Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff

John Annan Bryce was the younger brother of Lord Bryce, one-time Chief Secretary for Ireland (December 1905-December 1906 in the Campbell-Bannerman administration). His wife, Violet, came from a British military family. Towards that end in 1916 she purchased the Eccles Hotel in Glengarriff and converted it into a convalescent home for officers in Ireland —the first in the country.

1920 Sep 30 Their credentials were impeccable. However John Annan Bryce wrote a letter which was was published in The Times of London.

"To the Editor of The Times

Sir—on September 16, at 9.45 a.m., a lorry full of soldiers from Bantry stopped in front of the Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff, where I have been staying since August 19. The manageress went to the door and was handed by a soldier an envelope addressed in handwriting 'The Manageress, Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff.' It contained an unsigned and undated slip worded as follows:-

'In some districts loyalists and members of his Majesty's forces have received notices threatening the destruction of their houses in certain eventualities. Under these circumstances it has been decided that for each loyalist's house so destroyed the house of a republican leader will be similarly dealt with. It is naturally to be hoped that the necessity for such reprisal will not arise and therefore this warning of the punishment which will follow any destruction of loyalists' houses will be widely circulated.'

"I at once sent a copy of this notice, mentioning the circumstances, to General Sir Nevil Macready, and said that, as it was contrary to his recent proclamation against reprisals, I presumed it was issued without his authority or knowledge. I received, to my surprise, the following reply:-

'Sir,—Sir Nevil Macready asks me in reply to your letter of the 16th instant to state that he is acquainted with the distribution of the notices, a copy of which you enclosed. Truly yours, William Rycroft, Major-General i/c Administration, Ireland, G.H.Q. Parkgate, Dublin, 18 September, 1920.'

"On the 17th inst. I wrote a similar letter, with copy of notice to the O.C., Bantry, asking that , as on the night of August 15 the large garage of this hotel had been burned by the police who had also threatened to burn the hotel itself, he would give an assurance against further molestation. I gave him as a special reason for protection that the present proprietress had acquired the hotel in 1916 for conversion into a convalescent hospital for officers, that it was the first such hospital in Ireland, and that with the title of 'Queen Alexandra's Home of Rest for Officers,' first under the Red Cross and afterwards the Dublin Command, it had—she being commandant—housed hundreds of wounded officers, while the only return for her pains and expenditure of many thousand pounds, which both the Red Cross and the War Office refused to repay, had been the burning of the garage. To this letter I received the following Gilbertian answer:-

'To J. Annan Bryce, Esq., Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff. In reply to your letter of September 17, 1920, addressed to O.C. Barracks, Bantry. It appears that slips similar to the one to which you evidently refer are being distributed about the country. On investigation I find that an officer of my battalion picked one of them up. This officer having seen similar slips in Bantry and other places thought it would be a good thing to hand it in to one of the hotels in Glengarriff as he passed through. As yours was the most convenient, being close to the road, he put it in an envelope and addressed it to the manageress and handed it in as he passed. L.M. Jones, Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Troops, Bantry and commanding 1st Battalion The King's Regiment. Bantry, September 20, 1920.'

"I also wrote to Sir Hamar Greenwood, but have received no reply. It will be seen that neither Sir Nevil Macready nor Colonel Jones disavows the notice, and that Colonel Jones makes no answer to the request for an assurance of non-molestation.

"I may add that there is no justification for the issue of such a notice in this district, where the only damage to loyalists premises has been done by the police. In July they burned the stores of Mr. G.W. Biggs, the principal merchant in Bantry, a man highly respected, a Protestant, and a lifelong Unionist, with a damage of over £25,000, and the estate office of the late Mr. Leigh-White, also a Unionist. Subsequently, in August, the police fired into Mr. Biggs's office, while his residence has since been commandeered for police barracks. He has had to send his family to Dublin and to live himself in a hotel. Only two reasons can be assigned for the outrages on Mr. Biggs, one that he employed Sinn Feiners—he could not work his large business without them, there being no Unionist workmen in Bantry—the other a recently published statement of his protesting—on his own 40 years' experience—against Orange allegations of Catholic intolerance.

