. Byron, we both agreed, was of course an exception. For the first time we seemed to be in total agreement about something. Then he hummed and hawed and said the brigade staff was next to impossible ("What are you going to do about it, Seoirse?"). I said cautiously that this might be true but what was it to be replaced with. We turned around abruptly and he refused to speak to me all the way back to the house.

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