THE FLU PANDEMIC OF 1918: A WARNING FROM HISTORY

26 March 2020 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Sean Slowey

The following are a few articles and references on the ’flu pandemic of 1918 which appeared in The Northern Standard at that time. James Sherry, Drumacoon, Newbliss was Relieving Officer for the Clones Board of Guardians and was also a newspaper journalist from about 1903 who submitted many reports to The Northern Standard.

The Monaghan asylum with a population of 850 patients had 250 infected and over 25 died. Two nurses and a male attendant also died of influenzal pneumonia. I have added names of officials who were there at the time. Robert Murtagh was master of the workhouse (his son Patrick Murtagh who was for many years a senior official of the N.E.H.B. died recently).

Nora J. Quigley was sister of James Quigley, County Surveyor, Co. Meath who was court-martialled after the 1916 Rising. Nora returned from Malta and gave evidence in his defence and he was acquitted. She appears then to have become more nationalistic in her views and was the nurse who attended Commandant Matt Fitzpatrick after his rescue from Monaghan Infirmary.

Michael Elliott Knight was solicitor to the Board of Guardians was asked to form a ‘Relief Committee’ by the Board. He was also the unionist candidate in the 1918 General Election which was held during the pandemic. He acknowledges the honour bestowed on him and his wife and Mrs. Henry by the board in a letter read at their January 1919 meeting.

The details of what he achieved are not known, as the previous meeting is not reported in The Northern Standard which was small in pages during the Great War years owing to paper restriction. But the Relief Committee put in a bill for £96 to the board in February 1919 for the soup kitchen, clothing and coal distribution from the Town Hall.

One of the men mentioned as a mortality in the Newbliss district is Francis Sherry, Drumacoon who was a brother of James Sherry, journalist. The two Quigley brothers, Kinturk were also the subject of an inquest where their sister had claimed that…

Comments are closed.