"The July burning was part of a general pogrom, in which a cripple, named Crowley, was deliberately shot by the police while in bed and several houses were set on fire while the people were asleep. A report was made to Dublin Castle by Mr. Hynes, the County Court Judge, who happened to be on the spot for quarter sessions. Questioned in the House of Commons, the Government refused to produce this report on the ground that production would not be in the public interest, which means—as Parliamentary experience teaches one—that it was damning to Government.
I am, Sir, you obedient servant,
J. Annan Bryce
Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff, County Cork, Sept. 25."

Next thing Mrs Bryce is arrested

From The Times, November 1, 1920.

"To the Editor of The Times.

Sir—as reported in the papers today, my wife was arrested at Holyhead, deported to Kingstown, lodged in Bridewell there, and released without charge after four hours' detention. Such arrests are of daily occurrence in Ireland, where any and every interference with liberty had been legalized by recent legislation, but I am not aware under what authority they have become lawful in Great Britain.

"My wife had been invited to address a meeting in Wales about reprisals, a subject on which she is a competent witness. As stated in my letter which you were good enough to publish on September 30, I mentioned that in 1916 she opened at Glengarriff the first convalescent home for officers in Ireland. Having lived there ever since, she has been able to see the effect of the policy of reprisals, and has suffered from them in her own person. Her garage has been burned (the claim for compensation had been passed by the County Court Judge), she had been repeatedly threatened—once officially, as described in my previous letter—with the burning down of her house, and on one occasion was in imminent danger of death from the rifle of a policeman.

"Apart from the question of legality, and of the infliction of indignity on a person who at great trouble and expense has given patriotic service without any recognition, the arrest raises an issue of public interest. Government spokesmen minimize or altogether deny the reprisals. The Chief Secretary, in the debate of the 20th inst., even went so far as to deny that one single case had been put forward to justify Mr. Henderson's resolution, and last week had the assurance to impugn the statements of the correspondents of great English newspapers, men whose reputation for accuracy is at least equal to his own. The summary of outrages issued at the public expense by Dublin Castle as propaganda rarely mentions reprisals, and, when it does, leaves them to be ascribed to Sinn Fein. Government refuses to produce Judge Hynes's report on the Bantry reprisals of July 19. It prosecutes the Freeman's Journal before a tribunal of its own officials, but does not dare to prosecute before an English Court English newspapers making the same statements.

"All this seems to indicate a determination to prevent the British public from learning the truth, and the arrest of my wife, when she attempts to perform what is surely the duty of a good citizen, appears to corroborate this view of the Government's attitude. The public has a right to demand that the truth shall no longer be concealed. If the Government has nothing to hide why does it not grant an impartial inquiry, such as that which investigated the German outrages in Belgium? The reprisal outrages in Ireland, if proved, are worse, in that Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom, not territory occupied in war. It is to be hoped that Lord Robert Cecil, whose intervention was greatly welcomed in Ireland, will again press for an inquiry, and that he and others on his side will, on the next occasion, support their speeches by their votes.

"The public must not be fobbed off with a whitewashing inquiry like that into the Sheehy-Skeffington group of murders, the result of which only deepened Irish distrust of English justice. The inquiry must be comprehensive. Its purview should cover not only the reprisals themselves, but the authority under which they were committed, and the character and antecedents of their perpetrators. There is no reason to believe that some at least of the Black and Tans have been recruited from the same class as the notorious Hardy, released, at the instance of Mr Macpherson, to enter Government service after nine months of penal servitude under a sentence which required a minimum imprisonment of several years.

