by ehistoryadmin on November 29, 2018




Lady Haig, accompanied by her daughter, Lady Victoria Haig, arrived in Naas at 3 p.m. on Tuesday and was received at the local Ex-servicemen’s Memorial Hall by a joint committee of the men and women’s branch of the British Legion.

A large crowd assembled inside and outside the Hall, and when her ladyship arrived there was a loud outburst of cheering and hand-clapping. On her entry into the Hall she was presented with a poppy, by Miss E. Sherrin, a five-year-old girl from the locality.

Her Ladyship, who was much impressed by this incident, warmly embraced the child, and then proceeded to distribute autographs, photographs of herself to the ladies present.

General Hickie said the reason Lady Haig had come to Ireland was she was tremendously interested in one of the greatest of their problems, the finding of employment for unemployed ex-servicemen. They knew the great distress amongst ex-servicemen was mainly, and almost entirely, due to unemployment.  The factory which had been opened in Mespil Road would, he hoped, pave the way to better things in the future.  In Lady Haig, whatever the future had in store, they would find a staunch friend and advocate.  When she had heard for the first time through an English paper, of the starting of this industry she spontaneously telegraphed him that this was the dearest wish of the late Field Marshal.  With characteristic kindness she had accepted an invitation to visit this country and inspect personally the scattered branches of their organisation.  It would be a pleasure to her to see the number of good branches where the men were keeping together, remembering the bond of comradeship which was the moving spirit of the Legion.  And in no place was that spirit more loyally observed than in the town of Naas.  That was one of the reasons why her ladyship had decided to confer the honour of a visit on them.

Mr. P. Gray, Chairman of the Naas branch of the British Legion, read the following address of welcome;-

“May it please your Ladyship, We, the members of the Naas branch of the British Legion, beg to tender to you a hearty welcome to our Memorial Hall on your inaugural visit to Naas.

As the widow of our late lamented and beloved President, we know the deep interest you take in the ex-servicemen of England, Scotland and as your first visit to this country proves Ireland also.  We hope it may assuage your sorrow in some small way to know that the memory of the gallant soldier who commanded the British Forces during the Great War, and led them to victory will live for ever in the hearts of the members of this branch.

“We wish you long life and happiness and hope your tour of our branches in Southern Ireland will be a pleasant one, and that you will carry back to your home happy memories of your visit to Dear Old Ireland.- Signed on behalf of the members Henry de Robeck, President; Bryan Mahon and T. J. de Burgh, Vice-Presidents;  Patrick Gray, Chairman; John Gaffney, Hon. Secretary;  Rd. Sherrin, Hon. Treasurer; Patk. Kelly, Thomas Courtney, James Hayes, Ernest Simpson, Wm. Hogan, John  Hickey, Daniel Nolan and Peter Lagrue, Committee.

Mr. Gray said it was only necessary for him to add that they hoped she would accept this small address in the spirit in which it was given-the spirit of friendship as they recognised in her ladyship a dear friend, and they looked forward to future visits from her to Ireland (applause).

Her Ladyship, who was warmly applauded, expressed her thanks for the delightful welcome accorded her in Naas. “I could not” she went on, “appreciate anything more that this address of welcome coming from you to me as a friend, and I am proud to look upon myself as such.  My husband felt very much about your suffering here in Ireland.  He knew how bravely you men fought with him, and it distressed him to feel when you did come home that you did not get the reception our men did, and you deserved everything that possibly could be done for you.  He is not here to-day, but intended to come this year and knowing this intention I have taken his place not only to see the factory but to come amongst you all and carry on the work that he wanted me to do to the best of my poor ability.  I thank you again for this delightful welcome, which will be valued more that I can express to you.  As to helping you, I may say that anything I can do for this country – I am only a very humble being and a woman – will be done, and done heartily” (applause).

Amongst those present were:- Lady Greer, Miss Bertie Bruce, Senator Hickey, Col. De Burgh, Commander de Burgh, Major Tynan, Mr. M. J. Nolan, General Fanshawe, Miss Joan de Robeck, Miss Gertrude de Robeck, Miss Warren, Rev. Chancellor Clover, Rev. J. Wilson, and Mrs. Wilson, Mr. J. J. and Mrs. Devlin, Mr. M. Fitzsimons, Chairman County Council; Mrs. Staples Dowling, Mrs. Sherrin, Mrs. Simpson, Mrs. Noone, Mrs. White, Mrs. Hannaford, Mrs. Corbally, Mr. J. and Mrs Barry Brown, Mr. J. Boyle, Mr. P. Fanning, etc.

Col. de Burgh apologised for the absence of Mrs. Croshaw, who, he said, was unable to get back from England in time to join in the welcome. Baron de Roebeck wrote regretting that he was prevented through illness from attending.

Very Rev. M. Norris, P.P., wrote; “Owing to a cold and the severity of the weather, I regret very much being unable to have the honour and pleasure of welcoming and thanking the noble and valiant Countess Haig for her interest in our brave and worthy defenders. May God bless and reward her”. Her ladyship took Father Norris’s letter with her.


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