"If Lord Robert Cecil returns to the charge, there is one point which he should bear in mind. Mr. Lloyd George, with apparent reason, retorted upon Mr. Asquith's accusation of the hellish policy of reprisals with a denunciation of the equally hellish policy of murder, but he did not remind the country of the fact that under Sir Henry Duke there were, for two years after rebellion, no murders of police, and that these murders began only after Mr. Shortt and Mr. McPherson, by their policy of repeated re-arrests on suspicion without charge, created a numerous class of active young men, who, deprived of the chance of legitimate occupation, took desperate courses. The same thing happened after Mr. Forster's Coercion Act of 1881.

"There is another point worth notice in connexion with my wife's arrest. She asked the arresting officer whether he was acting under the authority of Sir Hamar Greenwood or Sir N. Macready. He could not tell. In Ireland today one never can tell. In my letter to you of September 30 I mentioned that I had received no reply to my letter to him of September 16. I have since received the following answer:-

'Dublin Castle, October 2, 1920.
Dear Annan Bryce, I am in receipt of your letter of the 16th ultimo regarding the notice served by a military officer on the manageress of the Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff. I am passing your letter on to the Commander-in-Chief. Yours sincerely, Hamar Greenwood.'

"As the reply is dated two days after the publication of my letter giving the answer of Sir N. Macready, Sir Hamar's only apparent object can have been to disclaim responsibility. Sir N. Macready disclaims responsibility for the Black and Tans. At one time Sir N. Macready was said to have authority over the police, but lately Sir H. Greenwood seems to have re-assumed responsibility for that force, and the other day he stated in the House that he was head of the Irish Government. All three—Sir Hamar, Sir Nevil, and General Tudor—disavow connivance at reprisals—in face of the fact that the reprisal threat described in my previous letter was typed on official paper bearing the Government water-mark S.O. and a crown. Condonation they cannot deny, for no one has been punished. Government should be pressed to declare under which thimble the pea is to be found, that one may not be shuttlecocked from one authority to another in search of redress.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
J. Annan Bryce
35 Bryanston Square, London. October 31."

And a 3rd letter in the Times

From The Times, November 9, 1920.

To the editor of The Times.

Sir,—I have now received particulars of the arrest of my wife. Illustrating as they do the spirit and methods of the Irish Government, they are of general interest.

"My wife crossed from Dublin by evening mail steamer on Friday, October 29. When about to leave the boat at Holyhead she was stopped on the companion stairs by an officer, who said, in a strong Ulster accent, 'You are wanted, and must go below.' The officer, a Captain Gallagher, refused to produce a warrant, and said he could not tell whether his orders came from Sir H. Greenwood or Sir N. Macready. Calling a woman dressed as a nurse, but whom my wife calls a wardress, he said. 'Take her in and search her.' That was done. Mrs. Bryce, aware of the dodger, usual in Ireland, of 'planting' compromising objects before a search, refused to let her luggage out of her sight, so Captain Gallagher proceeded to search it in her presence. Taking from her dispatch case a book entitled 'Ireland and Agriculture', he examined it curiously till shown the date, 1845. He then tore open her dressing-case, though offered her oath that it contained clothes only. 'I'm not believing your oath', he retorted and went on searching. As a result of the search he impounded only two papers, which I shall describe later. They have not been returned. Mrs Bryce had all through been protesting loudly, unwilling that the steamer staff should take her for a thief or murderer. She told the officer he should be ashamed of himself, whereupon he said gruffly to the wardress: 'Take her back, search her again, and take off her shoes.' Asked by Mrs Bryce what he proposed to do with her, he said he was awaiting instructions from Ireland, but that she would not be allowed to land and could sleep in a cabin with the wardress. This she refused to do, and went on deck, followed about by the wardress and soldiers. After an hour Captain Gallagher came and sat by her. He was now quite polite, Mrs Bryce gathering from his change of demeanour that he must have had fresh instructions from Ireland.

"Eventually Mrs. Bryce was allowed to sleep alone in a cabin with a wardress outside. On the return of the steamer to Kingstown she was handed over by Captain Gallagher to an officer and five soldiers armed with rifles. The officer, cigarette in mouth, told her she must go to a motor, and marched her up the long length of the pier under the gaze of the occupants of the lines of trains about to depart for every quarter of Ireland. Arrived on the roadway at the pierhead she found the motor to be a common military lorry, open at both ends. Refusing to enter it, she was lifted in and pushed on to a seat. The soldiers and wardress got in, and the officer mounted beside the driver. A soldier next to her was smoking and kept his rifle between his knees. The jolting of the lorry, driven at high speed kept jerking this rifle over, so that at every bump it pointed at her face. She asked the officer to tell the soldier to hold his rifle so that it might not point at her. He replied, 'No, I won't.'

"They drove to the Bridewell in Dublin, where Mrs Bryce was put into a bare-floored cell, all of stone, bitterly cold, dimly lighted, with wooded seats, and an open latrine in the corner. Breakfast was procured from an inn at her cost. After two hours, unable longer to bear the cold and stench, she rang a bell continuously till the turnkey let her out to sit with the warders in the corridor between the cells. After another hour and a half a young officer arrived from the Castle. Asked by Mrs. Bryce what was to be done with her, he said, 'I don't know. Isn't it true that you have been making political speeches in the South of Ireland?' She replied with indignation, 'It is absolutely untrue. I have made no political speeches in the South of Ireland. The whole thing is absolutely scandalous'.

"She might have added that the only meetings she had addressed in Ireland were a recruiting meeting at Glengarriff in 1914 and various meetings there for the formation of an agricultural society, whose affairs she conducted with such success as to warrant a large grant from the County Council. It may further interest the 'competent military authority' under whose orders she is said to have been arrested, to hear that her grandfather, Sir George L'Estrange, Chamberlain under four Viceroys of Ireland, was rewarded by a commission in the Guards for having raised a regiment in the Peninsular War; that her father was a first captain (major) in the Royal Artillery, and a resident magistrate in Ireland for 30 years; that she herself, before equipping and opening the convalescent home for officers at Glengarriff, worked for many months with the French Army at Compiegne, and that on her suggestion the band of the Irish Guards was sent over to Ireland, with an excellent effect on enlistment. After another hour a warder told her she might go, there being no charge against her.

"My wife is brave and has been strong, but she is severely shaken by ill-usage on this and previous occasions at the hands of servants of the Crown. For such opprobrious maltreatment she might have expected from a gentleman in the position of Chief Secretary, when he found the case to have been trumped up, an offer of reparation with a frank apology. But no: he proceeded to aggravate the offence by an injurious insinuation wrapped up with a grudging admission. Answering Mr. Hodge, he said that Mrs. Bryce had documents, but not of sufficiently serious a nature to lay a charge, the implication being that they were of a serious nature. Moreover, the mere use of the term 'document' itself was calculated to produce a misleading impression on the ordinary mind, which thinks of a document as something formal and important. The word is not properly descriptive of the papers taken from my wife. As I have already said, they were in number two. One was a writing-pad with jottings for her speech in Wales. If this paper incriminated anyone it was the Government, not herself. The other paper was a cartoon from a London newspaper, the Catholic Herald. It represents a black and tan dog with a pool of blood in front, while John Bull and Uncle Sam look on, the latter —'This dog is mad. If you don't look out it will bite you soon.' Some people are disposed to regard this sinister prediction as already far on its way to fulfillment.

"The Chief Secretary told Mr. Devlin last week that he would welcome the evidence of eye-witnesses, but when a competent eyewitness of repute tries to land in England he arrests her without warrant, deports her back to Ireland, and confines her in a noisome jail with every circumstance of indignity. When such treatment is inflicted on a person against whom no charge can be made, who has performed national service of many kinds, and who can make her voice heard, your readers may judge what chance against treatment infinitely more savage have thousands of men, women and children, innocent of politics, low in station, and powerless to make their voice head. As a local official, who feared an irruption of Black and Tans, said to me: 'We poor Hottentots of Irish can't make our voices head in England.' They suffer constant threats of reprisal, raids by night and by day, continual lootings, prohibition of markets and fairs, wreckings and burnings of houses, shops and factories, bombings, shootings, killings, and countless other outrages, many never reported. My own village of Glengarriff was shot up in August. Every soul fled to the mountains, woods or fields, work was suspended for weeks, and even now many fear to sleep in their houses. We used to call Prussian methods brutal and stupid. The methods of the Irish Government are not less brutal, but more stupid, for while the Prussian methods had the approval of the German people the Irish methods, once they are known of the British people, will be loathed, except in the House of Commons.

"My narrative involves other questions, one of importance to every citizen, that of the legality of arrest without warrant. On Monday last the House of Commons with as little care for liberty as the Star Chamber days, twice lent itself to the burking of discussion. In the afternoon only three members of the old law and order party, Lord Robert Cecil, Mr. Mosley, and Mr. Bottomley, and one Liberal Coalitionist, Major Breese, supported Mr. Hogges.

"The Chief Secretary now seems to feel that he was on doubtful ground when on Monday he based himself on the Irish Act. By Wednesday he had consulted Sir Gordon Hewart, and now puts his reliance first on D.O.R.A., with the Irish Act as second leg. The straddle won't work. A ship at Holyhead is either in England or it is not. If it is and D.O.R.A. supposed for such purposes to be dead, is yet alive, the British people have notice that on the whim of an official they may be arrested, deported, and imprisoned without warrant. The Chief Secretary goes further. In his opinion even the Irish Act can in some cases be applied in England. The British people should take good note of that. This is a matter which cannot be allowed to rest.

"There is another point not yet made clear. From whom is my wife to obtain redress? Who is the competent military authority under whose order the arrest was made? Under which thimble is the pea in this case? The Chief Secretary says he is head of the Irish Government. Was the arrest made with his knowledge? It is incredible that he can have countenanced anything so foolish. Nor do I believe that the order came from Sir N. Macready. From whom, then? Presumably from General Tudor, who seems to act independently of, though, as the Granard reprisals show, in combination when necessary, with, the other two arms. In Ireland people think that the Castle, that is, the civil authority, has nothing to do with the present policy, and that view has corroboration from the rapid successive supersessions of Inspectors General Byrne and Smith, the latter an Ulsterman and strong Unionist. The belief is that the motive power at present lies with a clique in London whose orders are executed by General Tudor, with the assistance, when required, but without the foreknowledge, of Sir N. Macready and the Castle.

"Some of the incidents of the narrative throw an unpleasant light on the conduct of the Army in Ireland. The smoking of officers and men on duty, trivial in itself, indicates a decline in discipline. Till this year soldiers and people were still on the best of terms, but most of the soldiers are mere boys taking their colour from evil surroundings, and the decay of discipline has of late, with reprisals, being increasing in frequency, and in savagery has become more marked. The position is regarded with alarm in the highest quarters, and experienced officers tell me that it would be impossible to send abroad the regiments now serving in Ireland. Sir Nevil Macready long ago saw the danger and in August issued a proclamation against reprisals, but his delicacy about acting on it has had results ruinous to the Army, disastrous to Ireland, and detrimental to the prestige of the Empire.

J. Annan Bryce.
35, Bryanston Square, London. Nov. 8."

The hotel web site says it was leased to the British War office from 1918 to 1920. During this time it was known as the Queen Alexandria Home of Rest for Officers and was occupied by soldiers recuperating from the trauma of World War 1. It cost one guinea (€1.90) per week for full board with fishing and shooting rights. From 1920 to 1921 the hotel was occupied by troops of the Essex Regiment. No mention of ADRIC

 

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